16 Mar Top 10 Western Movie Costumes
The Western is one of the most visually distinctive genres of film, instantly recognisable and powerfully evocative. A key part of that unique aesthetic is the outfits of Western films – sometimes good, sometimes bad, and sometimes just downright ugly. But amongst such a huge pool of outfits, which ten stand out head and cowboy hat above the rest?
- The Man With No Name, the “Dollars” Trilogy (1964-1966)
The Man With No Name’s poncho must be the most famous woollen garment in cinema. Originally worn by Clint Eastwood in “A Fistful of Dollars”, director Sergio Leone apparently liked the poncho so much that he re-used it for Eastwood’s characters in both “For a Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”. Hollywood legend tells us that Eastwood himself purchased bitten-down cigars and black Levi’s jeans with which he paired with the brown and cream fringed poncho, for a look that still epitomizes grit and cool today.
- Marty McFly, “Back To The Future Part III” (1990)
In the third and final installment of the “Back to the Future” trilogy, Michael J. Fox as Marty heads back in time but brings a thoroughly modern take to the Old West. Passing himself off as “Clint Eastwood” when he travels back to 1885, Marty mixes Eighties / Nineties colour blocking with traditional Western style. First pairing shockingly red trousers with a multi-coloured pastel fringed shirt, then pulling off a note-perfect impression as “Clint Eastwood” in a poncho, jeans and hat combo (see above). A modern twist on classic cowboy style.
- Shane, “Shane” (1953)
Dressed all in classic cream-coloured suede, Alan Ladd as the titular Shane is the visual embodiment of the white knight on horseback. His pale outfits dazzle in Technicolour as the outward symbol of his unimpeachable moral character. Shane is the ultimate spotless hero, not even ruining his outfits with bloodstains as he rides off into the sunset at the film’s finale.
- Butch Cassidy, The Sundance Kid, and Etta Place, “Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid” (1969)
Despite their tragic end in the film, the outfits of Butch (Paul Newman), the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford), and Etta Place (Katharine Ross) live on in cinema. Whether it’s Butch’s impeccable suit and Etta’s immaculate white dress for bicycling and stealing Sundance’s woman, or wearing matching denims and suede as “Los Bandidos Yanquis”, the three pull off impeccable style as a perfectly matched group.
- Tom Doniphon, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962)
It’s all about the enormous white hat in this classic John Wayne movie. While Wayne’s character Tom Doniphon gives up the girl he loves, the glory of bringing down the villainous Liberty Valance, and even his home in an inferno, Wayne’s Doniphon never gives up his style with the most recognisable hat in the West.
- Mattie Ross, “True Grit” (2010)
With her oversized belted coat, Boss of the Plains hat (yes, that is the hat style’s actual name), immaculate braids and stubborn determination, Hailee Steinfeld’s Mattie Ross may be young, but she steals the film with both her fierce demeanour and her tough style choices.
- The Lone Ranger, “The Lone Ranger” TV Series (1949-1957)
Utterly outrageous and completely iconic, the original Lone Ranger’s outfit is brilliant and bonkers in equal measures. A version of the Clayton Moore’s signature get-up (light blue shirt and trousers, paired with a red neckscarf and his trademark Colt pistols) sold for more than $195,000 recently – and that price didn’t include the trademark bonkers eyemask. A campy cowboy classic.
- Calamity Jane and Katie Brown, “Calamity Jane” (1953)
When they first meet, Doris Day’s scruffy, sasparilly-swigging “Calam” and the spotless Katie Brown are a truly odd couple. But as the film progresses, the mismatched pair slowly learn from each other to pull off perfect combination of toughness and style by the end of the film. Calamity’s final outfit choices are classic Fifties-goes-West outfits with frothy masses of lace, tulle and frills.
- Chris Adams, “The Magnificent Seven” (1960)
Traditionally, wearing an all-black outfit – in particular, wearing a black hat – in Western movies signalled evil intentions in the wearer. But Yul Bryner as Chris Adams, leader of the seven gunfighters, keeps his outfit minimalist and instantly recognisable, whilst still providing the quiet bravery and moral backbone of this iconic Western.
- Jesse James, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (2007)
Giving even Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy as run for his money in the coolness stakes, Brad Pitt as Jesse James manages to make his character as much of a style icon as he is a outlaw hero. His open-necked soft white shirts, black three-piece suit, and impeccably tousled facial hair seem as effortlessly stylish in 1882 as in the modern day. Gunslinger style never looked so timeless.