The word reinvention is key in fashion. Transient style is often the nature of many wardrobes. However, drastically changing your look is only going to puzzle your close friends and relatives. Equally, breaking your comfort zone in the name of fashion isn’t going to do you any favours.
The other day, I caught myself reading through Matt Allison’s fantastic men’s fashion basics series; I then moved onto Will Colman’s take on style reinvention. This dose of FashionBeans knowledge got me thinking about ways in which I defined my own personal style in recent years and what methods benefited me the most.
With this in mind, today we’re going to be discussing ways we can take influence from our own personal Style Icons.
Influence is the prime word here, a lot of fashion newbies see a style icon article and opt to imitate it. Like anything in life, imitation will always be second best. It lacks all sense of individuality and in fashion is seen as a lazy way of dressing. Taking influence is all about defining a key feature in the way someone dresses, and aiming to implement it into your current style.
For example: If you’re a guy who is often seen pairing plaid, chinos and Converse, but also like the way Russell Brand dresses, imitating his exact Dickensian style will turn the heads of your close friends and relatives – making them worry that you’re having a breakdown.
However, if you’re a guy who likes to pair plaid, chinos and Converse, but also likes the way Russell Brand dresses; taking influence from his daring style and his portrayal of confidence – implementing this into your current style can help aid the reinvention process.
Defining Key Features
Defining what we can take influence from is dependant on personal opinion, along with the style icon you’re focusing on. You want to focus on a feature of their style that really stands out to you when you dub them ‘an icon’.
For example: I look at JFK (John F Kennedy), and love the way – even through his presidential status – he managed to pull off smart-yet-casual looks in an effortless manner. I love the way he wasn’t afraid to step out of the traditional suit and mismatch it with more relaxed attire. Everything he wore he looked stylish in, but he also looked so natural – almost like he hadn’t paid much attention to the way he dressed that morning.
This for me is a key feature that I look to implement into my personal style. Effortless tailoring is something I love to wear when I’m going to formal events, and this has all stemmed from the style of JFK. That being said, you’ll never see me and think that I’m a direct style clone of the man himself – after all, style icons should be inimitable.
I’ll also add individual touches to my take on effortless tailoring, such as opting for an ungroomed approach – keeping my hair tousled and a couple of days stubble on my face. You would never have seen JFK with messy hair and an ungroomed beard, so aging, it is necessary to take inspiration but add an individual approach when possible.
Here are a few key features you may want to consider when studying someones style you admire:
- Overall Style: Take influence from their overall style. Is it Preppy? Casual? Avant-garde? Taking a nod from their trademark ‘look’ is almost like taking inspiration from a trend. Implement it into your personal style but again, don’t completely imitate it!
- Colour combinations: What colour do they wear a lot of? Do you like the colour combinations they prominently wear?
- Items of clothing: What are their statement pieces? What do you see them in the most and what item of clothing stands out? Be careful with this one, you don’t want to go out and buy every single accessory your icon wears.
- Hairstyles: If you like their quiff or curl, use it as an influence. Relate to some of our hair style articles and keep up to date with current hairstyle trends.
- Presentation: How do they present themselves? Maybe they wear subtle tones presenting a shy or mysterious personality, or maybe they wear statement pieces and colours, presenting a confident, brave personality. You can also take inspiration from their overall aura – how they hold themselves, their ‘swagger’ or even something as simple as their enviable posture.
When you are looking to reinvent or redefine your personal style, look towards men that fit in with who you are, not the other way around. You have to realistic about your own height, body type, skin type (if considering complimentary colours), your lifestyle (have you got 30 minutes spare to experiment with colour combinations, styling your hair and accessorising each morning?) and most importantly, they way you would like to dress.
Once you’ve grasped that, the sartorial playing field is yours for the taking.
For this case study we’re going to create a fictional character called Joe Beans (great name I know!) Joe has had the same style for the past 3 years, and he is looking to subtly reinvent the way he dresses.
Standing at just less than 6 foot tall, Joe likes to keep fit and has quite an athletic build. Currently, his statement piece is a leather jacket; he tends to pair this with loose fitting white t-shirts, baggy denim jeans and Dr Marten boots. He was a biker as a teenager and although he’s grown out of his hobby of bikes, he hasn’t grown out of the biker style.
Willing to try new things, we’re going to use Joe to discuss ways he can take influence from three current popular style icons.
Alex Woodhall shined the spotlight on the style of icon-newbie Ryan Gosling back in October. A key feature detailed in the breakdown was Gosling’s impressive silhouette. He focuses on complimenting his athletic build with slim fit suits and clothing; keeping things simple. This is a key feature that Joe may want to incorporate into his personal style.
There’s nothing wrong with the key pieces Joe wears, but as mentioned above, he tends to keep things baggy. To compliment his athletic build, Joe should look to opt for a slimmer fitting leather jacket, and try pairing it with a fitted shirt and straight/slim jeans.
