On the list of potential men’s style icons, who springs to mind for you?
Is it the classics; James Dean, David Bowie, Marlon Brando… or, do you think of more recent icons such as Idris Elba, Zayn Malik or David Beckham?
Most people lean toward one or two favorites because those people have a style that speaks to them. While many manage to somehow look “effortless”, the truth is that quite a bit of effort goes into choosing what they wear in the first place. (And of course, most of these guys have or had the benefit of a personal stylist!).
Here are some popular men’s style icons and our suggestions for getting the look:
#1. James Dean: Casual-cool
James Dean’s casual-cool and simple, elegant style represented rebellion for youth of the 1950s. He managed to look effortlessly stylish both on and off-screen and was immortalized for that style due to his untimely death at just 24 years-old.
There are a few, specific clothing items that are always associated with Dean, for example, the black, chunky-knit turtleneck sweater. He sat for an iconic photoshoot with Roy Schatt which was known as “The Torn Sweater.” These images endure today.
What would James Dean pair with that turtleneck? Another classic he wore is blue jeans. We’re not talking about the super-skinny styles often seen today, but more of a classic straight leg in a navy denim. From our catalog, see the Alberto Washed Denim Slim Fit jeans, pictured below.
Of course, James Dean is also synonymous with the classic white t-shirt. This can also be paired with those jeans for a very simple, yet stylish look. Depending on your body type, a slimmer fit can be a very flattering style, achieving a smooth silhouette. For a true James Dean look, wear with black combat boots or Converse high-tops, like what he wore in Rebel Without a Cause. For a look that will work for many “business casual” offices, wear with your dress shoes.
In terms of outerwear, the bomber jacket worn in Rebel Without a Cause is probably his most infamous. A couple of years ago the jacket (yes, it’s actually red) passed in at auction when it didn’t meet the desired reserve.
This all adds up to a simple, yet casually cool ensemble. In terms of accessories, Dean kept them to a minimum. He could sometimes be seen off-set in a pair of round, tortoiseshell glasses or sunglasses in a classic style.
To get the look, go for classic, clean-cut, tailored items. These pieces should easily mix and match and not look scruffy when put together. The majority of his clothing was quite plain, but the emphasis really was on good fit. This is what really takes an outfit to that “effortless” look.
#2. Idris Elba: Neutral classics
Idris Elba has been acting for at least 25 years, but over the last decade or so has been regularly featured among the most stylish men. One of his style strengths is that he has developed a true sense of style, rather than following the fleeting fashion trends.
If you look at his wardrobe for both casual or formal wear, he has something of a formula for sticking with flattering neutral colors. He also tends to opt for classic, well-fitted styles that will probably still be just as stylish a decade from now.
Elba’s outfits tend to be within a palette of black, grey, white and navy. He wears fitted t-shirts as well as henley shirts, with well-structured outerwear over the top. His trousers or jeans of choice tend to be slim-fitting. He adds interest to his outfits by wearing accessories such as flat caps, or shoes with patterns on them.
Whether out casually or at an event, Elba is often pictured with one item in-particular – a very good coat. It’s a fashion “secret” that many stylish people operate by – if you wear a nice, well-fitted coat, people often don’t notice what else you’re wearing! We would always suggest that you get your coat tailored for the best possible fit. An example from our collection is the Canali Sport Coat, pictured below.Owning a good, tailored coat is a “secret” of stylish men Click To Tweet
#3. Daniel Craig: Suave sophistication
While James Bond is known to be a sophisticated kind of guy, the sixth actor to play him, Daniel Craig has become known as a style sophisticate in his own right.
Of course, suits have to come immediately to mind. Daniel Craig knows how to pull off a stylish red carpet suit without going overboard. He tends to favor well-fitted greys or blacks, sometimes in solid colors and sometimes with a classic pinstripe (see the grey suit he wore to the Spectre premiere, pictured below. Note: the bottom button is undone as it should be!).
Craig tends to keep accessories to a minimum. You might see a well-placed pocket square or a tasteful watch, but he doesn’t add a lot of extra embellishments to a classic suit. His color schemes are simple and smart – like Idris Elba, he largely favors a neutral palette. Get the look from us with a Canali suit and custom tailoring.
When he’s not wearing suits, Daniel Craig is often seen out and about in a pair of relaxed jeans, a fitted t-shirt and an excellent jacket a-la James Dean. He often wears flat caps and is seen in many pictures wearing the same versatile pair of brown dress shoes. Craig has also been known to pull off cardigans well, keeping a masculine aesthetic and managing to avoid looking dowdy. Once again, the key to this is good fit.
#4. Rami Malek: Tailored with flair
Rami Malek has become well-known over the last few years, taking some iconic roles and winning the best actor Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody in 2019. His look tends to be well-tailored, yet leaves room for individual flair with interesting patterns and statement pieces.
“Polished” is a good description of his predominant look offscreen, but you’ll see him throw in a velvet jacket or a shirt with a bold pattern. He tends to mix and match, sometimes going for bold separates while other times taking a more minimalist look in all-black or dark greys. Below you can see a small sampling of what we mean, taken from a Google image search.
You can get this look by teaming classically tailored trousers and jackets with a well-fitted, bold shirt. Malek is even known to pull off the “air tie” while still looking sharp at formal events.
Another leaf out of Malek’s book is to experiment with textures (without going overboard). For example, teaming a pair of dark grey wool trousers with a silk shirt. He pulls this look off by opting out of any accessories, including a belt.
Lastly, look at separates. This means having an outfit of trousers, jacket, dress shoes and a base layer. A great way to pull this off is to have three of those items providing a backdrop for a standout piece. For example, you might team a tailored, patterned jacket with black shirt, trousers and shoes.
The men’s style icons we’ve shown here represent a range of style preferences, but they tend to have one thing in common – a focus on good fit.
This characteristic is really what can take any outfit from ordinary to fashion forward. If there’s one thing we would say to men who want to make an effort, it’s to pay attention to fit. Even if you can’t get everything tailored to fit you and color coordination, make good choices with the things you do buy. There is often a tendency for men to buy clothing that is too big.
Take inspiration from these style icons, but experiment to find your own sense of style.