What It Takes To Be ‘Best Dressed’

It’s timely, with awards season in full flow, that we look at the reality of ‘Best Dressed’. What does it really mean? And who decides? Finding the perfect example of a celebrity or somebody in the public eye, photographed and held up as an example of sartorial excellence is much harder than it sounds.

While they try their best, or their stylists do, there are plenty of hoops to jump through before these men get near the crown of best dressed. Simply turning up on the red carpet in yet another free black designer tuxedo, regardless of the price tag, won’t cut it.

GQ magazine may have released their list of the fifty best dressed men 2013 in this last month’s issue (often skewed by political or branding reasons), but it is a distinctively subjective topic. The best dressed list is actually and should be a very small pool of guys. It needs to be a special club that takes more than one good picture to gain entry to. You don’t get in by simply being good looking or famous, you need to wear clothes well, put them together interestingly and be a consistently good clotheshorse.

Men don’t have the dressing repertoire to compete with the ladies. As well as more choices in clothing, women have the option to instantly change their look via their hairstyle, make-up and even jewellery for the red carpet or film premieres. All dissected on TV shows like Fashion Police or websites like Mail Online, men’s dressing is just too subtle and quiet to make for riveting viewing – but that’s why we love it.

Although best dressed isn’t solely restricted to the red carpet or a fancy event, this is the moment somebody has chosen to be photographed and dressed accordingly. Many stars are papped going out for a pint of milk, and while the truly best dressed will also look good doing this, it’s the more formal pictures they are judged on.

Taking Inspiration From The ‘Best’

You may now be wondering, with all the above in mind, whether it’s actually possible to take any style inspiration from the celebrities that make these best dressed lists.

Well, these are often the people to wear things first. Straight off the catwalk, this is where the clothes become ‘real’. Models in editorial images and on the runways are often over-styled and, in reality, these outfits don’t work on the street.

A real person, no matter how good looking or famous, is a more reliable example of what a key piece or trend could possibly look like on you; a chance to accept or reject one of the options contemporary fashion is currently giving you.

It’s also good to think about joining an imaginary best dressed list when putting your clothes on. Set a personal goal to be seen as the best dressed male every time you step into the office, meet up with friends or go on a night out. Not only does this raise the bar on how you view yourself, this competitive approach to dressing will encourage you to be more experimental and improve your judgement too.

Think of yourself as an image to be photographed and how you would like to be seen by others. Maybe even go as far as taking full length photographs of your outfits while experimenting at home – it will give you a true idea of how well the pieces and colours combine, and whether a look really works.

You can then save and refer to these images on those days when you are struggling for style inspiration, building up a database of go-to looks for you to pick from.

What Type Of Dresser Are You?

Below you will find a few worthy best dressed gentlemen to take inspiration from, along with a brief break down of their signature style and what we could all learn from them:

Mr Classic – Prince Charles

Just ask yourself: when have you ever seen Prince Charles looking bad? The answer is never.

If you think of how many years, since birth, he has been in the public eye and how many times he is photographed, it’s astonishing how consistently well dressed he is.

He may just look like an old, suit-wearing man but he is the epitome of classic Savile Row and Jermyn Street style and proves that the devil really is in the detail:

Prince Charles Lookbook

Mr Adventurous – David Beckham

Beckham, Beckham, Beckham – he’s had more signature looks than Posh has had hot dinners. This is a man who clearly likes to experiment with his image. He wants to be seen as a follower of fashion, and brands often throw things at him.

His style grew up in the public eye – remember that sarong or those matchy-matchy black leather outfits with his wife? But these small faults just make him human.

He’s learnt to be stylish and that is what is inspiring. Whether he is in a leather Belstaff biker jacket or Burberry suit, he makes it believable:

David Beckham 2013 Outfits Lookbook

Mr Flawless – Justin Timberlake

An intelligent person knows his limits. He knows when to call in an expert and take their guidance. Enter Tom Ford.

Last year for his 20/20 Experience album, Timberlake put himself in the hands of Mr Perfectionist himself, and looked all the better for it.

This was evening dressing at its finest; tuxedos, tailoring and dress shoes all up to magazine editorial level. Ford’s kudos and influence instantly paid off – he was included on every major publication’s best dressed list for 2013 and was even one of GQ US’s Men Of The Year:

Justin Timberlake 2013 Outfits Lookbook

Mr Swagger – Idris Elba

Obviously, the more famous you are, the more you are photographed. And without a doubt, exposure helps cement your place on any best dressed list. You also get a better pick of clothes if brands take a liking to you.

After a stellar 2013 on screen, Idris Elba’s fashion profile has sky-rocketed – in part due to his natural swagger and the confidence that oozes out of him.

However, what makes him a true best dressed contender is that he knows how to flatter his body shape. He is the epitome of the man wearing the clothes, and not the other way round.

He also adds a welcome dose of casual to more formal events – often combining tennis shoes with suits – and it doesn’t ever look contrived:

Idris Elba Outfits Lookbook

Mr Versatile – Jude Law

Jude Law can make anything look good, whether it’s nipping out for a loaf of bread or the red carpet at Venice film festival.

From t-shirt to tuxedo, he makes every piece his own. Often seen wearing obscure designers, which shows how he likes to experiment, his hair may have receded but his style certainly hasn’t:

Jude Law Outfits Lookbook

Mr High & Mighty – Steve McQueen

For once, this isn’t the 1960s icon, but the film director and artist. Best known for his recent cinematic masterpiece, 12 Years A Slave, McQueen applies an artist’s eye to dressing.

He maybe a larger gent, but that doesn’t restrict his use of colour and tailoring. He knows how to dress for his shape and which areas to draw attention to. It’s nice to have a role model who isn’t a sample size for a change:

Direct Steve McQueen Outfit Lookbook

Final Word

Best Dressed lists are extremely subjective and often skewed by bias or back scratching between industry influencers. However, there is still a lot the everyday male can learn from one of menswear’s most desirable labels.

Yes, the majority of the gents you see on these lists can afford the highest of designer price tags and/or have professional stylists creating outfits for them daily. Yet even if you are not particularly good looking or rich, you can still take inspiration from those celebrities whose style you admire and relate to.

Whether you ooze confidence like Mr Elba or prefer a timeless and safe approach like Mr Timberlake, think of yourself as competing for a best dressed spot next time you step out of the house – it’s this mindset that will have you pushing your own personal style to the next level.

But now we want to hear your view: how do you take style inspiration from your favourite celebrities? Which of the men (if any) showcased today do you most relate to? Do you consider yourself to be the best dressed male in your own social circle/work place?

Let us know in the comments section below…