Throughout the late 60s and 70s, perhaps none of Hollywood’s leading men had more style than Robert Redford. On screen and off, Redford’s look was quintessentially American, always appearing at ease regardless of occassion.
After a string of successful films beginning in the early 60s, Robert Redford began to grow more conscious of his onscreen persona and wanted to prove himself as a credible actor. The opportunity came when he co-starred alongside Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — a breakthrough role for Redford, making him a household name.
The costume role was an attraction for Redford throughout his career. In addition to the “outlaw on the run” style of Sundance Kid, Redford’s aviator sunglasses and upturned coat collar in Three Days of Condor, the knitted neckties and corduroy blazer of Bob Woodward in All the President’s Men, and the three-piece suits of Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby, became equally as iconic as the actual role.
Redford had a profound respect for the natural world and a love for the dramatic landscape of the American West which were frequently reflected in his personal style. Blue jeans, chambray shirts, cowboy boots, and coats with large shearling collars became signature pieces for the movie star.
For several months of the year, the actor would retreat to the mountains of Utah to spend time with his family. By 1975, Redford had acquired nearly 7,000 acres of land in Utah, which included a ski resort, horse-training farm, ranch, and a large tract in the Wasatach mountain range. These acquisitions became the site of the influential Sundance Film Festival and the Sundance Institute.
From starting with the basics to having a curated collection of signature pieces, there are many lessons on style that we can learn from Robert Redford. Most importantly, Robert Redford teaches us all to take charge. Redford set the direction of his career on his own terms by managing every aspect of it. His passion for independent American film led to the birth of Sundance Film Festival. Three decades later, the festival has grown to be one of the largest independent film festivals in the world.
At 76, Robert Redford is still acting, directing, and making films on his own terms. During his prime, whether in New York, Los Angeles, or outside of Park City, Utah, Robert Redford was a trendsetter. Charisma, attitude, and a style of nearly four decades ago that still holds up today solidifies Robert Redford as a true icon.
Photographs of Robert Redford in Utah and in New York City courtesy of LIFE magazine.