The New Guard

We often talk about timeless icons in menswear. And while there’s no denying that the likes of Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and James Dean knew how to dress, the industry as a whole has developed a tendency to repeatedly refer to the same group of put-together gents when discussing style icons.

But what if you’re the more adventurous type? There’s a whole world out there beyond the core ‘classics’ of suits, t-shirts, chinos and tailoring.

With this in mind, if you’re looking to up your style game but don’t want to appear the same as everyone else, here are five modern gents who prove that sometimes style rules are best broken.

1. Pharrell Williams, Producer & Designer

From his fondness for statement head wear to his recent red carpet appearance in a shocking pink (women’s) Cèline coat, Pharrell – who’s now in his early forties – provides an important reminder that sometimes the most fundamental fashion advice is best ignored.

Take the Gust of Wind video, for example, where ‘Skateboard P’ sports a Dries Van Noten tie-dye knit adorned with a tangle of J.W. Anderson for Loewe’s brooches. It works because it’s unexpected, colourful, bold and unapologetic.

An innovator and legitimate trendsetter, Pharrell isn’t the least bit afraid to experiment (see: the short tuxedo he wore to the 86th Academy Awards) and seems completely comfortable with his own style. It’s this unwavering confidence and self-belief that allows him to try out – and pull off – some of menswear’s more trickier items, including faux fur coats, printed trousers and skater shorts.

For him, it’s all about the fit. Being 5’7″, it’s crucial that everything is in proportion. That doesn’t mean Pharrell plays it safe though, he just finds ways to make styles work for his smaller frame. He flouts the rule that shorter guys shouldn’t wear cropped trousers or long shorts by remembering to keep things trim and fitted on top.

If you’re into putting a quirky, high-end spin on street and skate wear, then look to Mr Williams for tips on pulling it off.

Pharrell Williams Personal Style Lookbook

Inspired By Pieces
  • Asos Denim Shorts In Slim FitAsos Denim Shorts In Slim Fit
  • Asos Slim Fit ShortAsos Slim Fit Short
  • He By Mango Garment-dyed Cropped TrousersHe By Mango Garment-dyed Cropped Trousers
  • Reiss Rodney Silk Bow Tie BlackReiss Rodney Silk Bow Tie Black
  • French Connection Summer Rain Camouflage ShortsFrench Connection Summer Rain Camouflage Shorts
  • Topman Brown Wide Brim BowlerTopman Brown Wide Brim Bowler
  • Valentino Camouflage-print Cotton-jersey T-shirtValentino Camouflage-print Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • Visvim Black Elk Checked Cotton-flannel ShirtVisvim Black Elk Checked Cotton-flannel Shirt
  • Lanvin Suede Chukka BootsLanvin Suede Chukka Boots
  • Cutler And Gross D-frame Matte Acetate SunglassesCutler And Gross D-frame Matte Acetate Sunglasses
  • Lock & Co Hatters Voyager Rollable Felt Trilby HatLock & Co Hatters Voyager Rollable Felt Trilby Hat
  • Alexander Mcqueen Concealed Stud Suede Slip-on SneakersAlexander Mcqueen Concealed Stud Suede Slip-on Sneakers
2. Nick Wooster, Menswear Consultant & Designer

Street style stalwart and #menswear icon Nick Wooster has always looked great in sharp suits, but he has been updating his attire recently.

The Woost’s new look still revolves around the dapper, slim-fitting blazers he’s become known for, but lately it has been given a street-meets-sportswear slant, with the fifty-something-year-old introducing trainers and deconstructed, drop crotch trousers from Rick Owens to add a more fluid, leisurely feel to his neatly tailored mainstays. Overall, it’s a superb example of how to give classic tailoring a contemporary edge.

If you’re still not sold on pairing tailoring with trainers (a current street style trend and major look for 2015), head on over to Wooster’s Instagram account (@nickwooster) for a masterclass on nailing the look without appearing slovenly.

Whether he’s wearing cult brand Eytys with a Saint Laurent overcoat or a pair of clean Stan Smiths with an oversized cardigan, we’re invariably in awe of The Woost’s personal style.

