90s Brad Pitt is My Summer Style Icon

90s Brad Pitt is Harling's Summer Style Icon

There is, it seems, an unlimited number of abundantly worthy summer style icons to choose from: Jane Birkin. Naomi Campbell. Sophia Loren. Diana Ross. Tessa Thompson. Catherine Deneuve. Therefore, it might surprise you to learn that my summer style icon is none other than Brad Pitt. 90s-era Brad Pitt, to be exact.

I first discovered the aesthetic glory that is 90s-era Brad Pitt when this Instagram from the account @90sanxiety appeared on my feed:

As I took in his all-white color scheme and bucket hat, I experienced an instantaneous and irrepressible urge to copy his outfit. I made a mental note to do so posthaste, and I thought that was the end of it. But the universe had other plans.

A few weeks later, I was searching through Getty Images for a photo to accompany a story and incidentally came across the excellence that now lives at the top of this post. I stared at the photo in awe – the yellow tank top, the pink bandana, the cozy sweatpants – and realized I was looking at my ideal summer leisure ensemble. Who knew! (Brad knew.)

I responded to this fateful sign by proceeding to conduct extensive research on Brad Pitt’s best off-duty outfits from 1990-1999, and let me tell you, there was a treasure trove to behold. He somehow embodied a sense of personal style at the time that was simultaneously comfortable, easy and just the right amount of interesting, which is pretty much all I aspire to achieve when getting dressed in the summer.

In the spirit of listening to my gut – a gut that was telling me to outfit myself like a famous man with a goatee – I decided to recreate four of my favorite 90s-era Brad Pitt ensembles. Hopefully the below results will provide a modicum of inspiration if you, too, decide to join this rather unusual summer style icon club.

1. The All-White Bucket Hat Outfit

Ah yes, the outfit that launched an obsession. I couldn’t find a photo on Getty of the aforementioned all-white ensemble, but I did find the one above which I think adequately conveys Brad’s obsession with the bucket hat + T-shirt + cargos combo. I decided to reinterpret it with a white cotton blouse and white jeans – partly because that’s what I had on hand in my closet and partly because this recipe felt a little more me. However, I stayed true to the most important part of the outfit: the bucket hat. I’m very serious about wearing bucket hats seriously this summer.

2. The (Sorry, Don’t Hate Me) Cable-Knit Sweater Vest Outfit

I’m asking you not to hate me because I realize sweater vests might trigger an automatic “no” from a not-insubstantial portion of the population, but hear me out: Much like sleeveless turtlenecks, the existential purpose of a sweater vest is difficult to pinpoint. The key is not to overthink things and simply enjoy the fact that Brad Pitt enjoyed emulating Thurston Howl’s style at one point in his life and therefore you might, too. I know I did.

3. The Not-Your-Dad’s-Khakis Outfit

90s Brad Pitt is Harling's Summer Style Icon
Moon Choi pants, vintage top -- another option hereMoon Choi pants, vintage top -- another option here

I have a bit of a sordid history with khaki pants, and by that I mean I was one of a few brave souls in my middle school class who took advantage of the clause in our dress code that stipulated we were allowed to wear them in lieu of our plaid kilts. To say I looked dorky would be a kind understatement. In years since, khakis have always brought back memories of my tendency to stick out like an awkward sore thumb during my tweenage years, so I steered clear. Until 90s-era Brad Pitt came along and showed me the light, that is. Apparently the key to de-dorkifying khakis is a zanily-patterned, un-tucked button down. Poof!

4. The Summer Leisure Outfit

Allow me to introduce you to the outfit I plan on lounging in for the next two months minimum. Who knew that the addition of a pink bandana straddled by a pair of sunglasses (you need both at once here) could turn a pair of sweatpants and a cutoff-sleeved tee into a pretty chic outfit? It’s prime for lounging but it would almost be a shame to keep this inside the house…

I’m fully willing to share my newfound summer style icon (there’s more than enough bucket hats to go around), so let me know what you think.

Photos via Getty Images.

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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