Menswear Friday: Lessons from the well-dressed

posted in: Style advice | 9

Menswear is rather limited. You can wear a suit, a more casual at work look known as business casual, or you can go casual in your jeans, T shirt and soft jacket or hoody. Your colour palette seems limited to black and blue.

Since reading an article in the Financial Times on who dressed best in 2015, I have chosen seven well-dressed men from the arts, design and sport. They all have an air of confidence about how they dress – a slight departure from run of the mill, but apart from Alessandro Michele, they are still in the mainstream. I offer you a selection of well dressed men collated from mens’ magazines and newspapers, with my opinion about what is working well for them. Do give me your view, or name a few others.

Thomas Heatherwick

Back in 2012 we went to see the Heatherwick exhibition at the V&A. It was amazing. This guy designs Buddhist temples, zipper bags, the London Olympic cauldron, the Paddington rolling bridge and our new London red buses. At the exhibition I was fascinated by his experiments with fabric – origami type stitched pieces, embroidery and organic patchwork. He is interesting as a natural dresser – soft cottons, big scarves, little vests and messy hair. But he looks confident and happy with his arty English style.


JJ Abrams

Spielberg protege and Star Wars geek director Abrams looks really nice in his glasses. At nearly 50 his hair is thick and well tended. His deep colouring is flattered in navy, dark brown and denim. Although he looks a little silly in the American cap, overall Abrams shows how to look smart but also relaxed, competent and creative.

Quique Sánchez Flores

To be honest I don’t follow football much but Jose Mourinho did attract my attention. The man who now runs Watford is a very handsome Spaniard with both dancing and football in his genes. He manages to dress almost exclusively in navy blue, combining it with a little grey and white; his hair and beard are also flamboyantly grey and white, while he combines the formal jacket with a button down or open necked shirt and (often) a jumper. He chooses nice casual shoes so he can run about on the pitch but you can be sure that (like most southern Europeans) he will wear good leather shoes on a night out.

Benjamin Clementine

Clementine is a British pianist, songwriter and singer who has played and modeled for Burberry. With his high top/flat top hair, bare feet and colourful clothes he looks dramatic and interesting at 26. Let’s see what he achieves.

Alessandro Michele

Michele is the 43-year-old creative director at Gucci. His expressive-romantic wardrobe personality comes through in both what he wears and what he creates. While you can find him jeans and T shirts – often with a necklace – with rings on his fingers, flowing hair and beard he looks like an aging hippy. But. He is genuinely creative and has challenged male ideas of stylish.

Marlon James

44 year old Jamaican writer Marlon James won the  Booker prize in October for A Brief History of Seven Killings. His striking dreadlocks (with a little red scrunchie), his ability to wear bright colours like yellow and red, and his ability to both showcase and subvert smart suits makes him a stand-out stylish guy.

Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell is rather pleased with himself but he generally gets it right in the style stakes. An almost 40, Irish man (which always does it for me), he can wear just about anything and make it look fresh and stunning. With a preference for the three piece suit and a moustache he is somewhat retro in his dressing but is clearly a dramatic-classic and often looks great. Two silver earrings show an expressive side too. Even when he wears a mismatched shirt and tie (middle picture) he makes it look deliberate and understated rather than silly.

Who would you nominate for best-dressed awards?

9 Responses

  1. Joanne

    I always enjoy reading posts such as this and really appreciate the time and effort that has gone into them – thank you. What an eclectic collection of styles and your subjects all carry it off with aplomb. I don’t know who I would add to your best dressed list – it’s made me realise that I just don’t notice what men are wearing!

  2. Karen Kayes

    That was a lovely collection of men to wake up to this morning! I agree with your choices and as I don’t usually take much notice of which specific men in the public eye are stylish, I’m afraid I can’t add to your collection. Maybe that’s a sign that there are so few. Or, also, that the press in general don’t focus enough on men’s style?

  3. Hila

    Lemn Sissay…..could be an addition. Didnt know 80% of these men. Quite like the style on most of them but am not too keen on Colin Farrell. I think I find him too “styled” whereas the others you seem to get an impression that they dress themselves…..if you see what I mean. Thanks for sharing a thought provoking post.

  4. Ruth Wilson

    I had just been thinking that generally British men dress very conventionally and without a lot of colour. I like the way that Marlon and Thomas are dressed, having their unique style. My husband will wear red and bright blues, he had his colours ‘done’ about 25 years ago, so that gave him confidence to wear coloured shirts.

  5. Annieloveslinen

    Some great dressers here Kate, I particularly like Thomas Heatherwick.

    I’d like to add Rory Duffy a master tailor who has a distinctive personal style. He has a few video clips demonstrating techniques and makes them look so easy. I find him mesmerising, he looks traditional and contempary at the same time.

    I also admire Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen’s style too, theatrical for sure, but I like that.

  6. Sam

    I think you are right about Colin Farrell being pleased with himself! Great post, my favourite out of your picks is Flores. I think in general European men dress far more stylishly and individually than British men do, although they do have a liking for pastel knitwear that I can’t understand.

    I like to see men dressed quite traditionally and I do like a bit of tailoring. I like the way Ricky Wilson of Kaiser Chiefs dresses smartly – tweedy suits, waistcoats, braces and a pocket square all paired with a pair of chunky soled brogue-style boots.

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