Richard Gere in “American Gigolo” Is a Spring Style Icon
Get yourself some linen. Do not get yourself framed for murder.
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For better or worse, the 80s were a decade defined by its fashions. Denim on denim (typically of the acid-wash variety), baggy silhouettes and neon hues are some of the stylistic hallmarks of the era — and among the worst. Those who lived and dressed through it are left to reckon with the sartorial trauma endured by their fashion faux pas, ill-advised outfits shadowing their memories and forever reminding them of their missteps.
But it would be a disservice to the decade to declare all of the fashion it produced as bad. Contrary to popular belief, the 80s weren’t entirely without their merits when it comes to style, especially in the earlier years. Prior to the more notable trends taking root, when the style of the 70s still lingered, mens’ outfits were a far cry from those that would dominate in the mid to later years, often offering a subtlety and elegance that would seem antithetical to the mode of dressing that was later peddled as the norm.
As evidence, we submit the 1980 film American Gigolo. Directed by Paul Schrader, the film centers around Julian (Richard Gere), a male escort who caters to a clientele of wealthy older women capable of financing his lavish lifestyle and are thus responsible for his enviable wardrobe. Eventually one of Julian’s former clients is found murdered, with Julian framed (likely by a former pimp) as the lead suspect — then comes the sex, betrayal, drugs and lies that are standard to a neo-noir ensue.
Despite what the slightly cheesy name and year the movie was released might indicate, the outfits Gere wears as Julian are not artifacts of outdated fashion you’d never want to be seen in today, but timeless ensembles that are still worth recreating. Always put together, Julian’s wardrobe is largely comprised of tailored linen pieces in neutrals, ideal for battling the heat as he darts around Los Angeles in his Mercedes Benz 450 SL. While he’ll occasionally sport a full suit (typically when he’s meeting a client), his everyday wears tend to consist of separates that still manage to paint Julian as a fashionable figure. Even as he becomes further entangled in the plot to frame him for murder, he resists devolving into complete dishevelment, his clothes appearing slightly more wrinkled than usual but the collared shirts and sports coats remaining a constant.
Responsible for outfitting Gere in the film was Giorgio Armani, his aesthetic mark apparent. A master of suiting, Armani’s involvement in the film helped to reimagine the way a suit and suiting separates could be worn, foregoing the traditional use of more structured fabrics in favor of those that offered movement and malleability (e.g. linen), allowing for ease and comfort without sacrificing style.
In Julian’s more casual moments we typically see him slip into denim, whether it’s a pair of denim hot pants as he lounges by the pool or a slightly flared pair of jeans that hug the figure, both still paired with collared button-downs, sleeves rolled up and an expanse of chest exposed, two stylistic details preferred by him. In these instances the time period becomes most apparent, yet if anything they speak more to the previous decade: retro, yes, but nothing so wild as to seem entirely outdated, with a pair of ostrich boots being the most ostentatiously 80s thing Julian wears.
From a viewer’s perspective, it’s easy to recognize these looks as attainable but still relegate them strictly to the screen, something you might imagine yourself wearing but never will, whether it’s because your own lifestyle differs from that of Julian’s or because you lack the confidence to pull it off. While Julian’s career and life experience are certainly far removed from most, and his wardrobe isn’t. It’s primarily Armani, yes, but we’re really just talking about discreet, elegant pieces that can be had from less high-end designers without much trouble. Here, we’ll help:
Mango 100% Slim Fit Linen Shirt
Venroy Side Tab Trousers
Todd Snyder Japanese Chambray Traveler Suit Jacket
Ariat Circuit R Toe Western Boot
Bonobos Relaxed Fit Camp Collar Shirt
Urban Renewal Levi’s 501 5” Cutoff Denim Short
RAEN Remmy Sunglasses
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