It’s hard to believe but today’s style gods haven’t always lived on Mount Olympus. In fact, before they made it into the menswear hall of fame (or *cough* got a stylist), many suffered through some seriously questionable phases.
But after wardrobe penance, their sins were forgiven. The road to style salvation may lead through a jungle, but from David Beckham to Kanye West, here are seven men who prove that a leopard can indeed change its spots. Or stripes, if the new season demands.
As Hollywood’s lol-inducing sidekick of choice, Jonah Hill’s wardrobe mattered not a jot when simply being ‘the fat kid’ generated all of the respect a funnyman needs.
Taking this unspoken law exceptionally seriously, Hill became equally as known for his shapeless downtime duds that resembled an unloved sack of potatoes as his comedy.
Fortunately, these days things are more super-good than Superbad. As well as dropping a few pounds, the actor has traded in his ill-fitting shirts and baggy jeans for tonal staples, judiciously deployed streetwear (yes, he’s worn Palace) and sharp red-carpet suits. Jonah Hill’s style isn’t so funny anymore.
Picture this: it’s the early noughties, Ryan Reynolds doesn’t have Blake Lively on his arm, has zero fragrance advertising deals under his belt and looks like an extra from American Pie. That sound you hear is the realisation that there’s hope for us all.
It’s hard to believe, but those shining hairs you see today were once submerged in more gel than any human head should ever be exposed to. The designer stubble? More a bargain bin bush. And his perfectly cut suits? Not even they could save his questionable taste in neckwear and his seeming inability to wear a tie properly.
Fast forward a decade and Reynolds’s sense of style has enjoyed a steep incline. Few men can credibly claim to rival the Deadpool star’s suit game come awards season, and off the clock Reynolds has a knack for layering that looks effortless, even if it was nothing of the sort. It seems some annoyingly aesthetically pleasing people are made, not born.
Teenage years aren’t a good look on anyone, but for the poor members of One Direction, every single wardrobe discretion has been brutally immortalised by their overlord Simon Cowell, who probably still owns the rights to their sartorial slip-ups as well as their souls.
Civilian teenagers can get away with hiding behind a hoodie and pair of skinny jeans, but for would-be global pop sensations, mop-top hair, drop-crotch chinos and deep cowl neck tees are part and parcel of ‘living your dreams’. Though, it’s probably a humiliation worth enduring for those bulging bank accounts.
Out of the band and into the real world, collectively One Direction’s style stock has risen. While Niall, Louis and Liam are now proud owners of largely inoffensive wardrobes, Zayn Malik’s transition into genuine style maverick and Harry Styles’s modern rock swag make us question whether or not all that hairspray and high-tops stuff ever really happened.
No other man in the world has undergone as radical a style transformation as David Beckham. If we were conspiracy theorists (which we’re not), we’d say that Becks circa 2003 and Becks today aren’t even the same person.
Before hanging up his boots in 2013, Number 7 made some style missteps that today would earn him a red card from club menswear: chiefly his-and-hers leathers, transition-style lenses and a baggy bottom half that more closely resembled a Weeble Wobble.
Now in his stride and the co-owner of British heritage brand Kent & Curwen, nobody can question the ex-England captain’s status as a style icon. Whether he’s schooling us on how to wear a roll neck or setting men’s hair trends, there are no more missed shots: it’s all back-of-the-net stuff.
Long before Tom Hardy mastered the red carpet, he was just a young, Alice band-wearing model looking for his big break on breakfast TV.
The future Mr Kray also had a minor love affair with tight tank tops and cargo pants, style sins which would have stayed dead and buried had some pesky sort not chanced upon his old MySpace account. The fossil of social media is a wardrobe skeleton for anyone unfortunate enough to forget their password, and in this case it’s packed full of trucker caps, tribal tattoos and underwear selfies.
While those images will forever be more memorable than his 2012 romcom This Means War, Hardy has at least clawed it back in recent years with a series of solid grooming moves, from his beard to his hair, and a knack for wearing a three-piece suit that finally marks him out as a Peaky Blinder in the wardrobe department.
Smart, handsome, understated – Justin Timberlake has been on the best-dressed circuit for some time, but only after he ditched whichever stylist was responsible for a dossier of war(drobe) crimes.
Below, we present Exhibit A: fedoras. Or as these shall be known, up-turned medical sick bowls. Exhibit B: the perm. Learn from JT’s error and never willingly rock a haircut that resembles instant noodles. Exhibit C and D: you get the idea.
But all that’s in the past. Timberlake now lays claim to being a modern style icon thanks to the fact he sticks to a haircut that actually works for him, coupled with his ability to effortlessly transition between weekend preppy and his ‘Suit & Tie’ shit.
Despite wailing about being locked out by the fashion monarchy, today Kanye has earned his spot on the throne. Close ties to top-flight designers, fashion editors on speed dial and, most importantly, his own sold-out Yeezy collection have all cemented his sovereignty.
The self-declared genius hasn’t always been so clever, mind. The College Dropout-era may have gifted some bangers, but ‘Ye was simultaneously dropping style clangers in the form of billowing trousers draped over white square-toed shoes. And who could forget the early 2000s and those shutter shades?
To avoid rattling the world’s most delicate ego, let’s celebrate where he’s at now: post-apocalyptic sportswear chic that manages the not insignificant feat of looking uber-expensive and ultra-IDGAF at the very same time. In our book, that’s menswear gold.