Paul Rudd Says His '80s High School Style Channeled Duckie in 'Pretty in Pink'

The Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania star tells PEOPLE all about the "new wave" outfits he wore during his teenage years

Paul Rudd may hold PEOPLE's 2021 Sexiest Man Alive title, but even he admits to having experienced an awkward high school phase, particularly when it came to his fashion.

In this week's issue of PEOPLE, the Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania actor, 53, talks about the interesting style choices he made during his teenage years in the '80s, back when he was inspired by a certain famous onscreen character.

"I remember when the movie Pretty in Pink came out. I hadn't seen it, but people in my school said, 'I just saw this movie and there's a character named Duckie [Dale] and he totally reminded me of you,' " Rudd shares.

After watching the movie himself, he couldn't ignore his resemblance to Duckie (played by Jon Cryer) or his love for his outlandish heavily layered outfits.

Paul Rudd pretty in pink
Michael Schwartz; Alamy

"I really embraced New Wave fashion. I did not dress like your typical Midwesterner," Rudd explains to PEOPLE, referring to the old-school maximalist aesthetic. "I really prided myself on the fact that I didn't own a pair of jeans."

What he did have in his closet, though, was pretty much every other clothing item, many of which he once styled into a "badass" getup.

"I remember one day, I went over to my friend Jethro's house after school. I just stayed in the clothes that I wore — black pleated pants, black slip-on loafers, pink socks. My shirt was black, the sleeves were gray. I had a pink tie with pink piping on the pocket and on all the seams," he explains, adding that his entire ensemble was brought off the rack at Oaktree.

His look was so ahead of its time, Rudd recalls his friend's mom asking him if there was a space-themed event being held at school that day. "I guess my outfit looked so futuristic to her," he says.

Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Paul Rudd below

The Marvel star also thinks back to a "horrendous moment in time" when he took a liking to baggy pleated trousers. "I had a pair of pants that were so baggy, they had pleats in the ass. Not just front pleats, back pleats," he jokes.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is in theaters Friday.

For more on Paul Rudd, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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