Lando Calrissian’s Style Evolution from Gambler to Rebel

When we consider movies, we most often think about the story they are telling, essentially the narrative or the screenplay. But that’s only part of cinematic language. There are the audio and visual elements: soundtrack, score, makeup, special and practical effects, and, most importantly for this article, costumes.

Costumes are a tool to communicate details about time period, setting, and characters’ personalities. Thus, within film, a character’s style directly and efficiently shows the audience who that person is, inside and out. And that’s where Sideshow’s new ongoing series, Suit Yourself, comes in.

Suit Yourself examines how style is a critical form of characterization. So let’s take a closer, chronological look at one of the most stylish pirates in the Star Wars™ universe: the smooth-talking, cape-wearing Lando Calrissian™.

Solo: A Star Wars Story(2018)

First appearances are everything. And since Solo isn’t technically our first time seeing Lando, there was a lot of pressure to get Lando’s look just right. The designers and director had to take into account his youth and current status, while also ensuring he’s recognizable to fans as their Lando Calrissian.

They do this by pulling from his original costume’s color scheme and silhouette. Rather than a simple v-neck, Lando’s Solo neckline is asymmetrical, and he has a striped scarf hanging loosely around his throat. His sleeves are cuffed. He wears an entirely yellow shirt, paying homage to the yellow lining of Lando’s original Cloud City™ cape. But rather than using it as an accent, full-out yellow is an attention-grabbing evocation of energy.

These choices illustrate a man who is more creative than professional. He leads a relaxed life, not doing much physical or functional labor like he will be in his adulthood. Make no mistake, though — Lando and his outfit are still ready for action.

Lando steals the hero shot in this avant-garde evening wear. Pleased by his “lucky” card game win, he leaves a club to admire the Millennium Falcon™. Maybe we’re simply meant to infer by this shot that it’s a cold planet; the jagged gray rocks and what appears to be a smattering of snow cue the weather, too. But we can also delight in the fact that this fur coat is the most dramatic way to combat a little winter chill.

While Lando doesn’t wear all of the capes he packs aboard his ship, the audience is shown his colorful closet when Qi’Ra™ goes shopping in it. The majority of capes are blue, most likely an additional callback to Lando’s first color scheme in the Star Wars original trilogy. There’s also purple and one standout green. Finally, we see splashes of warm hues such as red, orange, and even a floral pattern. Someone who wears a true rainbow of colors is clearly comfortable with himself and a fashion fan; Lando likes to experiment, likes to take risks. That’s true of his personality as well as his wardrobe.

Lando’s finale outfit is the same as his introduction — the yellow shirt and black pants, but we get a better look at it on Savareen™, and have the added bonus of the “weathered” appearance. For his post-battle look, Lando rolls up one sleeve and uses his scarf as a wrist sling. We know immediately what his injuries are and just how dire the situation is considering he dirtied his precious garments.

Additionally, his outfit complements what Han Solo™ is wearing. Han is in muted blues and browns, enhancing the brightness of Lando’s shirt and really letting that red belt pop. At first glance they seem to almost clash, but it’s actually a clever use of their shared color palette from The Empire Strikes Back™. Lando looks like the model he is against the planet’s clear blue sky while Han blends in, foreshadowing their different approaches to their reputations in the future.

They say to save the best for last, and Lando’s best was certainly seen last — but it wasn’t worn by him. Lando’s most ostentatious and surprisingly Sith-colored cape is a bright red. It’s floor-length and covers most of the shoulders and collar, especially with the thick black leather piece at the neckline. It includes silver snap and zipper closures, and looks amazing with white … which is probably why Qi’Ra pilfers it to put over her own white leather crop jacket.

