Skip to main content

Marsden: 'Guys need to pull their pants up'

  • Story Highlights
  • In high school Marsden showed off his preppy side
  • While it's easy for him to throw on sweats, Marsden likes to dress up
  • Actor says he is inspired by Paul Newman
  • Marsden: I can shop style for women, but size is a different issue
  • Next Article in Living »
By Cortney Pellettieri
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

( -- The co-star of "27 Dresses" discusses his personal style.

"I just feel dirty," says James Marsden. Not to be alarmed: There's nothing indecent going on here.


James Marsden talks about his favorite kind of clothes and how his style has changed over the years.

The 34-year-old is explaining what it feels like to be sporting facial hair for a film he's working on with Cameron Diaz.

Yet even the newly grown whiskers can't hide the finely chiseled features of an actor who seems to have cornered the Hollywood market on hottie-who-loses-the-girl roles ("Enchanted," "Superman Returns" and, of course, "The Notebook.")

But the Oklahoma-bred star doesn't mind his wholesome image. "That's really me," he says. "I'm a little dorky -- awkward." However, his onscreen luck could be changing with his latest film, "27 Dresses," a romantic comedy co-starring Katherine Heigl. Scruffy or not, we'll be watching.

You've played a prince in "Enchanted" and the superhero Cyclops in the "X-Men" movies. Is that a big deal to your kids and their friends?

My daughter, Mary, is only 2, and my son, Jack, is 7. He has a Cyclops action figure, but he's really into Spider-Man and Pixar movies -- Buzz Lightyear is his guy. No "Superman," no "X-Men." I think he just assumes that everyone at his school has a dad who's a big superhero.

Don't Miss

You also played Corny Collins, the TV dance-show host in "Hairspray." What were you like in high school?

That's when I came out of my shell and became more social -- people thought I was funny. I got into a whole preppy thing -- Duck Head shorts and Dockers.

How would you describe your style now?

Functional comfort. For a guy, it shouldn't ever look like you thought about it too much, like the clothes are wearing you.

Whose clothes do you like?

Paul Smith off the rack -- it's a slim cut, and I don't need to have it tailored. I always feel like an 8-year-old when I dress up in a suit, like, when can I take this thing off? But I wore a black Dolce & Gabbana suit to the première of "Hairspray" that was like, OK, now I know what a great suit is. Classic, clean lines -- sharp, sharp, sharp.

Do you change your style from coast to coast?

In L.A. it's too easy to throw on a pair of American Apparel sweats, a T-shirt and running shoes and just wear those for days. In New York, I actually like looking nice. Maybe I'm just getting older, but young guys need to pull their pants up.

Do you ever shop for your wife?

I love shopping for dresses, and I actually do a pretty good job. When I was in New York, I went into J. Crew in Soho and got her a cool fifties type dress with tiny polka dots. Style-wise I'm good, but figuring out sizing is a different story.

What do you find sexy on a woman?

I like spaghetti straps for my wife -- she has great shoulders and a great neck. I love when she puts her hair up, because I can see the back of her neck, so delicate and vulnerable. It's the vampire in me. Or my obsession with cheerleaders -- their hair up in a ponytail. When I was young, I could never have that.

Never got the cheerleader?

Eventually -- my wife was a cheerleader.

What does your wife find sexy on you?

A button-front shirt with [baby] spit-up on the shoulder. That means a guy is taking care of the kids and is a good father -- that's sexy to a woman. The adult version of rose petals and champagne is if I let my wife sleep in and I get up to change the baby's diaper, feed the kids, and do the dishes.

Who inspires you?

Paul Newman. My middle name is Paul, and my grandfather once said I was going to look like Paul Newman. That stuck with me. Beyond being a good-looking guy, Newman is a great actor with a long career, and he's got a life. He's married with kids and lives in Connecticut, sells popcorn and marinara sauce, and gives the money to charity.

Anyone else?

George Clooney dresses like Gary Cooper might have. Cary Grant. "A Streetcar Named Desire"-era Marlon Brando. They all made it look effortless. Their clothes framed their personalities really well -- comfortable, classic, but sharp. These guys could pull off a great suit, or jeans and a T-shirt.

Don't you agree that guys have it easy -- they are considered "distinguished" as they grow older?

I don't think it's guy-specific. As women get older, they become more comfortable with themselves. Susan Sarandon is the poster woman for that. A lot of guys fantasize about being with women who are in their forties or fifties.

So your advice is ...?

Act your age. Dress your age. Look your age. That doesn't mean you can't have fun.

And isn't it time you got the girl in one of your movies?

There are a couple of things I need to do [onscreen]: One, get the girl; two, pack a gun. Don't you love my career philosophy? E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Get a FREE TRIAL issue of InStyle - CLICK HERE!

Copyright © 2009 Time Inc. All rights reserved.

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print