Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, like Rimbaud and 40 oz bottles of beer, hits you hardest when you’re young. The film’s star, River Phoenix, died when I was 7, but by the time I was a teenager, I poured over images and interviews I found on the internet, obsessed by his mythology of early ’90s angst—a queer, vegetarian, alienated heartthrob. I’d spend weeks at a time only watching My Own Private Idaho, and I’d rewind the famous campfire scene over and over again until I felt like I was going to puke or cry. In the movie Keanu Reeves and Phoenix play two hookers traveling through the American northwest. They do drugs. They smoke cigarettes. They have sex. But Phoenix also does sweeter things, playing a queer, confused character with such depth, such shaky sensitivity, that you want to reach into the scene and hold his hand.
If I could dress like anyone ever, it might just be like Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho, which is funny because he only changes clothes, like, one time throughout the entire movie. He makes his very Pacific Northwest ensemble of a beat up pair of Carhartts and a dusty red work jacket seem like the most glamorous outfit on earth. There’s a type of young kid out west or in places like North Carolina who still wears a variation of this wardrobe—the earthy, crusty side of punk—but I also think this would be a great look to grow old in, when you buy a farm in Minnesota, dressing rugged and hard-edged to match the numbering wrinkles on your face. In the movie, Keanu Reeves is an older, wiser motorcycle enthusiast and has a style that’s a bit harder around the edges, with leather jackets and stiff denim, but is equally uncaring and inspiring. Check out some contemporary clothes that fit the bill.
Carhartt chore coat
Norse Projects sailor stripe knit
Sunny Sports zip up work shirt
Garrett Leight Lucille sunglasses
White Mountaineering herringbone slim pants
A.P.C. fur lined coat