Nick Wooster Personal Style Lookbook

Inspired By Pieces
  • He By Mango Cotton-twill BlazerHe By Mango Cotton-twill Blazer
  • He By Mango Slim-fit End-on-end ShirtHe By Mango Slim-fit End-on-end Shirt
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Tailored Cotton ChinosHe By Mango Slim-fit Tailored Cotton Chinos
  • Ted Baker Britone Block Colour BeltTed Baker Britone Block Colour Belt
  • Reiss Redmayne Short Sleeve Shirt WhiteReiss Redmayne Short Sleeve Shirt White
  • Rick Owens Mens Grey Dropped-crotch Cropped TrousersRick Owens Mens Grey Dropped-crotch Cropped Trousers
  • Beams Plus Patchwork Harris Tweed BlazerBeams Plus Patchwork Harris Tweed Blazer
  • Camo Lennon JacketCamo Lennon Jacket
  • John Lewis & Co. Floral Japanese Linen Blazer Khaki/multiJohn Lewis & Co. Floral Japanese Linen Blazer Khaki/multi
  • Cutler And Gross Round-frame Acetate SunglassesCutler And Gross Round-frame Acetate Sunglasses
  • Adidas Originals Stan Smith Leather SneakersAdidas Originals Stan Smith Leather Sneakers
  • Billy Reid Grey Dalton Slim-fit Wool And Cashmere-blend Tweed Suit TrousersBilly Reid Grey Dalton Slim-fit Wool And Cashmere-blend Tweed Suit Trousers
3. Charlie Casely-Hayford, Designer

As the son of the exceptionally stylish Joe Casely-Hayford, Charlie Casely-Hayford was always going to have some seriously big shoes to fill.

Yet Charlie, who co-designs the eponymous menswear label with his father Joe, certainly doesn’t seem to be buckling under the pressure, earning himself legions of fans for his contemporary approach to formal wear.

He likes to freshen his tailoring up by playing with proportion and silhouette, as well as introducing casual elements to his suiting, which really brings it to life. Whether it’s by wearing trousers that are as lean as skinny jeans while adding a subversive touch in the form of a pair of Dr. Martens, or by layering a short blazer over a long one, the young designer proves that even timeless and classic pieces can be given an individual and fashion-forward spin.

For fans of the look, it isn’t difficult to emulate: juxtapose skinny tailoring with oversized outerwear, or try dressing down your suits with a simple Henley/printed tee and pair of chunky boots.

The signature touch? Keep the entire aesthetic pared-back and neutral so that your silhouette speaks for itself.

Charlie Casely-Hayford Personal Style Lookbook

Inspired By Pieces
  • He By Mango Henley T-shirtHe By Mango Henley T-shirt
  • He By Mango T-shirt TriaHe By Mango T-shirt Tria
  • Red Eleven Overcoat Peak ContrastRed Eleven Overcoat Peak Contrast
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Tailored Cotton ChinosHe By Mango Slim-fit Tailored Cotton Chinos
  • Reiss Tenor T Slim-fit Tailored Trousers TaupeReiss Tenor T Slim-fit Tailored Trousers Taupe
  • Allsaints Sano TrouserAllsaints Sano Trouser
  • Reiss Tenor B Slim-fit Blazer TaupeReiss Tenor B Slim-fit Blazer Taupe
  • Reiss North Peak Lapel Coat NavyReiss North Peak Lapel Coat Navy
  • Reiss Delta B Slim-fit Blazer NavyReiss Delta B Slim-fit Blazer Navy
  • Mark Mcnairy Crepe-sole Leather Derby ShoesMark Mcnairy Crepe-sole Leather Derby Shoes
  • Rick Owens Textured-leather Combat BootsRick Owens Textured-leather Combat Boots
  • Dr. Martens Hadley Boot In BlackDr. Martens Hadley Boot In Black
4. A$AP Rocky, Rapper

A$AP Rocky often courts controversy, but it’s his fearlessness in matters of style that is particularly admirable.

The 26-year-old rapper takes pride in really knowing what he’s wearing and is passionate about it; he can turn something like Raf Simons’ spring/summer 2014 sequin t-shirt or a white suit from an up-and-coming designer into a covetable piece without breaking a sweat.

A$AP has sculpted a personal style that sits comfortably somewhere between streetwear and contemporary tailoring. Sticking almost religiously to a crisp monochrome palette, his collaborator, stylist Matthew Henson, has said the “building blocks [of A$AP’s look] are a great jacket, well-fitting pants and rare footwear”.

