"Put your pants on, boy," barks Mr Clint Eastwood, playing a no-nonsense cop in Coogan's Bluff (1968) to his beatnik prisoner. This is the kind of verbal economy we expect from The Man with No Name. Mr Eastwood has long observed the edict "less is more": less words, more action; less fashion, more function. One does not see him sporting a velvet jacket with coordinated slippers. Yet far from a minimalist wardrobe of blue-on-blue denim, white tees and sober suits, the fact is that Mr Eastwood has been more experimental than many of us remember. Not just with the obvious, eg, his poncho and beaver hat in Mr Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy, but shirts with geometric prints and jackets in eye-watering checks. Although he's rarely recognised for it, he's long set a fine sartorial example.
From a style perspective, Dirty Harry was Mr Eastwood's defining movie. Donning a slim, brown three-piece suit, his character looks surprisingly contemporary
Obviously his gunslinger garb is more fancy dress than contemporary wear, but many of Mr Eastwood's outfits, particularly those from the 1970s, still look good today. His first film as a director was Play Misty for Me (1971), a dark thriller about a philandering DJ stalked by an obsessive fan. It was here Mr Eastwood put into practice the things he learnt from Dirty Harry director Mr Don Siegel. Favouring few takes and little rehearsal, Mr Eastwood shot fast and clean, lending credence to the idea that his life has been a series of calculated risks. The actor's production company Malpaso was set up at the end of the 1960s to fund the Western Hang 'Em High (1968). Malpaso means "bad step" in Spanish - Mr Eastwood's agent used the phrase to show his disapproval of the actor's decision to work with Mr Leone on the now-legendary Dollars films.
In Play Misty for Me, we are treated to a succession of loud shirts, which are topped off by a purple sheepskin coat which, judging by Mr Eastwood's furrowed brow, made the actor feel less than entirely comfortable. However, while Mr Eastwood was never a hippy at heart, he was not afraid to dress for the part. It was a willingness he demonstrated in 1974's Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, a light-hearted heist movie directed by Mr Michael Cimino of The Deer Hunter fame, when he pulled on a loud short-sleeved shirt with a big collar.
From both an acting and style perspective, Dirty Harry (1971) was Mr Eastwood's defining movie. Donning a slim, brown three-piece suit cut in a way that would today be described as Neapolitan, his character looks surprisingly contemporary, even if some of his sports jackets leave a lot to be desired in terms of fit. Another of the film's sartorial highlights is a boldly checked tweed jacket, which Mr Eastwood wears with aplomb, his Ray-Ban Baloramas balancing any schoolteacher associations we might make with the jackets' leather cuff buttons.
Mr Eastwood on the set of Dirty Harry, 1971
Twenty years later, as Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan in In the Line of Fire (1993), Mr Eastwood had cleaned up his act. His plain Cerruti suits did little to draw attention, marking them out as fine examples for the modern corporate wardrobe. It's worth noting that this film was the last time he would act in a film he did not also direct.
One of the key elements in Mr Eastwood's style is his physique, which seems to speak of an iron discipline. It came to the fore in Every Which Way but Loose (1978), which, despite being the daftest film of his career, is no less stylish than most. When he's bare-knuckle boxing in a white T-shirt and jeans, Mr Eastwood reminds us of Mr James Dean or Mr Marlon Brando.
Although his senior status is now undeniable the only big change has been to where on his waist Mr Eastwood belts his trousers. Playing an uncompromising veteran of the Korean War in Gran Torino (2008), Mr Eastwood wore simple high-waisted slacks with plain T-shirts in a manner suggesting that, at 81, he is as smart, tough and cool as ever. The San Franciscan-born star has become a symbol of enduring virility; he's a no-nonsense style legend and someone from who all men can learn.