Oi Polloi

In Praise of… Tintin

Published: Fri Jan 31 2020


There's a lot of under-appreciated (and occasionally misunderstood) people, places and inanimate objects out there. With these articles - we like to reset the balance a bit.

In this edition, wordsmith Tayler Willson explains why Tintin is one of the most stylish cartoon men ever put to paper. Take it away Tayler...

Think of Tintin and you’ll most likely picture a round-faced, ginger-haired grass who hails from Belgium, yet has a suspiciously good British accent. And while the aforementioned is mostly certainly, definitely true, what you’re probably missing from your list is: cultured menswear fashionista.

Created by cartoonist Georges Prosper Remi (better known by the pen name Hergé), Tintin’s excellent range of cashmere jumpers, Albam-esque pin rolled trousers, macs and turtle-necks, saw him become not only one of the most recognisable cartoon characters of the twentieth century, but one of the most stylish too.

Ultimately Tintin was a dedicated investigative journalist, so dedicated that his journeys would often see him chasing big bad guys across Eyptian deserts, around the Russian mountains or through Congan back alleys. And it’s these kind of business trips that have allowed us to see inside the young Belgian’s wardrobe, from big coats to pea coats and crew neck to v-neck, he had the gear for all manner of conditions.

It’s clear Tintin knew the value of dressing well, both in terms of self-image and the impression it made on others. While his older friend Captain Haddock stayed stuck to his signature chic nautical get-up (that was in fact half-decent in itself and very Armor-Lux), Tin Tin would dress for the adventure. He’d look the part. Efficient and stylish.


His most iconic outfit - and his most high-end look, too - is best probably described as sleek, West End, hipster journalist. Like a Fashion Editor at a tabloid paper. It’s a rig that consists of a beige knee-length pea coat, a wide-legged pair of pin-rolled rust pants, with high white socks and a pair of clean, brown Paraboots. The perfect autumnal outfit if ever we’d seen one.

It helped, of course, that his creator Hergé had the ability to enliven outfits with the kind of story-telling, borderline-theatrics he used to anatomise his characters. A rakish knitted jumper, with a white collared shirt for example, or a long, checked mackintosh with only a yellow always-unbuttoned polo shirt for company. The look was that of an older, more mature man, yet Tintin (a suspiciously old looking 14-year-old) carried it off to perfection.

It’s clear Tintin knew the value of dressing well, both in terms of self-image and the impression it made on others.

Such was his versatility though, Tintin came into his own in colder climates. Arguably his best - and certainly most Deck~Out~and~About - look saw him sport a large, padded ski jacket with a drawstring bow at the neck, a mountain backpack clipped and secured across his chest and a mustard yellow beanie, like something from a Berghaus handbook. It’s known as ‘technical outerwear’ on the streets nowadays, but we still like to call it Big Coat Weather. It’s the kind of outfit you’d see at the peak of Mount Snowdon, or in the smoking area of your local boozer on a Saturday night. 


Someone once told us that good style is not always about the clothes themselves, but about the personality of the person wearing them. And while is probably not true in many cases (and the man who said this was dressed like shit) it’s never been more true than with Tintin. Yes he’s a cartoon, but he’s also a character with a big personality, and he dresses accordingly. His inquisitive nature often lead him to dress for the location, like when he and Snowy trekked deep into the Congan jungle and Tintin rocked looking like a catwalk-ready safari ranger, wearing a bowler hat straight from a Prada lookbook. It’s probably his most glamourous rig to date, but it really did do the trick.


Tintin’s turtle-necks and array of fine jackets might suggest he may have once been destined for a more glamorous career, and one could easily imagine him sipping a glass of red, legs crossed reading the Financial Times. Instead though, he’s dedicated his life to the clear, concise reportage of crime and investigation, and for that we salute him.

The beauty of unlikely style icons like Tintin is that he’s from pre-internet times. Each and every outfit was from the mind of the creator, in this case Hergé. There was no Instagram, no online stylists and certainly no influencers, and it’s this that makes Tintin looking like a don, even more impressive. Merici.