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.
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 Sarah Gilfillan, founder of personal styling consultancy Sartoria Lab. 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.
As the world’s first pansexual warlock, it’s unfathomable that British actor Chance Perdomo would have a wardrobe that’s anything short of magical. Star of The Sabrina the Teenage Witch reboot The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the young Londoner is quickly making a name for himself on both sides of the pond.
“The thing with Chance is not that his outfits are stuffed with next-level menswear moves, but that he usually throws in a subtle tweak, which makes his look more memorable,” says FashionBeans deputy editor Luke Todd.
Even if you aren’t a sexually fluid sorcerer, it’s a trick you can apply to your own wardrobe. Try pushing up the sleeves of your jacket or throwing on a pair of glasses before leaving the house to step things up a gear.
It’s easy to snigger at the rise of the Instagram influencer. Yet, men like Luka Sabbat – a 20-something 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.”
Looking at Ncuti Gatwa on one of his many recent red carpet appearances, you wouldn’t think the 26-year-old actor only landed his first recurring role in 2018.
The Scottish actor looks as natural in one of his many sharply tailored suits as he does on screen as Eric Effiong in Netflix series Sex Education, which gained him three-quarters of a million Instagram followers almost overnight.
“Gatwa gives us a lesson on how to wear tailoring every time he steps onto the red carpet, regardless of which part of the world he’s in,” says FashionBeans senior editor Charlie Thomas. “The cut of his suit isn’t always perfect – he often wears a super slim trouser – but it’s the confidence and way he holds himself that we could all benefit from.”
Stranger Things plunged our wardrobes into the Upside Down: fans searched high and low for the Science Museum of Minnesota merchandise, while ’80s 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.
With supermodel sisters Bella and Gigi walking for every designer worth knowing, it was only a matter of time before younger sibling Anwar Hadid followed in his sisters’ genetically blessed footsteps. And, like his sisters before him, Hadid has developed a ridiculously photographable sense of personal style.
“Anwar Hadid’s style is pretty much the purest distillation of Gen Z style that you’re likely to find,” says FashionBeans associate editor Luke Sampson. “Hadid excels at resurrecting the laid-back, grungy teen archetype of the ‘90s, but there are some seriously sharp tailored cuts and hype sportswear thrown in for good measure.”
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Hadid’s style is its unpredictability. No outfit looks too-laboured, too forced or too predictable. Possessing that unknowable it factor that some guys just have, Hadid’s annoyingly proficient in throwing together loose, casual pieces seemingly at random but with undeniably impressive results.
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.
It’s cliché to say, but Himesh Patel is about to make it big time. A former (fictional) resident of Walford in British soap EastEnders, recently the actor-stroke-singer swapped east London for Hollywood after getting cast in Danny Boyle’s latest film, Yesterday.
“His wardrobe is starting to reflect that of a leading man, too,” says Todd. “Tailoring with a twist is becoming his calling card – having managed pulled off looks like a dinner jacket worn with side-stripe trousers.”
If that sounds like a step too far, give the air tie a go. Opt for a relaxed double-breasted suit worn over a crisp white shirt and finished with a pair of sneakers for an outfit fit for a film premiere.
Rappers across the pond have a heightened taste for the garish. Which, in moderation, is no bad thing – something 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.”
From Justin Timberlake to Ryan Gosling, there’s form when it comes to Disney Channel stars growing up into style icons. But no one could expect the extent to which the two gawky, blonde-haired twins from the Suite Life Of Zack And Cody would have such a glow-up.
“Both have turned into exceedingly snappy dressers, but while Dylan has chosen to skirt the limelight somewhat since the show, his brother Cole has become a bonafide star,” says FashionBeans staff writer Richard Jones.
His style takes a few cues from Americana, with staples like loose, mid-wash denim and Western-style placket shirts linking up effortlessly with his own updated take on mid-century pieces like pleated trousers and blouson jackets.
As the son of Cindy Crawford, it’s fair to assume that Presley Gerber is a rollover jackpot winner in the DNA lottery. That said, the fledgeling model doesn’t solely rely on his genes.
“We adore Presley Gerber’s cool take on classic looks,” says Jolanda Smit, director of group brand relations marketing at Zalando. “From simple T-shirts with jeans, to a subtle twist on formal occasionwear, he subtly pushes boundaries for other men.”
To follow suit, play with colour or pattern but ground your experiments with staple pieces. “Stick with well-fitting classics that will always resonate: a white tee teamed with a leather jacket, or a staple roll neck for colder months,” says Smit.
They’re called wardrobe classics for a reason.
