Style Icon: How James Dean Earned His (Breton) Stripes

Posted by Ethan M. Wong on

James Dean will always be a menswear icon. With his short tenure in film, Dean helped to define the look of American casual wear in a time where tailoring was soon starting to fall out of favor with the younger generations.  His simple look of a white crewneck tee, jeans, boots, and red Harrington is a truly iconic one, which has been immortalized in time. No longer did you need to wear a suit and tie to be adored by men and women. Soon, casual clothing had its own place in the greater world of men’s fashion. 



While his Rebel Without a Cause look is his most famous, it is to be noted that he had plenty of other opportunities to show off great style.  He was known to wear white socks and loafers when not in boots and definitely makes a strong case for the flecked sport coat. He also looks rather smart in sweaters, especially in a turtleneck/coat combo, giving us infinite inspiration for a “dressed down” approach to menswear that makes it look more accessible and easy to pull off. There’s even one great picture of him in overalls that certainly has us considering it.  It’s these uniquely American choices in style, combined with his confident-yet-casual demeanor that really makes him a menswear inspiration to all of us.  

Flecked jacket, high rise trousers, an OCBD.

Can't go wrong with a turtleneck and coat.


In fact, in addition to his sport shirts and tees, Dean was also an avid polo shirt enthusiast.  It still had that slouchy, casual feel due to it’s long floppy collar and breast pocket. The one that stands out most, and serves as the inspiration for this article, is his long sleeve, breton stripe polo.  It’s a unique piece amongst his overall wardrobe, but it’s great nonetheless. Like polos of the time period, it features a slim fit and wide ribbing to accent the wearer’s silhouette well. It definitely stands out amongst a typical polo thanks to its wide collar and lack of placket buttons. These details combined with the contrast navy collar and lovely stripe makes for a retro yet classically louche piece, perfect for the array of clothing in any gentleman’s wardrobe.

Vintage style polos with a cuban style collar, slim fit, and breast pocket.

Argyle polo shirt.

Our love of this James Dean piece has led to a  collaboration with Far Afield Clothing in the UK to produce our own version, inspired by his original one.  This long sleeve polo is made of soft 100% premium cotton and faithfully has the same retro collar and deep placket.  It is available in blue/white, opting for a contrast shoulder and ribbing to differentiate it from the original and a full white version.  The Dean polo is perfect to wear on its own with jeans or to combine with your favorite outerwear, like our rust A2 jacket or even a trusty safari.

You’re guaranteed to look cool in our Jimmy Polo though unfortunately, we don’t sell his casual attitude and nonchalance.  You’ll have to get that yourself.

Military shirt for Giant (1956).

breton stripe james dean nautical polo style icon

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