At Roderer our mission is to create a collection of leather goods of exceptional quality that appeal to the modern gentleman. That said, we’re not interested in fads or trends or what’s ‘hot right now’. We make products that last and so it’s critical they still look stylish in 5, 10 or even 20 years’ time. That’s why we look to timeless style icons from the past to give us inspiration for the present and the future. Former Hollywood superstar Paul Newman is one such example.
PAUL NEWMAN, HOLLYWOOD ICON
When you hear the name Paul Newman you may think of his many successful movies, such as Cool Hand Luke and The Hustler. Or, you might reflect on professional car racing, or film directors, or even philanthropy. That’s because Paul Newman was a man of many talents, and it seems nearly everything he touched improved because of him.
Newman was born in January of 1925 in the city of Cleveland, Ohio and then spent his childhood in Shaker Heights, Ohio with his older brother, mom, and dad. He did some acting in school plays, but didn’t consider it professionally until the day he was kicked off his university football team. He finished up his last two years in drama and never looked back.
Like many of the young men of his time however, Newman’s life was interrupted by a stint in the army during World War II. Based in Hawaii, he was assigned to the Pacific-based replacement torpedo squadrons VT-98, VT-99, and VT-100, and was primarily responsible for training replacement combat pilots and air crewmen. He later flew as a turret gunner in an Avenger torpedo bomber and as a radioman-gunner.
After the war, Newman completed his Bachelor of Arts in drama and economics at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio in 1949. Early on in his acting life, he could have been easily pigeonholed as a “pretty boy,” but Newman refused to let that happen. He moved on to work in many anti-authority parts that made him stand apart, despite his good looks and stunning blue eyes. He earned acclaim in many roles and was nominated for several awards for this incredible acting chops.
Later, Newman also dabbled in directing with the film, Rachel, Rachel, that won four Academy Award nominations, including Best Film. His acting continued to achieve excellence, and when Newman worked on the 1969 film, Winning, he discovered that he loved racing cars. He chose to devote time to it from then on, even racing into his 70s and 80s. Just like everything else he tried, he was good at it.
In the 1980s, Paul Newman co-founded a food company, which would eventually become Newman’s Own, which uses all its profits to fund charitable and educational programs. While the company began by selling salad dressing, the company now has cookies, snacks, sauces, and more.
IMPACT ON STYLE
While Paul Newman is probably best known for his acting, the truth is that he made just as big of an impression off-screen. He always looked confident and consistent, with an air of charisma that was undeniable. While Newman looked good in anything, he really stood out when he was in a suit.
Paul Newman had a preppy style that was clean and attractive. He chose suits in classic cuts with neutral styles, using a tailor to ensure they hung perfectly on his body. He often added a pair of loafers to the look, in the typical Americana prep style. However, the suit itself was so sharp, and the tie so squared that he would have looked at home in any office at the time.
Of the preppy style, you would sometimes see Newman in an Oxford button-down, jeans or chinos, and a leather belt. While a nice suit can look good on nearly anyone, Newman also excelled with style in this more casual look. Details like rolled-up sleeves and sunglasses added that little something extra that made him attractive to watch.
No matter what the man wore, it made an impact because of how effortless it came across while still being stylish and aesthetically pleasing. That’s one of the reasons he is such an icon of style, he shows that anyone can do it. Men wanted to be him, all denim jeans and attitude, the anti-hero that he depicted on the screen.
While Newman isn’t around anymore, he passed away in 2008, his style is still out there. You can see glimpses if you know what to look for. And Paul himself will always be remembered as one of the silver screen men from the past who changed the way fashion looked, and for the better. Indeed, he continues to serve as a source of inspiration for us here at Roderer, reminding us that classic style with subtle but unique twists, will always be cool.