These are the most stylish Wes Anderson characters

From Bill Murray’s first appearance in an Anderson picture to Owen Wilson's latest, here are seven of the writer-director’s best-dressed creations…

If you’re known for producing eccentric, eclectic works of film, it’s likely that your quirks extend beyond the camera. And Wes Anderson, the man behind The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited and Fantastic Mr. Fox, proves this point with every bright corduroy suit he buttons up; every knitted tie he knots. 

But the acclaimed auteur doesn’t keep all the good garms for himself. A visionary of 21st century cinema, the director outfits every one of his characters in distinctive duds — get-ups as visually striking as his famously symmetrical sets. And, whether its an upcoming title (look out for Rupert Friend’s double-denim in Asteroid City) or a lesser-seen short film (Jason Schwartzman in yellow leather in Castello Cavalcanti is a stylish sight to behold) Anderson always delivers. 

So, while that makes it a little tricky to choose just a handful of his best-dressed creations, we’ve done our best below — and whittled decades of fine wardrobe work down to seven screen performances. 

Herbsaint Sazerac (Owen Wilson) in The French Dispatch

The free-wheeling, beret-wearing heart of the director’s latest feature film, Owen Wilson’s quirkily named Herbsaint Sazerac is a cycling reporter — said to be based on real-life writer Joseph Quincy Mitchell, who wrote for The New Yorker. But he also wears and bears many of the fashion hallmarks of Anderson’s wider works.

There’s the corduroy trousers; a material favoured by the director in his own off-duty moments. There’s the choice of brightly coloured, boldly patterned socks (perfect for tucking those trousers into while cycling). And then there’s that beret — the ‘cerise’ atop a fittingly French wardrobe. Other than the hat, it’s quite an unassuming look, but as confident and comfortable a style as any of Anderson’s characters.

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Dmitri (Adrien Brody) in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Anderson’s most-acclaimed film to date, 2014’s Oscar-nominated The Grand Budapest Hotel is not short of big style swings. And, though honourable mentions must go to Ralph Fiennes’ stiffly-starched ‘Gustave H’, and the safari-suited author embodied briefly by Jude Law, it is Adrien Brody’s villainous ‘Dmitri’ who steals the show.

And he does so with remarkable restraint. For, every garment shrugged-on and buttoned-up by Brody’s character is coloured a deep, dark shade of black. With militaristic touches, his wardrobe mostly consists of a shirt and tie under a sweeping overcoat; pocket square neatly placed. And, for a final nefarious detail, an edgy statement ring. Menacing minimalism at its finest. 

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Klaus Daimler (Willem Dafoe) in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

The 2004 comedy-drama is awash with wonderful clothing. Whether it’s Cate Blanchett’s cargo jacket or Jeff Goldblum’s dastardly dashing wardrobe, there are once again almost too many styles to select from. But Willem Dafoe’s self-assured twist on his crew uniform (the film largely takes place on ageing research vessel, the Belafonte), is as memorable as the film’s soundtrack — which features several of Seu Jorge’s beautiful Portuguese David Bowie covers. 

This uniform’s bombastic blue hue — that borders on the turquoise — is accentuated by deeper-coloured stripes. But Dafoe’s matching roll-neck sweater gives it extra swagger. The shorts are short, the beanie is bright and bobbled — and the high-top trainers (other crew members wear low-tops, which were small-batch sold by Adidas in the wake of the film) give Dafoe an athletic edge. He also wears two wristwatches (one is an old Soviet Vostok Amphibia).

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Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson) in The Royal Tenenbaums

It could have been Owen Wilson’s rootin’-tootin’ Eli Cash. It could have been Danny Glover’s dapper Henry Sherman. It perhaps even should have been Royal Tenenbaum himself; played by a perennially-pinstriped Gene Hackman. But we’ve plumped for a younger member of the Tenenbaum clan; tennis prodigy Richie — trendily embodied by Luke Wilson.

Why? Because Richie remains the enduring image of this seminal piece of cinema — itself Anderson’s first brush with the Academy Awards. With bushy hair, thick-rimmed tinted sunglasses and a stripy sweatband, the character hits icon status before his beard even ends — so those outfits (which tend to blend vintage sportswear with textured tailoring) are just an added bonus. 

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Herman J. Blume (Bill Murray) in Rushmore

For our next pick, we’re rewinding even further into Anderson’s back catalogue. 1998’s Rushmore was the director’s second ever feature film (following Bottle Rocket), and it follows a fresh-faced Jason Schwartzman in his pursuit of Olivia William’s straight-talking schoolteacher, Rosemary Cross. But Bill Murray, as a rich industrialist harbouring similarly fond feelings towards Cross, is the story’s most stylish character.

And he achieves this accolade with very little work. Almost exclusively seen in a charcoal pinstripe suit (a pair of tremendous-but-terrible Budweiser-branded swim shorts are a very notable exception), Blume pairs this pared-back tailoring with matching shirts and ties, in varying shades of blue and orange. It’s simple; but off-kilter and effective.  

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Howard Billingsley (Larry Pine) in Moonrise Kingdom

For all its quaint, cute charm, Moonrise Kingdom is one of Wes Anderson’s most forgettable films. So it stands to reason that, from this under-the-radar release, we’ve chosen a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him character. With mere minutes of screen time, Larry Pine’s Mr Billingsley is the ex-foster parent of our protagonist; 12-year-old orphan Sam Shakusky. And he dresses well.

Just look at that shacket; patch pockets and large yellow checks — perfectly paired with the sunny shades of his kitchen, and even colour-matched to his telephone. The wide-fit, turned-up trousers have a similar hipster appeal, and the white socks and hiking boots tie together the entire ensemble. He many be a minor character, but you can’t overlook the strength of such style. 

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Wes Anderson (Wes Anderson) in My Life, My Card

Wes Anderson is no stranger to adverts. He once directed Brad Pitt in a commercial for SoftBank, shot Adrien Brody for an H&M Christmas campaign, and cast Léa Seydoux in a Prada promo. But his most striking short was an American Express ad in 2006, in which the director himself attempts to explain his unique approach to movie-making. 

It’s a heightened, exaggerated take on reality — with Anderson parodying his own cinematic style, even down to the duds. And, in a belted safari jacket, patterned neckerchief and an embroidered baseball cap, he looks the epitome of Anderson-esque kitsch. Self-reflective; wholly effective.

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