'The Longest Ride' Costumes: This Is Why Bull Riders Don't Wear Yellow

Michael Tackett
Scott Eastwood as Luke Collins in 'The Longest Ride'

Why did film costume designer Mary Claire Hannan put Scott Eastwood in blue bull-riding shirts? Hint: it's not only because of his dreamy blue eyes.

If there's one standout style moment from The Longest Ride, the latest Nicholas Sparks book-to-film adaption, it's the Western rodeo uniform worn by Luke Collins, a former bull-riding champion played by Scott Eastwood (son of acting/directing legend Clint).

The film, starring Britt Robertson and Eastwood, tells the tale of love and struggle between student Sophia (Robertson), who hopes to pursue her art career in New York, while Luke wants to stay in his saddle. It's back in the bull-riding pen that we see Luke's competition uniform, which features pieces by California-based equestrian apparel maker Ariat.

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Before dressing Eastwood in Ariat, Longest Ride costume designer Mary Claire Hannan says she hung out with professional bull riders (that's PBRs, to those in the know) and attended their events to get a better sense of their style. "It was very important to hang out with them. You get details that you would never get by looking at a catalog," Hannan told Pret-a-Reporter via phone. "For instance, you never wear a yellow shirt in the bull-riding ring. It’s bad luck."

Though there's no so-called good-luck color for riders, Hannan says, "A lot of guys like black. It feels cool and macho." However, the costume designer didn't stick with that dark hue for Eastwood's character, instead opting for the color blue to bring out his dreamy cobalt eyes.

"He was just vibrant in it. He felt like a race car driver," says Hannan of Eastwood in his solid twill ultramarine blue shirt. "We would always put him in blue every time he rode so we could always recognize him right away."

Beyond color, form and function were equally essential to Luke's outfits — and to professional bull riders in general. One key performance element included riding boots with athletic shoe technology because "when you get off the bull, you scramble and run away as fast as you can because it’s a really dangerous place. So being able to literally run in boots is important," explains Ariat vp partnership marketing Susan Alcala, adding that bull riders tend to wear a wider, square-toed boot instead of the pointy-toed boots more typical of casual Western wear. "That’s really an authentic toe shape for a real cowboy. So, you know, that’s really why that shape was used, because that’s what they wear."

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Riders also prefer to secure their boots by taking a leather strap and wrapping it tightly around their ankles, says Hannan, who jokingly adds, "I mean, you almost feel like saying, 'Dude, maybe you don’t need cowboy boots. Maybe you need lace-up shoes.'"

Another sartorial feature Hannan noticed with the pro bull riders that she translated onto the big screen with Luke was their preference for loose-fitted pants.

"So the guy who might wear a 28-inch waist might wear a 31-inch because they need to have agility. They need to be able to move their legs. They like wearing baggy jeans," says the San Francisco-born designer, who notes that the patches of logos on the clothes represents a rider's sponsorship. "A person that’s very well off as a bull rider is sponsored a lot. They have many patches, which means he’s getting paid. And he’s getting looked after, which is great." For their hats, Hannan says riders usually wear them "very, very big and straight down on their head."

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As for Robertson's character, Sophia, Hannan dressed her as a "well-off sorority girl," who wore pieces from Frank and Eileen, Alice + Olivia, Club Monaco and Rag & Bone. "She was much more in the designer realm of clothing than say, the bull rider." Well, as they say, opposites attract.

Catch The Longest Ride in theaters now.