While researching a magazine feature recently we came across these unpublished photos of Steve McQueen on a clothes-shopping spree in 1963. The pix were taken by photographer John Dominis while on assignment for Life, an epic, several-day shoot that produced a number of iconic McQueen images as well as hundreds of outtakes – Dominis shot over 40 rolls of film, renting a sports car to keep up with the speedy star in and around Los Angeles. McQueen, 33 at the time, showed up on this occasion in his wicked Jaguar XK-SS wearing cords, desert boots, a Baracuta jacket and a tweed cap.
The shop exudes traditional Ivy League style with its wood paneling, antique fixtures, wool tartan yardage, hunting prints, heraldic plaques, repp ties and scrimshaw lamps; not quite McQueen’s style, one would have thought, but he was obviously after some traditional threads. Or perhaps he was just trying to look a bit more mature; Paramount had just given him Gary Cooper’s old dressing room while making Love With the Proper Stranger with Natalie Wood, a serious Hollywood status symbol.
At the clothier, probably in Beverly Hills – can any of you eagle-eyed style fanatics identify it? – McQueen got fitted for a dark wool suit and a slim-cut classic dinner jacket (after trying on a shawl collar model he settled on a single-breasted peak lapel) to wear to a movie premiere with his wife Neile, which Dominis later documented. He also picked out some shirts, socks, ties and dress shoes, but apparently passed on the preppy silk braces. Of course, back then you could smoke while you shopped – especially if you were the King.
Jared Paul Stern writes the Classicist column for Luxist.