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Readers, today I want to discuss male style icons, or what I call guy-cons.

Coming up with the names of ten people I wouldn’t mind dressing/looking like wasn’t hard. I’ll be honest though: I added some of them not because they’ve influenced me personally, but because I think they’ve achieved guy-conic status in the wider world.

I think many men aspire to elegance and sadly, I’m not very elegant. I’m too lazy to think about details like pocket squares, matching socks, shining my shoes (when I wear them), or wearing a belt. We’re very casual over at Male Pattern Boldness — sometimes we don’t get out of our pajamas — plus we’re always working: sewing, writing, and digging out from under the clutter. It doesn’t lend itself to much fuss.

Anyway, here’s my list — with an admittedly Anglo-American bent.

In no particular order:

1. Fred Astaire (up top)

2. James Dean


3. The Beatles (We’ll count them as one for convenience’s sake)


4. Kurt Cobain


5. David Bowie


6. David Beckham


7. Cary Grant


8. Sean Combs


9. Sean Connery (as Agent 007)


10. Steve McQueen


Perhaps you’re thinking that this list has a bit of the “same old, same old” about it? That’s where you guys come in. Who’s missing?

Personally, I take more of my styling cues from my Ken doll than I do from Cary Grant (though I think Cary undoubtedly influenced Ken) but I’m unusual that way. When I was a kid I was very influenced by David Cassidy of The Partridge Family, but I don’ t think too many people would consider him a guy-con today (if they’ve even heard of him).

There are a few questions I can’t answer:

1) Who are the guy-cons for the contemporary “urban lumberjack” look one sees among many young urban hipsters (flannel shirt, suspenders, boots, beards) — Are there any?

2) Are we so splintered into our narrow demographic subgroups that nobody has the influence that someone like a Steve McQueen had fifty years ago?

3) Are we more influenced by the people we actually see in our lives than some distant celebrity?

Readers, I leave it up to you.

Are there any famous men who have has influenced your way of dressing or whom you model your style after (whatever your gender)?

Who are they?


When native New Yorker Peter Lappin bought his first sewing machine two years ago to hem a pair of thrift store jeans, little did he know he was initiating a journey that would bring him fame and fortune. While awaiting his fortune he stays busy writing “the world’s most popular men’s sewing blog,” Male Pattern Boldness, and now contributing to BurdaStyle.

“For more than twenty years I’d lived on the edge of the Garment District without even knowing what a seam ripper was. Now I rip daily!”


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    Aug 17, 2011, 03.17 PMby glassknuclezz

    DAVID BOWIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Jul 26, 2011, 05.11 PMby Rebecca Alleyne

    Fred Astaire was always a guy-con in my books. Fred, Humphrey Bogart, Danny Kaye, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr… for the more modern guy-cons I’ll have to say that, Anti-semitic comments aside, John Galliano was a real fashion icon. The man possesses his own style which is wonderful and refreshing to see.

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    Jul 25, 2011, 02.37 AMby bastor

    like them all, but my favorite is Fred Astaire.

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    Jul 24, 2011, 11.44 PMby momsgotanewhobby

    Danny Kay, Gene Kelly, Dr. WHO-or rather the person who did the clothes selection for the character…

    Oh I forgot! Hugh Jackman-man just looks good in anything he wears.

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    Jul 24, 2011, 07.27 PMby gemmafloyd

    As for guy-cons who inspire me and my wardrobe (a girl) I have to say I love the 80s rock stars of bands like Van Halen, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi… you name them. I can’t help it, they look so awesome!

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    Jul 24, 2011, 12.30 AMby baba-meca

    I want a picture of Marlon Brando wearing white T-shirt in this list ,Peter

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    Jul 24, 2011, 12.23 AMby baba-meca

    I want a picture of MARLON BRANDO wearing white T-shirt in this list Peter. He is one of the brightest examples of man’s style and self expression for me

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    Jul 23, 2011, 03.48 PMby Lucha Suarez

    Repping for the latin world, I would have to say William Levy. Even though the world of telenovelas is packed with sharply dressed men, so it is hard to pick. I would dare even say that the men are dressed better than the women in telenovelas!

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    Jul 23, 2011, 02.05 AMby patchitup

    How about George Clooney, Robert Wagner, John Travolta (many trends there, starting with Welcome Back, Kotter), and Mr. Will Smith. David Bowie is just the most awesome in changing his persona with fashion.

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    Jul 22, 2011, 11.18 PMby nookie

    I’ve always liked the look of Johnny Depp (post 21 Jump Street). Whatever he does and whatever he wears he always looks cool and suave.

