'The Fast and the Furious' costume trends throughout the saga

Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious (2001)
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The days of stealing combination TV/DVD players have long passed since The Fast and the Furious first burst on the scene 20 years ago, and while the scenarios have got more outlandish there are consistencies beyond recurring cast members. Costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays has worked on all nine installments (as well as the forthcoming tenth movie) and there are several noticeable sartorial signatures that have been in play since 2001. Sure, denim trends have shifted from the ultra low-rise jeans worn by Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) 20 years ago — although Y2K trends are making a comeback —  however, there are some outfits that never go out of style.

In preparation for the delayed release of F9, we are taking you back on a journey across a timeline that doesn’t always make the most sense — particularly when factoring in when Tokyo Drift fits into the narrative. But physics is not the subject up for discussion, after all this is a franchise that has already featured multiple death-defying leaps (both in and out of cars), and might be sending Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) into space. While certain garments do point to a specific year, much like how we dress in real life, recurring figures like Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) don’t stray too far from the outfits we first met them in. It has been four years since we last saw most of these characters (and even longer for someone like Han), and the F9 trailer re-establishes the leather jacket, muscle shirts, and jeans casual staples. 

Truck heists in the United States are far in the rearview mirror and this franchise is more in line with global espionage a la James Bond or Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible and just like those movies, these characters have favored staples but can pivot if required. Below are nine style pointers that also doubles as a catch-up via costumes.

Signature Necklace 

Vin Diesel's Fast and Furious necklace

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Family is forever and so is Dom’s beloved crucifix necklace. Statement jewelry comes in many different shapes and forms, and this piece represents the heart of these movies. In the F9 trailer, Letty gives it to Dom’s son Brian to hold and explains how special it is. It has been used as a symbol of Dom’s eternal love for Letty and in the fourth installment Fast & Furious, when he flees — in order to protect her — he leaves this precious item behind. The necklace is wrapped around cash to show that even though he can’t be with her physically, a part of him remains. Alas, he cannot protect her, and Letty is presumed dead after an explosion. Amnesia is a side effect of her coma — that old chestnut — but the necklace helps bring back her memory in Furious 7 after a flashback to their intimate wedding ceremony reveals this signature piece is used as a ring. It has been on quite the global journey as Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) uses it as a calling card after he has supposedly killed Han (Sung Kang) in Tokyo. This is as integral to Dom’s look as his penchant for sleeveless attire.   

(Im)Practical Fashion

Chris "Ludacris" Bridges in 2 Fast 2 Furious

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

No matter the race location, another repeat trend of this driving scene is women wearing barely-there skirts, crop tops, and bralettes. From Los Angeles to Miami, Tokyo to London there is a high demand for cut-out mini dresses, thigh-high boots, and bold prints. When we first meet Tej in 2 Fast, 2 Furious, he is dressed to theme in a boiler suit (he is a local mechanic), and he hosts the street race that introduces a fugitive Brain (Paul Walker) to Florida’s lineup. The issue isn’t the fit, but the light shade will instantly show up any and all grease stains — practically impractical. However, this garment establishes Tej’s fashion bona fides and he has always managed to shift his attire to the times.   

Black and White

Black and white garments are classics for a reason; they are both timeless and also speak to good versus bad. You can pretty much press play on any of the previous eight FF movies and see at least one of the main characters rarely straying from this area. At the end of the first movie, Brian wears a black t-shirt to Dom’s white (which is covered in blood and dirt), and this image of light and dark represents Brian’s moral dilemma. At the end of Fast Five, this image is returned to when instead of leaving Dom, Brian has his back because that is fambly. Additionally, when Letty cannot remember who she is in Fast & Furious 6, her layered tanks are in black and white, even if her mind is muddled there is still part of who she was in her clothing. It is sometimes a case of using black and white to show the hero versus the villain, as was the case when Deckard faces Dom in Furious 7


Dom and Letty's wedding in Fast and Furious

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The bride and groom both wore white in the Dom/Letty wedding party and this specific moment is the very definition of couple twinning. Dom loves a white pant and this is very much his off-duty preference — the dirt plays havoc with keeping them crisp during a mission. Unfortunately for him, in The Fate of the Furious, Cipher (Charlize Theron) tracks him down in Havana while on honeymoon and coerces him away from his vacay style — but never away from his shared fashion POV with Letty. 

Avoid Fads 

Paul Walker and Vin Diesel

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Most of the men in this franchise lack sartorial flair (not you Han or Tej) and neutrals are a go-to. For Brian, his rotation of shorts, jeans, hoodies, and tees are more skater vibes than fast cars. Whether Chuck Taylors or Vans, Brian’s sneaker game is firmly “if it ain’t broke.” He likely would not be buying any black market Jordans from Twinkie (Shad Moss) in Tokyo, and Sean (Lucas Black) is very much of the Brian style mold.  

The Occasional Suit 

Kurt Russell in The Fast and the Furious franchise

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Dom’s brother Jakob (John Cena) is a F9 newbie, but he is far from the first person to enter this world in a tailored suit and while there is no dress code in street racing, sometimes the gang elevates their style for an undercover mission — such as the Abu Dhabi plan in Furious 7. Brian also ditches his undercover casual Cali look for stiff suits in Fast & Furious when he joined the FBI, but this was a brief detour before jeans and hoodies returned when he broke Dom free from a prison bus. The mysterious Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) also embraces the classic G-man uniform that will not betray any details about his life.  

A Splash of Pattern

Helen Mirren in The Fate of the Furious

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The arrival of Shaw matriarch Magdalene aka Queenie (Helen Mirren) in The Fate of the Furious has injected a much-needed leopard print boost into this franchise and you can never go wrong with this wild choice. 

Bold Going Out Tops  

Gal Gadot in The Fast and Furious franchise

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Going out tops are a definitive Y2K clothing subgenre that FF kept alive when others had long let this fad pass. Gisele (Gal Gadot) joins Mia by dipping her toe in these style waters before she sacrificed herself in Fast and Furious 6. Whereas Letty tends to stick to block colors — and is branching out into blush pink in F9 — Mia and Gisele are more adventurous in their tank palette. 

Barbecue Cool  

Nathalie Emmanuel in The Fate of the Furious

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) joined the family in Furious 7 and the hacker quickly made an impression. As the youngest member of the team, her closet reflects this youthful aesthetic and this is no more apparent than during the traditional end of movie hangout in The Fate of the Furious to celebrate pulling off the impossible. Bold lipstick and a cute striped halter pair well with an ice-cold Corona. 

Emma Fraser

Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.