Marty McFly Back to the Future Costume Tutorial

If you’ve seen Back to the Future (BTTF) even once, the word “McFly” really sticks with you, just like “Bueller, Bueller, Bueller” in Ferris Bueller’s day off. Michael J. Fox’s portrayal of Marty McFly made him a bonafide movie star, and with just a little luck, your own portrayal of Doc Brown’s young sidekick can make you a hit too.

Today, I’m going to be showing you how to approximate the look of Marty McFly from the first (and best) Back to the Future film. Yes, I know it’s 2015 and as of this writing we’re less than a week away from the Delorean’s trip to future Hill Valley, but the original costume is iconic and it’s a lot easier to pull off than the one with those auto-lacing Nike’s and size-adjusting jacket. So, let’s get started.


The part of the costume most people remember is the vest. That’s partially thanks to Lou, the proprietor of Lou’s Cafe. He asks Marty if he’s a sailor since he’s obviously wearing a life preserver. Well, it’s not a life preserver. If it were, it would be easier to source. The original appears to be a burnt orange vest from a company called Class 5. Very 80’s name that. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anyone with an original.

magnoli vest

If you’re a big spender and want to get this right, the closest you can come is a replica vest made by Magnoli Clothiers. Magnoli’s vest is spot-on. It’s also $375. Well worth it as a limited replica, but a little hard to swallow on a budget.

largemouth vest

The best budget option I’ve seen is this vest, available from Largemouth on Amazon. It isn’t perfect, but it will certainly pass muster with most fans.  You can also check Ebay since Old Navy made a very similar vest a couple of years ago.

The rest of Marty’s outfit is an exercise in layering. Under the vest, he’s wearing three (count them – THREE) other layers. The layer under the vest is an unusual denim jacket by Georges Marciano and Guess Jeans. This particular jacket has multiple shades of denim in ultimate, totally awesome, 80’s fashion.

magnoli jacket

This jacket is practically impossible to obtain, but Magnoli Clothiers steps up to the challenge again. Magnoli’s replica is as close as any I’ve seen, even using the correct liner fabric pattern which can be seen on the rolled up sleeves. It’s $450, but it will truly set you apart from the McFly wannabes.


Don’t have that kinda cash? Then try a basic Wrangler denim jacket. If you want to improve the look of the wrangler, you could always add a dark blue fabric yoke to the jacket as well as some patterned fabric inside the sleeves, but most casual fans will accept the standard denim, especially since most of it’s obscured by the vest. Don’t forget to roll up the sleeves!

Next down is a black and white, short-sleeved shirt. The original was manufactured by Shah Safari back in the day and, believe it or not, they recreated their own shirt in 2010 after being pestered to death by BTTF fans. The 2010 version can be found on Ebay from time to time, but I wouldn’t count on locating one quickly. If you have an industrious friend with a sewing machine, replica fabric can be found at Spoonflower.


If not, there’s a really great replica from Largemouth available at Amazon for around $80.


If that’s still too much, check out this shirt from Mountain Khakis. It’ll get you in the ballpark.

mcfly tee

Next up is Marty’s maroon tee, which is most visible in the memorable Calvin Klein scene. You can score a reasonable facsimile from Hanes for a reasonable price.


The last layer above the belt is a pair of black, 1/2″ wide suspenders because Marty wears no belt. These women’s suspenders from CTM will do the trick.


Marty’s jeans are straight-leg medium-blue denims in a light acid wash. The originals were probably from Guess, since Guess also provided the denim jacket, but just about any light blue jeans will work. Here’s a pair of 501s in light stonewash that looks the part. Remember-no rips or tears, please.


Marty’s shoes are 1985 Nike Bruins with red swooshes. Those sneakers are no longer manufactured, but Nike does make a new shoe that’s pretty close. Check out the Nike Dunk Low in white with red swoosh. Trust me-no one will know the difference.


Everything else is purely optional, but these items can surely increase your accuracy quotient.


Marty’s sunglasses, which were seen most prominently in the trailer, were Zeiss black aviators with mirrored lenses. These are damn near impossible to find but they do show up on Ebay now and then. In the meantime, here’s a perfectly serviceable budget pair from Outray.

casio watch

One item that Marty wears is extremely easy to obtain. It’s his Casio calculator watch. Casio’s CA53W is a very close match for the 1985 version, and it’s readily available.


Also available are the old-school walkman-style headphones. Marty’s Aiwa HS-P02 MkII cassette player is plenty scarce these days, but you could always run the headphone wire into a pocket. Trust me-add the headphones. They’re cheap and they scream “EIGHTIES!”

There’s a huge list of other accessories you could add if you have the time to track them down. Even one or two of these will help complete the look:

red velcro wallet
JVC videomovie GR-C1U
Art in Revolution button
guitar pin
boomerang shape pin (gotta make your own)
“Save the Clock Tower” flyer
Madrid Valterra skateboard
black Ibanez Roadstar II guitar


Of course, the ultimate prop is the Delorean DMC1 converted for time travel. Restored Deloreans can be had at Delorean One in Chatsworth CA. The conversion is up to you!


If you do wear this costume, conversations will inevitably veer to Michael J. Fox and his battle against Parkinson’s disease.  Please encourage your friends to donate to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.  I once worked on a pilot TV series produced by MJF and he couldn’t have been a nicer guy.  If you have the means, please donate.  Thanks!

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