How to Dress Like James Dean
For the gentleman who has always wanted to look and act like a modern day James Dean, there are many ways to perfect his style. This article provides some suggestions to inspire you to develop your own modernized James Dean look.
Understand the statement James Dean made with his clothing. James Dean's clothing was simple and practical, as well as being a sign of the times he lived in, reflecting the youth culture. Yet, even in the midst of simplicity, he made a statement with his leather jacket and denim. Indeed, his Lee 101 Riders jeans epitomized the birth of teen culture and denim became synonymous with rebellion.<ref name="Clothesfilm">http://clothesonfilm.com/rebel-without-a-cause-james-dean-in-jeans/10804/</ref> Unlike previous eras in history where lots of clothing reflected social status and attitude, suddenly dressing down became the fashion statement to go for. On the whole, when allowing yourself to be inspired by James Dean's look, keep it simple and unadulterated and know what fits you well above all; after all, James Dean was never about following fads but about forging his own way in a world that needed reminding that conformity was all a bit of a bore. Dean wouldn't have been impressed with anyone who copycatting his look to the nth degree and looking a fool, so don't do any part of what's suggested in these steps unless it works for you.
- Remember that Dean's clothing comes from an era where clothes fitted the body closely, following the human form and hugging it. Nothing baggy, loose or tent-like should be used when trying to achieve the James Dean look.
Begin by purchasing or finding basic, classic blue jeans. They should be straight legged and of a classic cut. Most importantly, they should be in excellent condition, with no rips, tears or scruffy hems. The jeans should fit well and not be baggy or loose and definitely not hanging off your backside.
- If you want a truly authentic look, add cuffs to the leg ends of the jeans or simply turn them up. If that isn't something you're keen to wear, simply ensure that the ends are neat and not frayed.
- Most of James Dean's jeans were in the mid to dark blue range, with some wear but still neat.
- Add a large belt with an obvious belt buckle to complete the look.
Choose the t-shirts that James Dean would have enjoyed wearing. Again, staying with simplicity, the more common choices for James Dean included:
- White t-shirts: It never hurts to have a number of these in the wardrobe, freshly laundered and pressed, ready for wearing. The white tee is very versatile too – it looks good under jackets (especially the leather kind) and by itself.
- Muscle cut polo shirts: Obviously, to show off the muscle work and generally look rebellious and cool.
Check out the movies for more ideas. If you like James Dean and want to dress like him, your best source of ideas will be found in his movies. Of course, he had designers working out a lot of these clothes but they evoked a style of an era and Dean wasn't averse to wearing many of the same clothes off the big screen either. Here are some of the things you might discover when watching them:
- If you're going for a movie look, Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden are worth watching as those demonstrate his greatest movie outfits.
Rebel Without a Cause, he sported a red cotton windbreaker jacket, which you can buy on Dean's official website, a white V-neck muscle cut shirt, and worn dark jeans, with very simple black engineer boots.
East of Eden was his "good boy look", he wore a khaki colored v-neck sweater, under it a white or light blue polo shirt, khaki slacks or pants, with brown dress shoes, or gray converse Chuck Taylor's.
Choose shoes and boots that reflect James Dean's style. The choices here are fairly easy:
- Work boots: Some classic black boots, which are plain and unadorned are the ideal choice. Pair these with plain white socks. If there's a heel on them, so much the better.
- Simple converse shoes or similar for casual wear are fine. Again, pair with very basic, plain socks.
Get a black leather jacket. This is probably one of the most remembered iconic pieces of clothing worn by Dean. Like the white t-shirt and denim jeans, it's a simple piece that can be worn with a number of items easily.
- When wearing the jacket, have the collar flipped "up" (pop it), if you have to take it off, hang it over your shoulder.
- As noted earlier, Dean also wore a rebellious red jacket in Rebel without a cause, which gives a bit of variety to your wardrobe.
Consider wearing your hair like James Dean's. James Dean sported a pompadour. This was the only style that he ever wore, so if it's one you like, consider adopting it as well. However, it's a good idea to speak with your hairdresser about the practicalities of looking after it and whether or not it will suit your face shape, etc.
- The swept back look can be done in varying degrees of severity, so let your hairdresser help you choose what is best for your needs.
- If you do have a pompadour, always have a comb; when your hair looks good, you'll feel good, and when a sexy girl passes by, comb the side of your hair. Back in the 50's, men told women they were sexy through combing their hair near them, or when they passed by.
Dress up. For dress clothes, Dean was still very simplistic in his style. When he wore a tuxedo, he wore a white dinner jacket with a slim black tie, black slacks, with black patent leather shoes (very shinny black shoes).
- When at a casual dress occasion, he usually sported a wool sports jacket, in the brown or khaki colors, a white or creme colored button down shirt, thin brown belt, khaki pants, and brown dress shoes – never wear square toe shoes, always round.
- The long overcoat worn in this image was also a Dean trademark. It's a great addition for the colder weather.
Sport the attitude. Finally, while clothes make you appear interesting, your personality is what really draws people in. Flirting gently, being an all-round pleasant guy and being helpful around women is a Dean-like way to be, while being cool, tough and not sensitive is a Dean-like approach to hanging around with the guys.
- Shrug off the rudeness of others. It's not worth your while to chase compliments or confirm people's nastiness by stooping to their level.
Stand up for yourself. Dean didn't like violence; he was tough but not rough. Use your smarts and your wit to maneuver around the violent people you come across and don't be a bully.
- When wearing a big belt buckle, it's sexiest to have your hands on it, or to slide your fingers through the belt loops, when standing still; having your hands near your crotch is very suggestive.
- Be very precise with your hygiene. As for facial hair, having can be good if you're young as it makes you look older; just don't go overboard; a light 5 o'clock shadow is a good look.
- If you're thinking of buying an old car, get a 1950 or a 1952 Mercury convertible or a 1953-1955 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. If you have the money to maintain a vintage vehicle, it can be a source of cool. But don't overdo it; old cars require a lot of care and money thrown at them and that is, well a lot of effort for a rebel.
- Consider purchasing your clothes from charity stores. Keep each outfit at a $20-$50 range, shop at Goodwill or Salvation Army; while used, sometimes you can get great vintage things.
- Don't refer to your T-Shirts as "Tops". That would be a dead giveaway that you're a girl. James Dean was NOT a girl, and he never wore a "Top" in his life.
- Although Dean smoked, that was definitely something of the time that has since been shown to be detrimental to health and very uncool. Don't start smoking to emulate Dean.