Throughout history, there have been a handful of men that have paved the way for style. Note: we’re talking about style, not fashion. Fashion can be fleeting. Style – on the other hand – is an attitude. While it can’t be bought, it can certainly be emulated. Here are six men who, over the last several decades, have defined style and changed how men look at and wear clothes.
This rebellious Rolling Stone just has that something. That ‘je ne sais quoi’. He was at the forefront of androgyny, and effortlessly combined bohemian bits with luxurious silk and floral shirts, blazers, Panama hats, cream suits, watch chains and gemstones. Artfully distressed and effortlessly cool looks were championed by Mick Jagger and, to this day, he still favours tailored suits, band t-shirts, and trainers.
The late James Dean is almost too cool. It’s impossible (really, we’ve tried) to find a photo of him where he isn’t painfully stylish. He’s an icon in terms of film but men have been trying to replicate his Americana style ever since the 1950’s. He wore fitted polo shirts, wide-legged trousers, Levis, lightweight jackets and – who could forget – white t-shirts with the sleeves haphazardly rolled up. His appeal comes from his humble nonchalance and affinity for no-fuss basics.
This Hackney boy turned mega-star combines street charm with English sophistication. Perhaps that’s what’s so appealing about him and his style: he doesn’t pretend to be anything that he’s not and embraces who is was and who he is. People (important people, we might add) have taken notice and in 2015 he graced the cover of Maxim magazine as – according to Editor in Chief Kate Lanphear, ‘“the perfect embodiment of…the new Maxim man’. He wears beautifully tailored pieces with denim, channels the past (even James Dean!) and represents a new generation of successful black men through his sauve style.
50 years after his heyday, film start Steve McQueen is still inspiring men’s style today. He was a rugged, confident ladies’ man and it showed. It oozed out of him through his attitude and dress sense. He championed the turtleneck-tweed-blazer combination that we now associate with the 1960’s, he rocked denim-on-denim when it was still thought to be a fashion faux paux, was always in a perfect leather jacket and acetate frame sunglasses and wore chukka or desert suede boots with everything. He dressed simply but well, giving generations of men a style to emulate.
David Beckham has gone from being a soccer star to a father of four and – now – a fashion icon from the U.K., to Hollywood, to every corner of the globe. Whether he’s dressing up for an awards ceremony or is dressed down with his tattoos on display, Beckham has a boyish style that any man can borrow. He doesn’t try nor does he latch on to trends. Instead, he sticks with classic navy suits that have been perfectly tailored and dark wash jeans that are rugged but still streamlined in their fit. While he may stick to basics in terms of trousers and tops, he uses accessories like hats, bags, watches and pocket squares to make each outfit his own.
Say what you want about Kanye West (and there’s plenty to say…) but he will undoubtedly go down in history as a style icon. He’s brash and takes risk in his life and career, and his style choices are no different. He mixes retro with modern which positions him as a bonafide urban gentleman. While he started out on the scene combining preppy staples with hip-hop flair, he’s evolved to simplistic, one-tone looks that have influenced his fashion and shoe lines. He loves to layer and has – somehow – turned the hoodie into a versatile wardrobe staple that can, actually, be elevated.