This isn’t a drastic change in style; Joe is still wearing what he likes to wear, he’s just focusing on complimenting his build through the right fit. Style advisors the world over will push for correct fit. Sometimes it’s as easy as looking at a style icon of the same build and seeing how the clothes seem made for their body:
Here’s a look put together that is perfect for our fictional character, taking a leaf out of Ryan Gosling’s book and focussin on fit. We’re still using the same key pieces that Joe likes to wear, we’re just introducing a slimmer fit and more of a smarter element:
- Allsaints Lockwood Shirt
- Selected Alex Leather Jacket
- Topman Indigo Raw Denim Skinny Jean
- Billy Reid Oiled Suede Wingtip Brogue Boots
Gosling Influenced Picks
Here are some other products we could have used:
- Allsaints Sonar Leather Jacket
- Reiss Wainscott Leather Zip Detail Jacket Off Black
- Allsaints Standen Leather Jacket
- Selected Grey Oxford Shirt
- Ralph Lauren Black Label Bond Cotton Shirt
- Topman Navy Herringbone Waistcoat
- Topman Black Tux Skinny Suit Trousers
- Shades Of Grey By Micah Cohen Btm630 Grey Trousers
- Lanvin Leather Penny Loafers
Believe it or not, Joe has something in common with James Dean. He’s not as good looking or as rebellious, but Joe likes to dress in an effortless, subtle manner.
James Dean always seemed to look stylish no matter what he wore, an element that is not easy to achieve. We often hear that many snub Dean as an icon, simply because he was often spotted in the same ensemble. However, the way he dressed – never wearing anything distracting or ostentatious – is something Joe could implement into his style easily. With Dean, you would always see the man before the clothes, meaning this inspiration is less about what you wear and rather about how you wear it.
Of course, we could all learn something from the character and aura of Dean. Our imaginary friend could do worse than to take on this masculine attitude to dressing, make it appear effortless – a lot like our recent Sprezzatura article, he will be trying much harder than he lets on.
So how would Joe go about creating this rugged, masculine appearance? How about a couple of days stubble, ruffled/tousled hair and a focus on well fitting pieces that create a powerful frame. A timeless, versatile wardrobe full of the classics is also required, allowing him to mix and match pieces quickly and easily. This will give him the confidence to walk out of the house each and every morning, knowing he looks great.
Here’s a look that takes influence from James Dean’s effortless styling. We’ve paired a detailed leather jacket with a plain-scooped white t-shirt – the cut of t-shirt adding a casual vibe and complimenting his build like Gosling. We’ve opted for something a little more casual on the trouser front, implementing some chinos and a pair of brogues.
- Acne White Scoop Neck Summer Limit T-shirt
- River Island Memphis Leather Look Jacket
- Topman Brown Contrast Turnup Skinny Chinos
- Churchs Grafton Wingtip Leather Brogues
Dean Influenced Picks
Here are some other products we could have used:
- Topman Navy Marl And White Stripe T-shirt
- Topman Burgundy Breton Stripe Polo
- Austin Reed Navy Cotton Twill Harrington Jacket
- Selected F14 Leather Jacket
- Polo Ralph Lauren Gee-one Leather Bomber Jacket
- Undercover Mens Lambs Leather Jacket
- Nudie Jeans Grim Tim Dry Dirt Organic Raw Skinny Jeans
- Burton Skinny Black Jeans
- Belstaff Chocolate Leather Townmaster 55 Boots
GQ’s best dressed man himself; Tinie Tempah is going to be more of a challenge when meeting halfway with Joe.
Tinie’s style is arguably the furthest from Joe’s current look. Therefore, it’s important that we focus on the key elements and don’t push Joe to completely imitate the way Tinie dresses. By focusing on Joe’s current style and looking at stand out features of the way Tinie dresses, it’s clear that we can pick up on Tempah’s use of statement pieces.
Tinie uses accessories to compliment any given look (but never over accessorising) and it has become somewhat of a trademark. Joe currently doesn’t own many accessories – he considers the belt a means to keep his trousers up. By investing in just a couple of considered accessories, he will be able to compliment his style and individualise his look on a daily basis. For Joe, this could mean a masculine bracelet or simple dress watch if he wanted to embody the attitude of James Dean, or an elegant scarf that compliments his athletic frame, ala Gosling.
Another key point to take from Tinie’s style is that you don’t have to pigeon hole yourself – Tinie has an almost chameleon wardrobe that is consistently adapting. He dresses depending on his mood; whether that be smart, casual or ‘street’. If you feel that multiple styles fit in with your personality, then there’s no need to dress in a specific way every single day.
Here’s a look that takes influence from Tinie Tempah’s up to the minute, fashion forward style. This look includes the most reinvention, but still carries the statement leather jacket. If Joe felt brave enough, he could then incorporate accessories to really showcase his personality.
- Acne Dark Indigo Denim Tacked Collar Slim Shirt
- Alexander Mcqueen Suede-sleeve Leather Bomber Jacket
- Izzue Stripe Detail Chinos
- Burton Brown Leather Boat
Tinie Tempah Influnced Picks
Here are some other products we could have used:
- Allsaints Poe Cut Collar Crew T-shirt
- Topman Denim Ikat Pocket Shirt
- Selected Blackpool Leather Jacket
- Marc By Marc Jacobs Washed Leather Bomber Jacket
- Burton Skinny Stone Chino
- Asos Polka Dot Bow Tie
- Reiss Harp Geo Print Scarf Navy
- Spitfire Clear Lens Glasses
- John Lobb Lopez Brown Suede Loafers
So there we have it! Joe can go back to living in my imaginative mind, and hopefully you can start taking inspiration from some of your favourite icons.
- Has your style ever been influenced by an icon or a celebrity/friend?
- Which icons would you mix and match to create the ultimate style combination?
- How many of you are constantly redefining/adapting your personal style?
- What are your biggest sources of inspiration when looking to evolve your style?
Do the sartorial sums and let us know in the comments section below…