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    Jul 22, 2011, 11.16 PMby tinyskids

    I love Sean Connery….

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    Jul 22, 2011, 07.18 PMby loyl8

    all i have to say is Elvis..

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    Jul 22, 2011, 06.40 PMby LimeSoda

    Come on, Bruce Lee in his yellow and black stripe running suit is a universal style classic at this point and is most likely the precursor to Nike.

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    Jul 22, 2011, 02.35 PMby Sewing And Style

    Like your choice, although for me David Bowie is number 1, closely followed my Steve McQueen, have to throw in Michael Cane in his early days -he was super sleek!

    2 Replies
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      Jul 26, 2011, 04.40 PMby Rebecca Alleyne

      I agree. Sir Michael Caine in his early days, very suave.

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      Jul 26, 2011, 05.02 PMby Sewing And Style

      he’s still a dish ))))

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    Jul 22, 2011, 02.28 PMby soulfulll


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    Jul 22, 2011, 12.16 PMby Lori Fabian

    i also like a TV character : Mr Big from Sex and the city. I would like to add that except the clothes, it needs tones of ATTITUDE to be an icon; especially a guy-con , where aren’t many options in mixing clothes.

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    Jul 22, 2011, 10.12 AMby jessdunstan

    Even though he is a character on TV I would have to add Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl. He always looks tailored even when he’s in a bathrobe!

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    Jul 22, 2011, 09.01 AMby urbandon

    George Clooney- that man can wear a suit, John Galliano (His clothes/ style we are talking, not his politics) and for sheer day-to-day elegance and twisted cool- Karl Lagerfeld.

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    Jul 22, 2011, 03.07 AMby nouvellegamine

    i would add wayne coyne, from the flaming lips. his style is superb.

    wes anderson’s movies are very influential on both male & female style.

    “mad men”. i see a lot of guys doing their best don draper.

    and the hipster lumberjack is sort of the anti beckham. a look back at grunge with a dash of west coast edwardian bohemianism displayed through a plaid filter. who in real life? well, everyone in an indie band of the sort of alt/country/folk what have you genre? dave berman from the “silver jews” to start.

    my husband fits into all of these. he loves his facial hair, loves his plaid, loves pants slightly too short. and he loves “mad men.”

    as for me personally. as a tall teenaged/early 20s girl i couldn’t find pants long enough so i bought mine from the men’s section of thrift stores. i wore a lot of plaid & a lot of suit pants. my personal style icons were jeremy brett as “sherlock holmes” & nick cave.

    2 Replies
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      Jul 22, 2011, 04.18 AMby thefabledneedle

      It’s funny that you mention Sherlock Holmes because, per your reply to me (thanks!), I could not help but picture Daniel Day Lewis as Sherlock in the Enola Holmes series I recently finished reading. I’m not a die-hard Sherlock fan so maybe the “casting” is totally wrong but I think he’s got the look down. I think it’s neat that Mr. Holmes is one of your style icons! :)

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      Jul 22, 2011, 05.02 AMby nouvellegamine

      daniel day lewis would be an amazing holmes! i never thought of him before for the part. i’m not familiar with the enola holmes series but i may have to look it up now :)

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    Jul 22, 2011, 03.00 AMby MarthaO

    As far as more modern influences go, Neil Patrick Harris always looks impeccably tailored, and I often wonder why he isn’t considered more as an influence of style. I mean, did you SEE he amazing pin stripes on SYTYCD this week?! You may want to throw young Elvis into your mix as well, if nothing else for his pompadour hair. The band members of Mumford & Sons may end up being a sort of hipster influence, but only time will tell.

    But sadly, I think modern male influences seem to be rare. In my experience, many men can’t even be bothered to get a decent haircut regularly, let alone put together a comprehensible look.

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    Jul 22, 2011, 02.45 AMby susanne2011

    So actually when I think this through a bit: I think that for guys fashion is mostly based on music, bands, artists. Think about it: the lumberjack look is grunge (now with bands like Foo Fighters), the emo look probably has its roots in the glamrock of the 80’s. The ‘Amy Winehouse look for men (fred perry shirts, high waisted jeans’) is punk / ska. So I doubt that men are inspired by a single person, it is more a person that is ‘famous’ within a certain music genre. Music has a major influence on our lives. Half of the icons you have depicted here earned their money by making music…

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    Jul 22, 2011, 02.35 AMby susanne2011

    The flannel shirt and beard thing all dates back from the grunge period starting someweher the 1980’s in Seattle (I should ask my boyfriend for details). Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney etc. inspired that look I think. My first boyfriend dressed like this back in 1994 and my now boyfriend dresses like this as well, as the grunge look is back into fashion again.

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