Style Thief: Jean-Paul Belmondo

Sometimes there are certain style rules that you must abide by, but sometimes silk socks and a tweed jacket just feels right.
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Sometimes there are certain style rules that you must abide by, but sometimes silk socks and a tweed jacket just feels right.

Jean-Paul Belmondo as Michel Poiccard

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Every man should make an effort to develop his own style, he should seek inspiration from others and allow for seasonal changes in wardrobe, but at the core of his look there should be a sartorial theme which is entirely his own.

That being said, there are those days where you just can’t be arsed…

On these days, and on these days alone, it is acceptable to partake in some light thievery. When at your lowest ebb, it is fine to look to icons of men’s style and to hijack a few key items to give your look a bit of a boost. To find garments which not only add to your own personal style, but are the tried and tested staples of menswear and can make any man look and feel cool.

For this particular experiment to work you’ll need an almost flawless icon, enter Jean-Paul Belmondo:

'Effortlessly cool' is a phrase which is thrown about a lot these days, certain publications are even willing to label David Beckham, he of $400 haircut and white suit, as 'effortlessly cool.' The fact is, there are very few style icons who are effortlessly cool, Jean Paul Belmondo however is definitely one of them.

Taking the formal attire of Bogart and Gable and combining it with a slouchy, laissez-faire attitude and a face that looks like its carved out of rubber, Jean-Paul Belmondo became the poster boy of French Cinema in the 1960's. The leading man of many a Nouvelle Vague feature, Belmondo championed a thrown together, semi formal look which matched the effortless cool of the films and characters he was involved with.

Belmondo & Jean Seberg

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The Tweed Jacket:

In 1959, Jean-Luc Godard made a film called À bout de souffle, it changed the face of cinema forever... but more importantly Jean-Paul Belmondo played the lead, and he looked cool. Whether he was romancing Jean Seberg, shooting a policeman or stealing a car, Belmondo's anti-hero Michel Poiccard was clad in a stylish tweed jacket. Anyone else wandering the warm, summer streets of Paris in a tweed blazer may have looked like a sartorially confused geography teacher, however Belmondo somehow pulled it off. You can get  tweed jackets from any decent vintage store, but to avoid looking like said geography teacher, or someone who has fallen out of Jarvis Cocker's dressing up box, I'd recommend going straight to the source.

Classic Tweed Jacket from £185 at Harris Tweed

Belmondo in À bout de souffle

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The Grandad Shirt:

A grandad shirt is based on a nightgown, which provides the perfect base layer for Belmondo's just-out-of-bed style. It's a garment which works with pretty much anything, allowing you to dress it up for smart-casual, or combine it with cords and desert boots to go for a more relaxed, beatnik style. The grandad shirt is a rarity in menswear, as it always looks better with a couple of buttons undone. As long as you buy the right size, there's not really many mistakes you can make with one of these, just throw it on and start practicing your coolest cigarette lighting technique.

Pretty Green (Black Label) Grandad Shirt from £85 at ASOS

Cigarette. Sunglasses. Stare into middle distance... ACTION.

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The Flat Cap:

Belmondo looked great in a hat. The fact remains with hats however, that if you 're not a hat person, you need to avoid them at all costs. Throughout À bout de souffle he alternates between a battered trilby and a classic flat cap. It all depends on how bold you're feeling with these, if you get them wrong it could all go a bit Marc Owen or Norman Wisdom, respectively. Seek the advice of someone you trust before you purchase one, if they start speaking to you in sultry french tones you're onto a winner, but if they start whistling the theme tune to Last of The Summer Wine put it back on the shelf and move on.

Osborne Brown Flat Cap from £9.25 at Debenhams

The Trench Coat:

Not content with wrapping up in tweed, Belmondo was also a fan of the trench coat. In tribute to his Hollywood heroes, Jean Paul wore a trench coat with a style and grace befitting of a film star. Whether it was flapping in the wind behind him or huddled around his throat, he made it look as if it was a part of his anatomy, it matched the semi-noir subtext of some of his films and it fitted many of his mean and moody personas to a tee. Trench coats have had a mini-revival in the past few years with a variety of high street names wading into the lucrative market, as with most intricate garments however, the money spent/quality ratio remains the same as ever. But if you do fork out on a good one, you will never want to take it off, even it is hindering your escape from the French police down the Champs-Élysées.

Classic Trench Coat from £399 at Jaeger

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