We owe much – from our suits and hairstyles, sunnies and casualwear – to these classic cinema characters.
1. James Bond
No other movie character has had more influence on men’s style than 007. Since his screen debut in 1962’s Dr. No, right through to last year’s Spectre, James Bond has taught us how to wear suits of impeccable cut and fit. He has also offered a masterclass in how to comport ourselves in any variety of casinos, bars and volcanic lairs, while providing a frequently updated guide to the world’s best luxury cars, designer watches and concealable weaponry.
2. Tyler Durden
Fight Club was a flop when it was released in 1999 but its reputation has only grown since. Much of that has to do with the ineffable cool of its surreal antagonist Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt. Seldom has a character looked so thrown together but made such a careful fashion statement. While Pitt’s Durden might seem like he’s gotten dressed in an op shop in the dark, what he presents is an essential guide for anyone who loves vintage wear. What he teaches us is that it’s about fit, silhouette and colour/pattern/texture matching first. The cool rebel vibe comes from getting all of those things right. Being Brad Pitt helps heaps, too.
3. Jim Stark
Chances are that sometime this week you’ll catch sight of yourself in a T-shirt, jeans and a jacket. While it’s tempting to think this has been masculine casual wear since the caveman days, you can actually thank James Dean for popularising this look with his character Jim Stark in 1955’s Rebel Without A Cause. As hard to credit? That the concept of a “teenager” was then fairly new and that Stark represented all that was angry and disillusioned about young people in conservative 1950s America. Of course that attitude and look would metastasize in all directions over the coming decades. But in terms of popularising what is the defining look of youth in the 20th century, Jim Stark is your man.
4. The Beatles
While Beatlemania swept the world in 1963-64, most of the band’s fans didn’t actually get to see them live – and even if they did they were but tiny figures in giant arenas, details unavailable in the days before jumbo screens beside every stage. But thanks to the Liverpool lads playing themselves in the films A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, young men all around the world got to see their idols wearing their hair longer than the crew or short-bad-and-sides cuts common at the time. The effect was immediate and hairstyles were changed forever.
5. Roger O’ Thornhill
Think about your sunglasses. Putting them on makes you feel cool, like you’re on the prowl, a mysterious man on a mission, instantly about five times as attractive to women. But why? If you cast your mind back you might come up with Tom Cruise in either Risky Business or Top Gun. But the origin of the cool goes back way farther than that to Cary Grant’s fugitive in 1959’s North By Northwest. His character Roger O’Thornhill is on the run when he dons his sunnies as a disguise from the cops. He’s soon using his newfound mysterious charm to successfully seduce Eva Marie Saint and make his totally cool getaway. The sunglasses in this sequence are the subject of much debate – are they Persols or Vintage Tart Arnels? – but the one thing that many claim is that they are, as Slate magazine headlined an article, “The Coolest Thing Anyone Has Ever Worn.”