The term ‘style icon’ conjures a familiar carousel of faces: Steve McQueen, David Beckham, James Dean, Ryan Gosling. And fair play, these men have earned their places in the menswear hall of fame.
But they’re not the only ones. For every Marlon Brando or Robert Redford, there’s an up-and-comer who deserves your respect, not to mention some study. Emboldened by youth (and the odd Hollywood stylist, admittedly), the young men below have found their look years earlier than the rest of us managed.
Some of them aren’t yet old enough to have their own credit card, but they have a clear sense of what looks good. They also know the rules – and when to break them. When they experiment, it usually works.
From streetwear to tailoring, on-screen glamour to off-duty casuals, prepare to get schooled by the next generation of style icons.
Hollywood has a bad habit for over-egging its newfound darling. But in Timothée Chalamet’s case, the praise is by no means undeserved. In addition to a standout performance in Call Me By Your Name, the 22-year-old is wise beyond his years wardrobe-side.
“He’s young, gorgeous and wears his clothes with an air of insouciance and confidence,” says Sarah Gilfillan, personal stylist at menswear hub Sartoria Lab. “That’s because he keeps things simple, and by doing so, looks like he hasn’t tried too hard.”
To replicate, you need only combine the classics. “Chalamet wears a variety of blazers, dinner jackets and velvet suits with crew neck T-shirts below. This immediately rejigs black tieseperates with something a little younger and fresher.” He also plays with texture, mixing matte and high-shine fabrics like he’s been doing this for years.
Dunkirk triggered a slew of military-inspired haircuts, outfits and episodes of PTSD. However, its breakout star Fionn Whitehead is just as stylish as his on-screen counterpart.
“Whitehead boasts a clean, classic appearance on the red carpet that’s offset by small details,” says Gilfillan. And it’s these touches that add depth to relatively innocuous looks: a subtle check for example, or a silk lapel.
It’s a move easily emulated. “Introduce your own fitted polo or long-sleeved knit, buttoned up to the top. This channels a 1950s style best worn with a razor-sharp suit.”
A knitted polo also lets you flex some colour. Chime the shade with other pieces for a tonal look like Whitehead, or contrast navy tailoring with on-trend mustards or greens for a subtle nod to the forces.
It’s easy to snigger at the rise of the Instagram influencer. Yet men like Luka Sabbat – a 20-year-old who’s amassed around 850,000 followers – are using iPhones screens as a way of showing off notable and covetable style (and turning them into personal cash machines in the process).
“Sabbat is the epitome of high end streetwear hype,” says Kitty Cowell, a stylist that’s worked with ASOS, iD and Nike. “He manages to layer the expensive labels with more accessible ones too, and can seamlessly flit between classic and modern as a result.”
No mean feat, especially when Cowell states that few style icons can do both. Take your cue from Sabbat’s boldness. “Don’t be afraid to combine smart and casual pieces, and always take note of textures. You shouldn’t spend thousands on hype brands; just combine staples with statements to balance it out.”
The Beckhams are a bona fide fashion dynasty: Vicky has her own line, David does grooming as well as his own label, Brooklyn hits fashion week on the reg. And now, it seems young Romeo is making moves to ascend the throne.
“After modelling for Burberry at a young age, Romeo is different to Brooklyn’s combo of grunge, Gaulthier and Peaky Blinders,” says stylist Alex Longmore, who lists Harrods, Nivea and ES Magazine on an impressive CV. “Instead, he often opts for a varsity-inspired wardrobe, wearing a mixture of tailored separates with letterman jackets in-between.”
Reassuringly, preppy Ivy League threads are much easier to get into than Ivy League colleges. “Burberry-esque checks are a must, as is a well-fitted suit. Mix-up separates from different suits also, and chime your socks with your tailoring for a tonal finish.”
Stranger Things plunged our wardrobes into the Upside Down: fans searched high and low for the Science Museum of Minnesota merchandise, while eighties hairstyles were somehow deemed permissible again. Better than all that though, is something firmly planted in this dimension: Caleb McLaughlin’s wardrobe.
“McLaughlin [who plays Lucas in the Netflix hit] knows how to dress for award shows and red carpets, and he stays youthful by incorporating prints and bold colours into classic tuxedos and suits,” says stylist Sabina Emrit, Stormzy and David Harewood’s go-to dresser.
Take, for example, his trifecta roll neck-shirt-suit combo. Or his stripes-on-stripes look. By sticking to a narrow palette, or using one standout colour against monochrome, McLaughlin makes left-field outfits look breezy and wearable. Not bad for a 16-year-old.
It’s easy to accuse celebrity spawn of riding on their parents coattails (see Callum Best for further details). Levi Dylan is an exception. As the grandson of the mighty Bob, the 22-year-old has carved his own respectable modelling career, and with it, a stellar wardrobe.
“Dylan’s strength is dressing to his own tune, as opposed to following trends or emulating another,” says Santa Bevacqua, a stylist that’s worked for L’Officiel, GQ Germany and Dylan himself. Important, especially when your personal style should suit your personal frame – not someone else’s.
And in this instance, that means lots of slimming black, rugged leather jackets and flashes of print here and there – a tiger motif to his loafers, or a muted floral Cuban collared shirt. Perhaps leave the nocturnal sunglasses to the professionals, though.
Rappers across the pond have a heightened taste for the garish. Which, in moderation, is no bad thing – something 20-year-old Lil Yachty knows all too well.
“Lil Yachty’s secret ingredient is authenticity. He mixes colours and clashes wild prints unashamedly, but it’s always very laid back, and never overdone,” says Emrit. “And of course, who could forget those signature red braids and beads?”
Which, understandably, couldn’t be replicated by the masses. Excluding the dreads however, Lil Yachty’s look is easily emulated.
To make those clashes work, stick to colours that complement one another even if the prints don’t: blues and greens, reds and yellows and so on. Emrit says to dial down the statement to a level you feel comfortable with, too. “It sounds cliched, but don’t let the clothes wear you. Have fun with colour, but be yourself with it.”