Classic Men of Style: Paul Newman

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Newman in The Prize wearing a puppy tooth overcoat.

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In Sometimes a Great Notion, Newman wearing white jeans and crewneck sweatshirt.

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Newman confidently wearing a chambray button-down with the collar up popped up.

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Newman showing us the details matter.

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A more mature Paul Newman wearing an elegant tuxedo in The Sting.

A master of effortless style

Paul Newman was a renegade. A man of many hats, he was an accomplished actor, a philanthropist, a race car driver, and an entrepreneur. His effortless style was a sight to behold. And his watches have moved markets. Let’s take a closer look at this style icon, including what made him who he was as well as some of the hallmarks of this style.

Early History

Handsome with striking blue eyes, Paul Newman was born in Cleveland, Ohio on January 26th, 1925. Living an idyllic childhood, Newman grew up as an athlete. He joined Kenyon College in Ohio on a scholarship, where his passion for drama started. He acted in plays throughout his college career and with the support of his parents, decided to try making it a full-time career after graduating. However, after his father’s passing a few years later, Newman returned to Cleveland to run the family business.

paul newman style

But after 18 months, the business was handed to his brother as Newman decided to try again, but this time concentrate on directing at Yale University. In the summer of 1952, right after leaving Yale, Newman got a small part in a Broadway play. That snowballed into segments on live television and then eventually, joining the esteemed Actors Studio in New York as a student. Newman joined actors such as James Dean and Marlon Brando in lessons as he continued to audition for roles.

Career

Newman’s debut film was the Biblical epic, The Silver Chalice where he played a silversmith who crafted the Holy Grail. A box office failure, it helped springboard him towards other roles. But he found himself competing with others. He lost out to James Dean for the lead in East of Eden, and his roles were sporadic. But after James Dean passed away in 1956, Newman was cast as the boxer Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me – which had originally been set aside to Dean. Following that role, Newman found himself as the lead more often.

Acting in 65 movies over the course of 50 years, Newman played tragic figures, antiheroes, and rebellious figures in classics such as Cool Hand Luke, Long Hot Summer, and of course, the classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He had effortless charm, and it shone through in each role he took on and later in each film he directed. He was nominated for numerous awards and won Oscars as well throughout his career.

paul newman style

But Paul Newman wasn’t just about acting – he was so much more. Alongside his career in film, he was known for his charitable work and of course, the eponymous Newman’s Own. Now found on grocery shelves across the country, Newman’s Own was started when he decided to sell some of his homemade salad dressing – just for fun. But as it took off, he enlisted his writer friend A. E. Hotchner to help him. Almost three decades later, Newman’s Own has expanded into a food empire with a wide variety of offerings. According to the company, all profits are donated to charity

paul newman style

He also created Hole in the Wall Gang Camps, after the outlaw gang in Butch Cassidy and where most of the profits for Newman’s Own went. These camps were designed to offer free recreation for children with serious and debilitating illnesses, and Newman continued to be actively involved in the cause throughout his life. Newman also found happiness in race car driving. He was also an incredibly successful race car driver, even competing at Daytona as a 70th birthday gift for himself.

Paul Newman’s Style

Paul Newman is the perfect example of classic, yet preppy style. More of an understated macho man, Paul Newman’s style wasn’t about flash, but about combining wardrobe basics into stylish outfits that looked put-together without being overly done. Penny loafers, button-downs, and of course, a well-tailored suit were the hallmarks of his style, but there’s so much more to it.

paul newman style

Classic outfits

Paul Newman’s outfits were about timelessness. Sharply dressed, he liked to pair single-breasted, two-button jackets with high-waisted trousers to give him length and height. For casual wear, pairing a button-down shirt with some leather accents like a belt and neutral jeans were a go-to. For an extra touch, rolling up the sleeves added a little more casualness to the look without looking sloppy.

paul newman style

The Power of a Jacket

Another great thing about Paul Newman’s style was using the transformative power of a jacket. Leather and corduroy were often his choices, both offering a very distinct look but equally cool options. Corduroy can be notoriously hard to pull off, but finding the right cut can really help bring together an outfit and adds an eclectic touch that can be really transformative.

A watch, always

Paul Newman never went without a watch, and neither should you. It’s an incredibly stylish accessory that is also functional–a win-win. To get the Newman “feel”, opt for a more vintage style with leather bands in chocolate brown or black and smaller dials. Or of course, you can also go for another classic Newman brand–the Rolex Daytona (but good luck finding one!). He was a famed collector, and his watches were famously attributed to higher sales of vintage Rolexes–including the record breaking “Paul Newman Daytona”.

paul newman style

Nautical themes

If you’re stuck for some casual outfit choices, a nautical touch is always a good idea. Newman favored long-sleeved striped shirts as an option. It works for both spring and summer depending on fabric choices and paired with some neutral chinos or jeans, it’s dressed down but still sharp.

paul newman style

Muted colors

Another hallmark of Newman’s style was his preference for muted colors. Rather than go for loud and flashy palettes, he opted for subdued color schemes but with an added pop sometimes – like leather or a dark-colored jacket for an extra touch. But muted doesn’t mean boring. Chambray denim button-downs, subtle stripes, and accessories like boots and wristwatches can add some color without being overwhelming.

paul newman style

Iconic status

Newman’s enduring legacy lies not only in his acting, but for the many hats he wore throughout his lifetime. His devotion to charitable work and pursuit of passions like racecar driving show that people can’t be stuffed into a box – they contain multitudes. His passion and intellect are what drove him, and he used his fame and fortune to try and make real change through efforts like Newman’s Own and his charitable work. His style, looks, and charisma helped in building that legacy. Paul Newman remains an integral part of Hollywood history for all this and more.

What are your favorite parts of Paul Newman’s style? Chime in below!

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