The enduring style of THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS


“I get criticized for style over substance and for details that get in the way of the characters, but every decision I make is how to bring those characters forward.” Wes Anderson said this in 2007 after the less than glowing reviews THE DARJEELING LIMITED received, but just six years earlier when THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS was released, style trumping substance wasn’t something he had to worry about. In fact, the hyper-stylized aspects of the film helped give it substance. Wardrobe wasn’t just a quirky touch, it was an extension of the characters themselves. But Anderson’s attention to detail went well beyond clothing. Every choice, including the music, set design and the overall color palette has had a profound and long-lasting effect. Fans and designers alike have been inspired by or flat out mimicked the Tenenbaum house with its brightly painted walls and artful arrangements of pictures, taxidermy and framed ephemera, but its the clothing that has had the most pervasive influence on a broader cultural level.

Images from The Sartorialist

I’m not just talking about the fanatics who went right out and bought striped Lacoste polo dresses or light brown corduroy suits (though I don’t think its a coincidence that the 70s came back in a major way around 2001), but the general idea of a stylized uniform continues to influence both consumers and fashion designers today, a full decade after the film’s release. In fact, uniform dressing only seems to have grown in popularity over the years as many designers continue to pare down clothing to the essentials (think Steven Alan, A.P.C. and Uniqlo). This is probably most obvious in mens fashion. Look at any street style blog and you’ll find that men tend to favor a simple pant in a few basic shades with a button-up and neutral shoe, adding small pops of color with a bright tie, handkerchief or sock. Even the more outrageous dressers often work within a certain look or time period, wearing only vintage-style, early-century Americana, for example. The look may be a long way off from Chas’ matching Addidas track suits or Eli Cash’ cowboy get-up, but it holds to the same basic principles of finding a look and sticking to it.