To love Indiana Jones - and to my absolute horror, not everyone does (jesu christi you have not lived!) - I think you need to have all the groundwork laid down as a child. You need to have read those Cairo Jim books and maybe done a unit in school on Ancient Egypt. You need to have a fascination for history and for the process of archeology. You need to love adventure and that typical, 1930-s serialised derring-do novels, which Indiana Jones borrows heavily from, all sardonic gestures, empowered yet ultimately quite silly women and Harrison Ford's uniquely, well, Harrison Ford-ian way of doing everything from the corner of his mouth; speaking, smiling, shouting, crying. And, speaking of Harrison Ford, you gotta really love him. I got all of these things at a young age for a variety of different reasons, including but not limited to a mother who so loved Ford that she threatened to name my brother after him (last name and all) and younger brothers that, in the way younger brothers often do, dictated play time with their pith helmets and explorer kits of binoculars, microscopes and peanut butter sandwiches (which I'm sure Cairo Jim took on his expeditions, too). It's not wonder that I really love other movies, more dramatic and grown up, but no less mired in the drama of exploration, like The English Patient, or Out of Africa.
These kinds of films tend to share a colour palette, and Indiana Jones is no different. What I love about Indy's wardrobe is that delicious, washed out neutral colour mix. Like all good archaeologists - and history professors - Dr Jones limits himself to clothes that are practical and easy. Slightly oversized khaki chinos held up with a big leather belt. Linen shirts (all that Egyptian humidity will make you sweat!) with the sleeves rolled up and unbuttoned to reveal some 1980s chest hair. A dark, weather-beaten chocolate brown leather jacket that seems to have an endless supply of bottomless pockets. Aside from Junior's three piece tweed suits at college, fulfilling every female history's student's dream of a lecturer that looks like Harrison Ford, and another three piece woollen suit at the end of the film, his wardrobe pretty much consists in it entirety of those pieces, with the added accoutrements of a bullwhip and a fedora, which is often left inside the slowly closing door of a cave or Temple of Doom which Jones then has to quickly fetch because nothing would be as bad as losing his hat. Indiana Jones doesn't faff about! Indiana Jones doesn't worry about what he's wearing! Indiana Jones gets the job done!
It works in part because Ford is so charismatic. You have to have a special something to pull off a movie where you are pretty much wearing the exact same thing in every scene. Where you don't really get cleaned up, ever, you're covered in sweat and sand and, on occasion, blood (!!!) as you get thrown into all manner of melodramatic situations, like gun fights in the streets of cairo, or buried alive in a snake-infested tomb (why don't bad guys ever just shoot their enemies? it would solve a lot of problems). I've always held this wardrobe up as a great way to do colour and comfort in hot climes, all whist trying to unearth the ark of the covenant. I watched this movie tonight for the first time on the big screen, and it has aged so beautifully (much like Harrison Ford himself, no?). Still as hilarious, still as ruggedly stylish, and still as classic as ever. As long as there are dreams of being an explorer, Indian Jones will never get old.