Monday, 22 March 2010


This is a placeholder post. Life has got in the way and Steve McQueen Style is suddenly biweekly, so you'll have to wait seven more little days for the new instalment ("Walk A Mile In His Boots"). Bloody life.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Don't Step On His Brown Suede Boots

The sweatshirt from The Great Escape and the jacket from Bullitt are among the most iconic, but Steve McQueen's most consistent item of clothing was his brown suede boots.

California Coast (1964) from the book Steve McQueen: Photographs by William Claxton

You can see McQueen in brown suede boots in numerous photographs. Note the dark top and light trouser combination in the images above, as well as the incredible cardigan. Steve McQueen Style will warm to both themes later.

You see McQueen in brown suede boots on film, too.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Note again that dark top and light trouser combination (above).

The Blob (1958)

The brown suede was there, although his overall sense of style was less defined back in the days of The Blob.

Papillon (1973)

He even appears, later in his career, to sneak a pair onto Devil's Island.

The most famous instance of Steve with that type of boot, however, is Bullitt.

Steve McQueen in his role as Police Lieutenant Frank Bullitt (1968) from the book Unforgettable Steve McQueen, edited by Henri Suzeau

McQueen was known to wear loafers by the Italian company Tod's. He advertised them. What's more, some of the Bullitt posters talk about "Italian shoes".

Bullitt posters

This has led people to speculate the boots in Bullitt are Tod's. However, apparently they're by English company Sanders & Sanders. [Update: apparently they're by English company Hutton! See Interim Post #2.]

Bullitt (1968)

What's more, Sanders still makes the model. They're difficult to get hold of in the UK, though. Many of the best English manufacturers concentrate on export - especially to Japan - rather than the domestic market, so you might fair better elsewhere. The Manchester and online menswear shop Oi Polloi, at the time of writing, sells the navy version for £135. Barley Harvest Season, a Japanese shop, currently sells a couple of small sizes of brown for ¥36,750/£270. Good luck.

Sanders & Sanders playboy lo chukka boot

The finest English footwear tends to come from Northamptonshire. Sanders & Sanders is no exception, and neither is George Cox, which makes a chukka similar enough that some believe it's the actual Bullitt boot. Camden's British Boot Company sells them for £130 (click for the online shop and search "george cox chukka").

George Cox brown suede chukka

Tod's ankle boot is an attractive alternative. Try their Bond Street boutique if you're interested.

Tod's ankle boot

Popularity has pushed up the price of the humble yet classic Clarks desert boot. £69 is cheap compared to Tod's, though, and it's an appealing option regardless.

Clarks suede desert boot (colour is "cola")

The Daniel Craig incarnation of James Bond is influenced a good deal by Sean Connery, but more so by Steve McQueen.

Quantum Of Solace (2008)

Note again the dark top and light trouser combination, as well as the incredible cardigan. Craig's boots are by Church, another manufacturer from Northamptonshire.

Church Ryder III

They're Church's Ryder III model, from the country collection, £300 and an excellent choice.

Chukka. Desert boot. What is the difference between desert boots and chukkas? Desert boots are supposedly looser at the ankle and have a crepe sole. However, as you can see from the suggestions, here in reality the terms are essentially interchangeable.

The moral anyway, in case you missed it, is wear a pair of suede desert or chukka boots in a mid or dark brown.

Next week: Walk A Mile In His Boots

Monday, 8 March 2010

God Is In The Details

Welcome to Steve McQueen Style.

Steve McQueen is the most stylish man ever, and this blog will attempt to get to the essence of his style.

Steve McQueen in a classic Great Escape scene (1963) from the book Unforgettable Steve McQueen, edited by Henri Suzeau

Much of what makes Steve McQueen the most stylish man ever is down to his clothes. They meant a great deal to him. He wore clothes in all his films, in fact, and this guide will primarily look, week by week, at items of his clothing.

His icon status is about more than just clothes, though. He's Steve McQueen, in short, and you aren't. He's a rich 60s and 70s Hollywood star. His hair also contributes to his style. "Steve believed in staying in shape," photographer William Claxton says in his excellent book of Steve McQueen photographs*, and that counts too.

Steve McQueen style means something other than buying replicas of clothes with his name and signature printed on it, or as many clothes that look like his as you can find. You should learn from the Book Of Steve, however, and try clothes that McQueen wore but you might normally avoid.

Bullitt (1968)

God is in the details, McQueen liked to say. One overall bit of advice you can inherit from his wardrobe: unless it's to do with motor sport sponsorship, avoid visible logos. It was easier back then, but do your best.

Steve McQueen Style is a UK blog, so don't be afraid to adapt shop suggestions to your country and go for your nearest brand/model/colour equivalent. Post a comment if you know of an alternative. Treat prices of clothes recommended here as approximate and assume they exclude postage, packing and import duties, which are probably significant. Both availability and prices are likely to fluctuate all over the place and with time. (Check the date of each entry. I fully expect my bid for immortality is successful and you're reading this thousands of years from now.)

Next week: Don't Step On His Brown Suede Boots

Battaglia men's store on Fifth Avenue, New York City (1962) from the book Steve McQueen: Photographs by William Claxton

*Please note this blog will refer to Claxton's book as well as other important sources. Any copyright holder who decides it's negative use of your property, let me know and I'll remove all trace.