Jesse Pinkman is somewhat of a style non-icon. Like the character himself, Jesse’s clothes have changed significantly over the past 5.5 seasons. Let’s go back and look at what the self-proclaimed king of the ABQ was wearing out on these streets.
When we first meet Jesse, we’re supposed to understand him as a high school dropout selling drugs. For an early 20’s, trashy, uneducated, white, non-nazi drug dealer I’d say this “Urban Wear” look properly fits. Aaron Paul is straight swimming in these clothes and it’s pretty much all I remember about Season 1. This is what the kids who wanted to look like drug dealers wore when I was a freshman in high school and I have the yearbook to prove it.
In Season 2 we learned there are levels to Jesse’s over-sized hoodie game. Jesse does a formidable amount of drugs in this season and if there is anything to learn here it’s that the more drugs Jesse does, the baggier his clothes get. Forget Ecko, Season 2 Jesse has shut both Albuquerque Zumies down. Now flush with some new income and a fly-ass post-goth girlfriend, Jesse has shed the grunge, distancing himself from Badger and Skinny Pete’s knock off Kirkland getup. He’s stepped his game up a tad, taking it to a different realm of streetwear. He’s the Christian Audigier of the meth game, hitting the pipe in intertwined dragons spitting blue fire.
After a brief rehab stint, a more hardened Jesse emerges in Season 3. His hair is a bit longer and he’s shed the beanie. Most importantly however, he’s found a new long-sleeved outer-shell. He’s given up that hoodie life for a closet full of ill-fitting jackets. This may seem insignificant, but it marks a pointed change in the way Jesse approaches the world. After seeing the fragility of human life with the death of his girlfriend, Jesse upgrades from a easily permeable 50/50 cotton-blend lifestyle to a thicker, more resistant polyester situation. Though Jesse maintains his baggy hodge-podge grunge aesthetic, you can see a maturity start to grow on the character as his clothes begin to slim down, especially when gets involved with Andrea and needs to be a (fashion) role model for young Brock. This was the first season I started to realize that Jesse was going to be attractive and my Tumblr dashboard was going to be filled with photos of Aaron Paul for the next three years.
There’s a moment in every man’s life when he sits down in front of a pile of laundry and realizes he cannot wear shirts with words that aren’t associated with a sports team anymore. Season 4 Jesse is the Jesse that landed Aaron Paul the starring role in a racing movie based off a video game. By probably accidentally coming up on a good, slim pair of black jeans at the Vans outlet, Jesse beats out Flynn as the first character to wear skinny jeans. Everything is slimmer and darker and for once, Jesse looks like the one who’s got his shit together compared to an ever-maniacal looking Walt. Breaking Bad is so much about the color yellow, and there is probably a graduate thesis to explain why, but from a clothing sense, that shit had to go. Thankfully, as the show turned towards its darkest hour, so did Jesse’s color palette. After pushing dime bags his whole life, Jesse’s finally at the executive table dealing with some hardcore killers down in Mexico. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that can’t be running from cartels in a pair of Girbauds.
From fake street-grunge to very real-post-grunge, we’ve really come full circle. Season 5 Jesse is hanging by a flannel thread. He’s been manipulated by Walt every which way and has the scars patched jeans to prove it. After Todd kills Drew Sharp, Jesse begins to unravel. He gives practically zero fucks about what the community thinks about him and dresses to prove it. The beard is a good distraction from his bloodshot eyes. When Jesse is taken into captivity by the Neo-Nazi’s he’s at least wearing a tri-toned Urban Outfitters longsleeve. The only downside is that when he finally breaks free months later, his long straight hair, heavy beard, and tri-toned Urban Outfitters long-sleeve make him look like a member of Fall Out Boy in 2013.