Few mid-century style icons had wardrobes as wide-ranging as Paul Newman’s. The Academy Award-winning actor was revered for his raw masculinity, acting prowess and philanthropic work — but it’s his unerring, unwavering style that still influences us every day.
Because, while Steve McQueen perfected the off-duty, laid-back look — and Cary Grant was always terrifically turned-out and trimly tailored, Newman could do it all; moving from sweatshirts to suiting and back again with ineffable, elegant ease.
So how could you capture some of the actor’s easy-going, ageless style? Below, we’ve identified five of the best tips and tricks to take from the Oscar-winner’s wardrobe — to help you become, through the power of dressing, a new man…
Go casual with practical, bright white loungewear
First up, loungewear. Although ‘lounge’ is probably the wrong word. Newman was a man of action both on and off the screen — and could often be found sailing, motorcycling and racing when he wasn’t working. And, almost every time he diced with danger, he’d be softly, insouciantly dressed in loungewear.
Take the iconic shot above, for example. Heineken in hand, Newman is pictured here in 1967, wearing a practical sweatshirt — similar to Hemingsworth’s raglan design — and a pair of white cotton chinos, such as the pair we’ve found below from New & Lingwood. And, to finish the look off, he’s laced up that bright white bastion of loungewear; the humble white sneaker. If you’re looking for similarly casual kicks, try Aurélien.
Hemingsworth Blue Raglan Sweatshirt
New & Lingwood White Cotton Chinos
Aurélien Cambridge Sneakers
Suiting doesn’t always have to be smart
Newman may have looked excruciatingly handsome in a tuxedo (more on that in a bit), but casual suiting is where the actor really made an impression. Instead of sharp lines and angular Savile Row cuts, Newman adopted a softer approach; knocking the corners off his chiselled silhouette and opting for unstructured fits.
Above, the actor is pictured in 1963 — and every element of his outfit adds a casual touch to traditional suiting. The shirt is an Oxford; with textured cotton cloth and button-down collar, such as this New & Lingwood design. The tie is knitted, like the below option from Turnbull & Asser. As for the jacket itself? Newman’s gone for texture over tailoring — something Oliver Spencer’s unique unstructured jacket does exceedingly well.
New & Lingwood Button-Down Collar Shirt
Turnbull & Asser Green Knitted Tie
Oliver Spencer Unstructured Blazer
Try introducing subtle western influences
One of Newman’s most enduring roles was the brooding titular antihero in the 1963 film Hud. And, after earning his third Academy Award nomination for the role, it seems the actor developed an affinity for the way his character dressed. For the rest of his life, Newman would be known as a denim connoisseur — and we could all learn a thing or two from his signature style’s western influences.
The most important investment is a good pair of jeans. And Newman, who favoured heritage American brand Lee, would almost certainly have approved of these ‘Rider’ jeans in a mid-stone wash. Next comes a shirt with accentuated front and back yokes; shoulder panels such as those seen on Ralph Lauren’s denim design below. And, finally, a solid belt with a statement buckle — like this etched silver option from Brunello Cucinelli.
Lee ‘Rider’ Jeans in Mid-Stone
Polo Ralph Lauren Western Shirt
Brunello Cucinelli Woven Belt
Stand out in black tie by using accessories
Next, we come to Newman’s tremendous eye for a tuxedo. Whether attending a foundation event in a function room or sailing his way to a premiere in Venice (the actor is pictured above aboard a water taxi in 1963), Newman knew exactly how to create a flawless black tie ensemble. His secret? Accessories.
Because, while your black tie basics — dinner jacket, white shirt, patent shoes — should always remain the same, accessories can inject freshness and excitement into your ensemble. Try adopting a distinctive bow tie (head to Huntsman for this) or invest in some eye-catching cufflinks (where else but Patrick Mavros?). Above, Newman’s even wearing a simple silver bracelet, similar to this Tom Wood design.
Huntsman Black Silk Bow Tie
Patrick Mavros Pangolin Scale Cufflinks
Tom Wood Silver Bracelet
Slip on a pair of statement aviator sunglasses
And, finally, sunglasses. When summer rolls round, it pays to have a pair of trusty, statement sunglasses at your disposal — and Newman knew that more than most. In fact, there was almost nowhere that the film star went without his treasured Carrera Champion frames in tow.
As a peculiar kind of cross between a Wayfarer and an Aviator style, the Champions had a straight top, large lenses and curved arms. They may not be as established a name as some of the bigger brands, but the chunky Carrera style’s influence still be seen to this day, informing designs including the ‘Otis’ and ‘Fraser’ frames from Oscar Deen.
Carrera ‘Champion' Aviator Sunglasses
Oscar Deen ‘Fraser’ Sunglasses
Oscar Deen ‘Otis’ Sunglasses
Want more style icon inspiration? From slim-fitting suits to an excellent eye for sunglasses, here’s how to dress like JFK…
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