If you can stop looking at Charles Melton’s hair for a moment, you may discover that he has great personal style. Like many of his millennial contemporaries, he opts for new school tailoring when feeling fancy, and laid back sportswear or the odd short-sleeve shirt when dressed down. Either way, he looks ace.
The actor’s model looks don’t hurt of course (he actually started out as a model in New York), but there are plenty of good looking actors who can’t dress – Jude Law and Daniel Craig have only recently got their act together, for example.
Melton’s been on point since he was first in the spotlight. “He’s a perfect example of the new breed of young actor who’s got his finger on the style pulse,” says Thomas. “He dips his toe into trends such as oversized tailoring, brightly coloured sunglasses and the odd Cuban collar shirt, but he isn’t dominated by them.”
P.S. If you do want his hair, “don’t shampoo and condition” Melton admitted in an interview for Wired. Who knew?
As another Stranger Things grad, Joe Keery’s more famous for his follicles than his threads. However, his nous from the neck down deserves just as much credit as that throwback hairstyle.
“Joe Keery seems to take his influence from 1950s new-school vintage,” says stylist Phill Tarling, a man that’s dressed Tom Hardy and rugby star Jonny Wilkinson. “That means lots of denim, mid-rise jeans and, of course, that signature gravity-defying hair.”
If the concrete-strength hair mousse isn’t for you, there are other ways to take a cue from Keery. “Off-duty, go for layers: Cuban collared shirts, jeans, leather bombers and the like. If it’s a more formal dress code though, focus on the details to cut through the noise with tie bars, darker checks and knitted ties.”
Announced as the star of Baz Lurhmann’s Elvis biopic, Austin Butler’s style isn’t going stay a well-kept secret for much longer. And, unlike The King, Butler’s style isn’t sequins, spandex and showmanship, it’s something altogether more subtle and timeless.
“The broad appeal of Austin Butler’s style comes from its simplicity,” says Sampson. “Putting together classic looks, whether it be a flannel shirt, classic white T-shirt and jeans or a monochrome tailored look, Butler’s style relies on pairings that have been tried and tested.”
Look to Butler for easy, everyday outfit combinations which swerve trend-led whims in favour of looks that just work. The Butler mantra; staples over statements.
You don’t build a net worth of $4.5m by just looking pretty. Okay, so in Cameron Dallas’s case, you kind of do. But luckily, the YouTuber-turned-D&G-frontman has a wardrobe to match the mug.
“Dallas looks like a modern-day James Dean – no easy feat,” says Tarling. “That can be attributed to his Southern Californian, understated style, making every outfit a little undone and relaxed.”
The trick is to opt for skin-skimming cuts to really flatter your build. “Dallas understands the relationship between simple styling on a slim body, so always try to hit a midpoint between skinny fits and oversized.”
Rappers aren’t usually renowned for their down-to-earth modesty (or, in the case of tracks like Carluccio and Ottolenghi, having songs named after their favourite chefs), but London-born wordsmith Loyle Carner isn’t your bog-standard rapper.
“Behind the slick rhymes, laidback delivery, and smooth soundtrack, Carner possesses a style that rests heavy on workwear like hefty chore jackets and baggy work trousers – a far cry from the bling-bling world of hip-hop,” says Jones.
Vintage sportswear is also a big part of the Brit Award nominees’ look. On one of his recent tours, Carner gave free tickets to anyone who could offer him an old football shirt in return. Worn baggy and covered in bold patterns, they’re a great way of bringing the ’90s look into your ‘fits without straying from the no-nonsense vibes.
No man can match Arnie for one-liners, so rather than matching his father’s knack for notable dialogue, Patrick Schwarzenegger has simply chosen to dress better. Much better.
“As the son of one of the world’s best-known bodybuilders, Schwarzenegger has his work cut out for him when dressing to suit his shape,” says men’s style writer Cillian O’Connor. “Tall and muscular, he eschews flash-in-the-pan trends for classic separates, like quality denim and relaxed fit short-and-long-sleeved T-shirts.”
You don’t need a build like a brick shithouse to imitate either. “Work with what your momma (or ex-bodybuilder father) gave you,” says O’Connor. “Get to know which fabrics, cut and key pieces work best for your body shape, and build your wardrobe around them.”
KJ Apa is great to look at, let’s face it. We’re not quite sure whether its the chiselled jawline or swept-back hair, but one thing is for certain: this New Zealand export’s style certainly plays a part in his appeal.
“Even more impressive than his passable American accent is the confidence with which he pulls off more daring looks,” says Todd.
If you’re not quite ready to try a rust-coloured co-ord, start by experimenting with bolder colours like yellow, pink and brighter shades of classic hues like blue and red.