Mark twain once said “the clothes make the man”, and while the great writer certainly had a point, I would take the more controversial view of “the man makes the clothes”. But hang on? Does this mean I can dress like a tramp and make it work for me? Alas, no, being stylish is the ultimate paradox, you must take great care to put yourself together and then completely forget you’re wearing clothes at all – it’s a hard line to tread and many a man gets it wrong. The majority of this article will look into the attitude behind the clothes; what is cool, men who got it right, clothes that capture the attitude and why the rewards a life of effortless cool brings is achievable for every man to grasp if he wants, regardless of whether he lives in Paris or Scunthorpe.
The essence of “cool” is an elusive thing. Nobody quite knows what it is, it has no single agreed upon definition, and yet it is phenomena that transcends both generations and cultures – it is timeless. People certainly know it when they see it, as we’ve all seen someone in a bar, at work or even on the bus that just seemed to ooze this thing we call cool from every pore. That being said, this intrepid article writer is going to attempt to define “cool”, at least in relation to fashion; I think cool is a supreme self assurance, not arrogance or cockiness, but an inner confidence, one that makes you firmly believe what you’re wearing looks good, that you look good, so good in fact that you don’t even need to acknowledge you look good, it’s just the way it is. Effortless.
The men who got it right
Below are some examples of men I personally think achieved this elusive attitude, it is no way comprehensive and there are numerous others. Clockwise from top left: Mr. James Dean, Mr. Frank Sinatra, Mr. Steve McQueen, Mr. Paul Newman, Mr. Marlon Brando and Mr. Johnny Depp. Who would your choices be past or present? Let us know in the comments below:
Back to Mark Twain again, while the man and the attitude behind the clothes are important, the man better have some stylish clothes otherwise he is only half the style icon he wishes to be. Whilst there is no strict look that encapsulates the attitude; there are a few guidance rules and essential products.
- Whatever you wear, wear it with confidence and air of nonchalance.
- Dress on trend, but use individual pieces that show that you’re not just blindly following crowd, the crowd in fact should follow you.
- Invest in timeless pieces, “Fashions fade, style is eternal” – Yves Saint Laurent.
- Dress up your casual wear, and dress down your formal wear depending on the situation, but always maintain an air of control.
- Cut is king, if the clothes don’t fit, you’ll never achieve the attitude.
- Little elegant touches set off an outfit, they refine you.
A few essential items:
- A suit - the style of the suit; be it three piece, double breasted or just standard two button is up to you, but the colour should be simple and not “loud” – understated yet elegant.
- Leather jacket - Timeless, the ultimate symbol of rebel cool, think James Dean in rebel without a cause or even John Travolta in Grease.
- Hats - A good hat can smarten up any outfit. The trilby is timeless, and the bowler hat is set to make waves in 2011, but for those for who hats are daunting, start small with a drivers cap. Wear a hat with confidence and it will become a trademark part of your personal style.
- Jeans - everyone owns jeans and you can’t go wrong with a pair of raw or dark indigo denim. I’d stay away from boot cut, but that’s just a personal preference, as I think the skinny, slim and carrot styles create a more defined, Parisian look, and we all know the French are kings of cool.
- But why follow the crowd? Chinos have been big for the last couple of seasons, and continue to be; they are comfortable, look fantastic, come in all the styles that jeans do, work in summer and winter – a very versatile item.
- The pocket square - sets off any suit off in an elegant yet relaxed fashion.
- Boots - timeless and versatile footwear which gives that bit extra that shoes don’t. Invest in military style or desert boots if you want to stay on trend, but don’t shy away from more traditional styles such as Chelsea boots or brogue boots when upgrading your shoes.
So there you have it, a quick guide to cool. Of course there are no absolutes and it comes down to personal preference, but I believe that it’s an achievable state of mind and style for everyone. It takes a lot of guts, a lot of smarts and a hell of a lot of charisma, but get the clothes right, then the attitude will follow. Once the attitude is there, then all the clothes you wear are set off in what can only be described as a stylish symphony of ultimate cool.
“Cool is a knowledge, a way of life.” - Lewis MacAdams
The Reader’s Opinion
So what do you think about the subject? Let us know your view in the comments below:
- What is your definition of cool? Is it possible to define it?
- Who epitomises cool in your opinion? Celebrity or otherwise.
- How can you achieve and be classed as a “cool” male?
- Do the clothes make the man or the other way around?
- What essential items do you think you need to have in your wardrobe in order to hit the attitude?
- Can you learn/teach cool or is it innate?