If there is one thing Mr. Newman knew how to do besides act, it was how to look cool*—and how to make it look easy. He wore a Rolex Daytona Cosmograph watch when Rolex almost couldn’t give them away. That was long before Italian collectors made them red hot collectables in the ‘80s.
Newman just knew. It was a damned cool watch and he "got it" before anybody else (famous) did.
Fans of the so-called Ivy Look swoon whenever Paul Newman’s name is mentioned. He continued to wear preppy Ivy League-flavored clothes well after the heyday of The Look, generally said to have been circa 1955-65.
One of his wardrobe staples was the L.L. Bean Camp Mocassin, seen in the iconic shot above. Note the way Newman pairs the double-barreled style bombs of the Ray-Ban Aviators and Bean Camp Mocs with neutral or light-colored everything else. It’s a classic, understated look that’s textbook Newman casual.
Camp Mocs make great driving shoes. Maybe that’s one reason Newman liked them so much. He was a hardcore, dedicated amateur race car driver for decades. One who placed in and won actual races. In other words, he could drive for real, not just in reel Hollywood situations.
Bean's Camp Mocassins weren't always called that. Introduced in the 1930s, they were called Bean's Rubber Sole Mocassins in those days. That evolved into Bean's Arch Support Mocassins, and finally, by the 1970s, Camp Mocassins.
Today’s L.L. Bean Handsewn Camp Mocassins are made in El Salvador to keep the price point competitive. It’s a good shoe for under eighty bucks, and it's fairly faithful in style to the originals first introduced by Leon Leonwood Bean in 1936.
If you don’t mind spending quite a bit more, Rancourt & Co. of Maine still makes a fine All-American camp moc. The quality is superb. They will even make truly custom orders, for a price… even absurdly hedonistic things like a green shell cordovan camp moc. Which we love.
Read all about that special custom order here:
Still, we suspect if he were alive and well today, Newman would just wear the $79 L.L. Bean job and call it good…and make it look great. We love that, too.
*Newman’s Own brand (started by Newman and his business partner A.E. Hotchner) has generated over $400 million for charity since 1982. Perhaps Newman’s greatest talent was simply being a real mensch.