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How to dress like Marlon Brando in The Wild One

Updated on March 14, 2011

Did Marlon Brando invent cool?

Marlon Brando's Johnny Strabler character in The Wild One marked a major change in the role of young male leads in movies. Before that point, most leading actors observed proper etiquette and posture, standing straight up never slouching.

Brando's character broke all the rules. It's said that he "used" objects around him, leaning against things in a casual fashion that hadn't been seen in film before. It was the ultimate sign of masculinity and dominance to rule over one's surroundings in the way Marlon Brando did in The Wild One.

I can't teach you how to have Brando's attitude, but I can show you how to look like him. This is a great outfit for a Halloween costume, or if you lose the cap it's just a good general style for motorcycle riding. 

The cap

Let's start from the top, literally. Brando's cap is now sold as "The Rebel" by Baron Hats. They sell it in gray or khaki colors. I wouldn't advise making this cap a regular part of your daily look, as it's just too odd these days. It's a must have accessory if you're planning on putting together this outfit for a Halloween costume.  

Marlon Brando's leather jacket

The leather jacket that Marlon Brando wore is also still sold by the original company that made it for the film. It's called "The Perfecto" and it's manufactured by Schott Bros., an American company that also happens to make some of the nicest peacoats in the world. If you don't have the money for this, any black leather motorcycle jacket will work decently well.  

Marlon Brando's The Wild One t-shirt

For Brando's t-shirt, go with a white or off-white henley with the black collar and sleeve details. You should be able to find something like this at any Gap or Old Navy or online clothing store. A plain white t-shirt or even an undershirt would probably work alright if you're in a bind.  

Marlon Brando's jeans

For his jeans, wear a pair of dark blue jeans. I would prefer raw selvedge denim without any distressing. Wear them often and rarely wash them to break them in and give them natural fading. That's how Marlon Brando's Johnny Strabler character would do it. Also, they should be rather slim. Baggy or even relaxed fit jeans will ruin this look. There's nothing that takes the confident look from a man faster than a droopy pair of pants. If you can't find or afford selvedge denim, try picking up a pair of Levi's 514 jeans. They aren't skinny, but they aren't baggy either.  

Marlon Brando's boots

It's hard to follow in Marlon Brando's footsteps, but you can mimic the look of his footwear with a pair of black engineer boots. Try to find a decent pair from an American company like Chippewa. You should probably have a nice pair of boots anyway if you ride a motorcycle, as they'll last you years longer than any sneakers will.  

Your outfit is complete

Now you can truly terrorize small towns as if you were a full-fledged member of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (not the band, although they're excellent as well). Just remember that the best accessory is a classic motorcycle and an "I don't give a damn" attitude. With this outfit you're either the cool guy or the clown, it's entirely up to you.   


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