Shia LaBeouf Is the King of Fashion
LaBeouf is no conventional style icon—which is why designers, Instagrammers, and at least one hallowed fashion magazine can't stop watching him.
Photograph by Pascal Le Segretain for Getty Images.
An appreciation of Shia LaBeouf's style is often a knee-down proposition. LaBeouf—an actor by trade and performance artist who is part of the collective LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner—favors windbreakers, denim jackets, hoodies and tattered graphic tees on top, usually vintage or at least vintage-looking. But down low, things get really interesting. There are jeans tucked into athletic socks. There are low-top Chuck Taylors worn as slip-ons, with the heel folded down as though they were the most louche of Gucci loafers. There are boots of the military and hiking varieties, both paired with cut-off shorts. There are Uggs, and there are bright blue Crocs.
LaBeouf is about as far from a conventional style icon as you can get, and yet, on certain corners of Instagram, in avant-garde designer studios and in the halls of at least one hallowed men's fashion magazine, he has emerged as an unexpected celebrity dresser to watch.
The list of male stars most often revered for their fashion sense doesn't change all that much year after year. There are the athletes who clean up well (David Beckham, Tom Brady), the musicians with a flair for luxury designers (A$AP Rocky, Harry Styles) and the requisite Old Who's Still Got It (Jeff Goldblum). These figures may well have distinct senses of style, but they're united in a certain uniform respectability and decorum. They'd all fit in at the Met Ball, and often do.
Shia, in contrast, frequently looks like he just rolled out of bed—a bed that was a bare mattress in the backroom of a seedy tattoo parlor, a futon in an unfinished basement or, perhaps, a tree. And yet GQ.com regularly devotes ample bandwidth to documenting his clothing choices (including a primer on his statement footwear). New York's latest Capital F-Fashion label Vaquera has copped to sprinkling references to LaBeouf's style throughout their collections, including a notable homage during their Fall 2017 runway show, in which one model had the unenviable task of walking the runway with a bag of convenience store ice hoisted on her shoulder to mimic a LaBeouf paparazzi photo. (The tribute stopped short of employing Crocs, though; the model wore heels.)
Tumblr, Pinterest and Reddit users continually track and dissect his clothing choices, and one Instagram account documenting the actor's daily looks, @shiasoutfits, has amassed 22,000 followers at press time. In no small way, LaBeouf has asserted his influence on fashion writ large.
"I think Shia's style resonates because there's a sense of nonchalance that all men hope to achieve for themselves," says stylist and brand consultant Julie Ragolia, who has worked with LaBeouf in the past. "He doesn't question his decisions; it's guttural and based on his own sense of comfort and mood."
His style can be called "guttural" in the literal sense—it's often strange, maybe even unpleasant in that it rarely appears freshly laundered—and it seems driven by instinct, too. A fleeting scroll through @shiasoutfits may even lead you to believe Shia favors comfort above all else. Sure, he can pull off a suit when the occasion calls for it (as he recently did at a premiere for his latest film, Borg vs McEnroe; he plays temperamental tennis icon John McEnroe in a feat of sublime casting), his cozy looks land best and seem most in line with his persona: the chunky, baby blue cardigan he has in rotation, the NYPD tourist hoodie, the pair of Nikes he wore when he was arrested in Austin in 2015.
Here is a public figure who feels persistently misunderstood, but has perhaps found an effective way to communicate self-expression. Ahead of wearing a paper bag over his head on the red carpet or conducting email interviews that can reasonably be interpreted as both unintelligible and combative, his clothing may be a way to articulate how he views himself: a rebellious artist who knows who he is and isn't terribly interested in cleaning that up for anyone. It's a rarity in the slick world of celeb styling.
"His decisions are simple, and often revolve around a basic, whether a t-shirt or a pair of military boots," Ragolia says. "But whatever he wears, he owns."
Even for those not tussling with a perceived public misconception, the ability to "own it" is a useful quality when it comes to fashion, particularly as elements of clothing once reserved for stylistic risk takers trickle mainstream. As the oversized fits of a Vetements hoodie or Raf Simons knit, for example—both of which are echoed in LaBeouf's wardrobe, perhaps without the designer label—make their way into the collections of mall-friendly designers like Tommy Hilfiger, more of the general population may find the need to summon a post-shopping, Shia-like inner confidence.
Not to mention, dressing like Shia seems like fun, too. His "Fuck Twilight" t-shirt is legitimately funny, and, as Buzzfeed noted in an ode to LaBeouf's sartorial whimsy, you only need to talk to any bored grade school student to uncover the joys of doodling on your sneakers, as Shia has. (And, later, so did designers behind labels like Vetements and Enfants Riches Déprimés.) Not to put too fine a point on the end of LaBeouf's legendary rat-tail, but if there's ever a time and a place for a little levity, why not make it now and with our clothing?
That idea may be particularly applicable for women inspired by LaBeouf Looks, too. If celebrity wardrobes are often driven by an admiration for a designer's aesthetic or seasonal trends, Ragolia says, "for a guy like Shia, clothes are a reaction to what he's thinking, feeling and seeing culturally. We're seeing a bit more of that in women's fashion, just in the increased number of women who will now opt for flats over heels in a time of social and economic uncertainty around the world and how a certain desire to be grounded has redefined what it now means to be chic."
Maybe then, unlike LaBeouf's third Transformers film, his coronation as fashion muse, interpreter, and soothsayer arrived just when we need it most. Plan your winter looks accordingly.