steve mcqueen

Cop His Style: All Hail the King of McCool Get that '60s counterculture swag by looking at Steve McQueen

[Feature image from The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968]

“I live for myself and answer to nobody” is likely one of the most brazen lines ever uttered. Steve McQueen will always be cooler than we could ever imagine being.

Almost 40 years after his death, Hollywood’s anti-hero is still heralded today as the “King of Cool.” A bonafide bad boy and street kid who turned his fortunes around on his own terms, McQueen was one of the highest-paid actors during the 60s and 70s counterculture movement. Though there’s an argument that many could follow in his footsteps (we’re looking at you, Ryan Gosling and Daniel Craig) the reality is we’ve yet to find someone to match his legacy.

Table of Contents

Steve McQueen’s Style Legacy

steve mcqueen style

While it is one thing to be a loveable rogue, it’s quite another to be a lovable rogue with enviable style, and yet McQueen managed exactly that – bringing a guileless swagger to the masses. His style was clean-cut–a representation of his nonchalant persona. Outfits weren’t over-thought, with practicality the only real consideration taken. Keeping it simple but significant was key. And the man knew how to accessorize.

Steve McQueen Style: Top Looks

The 1950s, 60s, and 70s might seem like a distant memory, but McQueen’s approach to menswear was arguably not dissimilar to trends that exist today.

Blazer and Rollneck

Think of Steve McQueen, and the first thing that springs to mind might be a roll-neck jumper and blazer.

Steve mcqueen style blazer and rollneck
Frank Bullitt, 1968

A staple for any wardrobe, a blazer is a sure-fire investment for looking the part no matter what the occasion. As is the overcoat.

steve mcqueen style rollneck blazer overcoat
Frank Bullitt, 1968

Bomber Jacket and Sunglasses

No one mastered the art of off-duty perfection quite like McQueen, with his lightweight Barracuta Harrington and Persol shades taking pride of place in his line-up of staple looks.

steve mcqueen style harrington and persols
The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968

Alpha Industries Men’s MA-1 Flight Bomber Jacket

  • Shell: 100% Flight Nylon; Lining: 100% Nylon; Fill: 100% Polyester
  • Authentic Design – Refer to Size Chart for Jacket Measurements. MA-1 flight jacket was the first military bomber jacket to cross into civilian fashion.

In fact, it was his championing of the bomber jacket that played a part in spreading mod culture to the UK.

Steve McQueen style persols and harrington
The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968


Double denim was also a signature look for the actor. Bold and notoriously difficult to pull off, yet he managed it with ease.

steve mcqueen style denim
Long John

Amazon Essentials Men’s Regular-Fit Long-Sleeve Denim Shirt

  • 100% Cotton
  • Easy through chest and tapered through waist
  • Soft yet durable hertiage washed cotton for a lived-in feel
steve mcqueen style denim

Three-Piece Suit

McQueen was also known for his love of an impeccably tailored three-piece suit. Sophisticated and powerful, think of the broadly cut jacket, pleated trousers and dimpled tie of The Thomas Crown Affair.

steve mcqueen style three-piece suit
The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968
steve mcqueen style three-piece suit
The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968

Timeless Wristwear

Not a man to over-accessorize, his less-is-more attitude was never more evident than when it came to his close relationship with TAG Heuer.

steve mcqueen style tag heuer
Le Mans, 1971

Since wearing the square-dialled TAG Heuer Monaco on his wrist in Le Mans (1971), the blue-eyed actor and blue-faced watch became forever linked, with McQueen acting as an ambassador of the brand’s Don’t Crack Under Pressure mantra.

steve mcqueen style TAG heuer

While each McQueen look was an expression of his personality, his choice of clothing was only part of what made the actor so iconic. It’s easy to don a suit and pair of shades, but the rugged attitude and undeniable confidence are harder to replicate.

He continues to offer a sense of energy and imagination in the face of political and societal uncertainty. Fashion, art, and culture have long been a way to challenge the questions in life that many would rather hide from, and Steve McQueen offers a reminder that playing it safe isn’t the only option in an ever-changing world.

Read next: 6 Coats That Will Stand the Test of Time

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