Top Style Icons for Young Men

Nikita Alentyev

No, this article is not about finding your most suitable male figure in life. Those matters are way beyond our reach. Instead we came up with a list of male style icons who have produced an enormous impact on generations of sharp dressers. Who is ‘we’? My friend Alisa – Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan Shopping Russia and I.

Introducing Alisa Radlova 

Born on the first day of spring in wintry Russia the cheerful, stylish and goal-oriented Alisa puts a great deal of energy in everything she does. She studied at the Moscow State University majoring in journalism and has been interested and involved in the field ever since. Starting as an assistant in the fashion department of the Glamour magazine she quickly progressed to a junior editor of the fashion department and when the opportunity came along to work for Cosmopolitan Shopping Russia she jumped at it. Alisa is now the youngest Editor-in-Chief that Cosmopolitan Shopping Russia has seen and is our Mindthis fashion expert guest. We’ll go through our list of men who personify elegance one-by-one giving you a guy’s take on it and a girl’s opinion.

Jean Cocteau

Alisa: It’s not a man, it’s a surrealistic mix of a director, a writer, and an artist. This combination makes you expect a very flamboyant appearance, yet Jean Cocteau preferred a very calm and balanced style. When I think of him I think of a white dress-shirt, a traditional suit a V-neck to bring the two together and a very relaxed coat. He did however like to spice his looks up with a bright tie, a scarf and a hat.

Nikita: That is exactly what made him get on our list – a plethora of talents, an extravagant lifestyle and eccentric behavior disguised by a well-picked classical ensemble. Always appropriate. I guess he’s a great example of a traditional men’s style – the kind that makes you want to reveal the mystique behind the classics.

Pharrell Williams

Nikita: Not exactly the modern day Jean Cocteau. Pharrell Williams has a very different aesthetic about him – exotic looks coupled with very daring outfit choices. You almost don’t know what he’s trying to accentuate, but he seems to be so good at it. Suits, jeans, tees, cardigans, tuxes – eclectic is his middle name, but always balanced. Every single accessory looks like it has a meaning in the entire picture, nothing goes to waste, nothing is redundant. I wish we could all learn to break the ‘less is more’ rule with that much success.

Alisa: I have to confess, he is extremely attractive. I love it when people approach trends as he does – fashion is more of a game to Pharrell, one he treats with a sense of humor (unlike many of his colleagues). His style is a reflection of the music he makes – hip-hop with a dash of rock and sprinkled with funk. He can wear black jeans, a fun print tee and spiky sneakers and not look overrated. But what I do love is the way this guy looks in a tux. I guess Pharrell CAN “hypnotize me”!

David Beckham

Alisa: Aaah, the metro. You people can hate me all you want, but to my mind a guy should look like a guy. Of course that doesn’t mean saying no to good grooming and wearing whatever piece of clothing spent the least time on the floor. Still, the way Mr. Posh looks is over the top. You can almost smell his cologne when you look at his picture and don’t get me started on his radiant skin – makes me want to close my eyes tight. As for the way he dresses it’s impeccable fashion planning of her majesty Victoria. Every single part of the outfit looks carefully thought-out with no room for spontaneity. It’s so perfect, it’s dull.

Nikita: Yet he is on our list. When David climbed the top of the ‘I want his looks’ mountain men seemed to be yearning to rediscover the passion for self-indulgence, pampering and aesthetic egoism. They needed a hero and he came. Beckham founded the temple of male beauty and the rest of the world followed in his footsteps. He, like many on our list, is also different all the time. What’s constant about him is the planning. Just like you said – one can see the effort behind the ‘looks’ which to my mind is no longer a trend.

Marlon Brando

Alisa: I am in no position to judge the legendary Marlon. I can only categorize him as an all-time genius and the ultimate sex-symbol. He always played by his own rules – both in life and on the set. This goes for his style – he could easily come to a film premiere wearing jeans disregarding the convention. He is credited with making the ‘biker’ look popular. An easy recipe for all those guys who want to look more like this icon would be a white tee, plain dark wash jeans, rugged boots and a leather jacket.

Nikita: This is a perfect example of a style icon being a trend-setter. Having the confidence to dress and even live against fashion is what it takes to be at the top. He oozed confidence and manliness. He had an air of magnetism about him. We’ve already looked at ‘icons’ who play with trends, plan out their look and prefer classics to eccentrics. The one and only Marlon stands out with his re-invention of the casual: a man can look swell without going through the trouble of discomfort, just because he is a man. It’s his world and his looks, his light shirts and his relaxed trousers. Oh, and don’t forget the horn-rimmed glasses! A style detail so full of what Marlon was about, that some designers have recreated it in a line of eyewear. A tribute to the king.

James Dean

Nikita: I own a James Dean T-shirt. And a James Dean shopper bag. And a daily planner. And each and every one of his movies on DVD. I cannot get enough of this rebel and not without a cause. I think he is a style icon for many in terms of being able to pull off pretty much any look: from cowboy, to upper middle class intellectual. James Dean was like a style-heir to Marlon – pretty much along the same lines of casualness, but with a more daring edge to it. He replaced Marlon’s aura of proper-gentleman-behind-the-bad-boy looks with a real daredevil. He always springs up in my mind unshaven, with wild untamed hair and a cigarette, but never shocking, because it’s a real comfort that there do exist those few men who aren’t afraid of defying convention.

Alisa: I ADORE HIM. PERIOD. There’s no limit to my affection towards James Dean and it pains me to think how little time he spent among the living. Even in his very short lifetime he did turn into an idol and a symbol of his own generation. I would agree that in terms of style he followed Brando: straight jeans, tight tee and a coat. He completely reversed the trends and devalued the fashion clichés of the time. Those locks, that mysterious half-smile and a cigarette are to die for. It looks like I’m falling in love with James Dean yet again.

Mad Men

Nikita: I know, this is a TV series not a person, but if we talk about style, a whole generation of refined luxury centered around men we cannot overlook the 60s. A period drama revolving around New York’s most powerful ad agencies it has revived interest in the 60s and quite frankly given it a second chance in the 21st century fashion world. Designers come out with their interpretations of the sixties suit – shorter jackets, higher waistbands, perfect creases. Not to mention how much of as rave all the accessories of the time have become – I personally have one or two fedoras on my shop-hunting list for this season and of course a pair or two of tortoise shell glasses.

Alisa: While I was watching the series I kept thinking how incredibly hard it must have been to recreate the costumes of the time in such meticulous detail! There were moments when everything looked so real and natural that I almost forgot that it has been produced in our day and age. Of course the way the girls are dressed is eye-catching, but the men are not without their charm. Three-piece suits, loose slacks, cuff-links, neat hair. When I look at Jon Hamm as Don Draper I start loving the sixties even more 😉 This show has inspired many designers to come out with sixties-themed collections, and Janie Bryant Mad Men’s costume designer got an Emmie for her impeccable work and co-designed a MAdMen line of clothing for Banana Republic. Just a week ago I had the pleasure of meeting Janie in person and I cannot help admiring her. Oh, and dear guys please look like the characters from Mad Men – girls will go head over heels for you!