Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine, charismatic country-rock star
Los Angeles, Spring 2017
Film: A Star is Born
Release Date: October 5, 2018
Director: Bradley Cooper
Costume Designer: Erin Benach
My friend @thestyleisnotenough recently recommended writing about Bradley Cooper’s style in his directorial debut A Star is Born, in which he starred as Jackson Maine, a rock star with an outlaw country image that belies his self-esteem and substance abuse issues.
Premiering four years ago during the Venice Film Festival, this Oscar-nominated drama was the fourth major cinematic adaptation of the story, which had been previously filmed in 1937, 1954, and 1976. The two earlier versions focused on the movies, while the 1976 and 2018 adaptations shifted to the music industry, as evident from the opening sequence that follows the charismatic yet self-destructive Jack out onto the stage to perform the original song “Black Eyes”.
Jack’s ride home after the Friday night concert gets slowed by traffic so, craving a drink, he has his driver find him a spot to wait it out, the first available establishment being a drag bar where he discovers Ally (Lady Gaga) singing “La vie en rose”, a song that Cooper reportedly insisted be included after the actor was wowed by Gaga’s rendition at a cancer benefit in real life. Smitten with both the performer and her talents, Jack takes Ally out for another drink at a “cop bar”, where her brawl with an aggressive fan of Jack’s results in a late-night run for frozen veggies, gauze tape, and cheese curls… the latter unrelated to healing Ally’s busted hand.
After dropping her off early the next morning—and we all remember the “I just wanted to take another look at you” memes—Jack invites Ally to his show at the Greek Theatre, where he invites her out on stage to introduce her singing/songwriting talents to the world, kickstarting their personal and professional relationship.
What’d He Wear?
Jackson Maine’s costumes ring with as much authenticity as Bradley Cooper’s performance, presenting a rock star with a relatively modest and limited sense of dress, rooted in hardy workwear traditions as much as his bluesy, blue-collar sound. Costume designer Erin Benach approached Jack’s wardrobe as a “uniform” from which he would rarely deviate. “We loved the idea that Jack would have a very small closet and a silhouette he rarely ventures out of,” Benach explained to Magazine Michele Franzese Moda. “He’s not trying to impress anyone anymore. You can almost imagine he doesn’t think about his clothing, that he has three pairs of pants, four shirts, one jacket, and an air of nonchalance about him. You’ll never see him picking out his clothes.”
A staple of Jack’s wardrobe is a tan cotton twill trucker jacket, specifically made for the production by Runabout Goods but presented with gently fraying edges and enough distress to suggest that it’s a well-worn favorite from his closet.
Runabout Goods appropriately markets their commercially available version as the Starborn Jacket, made from the same rinsed 12-ounce tan duck canvas in a style that “pays tribute to classic ’50s and ’60s single-pleat jackets produced by the likes of Foremost and Ranchcraft.” Unlike Lee and Levi’s trucker jackets of the era, Foremost and Ranchcraft typically designed their waist-length work jackets with extra hand pockets that brought the grand total of external pockets to four.
Jack’s tan jacket has two patch pockets over the chest, each with a pointed bottom and a rectangular flap that closes through a single button, plus a pen slot above the top of the left pocket flap. In addition, the aforementioned hand pockets have slanted set-in welted entries. Five brass-finished rivet buttons close up the front, echoing the same buttons that close the chest pocket flaps and the squared cuffs. (The buttons are finished with “RISING SUN | L.A., CALIF.” reflecting the company’s original name before its founder Mike Hodis rebranded the brand as Runabout Goods.)
The center is flanked on each side by a single forward-facing pleat, fastened by three brass tacks that align with the buttons and buttonholes. The sleeves are set-in, with horizontal yokes across the front and back. (Unlike the commercially available Starborn Jacket, Cooper’s screen-worn jacket lacks any buckle-strap side-adjusters.)
Jack seems to favor black shirts and pants, a nod to his country rock forebears like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Roy Orbison, the latter of whom would be memorably featured in A Star is Born when a drug-hazed Jack would perform in a tribute to the Big O at the Grammys.
“He had his performance shirt,” explained Erin Benach in an interview with Jazz Tangcay for Awards Daily. “I found a button-down shirt from the ’70s that I loved, but I didn’t like the collar so I changed that. I changed the body a bit. It was a super-curated look. It looks like we went to a store and bought it, but it was all handmade.”
Jack rotates through a collection of mostly identical black shirts, textured with a tonal graph check that presents a subtle sheen under the bright stage lights. He exclusively wears these long-sleeved shirts untucked, letting the long rounded shirt-tails flare out under the cropped jacket hem. These shirts are designed with a point collar, breast pocket, button cuffs, and a plain (no placket) front that Jack typically wears with the top few buttons undone.
His habit of wearing his shirts untucked with the tails hanging over the back prevent us from discerning much detail of Jack’s usual black jeans from what we see on screen, as the shirt hem covers any potentially telltale detailing on the back pockets. (For what it’s worth, Jack’s brother and manager Bobby appears to wear black Wrangler jeans, as evident by the brand’s signature tan leather patch over the back-right pocket.)
