It’s not the first film that springs to mind when talking about iconic menswear. Plein Soleil, La Dolce Vita, The Talented Mr. Ripley, North by Northwest, Call Me By Your Name, Bullitt, The Thomas Crown Affair - all films that thoroughly deserve their place in the pantheon of stylish cinema. But Jaws?! Hear us out…
Forty-five years ago to the day, Steven Spielberg sat back in Spielberg Towers and watched with a smile upon his face as he wreaked a deep, bitey hell upon the world with Jaws, the film about a maniacal great white shark (nicknamed ‘Bruce’ after Spielberg’s lawyer) who has taken it upon itself to dine on the summer shoreline spread so kindly put on by the folks of Amity Island. But little does the shark know that it has picked the wrong fictional island to sink its teeth into (the original film was based on a novel written by Peter Benchley, which itself was inspired by the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916), thanks in no small heroic part to Police Chief Martin Brody (played by Roy Scheider) and his seafaring cohorts, marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and professional shark hunter and all-round salty sea dog Quint (Robert Shaw).
Now you may be wondering at this point where the iconic menswear fits in. Granted, a police chief, marine biologist, and barnacled old sea hermit are not your typical triumvirate of sartorialism, but they somehow manage to perfectly represent contrasting tenets of masculinity during their quest to thwart the arch predator. There’s Quint, with his salt-baked, lived-in, survived-the-horrors-of-war manliness; there’s Chief Martin Brody with his unassuming yet athletically intellectual resolve; and then Matt Hooper, the post-hippie idealist who found salvation by pouring his love into the oceans. Each carries off their individual style with aplomb. Wardrobe department, take a bow.
Quint, being the wind-lashed amphibian that he is, sports a timeless chambray shirt for most of the film, over which he wears a classic military spec four-pocket field coat, the pockets of which seem to be repositories for cans of beer (in Quint’s famous four-minute monologue about fighting off tiger sharks during the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, Shaw attempted to get into character by getting so legless that the crew had to carry him onto the boat and dump him in his seat - needless to say they had to re-film it when he was sober). Not the most weatherproof of choices but they are undoubtedly ‘masculine’ and as relevant today as they were in 1975. Likewise, Hooper - the biologist - is the unknowing poster boy for modern-day Americana heads, decked out in his blueprint for comfortable workwear: grey loopback sweatshirt, denim overshirt, navy bucket hat or beanie, and faded jeans.
It’s Brody however, who steals the style plaudits, despite beginning the film in Police Chief uniform and windbreakers (although admittedly he wears the light tan garb rather well, sleeves deftly rolled up for action). As the film evolves, so too does Brody’s wardrobe, ditching the strictures of cop couture in favour of haute Hamptons with his loopback navy short-sleeved sweatshirt, khaki shorts, and aviator glasses. Once sea-bound, Brody swaps out the shorts for dark jeans and layers a khaki overshirt over the sweatshirt - unassuming, comfortable, and all very 2020. Brody’s summer style is restricted to a colour palette of navy and khaki, but it works, offering an assured and effortless sophistication that brighter tones can often overlook. Yes, it’s not the most adventurous of looks, but with his streamlined silhouette and even more streamlined palette, it’s a timeless aesthetic that you’d be well advised to add to your wardrobe.
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