While most of us chaps take time to grow into ourselves, learning to understand our physiques and wardrobe choices with advancing years, there was one man who achieved effortless sartorial perfection with an almost pathological aversion to following fashion and, well, crap clothes in general.
In his time Steve McQueen was the highest paid actor in Hollywood and his rebellious persona (both on and off screen) gave him a compelling attraction to men and women alike. His was a no-nonsense classicism and it’s this style that is still exerting an enormous influence today.
Take one look at the rebooted James Bond as played by Daniel Craig and you’ll see it screams McQueen. The Harrington, desert boots, khakis, shawl-collared cardigans, as well as polo shirts all hark back to McQueen in his pomp. And like Bond/Craig, McQueen could also look devastating in a slim-cut, well-tailored suit, usually sporting a beautiful chronograph.
So what’s the allure? In a society that is obsessed with a scream-to-be-seen mentality, Mr McQueen’s style stands in stark contrast; choosing sobriety over extravagance, restraint over vulgarity, timelessness over trends.
It is also possible that McQueen represented a certain type of by-gone masculinity reminiscent of Hemingway. He was the embodiment of rugged self-control and athleticism; McQueen loved hunting, fishing, sports cars and learned Kung Fu from Bruce Lee. In fact I would go so far to suggest that it was this, rather than his familiarity with his feminine side, man-bag and penchant for facials, that had hordes of women falling at his feet.
So how to do it?
Stick to neutral colours and simple lines. Go for the classic pieces and avoid all temptation to cover yourself in labels. As the man himself once said “I live for myself and I answer to nobody”.
Created by brothers John and Isaacs Miller in Chorlton Street, Manchester. The now much imitated Baracuta G9 model was first sold in 1937.
The Desert Boot
The classic desert boot is by Clarks Originals and was created in 1950 by Nathan Clark after he got the idea from crepe-soled, rough suede boots, which officers in the Eighth Army were in the habit of getting made in the Bazaar at Cairo.
The Shawl Collared Cardigan
The only way to do a cardigan. Somewhere between knitwear and tailoring, it offers plenty of versatility. Layer it with a T-shirt or turtleneck or sub for a blazer.
The Polo, Blazer, Raincoat combo
Again, keep them simple. The raincoat should avoid flaps, buttons and should create a sharp silhouette. Stick to the neutral colour scheme for the polo and blazer. You can’t go wrong with a grey jacket and navy/black polo.