Paul Newman’s Style: Lessons for the Modern Man

Paul NewmanPaul Newman was an icon, not just in the world of film and philanthropy but also in the realm of men’s fashion. He embodied the essence of the modern man: strong, independent, and effortlessly stylish. Newman’s classic wardrobe choices, from his tailored suits to his timeless watches, showcased his impeccable taste and set the standard for men’s fashion for decades. He was a man who knew how to look his best without sacrificing his individuality or succumbing to the latest fashion trends.

In this post, we’ll explore the hallmarks of Paul Newman’s style and how you can incorporate them into your own wardrobe. Let’s take a closer look at the enduring legacy of this style icon.

Early Life

Paul Newman’s early life was characterized by a passion for athletics and drama, two seemingly different pursuits that would shape his future path. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1925, Newman had an idyllic childhood and was a natural athlete from a young age. He excelled in football, basketball, and baseball and was a star player on his high school teams. His athletic prowess earned him a scholarship to Kenyon College in Ohio, where he continued to play football and also developed a love for drama.

It was at Kenyon that Newman discovered his passion for acting and began performing in plays. With the support of his parents, he decided to pursue a career in acting after graduating. However, his plans were put on hold when his father passed away, and Newman returned to Cleveland to run the family business. Despite his best efforts, the business struggled, and after 18 months, Newman handed the reins over to his brother and set his sights on pursuing his passion for drama once again.

Newman’s next step was to attend Yale University and focus on directing. It was during this time that he got his first small part in a Broadway play, which led to more significant roles on live television. He eventually joined the esteemed Actors Studio in New York, studying alongside fellow actors James Dean and Marlon Brando.

Newman’s early life may seem disconnected from his style, but it was his athletic background and passion for drama that shaped the man he would become. His athletic discipline and commitment to hard work would serve him well in his career as an actor and later as a race car driver. Meanwhile, his love of drama honed his sense of style and understanding of how to present himself on stage and screen.

In many ways, Newman’s early struggles also reflect his determination to be himself and follow his passions, no matter the obstacles. This same spirit of independence and authenticity would later be reflected in his unique style, which we’ll explore further in the following sections.


Paul Newman’s career was as diverse as his talents, spanning over five decades and encompassing everything from blockbuster films to race car driving. Newman’s acting debut was in the Biblical epic, The Silver Chalice, which was a box office flop. He struggled to secure roles early on in his career, losing out to James Dean for the lead in East of Eden and finding his roles to be sporadic at best.

However, Newman’s fortunes changed with his breakout role as the boxer Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me. The role had originally been intended for James Dean, but after his untimely death, Newman was cast instead. The success of the film propelled Newman into leading roles in classics such as Cool Hand Luke, The Long, Hot Summer, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

But Newman was more than just an actor. He was also known for his charitable work and philanthropy. Newman’s Own, the food empire he started almost three decades ago with his homemade salad dressing, has become a household name, with all profits donated to charity. Additionally, Newman founded the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps, which offer free recreation for children with serious and debilitating illnesses.

Newman’s passion for race car driving was another defining aspect of his life. He was an accomplished driver, even competing at Daytona as a 70th birthday gift to himself. This same spirit of daring and determination would come to define his unique style.

Newman’s career, charity work, and passion for racing all played a role in shaping the man he would become, and this same spirit of individuality and daring is reflected in his unique style. In the next section, we’ll explore the hallmarks of Paul Newman’s style and how you can incorporate them into your own wardrobe.

Paul Newman’s Style

Paul Newman’s style is a perfect example of classic, yet preppy style. He was more of an understated macho man, and his style wasn’t about flash, but about combining wardrobe basics into stylish outfits that looked put-together without being overly done. Let’s take a closer look at some of the hallmarks of his style.