Looking for an easy way to get his look? Pair slim-cut trousers with a bold, geometric print sweatshirt and chunky hi-tops or give your suiting a classic rock edge by swapping the trousers for drainpipe jeans (ideally, ripped).

A$AP Rocky Personal Style Lookbook

Inspired By Pieces
  • Allsaints Akira Leather JacketAllsaints Akira Leather Jacket
  • Asos Slim Fit Blazer In JerseyAsos Slim Fit Blazer In Jersey
  • Topman Black Ripped Stretch Skinny Fit JeansTopman Black Ripped Stretch Skinny Fit Jeans
  • River Island Black Jaded Lion Printed SweatshirtRiver Island Black Jaded Lion Printed Sweatshirt
  • River Island White Penny Collar Long Sleeve ShirtRiver Island White Penny Collar Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Montblanc Reversible Logo-detailed Leather BeltMontblanc Reversible Logo-detailed Leather Belt
  • Richard James Off-white Straight-leg Linen Suit TrousersRichard James Off-white Straight-leg Linen Suit Trousers
  • Saint Laurent Slim-fit Leather TrousersSaint Laurent Slim-fit Leather Trousers
  • Thom Browne Colour-block Wool-jersey SweatshirtThom Browne Colour-block Wool-jersey Sweatshirt
  • Asos Derby Shoes In LeatherAsos Derby Shoes In Leather
  • Rick Owens Panelled Leather High Top SneakersRick Owens Panelled Leather High Top Sneakers
  • Asos Derby Shoes In LeatherAsos Derby Shoes In Leather
5. Alex Turner, Musician

Undoubtedly one of the most stylish men in rock, the invariably well-dressed Arctic Monkeys front man seemed to undergo something of a style renaissance on the release of the band’s most recent album, AM, which coincided perfectly with designer Hedi Slimane’s revitalised vision for Saint Laurent Paris.

When it came to Turner’s style, it was out with the long, unruly hair and lad’s brands, and in with a modern rockabilly-inspired look.

Rather than stick to the classic – and slightly predictable – biker jacket, Turner has single-handedly succeeded in making the zip-up leather blouson cool again. Coincidentally, Saint Laurent has featured several in its recent collections too, including this gold-tipped version for spring/summer 2015.

Turner’s new and re-worked style is all about staying close to rock-infused classics – penny loafers, Cuban collar shirts, two-tone brogues, black jeans and slim/skinny monochrome tailoring – while never re-hashing old, tired trends.

Of course, we couldn’t end this breakdown without mentioning his superb pompadour hairstyle. Always perfectly sculpted using high shine or wet-look styling products, it brings personality, character and an authentic 1970s touch to his aesthetic, but, perhaps more importantly, just looks extremely cool. See how to achieve a similar look for yourself here.

Alex Turner Personal Style Lookbook

Inspired By Pieces
  • Reiss Alder Cuban-collar ShirtReiss Alder Cuban-collar Shirt
  • Allsaints Varley Leather JacketAllsaints Varley Leather Jacket
  • Vito Check Blazer In Slim FitVito Check Blazer In Slim Fit
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Placket ShirtHe By Mango Slim-fit Placket Shirt
  • Reiss Bless Crew Neck T-shirt WhiteReiss Bless Crew Neck T-shirt White
  • He By Mango Classic-fit Suit TrousersHe By Mango Classic-fit Suit Trousers
  • He By Mango Skinny Black Jude JeansHe By Mango Skinny Black Jude Jeans
  • Topman Hudson Reyes Black Leather LoafersTopman Hudson Reyes Black Leather Loafers
  • Vivienne Westwood Brogue ShoesVivienne Westwood Brogue Shoes
  • Ben Sherman Classic Gingham Check Long Sleeved ShirtBen Sherman Classic Gingham Check Long Sleeved Shirt
  • Loewe Leather Bomber JacketLoewe Leather Bomber Jacket
  • Saint Laurent Leather-trimmed Wool-blend Varsity JacketSaint Laurent Leather-trimmed Wool-blend Varsity Jacket
Final Word

Although certain individuals’ style icon status is undisputed, it’s worthwhile remembering that sometimes ‘classic’ and ‘timeless’ can be a little too safe.

If you’re searching for a new set of icons that acknowledge the style of our forebears but add a generous dose of contemporary fashion, take note of these five modern day trendsetters.

Do you have any style icons that don’t dress classic but still look first in class?

Let us know in the comments section below.