It’s nice to imagine where and when Lando might have worn this cape. Perhaps for another game of Sabacc™, or to a stolen art gallery? Whatever the case, we can only hope Lando got some use out of this beauty before Qi’Ra took it to join Darth Maul™ on Dathomir™.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back™ (1980)

Lando Calrissian’s reputation precedes him in Episode V. He’s Han’s old friend, a smuggler, and the leader of a mining operation on Bespin™. Despite their allegedly amicable past, Han and Chewbacca™ are wary of Lando. Leia Organa™ thinks Lando isn’t the most trustworthy or savory character. His costume — as well as his charisma —  tell us otherwise.

Lando’s outfit is pristine. You can tell he has money and that he likes to spend it on looking good. The pastel blue color of his cape and matching shirt is associated with loyalty, stability, and sincerity. The dark yellow accent, a shade that represents caution, is our only hint that Lando may not be the friend he claims to be. When he sells out Luke Skywalker’s™ rebel group to Darth Vader™ and the Empire, we’re not all that surprised, and it’s because of those subtle symbols in Lando’s costume design.

A short sequence and quick outfit change at the end of The Empire Strikes Back is the cause of heated debate within the Star Wars fandom. Audiences are consistently puzzled over this question: Why is Lando wearing Han’s clothes?

There are quite a few possible answers. With Han missing his own vest during the fateful Carbonite scene, we could assume Lando’s vest as he pilots the Falcon is in fact Han’s same vest. Did they swap in Cloud City? Was it an accidental exchange, or a more purposeful interaction? That theory aside, Lando may have just slipped into something more comfortable for flying — as well as a more low-key look for fleeing the Empire — and found Han’s clothes stashed onboard.

Finally, maybe Lando always had a similar outfit as a remnant of their past, whether it was Han’s or his own from their time working together. Whatever the reason, it’s interesting to see Lando in such casual, plain clothes. It makes us trust him a bit more after his betrayal since he presents like one of our main heroes. Sans decoration, Lando is less authentic to his Cloud City persona, yet more authentic to his new allies as well as to the person he is becoming.

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi™ (1983)

The first time we see Lando in Return of the Jedi, he’s in disguise at Jabba’s™ Palace. The desert planet of Tatooine™ has a harsh climate, but as a guard, Lando is adorned in metal armor and a helmet. His thick chest plate is a grayish brown, and his mask features a mix of ivory bones and shades of black and brown. This costume isn’t so much a personal style choice as it is a necessary one. Wearing it, Lando will be instrumental in both the rescue of Han Solo and the defeat of the bounty hunter Boba Fett™.

Once he’s back on the rebel base, we see Lando in his newest attire: a floor-length blue cape and pants about a shade lighter, with a thick brown shirt that could very well be a jacket. Here we see the reconciliation of his two selves that were discussed previously with his transition from bold colors to more mature ones. Brown suggests stability. Lando is a proud member of the Rebel Alliance and a leader charged with dangerous missions, and we have full faith in him.

After a hard-won victory during the battle of Endor™, the galaxy’s greatest heroes gather for a celebration in an Ewok™ village. Lando remains in the same outfit he wore for battle — a tan shirt and tan cargo pants, plus a dark brown vest. It’s a departure from his previous fashions but most everyone on Endor wore various shades of brown and green for camouflage. While this must be mostly uniform, Lando also appears relaxed and happy in his celebratory costume.

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker™ (2019)

Despite his more grounded appearance by the end of the original trilogy, Lando returns with added flair in The Rise of Skywalker. He’s still in warm colors, but the fur trim on his collar has a funky pattern going on. We could possibly attribute this to his attendance at a parade on the planet Pasaana™, but he’s not dressed like the locals. With his full-length coat, orange belt, and angular helmet, he’s clearly found the best of both his aesthetics.

We come full circle on Lando’s costume design with his final appearance. To enlist in the Resistance, Lando wears an almost exact replica of his first costume in Solo: the yellow shirt (but with a Cloud City v-neck this time), a dark cape, and a signature grin. We’d like to think it’s to help him reminisce about the good old days as well as bring back some of that youthful vigor and fighting spirit. And even though Solo and Rise of Skywalker were released only one year apart, it still hits us with a wave of nostalgia.

What’s your favorite Lando Calrissian look? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!