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Clotheshorses will have noticed by now that we’re in the middle of a Mediterranean, Talented Mr. Ripley fashion moment. Cool, casual and comfortable, Mediterranean-inspired clothing makes great use of light fabrics like straw and linen, as well as light colors, coastal prints, knit polos and open Cuban collars. If you look like you’re about to hop on a Vespa and cruise the Italian riviera, then you’re dressed perfectly for summer.
The silver screen can shape style in countless ways. Just think of the iconic style of James Bond, whose taste in watches, cars and clothes are often name-checked in style publications (such as this one). But when it comes summer style, there’s another globe-trotting cinematic antihero that arguably outshines 007, and that’s Tom Ripley. Based on the 1955 Patricia Highsmith novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley was released in 1999. Set in Italy, the film is a style seminar on Mediterranean casual. Costume designer Ann Roth’s designs — especially for Jude Law’s Dickie Greenleaf — have been imitated, dissected and replicated for over 20 years.
But while James Bond is a rakish superspy who saves the world on a regular basis, Tom Ripley is, at best, a compulsive liar who embodies the very worst version of the mantra “fake it til you make it.” The film and the novel are both gritty psychological thrillers, but the story is set against the backdrop of Americans vacationing in coastal Italy in the 1950s, and the idyllic setting and beautiful clothing make the film feel ironically aspirational, despite the fact that the story is about the perils of trying to live a lifestyle you don’t belong to and can’t afford.
As much as we can cringe at Tom Ripley’s attempts to be like Dickie Greenleaf, it’s also hard to set aside the feeling that he’s onto something. There are few characters in the history of film that have looked as cool and comfortable as Dickie Greenleaf in his barely-buttoned knit polos and immaculate slouchy white pants. And while it helps to look like Jude Law, you don’t have to impersonate him to draw inspiration from the best pieces of his wardrobe in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Of course, while the clothes of Dickie Greenleaf get most of the attention, none of the other characters are slackers in the style department. Cate Blanchett’s elegance is the flipside to Gwyneth Paltrow’s playful and laid-back beach attire. And while Matt Damon’s Ripley always looks a little uptight next to Law’s louche Greenleaf, his own style is a masterclass in toned-down preppy attire, replete with corduroy jackets and crisp white Oxford shirts.
Sixty-five years removed from the story’s setting, the clothes in director Anthony Minghella’s film feel especially stylish in 2022. Part of the equation may be that many of us are traveling for the first time in a while, and the gorgeous sloping hills of the Mediterranean feel like the perfect destination. If you still have a Pinterest account, then you’re likely seeing Mediterranean inspo everywhere you look. These clothes are also the perfect antidote to all-athleisure-everything, proving you can be stylish and comfortable. Dickie’s polos aren’t scratchy pique cotton, but rather airy knits, and he doesn’t shy away from shorts and canvas sneakers. And he proves that just because your shirt has buttons, you don’t necessarily need to use all of them (so long as you’re within a reasonable distance from a body of water).
The Talented Mr. Ripley fashion trend might seem random, but it’s a natural evolution of a few different summer style trends. Since the pandemic, comfy clothing has become the norm. At the same time, influential brands like Rowing Blazers have been bringing back preppy touchstones like terry polos and tennis shorts. Finally, we’ve never seen more interest among SPY readers in resort wear brands like Orlebar Brown than we have this summer. Taken together, the revival of Ripleycore Mediterranean fashion feels almost inevitable.
Feeling inspired? Keep reading to find out how to adopt this aesthetic into your own summer wardrobe.
How To Adopt Mediterranean Casual Into Your Summer Fashion
Ripleycore is part of a broader trend toward resort wear and vacation-inspired clothing. Men who found their dad’s vacation shirts embarrassing are now raiding their closets for vintage Hawaiian shirts and 5-inch inseam shorts for men. And for all the new sportswear brands promising peak performance, there is a slate of contemporary menswear brands that are offering clothes made for doing little more than sitting on the beach and drinking negronis. Trends we’ve noticed like camp collar shirts, knit polos, loose-fitting pants and short shorts all dovetail perfectly with the style of The Talented Mr. Ripley. Classic Mediterranean style is happening this summer, and we’re all for it.
Here are a few classic pieces that pull inspiration from the film and resort wear.
1. J.Crew Short Polo sweater
A sweater for summer might feel unexpected, but try a short sleeve knit that you can unbutton to keep cool when it’s hot out. It’s made from lightweight cotton, and it’s a stylish upgrade over the standard pique.
2. Dandy Del Mar The Grenadine Shirt
Dandy Del Mar is one of our favorite brands of the moment. The company makes resort wear in the classic Mediterranean style, so if you want to capture the energy of Ripley without copying it exactly, this is a brand to have on your radar. This shirt is eye-catching without being ostentatious. If you’re especially bold, buy the matching shorts.
3. Alex Crane Bo Shorts
Alex Crane is another brand that’s built for Mediterranean style. Most of the clothes are made from linen, and everything is made with natural materials (even the buttons are corozo, rather than plastic). Shorts are key to the Ripley/resort look, and there’s no better way to do it than linen.
4. Uniqlo Oxford Slim-Fit Long-Sleeve Shirt
The most important piece for Tom Ripley’s preppy look is his white Oxford shirt, and this is a budget-friendly option from Uniqlo.
5. Warby Parker Hayes
If Tom Ripley were buying glasses today, Warby Parker would undoubtedly be his first stop. These glasses are similar to the rounded shades Ripley wears in the film, but made summer-ready.
6. Scott Fraser Collection Ripley Anzio Knit Shirt
If inspiration isn’t quite cutting it, designer Scott Fraser Simpson painstakingly recreated the look of Dickie Greenleaf’s most iconic shirt from the film, a full placket knit shirt with blue and white panels. (The price is converted from pounds.)
7. Polo Ralph Lauren Bedford Stretch Chino Pants
White pants are key to the Mediterranean style, but these have a modern straight fit and a hint of stretch for comfort. Wear it with canvas shoes and a knit shirt.
8. Madewell Knit Easy Short-Sleeve Camp Shirt
For an easier, more casual take on the knit shirt, this option from Madewell comes in a solid, neutral color and is knit from 100% organic cotton.
9. Superga 2750 COTU Classic
There are a lot of canvas shoes to pick from, but to capture the Mediterranean vacation look, it doesn’t get better than Superga, an Italian sneaker brand that’s been around since 1911.
10. Mr. P Striped Cotton-Blend Seersucker Swim Shorts
Stylish swim shorts are another must-have, and these are from Mr. Porter’s house brand, Mr. P. The shorts are made from a comfortable seersucker fabric.
11. Dandy Del Mar Brisa Linen Shirt
Also from Dandy Del Mar, this breezy linen shirt is a piece of resort wear that you can wear even when your vacation is over. The cool white linen will pair perfectly with your favorite chinos, khaki shorts or swim trunks.
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12. Pique Polo & Corduroy Shorts from Rowing Blazers
Finally, we recommend pairing one of Rowing Blazer’s new Pique Polos with corduroy shorts. Part Nantucket, part Italian Riviera, it’s the perfect preppy look for summer.