Dress the Part

Dress the Part: Into the Wild

Into the Wild 3 Dress the Part: Into the Wild
Into the Wild (2007) Costume design by Mary Claire Hannan. Starring: Emile Hirsch, William Hurt, Catherine Keener

Based on the American non-fiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer, ‘Into the Wild’ chronicles the adventures of Christopher McCandless (played by Emile Hirsch), a young man who abandons his conventional life as an Emory University student and sets off for the wilds of Alaska in search of experience and adventure.

American Adventure

Into the Wild 2 Dress the Part: Into the Wild
Outdoor/Adventure fashion has long been ingrained in American culture, stemming from the leather jackets and cowboy boots of the frontier days, to the downfilled, fur lined coats and hats of Northern pioneers.

One of the most poignant aspects of this film is how directly it can be translated to fashion, since the clothing Hirsch wears throughout the film belies its function as he encounters the trials of his environment: the clothing on his back is quite literally, “all he has.”

Dress the Part

Into the Wild 1 Dress the Part: Into the Wild
A key aspect of injecting your wardrobe with outdoor style is to pay homage to the functionality of the garment in some way. These items are all created to provide a distinct advantage when out-of-doors, so pulling on a pair of waxed canvas duck boots for a night at the bar will make you seem out of place at best.

Start by looking into heritage brands like Penfield, Pendleton, and L.L. Bean, who have worked to modernize their most iconic pieces for the modern man living in an urban environment. Some great items to start with are:

  • A wool flannel shirt: warm, functional, and available in a variety of colors and fits, it’s not hard to find one that’s the right combination of weight, pattern, and style for you.
  • A down vest: nothing beats the insulative properties of down, and when selected in basic colorways, this item can be paired with almost anything, which is what you should focus on, since the vest keeps you warm without completely concealing other elements of your outfit.
  • A high-cut leather boot: We’re not talking steel toes, here, but a finely constructed leather boot goes well with a trim, clean pair of jeans. Take some silicon ‘Dubbin’ waterproofing and work it into the leather with a clean cloth for a vintage appearance.


Outdoor apparel is as American as apple pie, so there’s no shortage of items you can bring into your look, and no shortage of high-end designers producing them. Weather you go camper, or couture, remember these things:

  • Outdoor apparel is designed with functionality in mind, so when introducing it into your wardrobe, consider what it’s benefit is meant to be and pay homage to that.
  • If designer re-interpretations of American classics are too pricey for your budget, many heritage brands still maintain out-of-this-world quality at great prices.
  • Wear one element at a time, you don’t want to look like a lumberjack that’s teleported into the office.


Favorite brands, tips, or tales? Come around the comments campfire and share your stories!


Erik Adler

Erik Adler

Editorial Director
Erik Adler is the Editorial Director for Alpha Brand Media. An avid cyclist, when he's not working he can be found restoring vintage bikes for his collection. Proud Estonian. Not so proud Ticats fan.
Erik Adler

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