The Modern James Dean: Dressing the Part

James Dean was the American heart-throb in the early 50’s until his early death in ’55. He made a cultural impact on society and style at the time. Through his movie Rebel Without a Cause, James Dean lived the idea of teenage disillusionment, and giving that classic rugged, bad-boy look.

Taylor Swift sings of his iconic look in her new song Style – “You got that James Dean daydream look in your eyes……You got that long hair slicked back, white t-shirt…”

There are many ways to create a James Dean outfit and pull off that fashionable bad-boy “midnight drive with no headlights” style.

The semi-slicked back look is very much in style right now. More popular, shorter sides with a longer top slicked back – such as in the images below. This hairstyle can easily be played by using sculpting paste while hair is just a little damp, rubbing the paste in your hands, then running your hands from the roots to ends while slicking it back. Use hairspray to hold it in place

hair 1 Hair








That classic white t-shirt… I’m not a big fan of white t-shirts unless there is a graphic on them; try a t-shirt that has very modest, black lettering or image on it, for simplicity. If you don’t prefer white, light gray will work as well. Both shirts below are from Urban Outfitters and each are $24.00.

graphic tee 1graphic 2

Pants – for the modern James Dean look, go for denim that loosely hugs your waist and thighs, NO skinny jeans guys. Find a pair that are tapered at leg opening. Dark wash is always better. The first pair are Lucky Brand jeans, 481 relaxed straight, and are $129.00. The second pair of jeans are by Lee, featuring a slim fit style with a tapered leg, also offered in a darker wash, $53.00.

Pants 1 Jean 2

Shoes are always the fun part. In style now, boots, oxfords and weejuns/loafers are the best way to go with this look. Depending on what color jacket you decide will help you choose which color shoe to go with. They don’t have to match, but they do need to complement each other. The first, a Desert Boot by Clarks, retails for $129.00. The second shoe is a pair of Bradford Weejuns by G.H. Bass & Co, $128.00. The third show, a Steve Madden Sebstian, retails for $89.95

Desert Boot Weejuns Shoe Steve Madden

Now, the time has come…The James Dean staple piece – it is what makes the outfit and makes that bad-boy look and vibe come alive; the leather jacket. Most all pictures of this look shows a black leather jacket, but don’t be afraid to branch out to other colors, such as maroon, dark blue and darker shades of green. To keep the leather jacket modern, choose one that is flat front, not a traditional biker jacket, or one that has a sewn in jacket. The first leather jacket is by Diesel, $698.00 at Nordstrom. The second is Kenneth Cole faux leather, $195.00. Last but not least, this Kenneth Cole red faux leather jacket features a sewn in jacket for added warmth, $195.00.


DieselKenneth Cole Kenneth Cole Hoodie

Make this look even better with accessories. Keep it simple because the leather jacket is your statement piece. Add a metal banded wrist watch and a thin leather bracelet to one wrist, and then show them who is boss with a pair of wayfarers or aviators. When you’re not wearing the sunglasses, keep them folded and hanging off your t-shirt. Wayfarers pictured, Ray-Ban $130.00. Aviators pictured are Polo Ralph Lauren, $150.00 at Wrist watch is Komono Winston Royale, $99.95 on The best leather bracelets are found on Etsy, the one below is $26.99 on Etsy by UrbanSurvivalGearUSA.

Classic Wayfarer Aviators Watch il_570xN.364545326_sw8u

Grow out some scruffy facial hair, minus the stache, and now you are officially the modern James Dean bad ass on campus that Taylor can’t help but keep singing about, and you can’t help but keeping wishing you were.

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