British style icons and sartorial inspiration

5 min read

British style icons

Here we take a look at six British style icons, six rakish individuals who we look up to again and again for sartorial inspiration. It is their style but also their demeanour that fascinates, and how through the combination of both they managed to make a lasting impact on the menswear industry.


David Gandy style iconSource

-  D A V I D   G A N D Y  -


"A gentleman doesn’t follow fashion. He’s more of an individual, he stands out, with the confidence to go against the grain and without a care for what other people think."
- David Gandy


Having started a modelling career by utter chance, David Gandy has become one of the most recognisable models and celebrities in menswear today.

A contemporary style icon, David Gandy epitomises the quintessentially British style. He is often seen sporting three piece suits from Savile Row. He enjoys fine tailoring, focusing on high quality fabrics such as tweed and the Prince of Wales print, a tailor-made fit, and a muted colour palette.

His casual attire is kept simple too, with a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a chunky cardigan.

Proud of his heritage and genuinely keen to support British brands, Gandy is a true ambassador for British style and the country’s historic heritage in garment-making.

David Gandy epitomises classic masculinity - mixing classic style with contemporary or vintage touches to reinforce his individuality.


Michael Caine style icon in the 1960s

-  M I C H A E L   C A I N E  - 

Michael Caine’s style from the 1960s has giving him his much revered place as one of the most stylish British men.

Caine was renown for mastering simplicity, all the while looking humble and unpretentious. In the 1960s, he epitomised the swinging Sixties in Britain, with a sharp, yet comfortable style.

With his working class Cockney accent, Caine challenged the norms of the time, and epitomised the rise of young subcultures such as the Mods.

His trademark attire consisted of a buttoned-down shirt worn with a suit, a slim knitted tie and his thick, horn-rimmed glasses of course.

Ahead of his time, Caine’s style was perfectly fitted to modern proportions. He focused on timeless classics with a minimal colour palette. The utterly effortless way in which he sported a suit and tie is one to look up to, and one that has certainly inspired many a stylish individual since.

Understated, tailored and simple; British cool at its best.

David Beckham style icon

-  D A V I D   B E C K H A M  - 


David Beckham is a contemporary style icon, but one nonetheless. His style has evolved greatly since his early days in the limelight.

From fashion faux-pas to style reinvention, David Beckham has learnt how to dress well and what suits him over time, making him relatable and easy to identify with.

Blending tailoring with streetwear, Beckham’s style is one that echoes the modern bending and blending of traditional menswear rules.

Focusing primarily on an effortless style that aims to be understated rather than brash, Beckham wears his clothes effortlessly and with great confidence.

His style focuses on clean fits, versatile colours and classic finishes - wether that be for formalwear or casual attire. His impeccable dress sense is recognised and revered the world over, and that, without a doubt, makes him a British style icon.

Beau Brummell style icon

-  B E A U   B R U M M E L L  -  


“To be truly elegant one should not be noticed. If people turn to look at you in the street, you are not well dressed, but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable.”
- Beau Brummell


George Bryan ‘Beau’ Brummell is often considered to be the forefather of menswear as we know it.

At a time when men dressed elaborately and flamboyantly with stockings, embellishments and jewels, Brummell preferred a simpler, more tailored attire.

Brummell was introduced to the world of menswear by both his father and his grand father. He was educated at Eton, learning the skills to be a gentleman of status along the way. Though he did not have the finances necessary to be a member of aristocracy, he sought to break the social divide and integrate the upper classes by joining the Tenth Royal Hussars regiment, where he met and befriended Prince of Wales, later to become King George IV, in 1794.

The prince of Wales became fascinated by Brummell’s style, as well as his wit and charm, and he soon became his role model.

Breaking all sartorial rules of the time, Beau Brummell embraced simplicity with minimal decoration and promoted a streamlined silhouette that flattered the man’s physique - much like is the norm for men today. He introduced the suit, with full-length, well-fitting, formal trousers and both matching and contrasting jackets, and donned it with his signature accessory, the cravat, which he often spent hours perfecting a knot for.

Brummell was very much an influencer of the time, and the epitome of fine dressing and British elegance in the first decade of the 19th century in London.

Sadly, he finished his life exiled in France due to mounting debt, but his avant-garde style still informs the way men dress and express their individuality through clothing to this day.

Rakish indeed.



"Simplicity, to me, has always been the essence of good taste."
- Cary Grant


Cary Grant style icon


-  C A R Y   G R A N T  -

Famed for being part of Old Hollywood’s heyday pictures and sophistication, Cary Grant was actually born Archibald Alexander Leach in Bristol, UK.

At the age of 16, Archie Leach travelled to the USA with a vaudevillian Stage Troupe, and never returned to the UK thereafter. He changed his name to Cary Grant and soon found his way to Hollywood where he started his career as an actor. He was an instant hit.

Dressing simply in a suit, Cary Grant exuded confidence wearing clothes that were well-fitted - in spite of often being off-the shelf styles, demonstrating that timeless style does not need to be at a hefty price tag or bespoke. His charisma, charm and gentlemanly manners only added to his debonair dressing.

Good looks, charm, impeccable, sophisticated style, and great attention to details made Cary Grant the suave icon and inspiration he was in his heyday in the 1940s and 1950s, and still is today for gentlemen across the world.


“Do see that your 
socks stay up.
Nothing can spoil an otherwise well-groomed effect like sagging socks.”
- Cary Grant


Sean Connery James Bond style icon

-  S E A N   C O N N E R Y  -

Best known for his on-screen character James Bond, Sean Connery is self-assured in his roles and his style.

The first internationally renowned James Bond on screen made Connery a sex symbol and style icon. Fleming’s character, of course, is known for his impeccable style and fine British tailoring - and so did Connery. The actor became synonymous with power dressing, sharp, sophisticated dressing and British elegance on screen and in real life.

It is his good looks, helped by his tall frame as well as the way he moved, that made Connery the success he was.


Read more articles on style on the Notebook.

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