As far as masculine role models went, the lads of the early Reagan Era could’ve done worse than Indiana Jones.
Rough, rugged, and capable of dealing out (or rolling with) a stiff slug to the jaw, the intrepid archaeologist was also a man of letters whose laconic demeanor masked a sharp wit. Indiana Jones was an archetype formed from synthesized nostalgia, but he still stood fedora-and-shoulders above similar products of that regressive age.
It was no wonder elements of his scruffy, broken-in style made the rounds of the menswear scene. Fedoras made a minor resurgence (and gained a permanent foothold from the knuckle-dragging set), while perma-stubble established a beachhead from which to build upon, and men’s leather goods transitioned from slick euro-styles into classic “adventurer models.
The trend was even picked up by a handful of pop-stars looking to toughen up their image. Kenny Loggins went all in with his 1982 High Adventure album, which deliberately echoed Raiders of the Lost Ark‘s brand aesthetics.
“Don’t Fight It,” the biggest single off the album, even included whip-cracking sound effects to the cheese rock shenanigans. I’m guessing Loggins’ goal was to shed his creepy youth pastor vibe, but it didn’t succeed in doing anything but adding a bum three-and-a-half-minutes to some otherwise flawless K-Tel compilations.
Rick Springfield also tried a variant of the look for the cover of the 1983 Living in Oz LP, hoping to stave off diminishing returns with a non-threatening “bad boy” makeover. It did not arrest the slide — though a stray memetic fragment from it slipped loose and slithered into the collective subconsciousness, where it incubated for an unlucky thirteen years before returning to this plane in its horrifying ultimate form…
Really, though, the biggest obstacle to the Indiana Jones look’s attempts to gain real-world traction was the most obvious one:
Most dudes do not look like Harrison Ford.
Retro-fashions are difficult for guys to pull off because it’s hard to avoid the stink of affectation. It requires a certain attitude, which reeks of overcompensation if presented too forcefully. While that might not be an issue with some styles, it’s extremely noticeable with the Indiana Jones look. Most dudes who attempt it look less like the guy who recovered the Lost Ark…
…and more like dude who drove the truck which dropped it off at the government warehouse at the end. In fact my old man — along with 90% of the over-60 male population of South Boston — rocked an unintentional variant of the look for the last two decades of his life.