In most movies I would not recognize the clothes worn by the actors and actresses. However, in Elia Kazan's 1951 film, A Streetcar Named Desire, based on Tennessee Williams' 1847 play, my attention could not leave the white tight-fitting shirts worn by Marlon Brando's character, Stanley Kowlawski. It was not a bad thing. In my opinion the apparel added to what his character represented.
Stanley is a control freak in every sense of the word. He tries to control Stella (Kim Hunter), his closest friends, Blanche (Vivien Leigh), and he prides himself on knowing everyone and everything. If he is unsure about a subject, I believe he makes up an answer just to prove something. Even though he also takes pride in the fact that he is a manly man and wants everyone to be aware of that, he cares about his appearance. He gets dirty at work and sweaty bowling, but never once does he look unappealing in the entire movie. Stanley knows he is good looking, and he uses that to get what he wants from people.
Mitch (Karl Malden) would have looked like a goof ball in Stanley's wardrobe. More so, Stanley would have looked like a softy in Mitch's clothes. The apparel really came through for the character Stanley. Only his character, with his control issues, street talk, and violent streak could pull it off.
Throughout the movie, Stanley tends to either be wearing the tight shirts or taking his shirts off. Once again, he is aware of how he looks. He uses the "no shirt" trick for Blanche when he first meets her. Nobody meets someone for the first time and asks the person, such as Blanche, if he or she minds him stripping off his shirt. It is just unheard of. However, Stanley is a confident man, and it shows by just looking at his apparel.
The clothes Marlon Brando wears for his character, Stanley, are a perfect fit for the controlling, confident, and violent street talker that he plays.