They appear to be designed with the standard five-pocket design—two curved front pockets with a set-in watch pocket on the right, plus two back pockets—and are held up with a wide dark brown leather belt fastened through a thick brass-finished single-prong buckle.
Jack’s brown leather boots are styled with buckled straps over the boots characteristic of the classic engineering boots that grew popular among motorcyclists in mid-century, a style that the bona fide biker Jack would have come by honestly. As we see after Bobby puts him to bed, Jack wears plain black boot socks, which cover his shins comfortably enough under the calf-high rise of the boots. (“You know, I can never get used to that… the idea of not wearing socks,” Jack quips to Ally’s new manager Rez, who wears short “female insert” no-show socks with his suede oxfords.)
The boots have brown full-grain leather uppers and Goodyear-welted hard leather soles with honeycomb-textured tread.
Erin Benach joked with Awards Daily that the process for finding Jackson’s hat involved trying on “150 cowboy hats a million and two times… you would laugh at us if you knew how many times we tried it on. We built them after we found them. We were just trying them on. It’s not just about the head and the fit.”
Unlike some country performers who incorporate cowboy hats as part of their on-stage image, Jack typically reserves his for off-stage, reinforcing the authenticity of his good ol’ boy persona. Made of dark brown felt with very little pinch to the crown, Jack’s wide-brimmed hat has a narrow golden tan woven leather band.
While rehearsing for his show at the Greek, Jack wears a pair of Persol PO0714 sunglasses, designed with a center-folding frame and made famous by the “King of Cool” himself, Steve McQueen. Jack’s Persols are color code 24/31, indicating the “Havana” tortoise frames and crystal green lenses.
Jack wears a silver-chain necklace with a silver rectangular pendant with a relief of what appears to be a trio of flowers growing out of a single stem. Jack also added a plain gold ring to the chain, which collects around the pendant.
As Jack typically wears button-up shirts, he keeps the necklaces tucked under them against his chest but a brief vignette of Jack and Ally stepping off of the tour bus depicts him wearing a plain heathered gray cotton T-shirt under his tan trucker jacket, with his necklace worn over it.
Jack does eventually rotate between several other jackets of similar colors or styles, including a black denim trucker jacket and a tan suede snap-front shirt-jacket with a large ’70s-style collar, but this tan trucker jacket reappears toward the end when Jack returns home and reunites with Ally after his stint in rehab.
What to Imbibe
“You think maybe he drinks a bit much?” Bobby quips after he passes out one night in his hotel room. Admittedly, Jackson Maine does not set a great example when seeking how to imbibe, but his drink of choice appears to be “gin on the rocks” as he orders at the drag bar. He’s often seen pouring from a squared bottle, and he often drinks it with a lime such as seen at the Short Stop, the “cop bar” near Dodger Stadium where he takes Ally.
How to Get the Look
There’s nothing shallow about it: Jackson Maine’s lived-in style is as weathered as its wearer—if perhaps more ultimately resilient. His cowboy hat and black shirt and jeans reflect his outlaw country heritage, layered under a functional tan trucker jacket and completed with a pair of engineer boots popular among motorcyclists like Jack himself.
- Tan canvas trucker jacket with front and back yokes, five brass rivet buttons, tack-fastened forward-facing front pleats, two pointed chest pockets with squared button-down flaps, two slanted set-in welted hand pockets, and squared button cuffs
- Black tonal graph-check shirt with point collar, plain front, breast pocket, and button cuffs
- Black denim jeans
- Dark brown leather belt with heavy brass single-prong buckle
- Brown leather engineer boots with buckle-straps
- Black boot socks
- Dark brown felt cowboy hat with narrow woven tan leather band
- Persol PO0714 Havana tortoise-framed folding sunglasses with crystal green lenses
- Silver necklace with silver pendant and gold ring
Do Yourself a Favor and…
As a country rock star brimming with charisma, if slightly aloof—particularly when his senses are dulled by substances—Jackson Maine’s demeanor, hard partying, and outlaw country image and music style reminded of a modern-day Waylon Jennings.
Waylon had been a contemporary and frequent bandmate of Kris Kristofferson, who portrayed the lead in the 1976 version of A Star is Born. Additionally, the 2018 version includes several references to another Waylon contemporary and friend: Willie Nelson, both as Bobby’s new boss and via the appearance of his son Lukas as a member of Jack’s band, a nod to Lukas having taught and coached Cooper in his role.
For an additional connection, Waylon and his wife Jessi Colter somewhat lived a real-life version of the on-screen drama, albeit with a thankfully happier ending after Waylon finally kicked his extensive drug habit in the ’80s. Waylon and Jessi had married in 1969, a year before she released her debut record album. The title of that album? A Country Star is Born.
If there’s one reason we’re supposed to be here, it’s to say something so people wanna hear it.