Classic Outfits

Newman’s outfits were all about timelessness. He liked to pair single-breasted, two-button jackets with high-waisted trousers to give him length and height. For casual wear, he would often pair a button-down shirt with some leather accents like a belt and neutral jeans. Rolling up the sleeves added a little more casualness to the look without looking sloppy.

The Power of a Jacket

One great thing about Newman’s style was his use of the transformative power of a jacket. Leather and corduroy were often his choices, both offering a very distinct look but equally cool options. Corduroy can be notoriously hard to pull off, but finding the right cut can really help bring together an outfit and add an eclectic touch that can be really transformative.

A Watch, Always

Paul Newman never went without a watch, and neither should you. It’s an incredibly stylish accessory that is also functional–a win-win. To get the Newman “feel”, opt for a more vintage style with leather bands in chocolate brown or black and smaller dials. Or of course, you can also go for another classic Newman brand–the Rolex Daytona (but good luck finding one!). He was a famed collector, and his watches were famously attributed to higher sales of vintage Rolexes–including the record-breaking “Paul Newman Daytona.”

Nautical Themes

If you’re stuck for some casual outfit choices, a nautical touch is always a good idea. Newman favored long-sleeved striped shirts as an option. It works for both spring and summer depending on fabric choices and paired with some neutral chinos or jeans, it’s dressed down but still sharp.

Muted Colors

Another hallmark of Newman’s style was his preference for muted colors. Rather than go for loud and flashy palettes, he opted for subdued color schemes but with an added pop sometimes – like leather or a dark-colored jacket for an extra touch. But muted doesn’t mean boring. Chambray denim button-downs, subtle stripes, and accessories like boots and wristwatches can add some color without being overwhelming.

Newman’s unique style reflected his independence and authenticity. His classic, preppy style was timeless, and the attention to detail he put into every outfit is what made him stand out. By incorporating some of the hallmarks of Newman’s style into your own wardrobe, you too can achieve a unique and timeless look that reflects your individuality.

Iconic Status

Paul Newman was not just a style icon, but a man of many hats. His passion and intellect are what drove him, and he used his fame and fortune to try and make real change through efforts like Newman’s Own and his charitable work.

One of the most notable things about Newman was his devotion to charitable work. He created the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps, designed to offer free recreation for children with serious and debilitating illnesses, and Newman continued to be actively involved in the cause throughout his life. Newman’s Own was also started with the idea of donating all profits to charity, and almost three decades later, the brand has expanded into a food empire with a wide variety of offerings.

Newman was also an accomplished actor, philanthropist, race car driver, and entrepreneur. Acting in 65 movies over the course of 50 years, Newman played tragic figures, antiheroes, and rebellious figures in classics such as Cool Hand Luke, Long Hot Summer, and of course, the classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He won numerous awards throughout his career, including Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Newman’s enduring legacy lies not only in his acting but for the many hats he wore throughout his lifetime. His devotion to charitable work and pursuit of passions like race car driving show that people can’t be stuffed into a box – they contain multitudes. His style, looks, and charisma helped in building that legacy. Paul Newman remains an integral part of Hollywood history, remembered for his talent, style, and philanthropy.


In conclusion, Paul Newman’s style was truly unique, reflecting his independence, authenticity, and passion for life. He combined wardrobe basics into stylish outfits that looked put-together without being overly done. His style was classic yet preppy, with an emphasis on timeless pieces that never go out of style. By incorporating some of the hallmarks of his style into your own wardrobe, you too can achieve a unique and timeless look that reflects your individuality.

Newman’s legacy goes beyond his style, however. He was a man of many hats, whose devotion to charitable work and pursuit of passions showed that people contain multitudes. His philanthropic efforts and pursuit of his passions are just as important to his legacy as his style.

As a modern man, it’s important to find your own unique style, one that reflects your individuality and helps you feel confident and comfortable in your own skin. By looking to icons like Paul Newman, we can find inspiration for our own style and embody the spirit of independence, authenticity, and passion for life that he exemplified.