Lets start off with the obvious, James Dean was extremely good looking. The enviably handsome young actor was an icon in his own time, achieving a tremendous amount in his short time on earth - before his tragic demise in 1955 at the age of just 24. The archetypal figure of the 50's youthful rebellion, Dean seemed to single handedly dress Hollywood down. In fact, some might say he was not considered particularly dandy in his time, and nor did he necessarily aim to be. Dean's style was less considered, and perhaps more confident that that; Dean dressed like somebody who was extremely good looking.
A great part of Dean's effortless style is just that - effortlessness. Dean seemed to do away with superfluous items. His outfits were very often minimalistic, meaning for example that he wasn't typically seen accessorizing with a scarf or a hat. He also eschewed many fashionable affectations; it's interesting to observe that despite being an icon of casual style he doesn't often seem to roll up his sleeves (why bother?).
One designer, Michael Bastian, had this idea about Dean: "I had this idea: What if James Dean came back and picked up where he left off? How would he dress?" I know what you might reasonably be thinking; is he seriously talking about catwalk inspirations? all of this about eschewing vanities and not overdressing and we are suddenly turning to catwalks for inspiration? Ah, but you see though this would be madness, there is method - the illustrious Bastian opted to centre his spring/summer collection of 2012 around his vision of a modernized James Dean.
Having expressed my opinion about one of my icons I shall leave you with some words from Morrissey, a noted Dean fanatic to say the least:
"I was fascinated by the fact that he always looked so good, regardless of what kind of clothes he stumbled into; he could wear an old rag and he was still quite stunning, and equally he could clamber into a tuxedo and it would also be incredibly fetching. So for me he is the only person who looked perfect persistently."
I don't think I could have said it better myself. As always, may the odds be ever if your favor.