Welcome back to the Gentleman's Gazette. In
today's video, we discuss how men's style and style icons changed over time, and what influence
movie celebrities had on classic menswear, and if that influence is
as strong as it used to be. [The Gentleman's Gazette theme song plays] Before we compare the movie stars of yesteryear
to the men on the red carpet these days and how they impact classic style, let's go to a time
when the silver screen wasn't even imaginable. While there's the popular quote, "clothes maketh
the man," there are certainly a few individuals that actually got people talking about clothes
in the first place. Throughout most of history, fashion was defined by monarchs and aristocrats.
They governed the land, set the trends, and paid handsomely for their
clothes. Unless, of course, they stiffed their tailors. Today, of course,
we have famous people who set the style trends. But, back then, from ancient
history until the era of film, the ruling class influenced style just like
famous people do so today.
The people in church back then would even go so far to use the legal
systems to create hierarchies that kept everyone in their place. That, of course, also extended
to fashion and certain people could wear certain things and others couldn't. And by wearing
one thing, you were communicating one thing. And it had a huge profound impact on society.
For example, some Roman emperors would forbid their non-royal subjects to wear the
color purple under penalty of death. Talk about having a fashion police right there. [ba dum tss] In many European countries, there were some sure
laws not allowing certain people to wear things and others were forced to wear things. For
example, a law from 1397 in Venice dictated that Jews had to wear yellow badges
so they could be identified visually. Other people were not allowed
to wear certain things. For example, the so-called "Negro Act" from 1740, which
was passed in the province of South Carolina, forbade slaves to dress above their status. It
also prescribed certain fabrics that were only to be worn by slaves. Around the same time, in
1746, the Act of Prescription was passed in the British Parliament.
It forbade anyone in Scotland
to wear highland dress or tartan. Of course, the fact that it was forbidden ingrained even
more in Scottish culture. Without this act, chances are we wouldn't be able to enjoy tartans
and highland dresses today. At one point in time, rich fabrics like silk or velvet or urban fur
were reserved for the upper class of society. Now, once nifty businessmen and members, who were not
part of the aristocracy, found ways to also wear these expensive fabrics and furs, the upper class
had to come up with something else to distinguish themselves from the non-blue-blooded counterparts.
So, in the 19th century, the rich opulence that previously characterized the aristocracy now had
to make way for much simpler clothing.
While that shift might appear like it was in line with the
general ideas and principles of enlightenment, that wasn't quite true. Hierarchies
weren't abolished, they just shifted towards rules of elegance. The rules on what to
wear and what not to wear were closely guarded among the aristocracy. And so, if you weren't
part of that, you simply didn't know what made you part of the group. Rather than just displaying
bold colors and rich fabrics, fit became much more important and the little details of correctness
could decide about one's social fate. Of course, the upper class kept the secrets of what to wear
and what not to wear very close guarded. So, if you were an outsider, you remained an
The whole shift in menswear culture towards more simplicity became really obvious
when Beau Brummell entered into high society. Even though many consider him to be the dandy par
excellence today, he was, in fact, at the time, someone who had made menswear more muted and less
colorful and flamboyant. He wore his coats with just a white shirt and tie and waistcoat, and it
wasn't about the color anymore. It was all about how it was worn
and how the tie was tied and how long it took him to make it look that he
actually didn't spend any time on it at all. This concept is now also known as "sprezzatura"
and if you want to learn more about it, we have an entire video about it here. As
society moved away from feudalism and monarchies, towards a new vision of democracy, things changed.
Now, entertainers had an increasingly bigger sway on what people on the streets would emulate.
And it didn't matter if they had a high pedigree or if they came from humble beginnings.
Along with the cultural evolution, the views around consumerism and traditional
style shifted once again.
James Dean, The Beatles, and Marlon Brando became cultural figures of
the mainstream, and therefore, they influenced the contemporary style of their day. Fame, as we
know it today, was born then. These days people in the entertainment industry have full-time
stylists, and one of them is Ashley Weston, which also has a Youtube channel. The cultural and
industry methods of how celebrities are portrayed, how they're marketed are somewhat different,
but at the same time, you can find similarities to how things were during the golden age
of menswear in the 1930s. So, what was the style of famous men back then? Unlike musicians,
businessmen, or statesmen before them, movie star actors were seen almost on a daily basis, be
it on the silver screen or in the newspapers. So, because these actors were seen more often,
people just felt they knew them better and they became bigger stars. Interestingly, the stars of
the 20s such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, or Fatty Arbuckle often dressed poorly on camera
for a comedic effect. Today, mocking homeless or poor people and their clothing choices on screen
is not considered to be gentlemanly behavior, especially not if it's done for entertainment
On a side note, actors wear sunglasses in between takes to prevent their eyes getting all
that harsh light. Now, people caught on to that and started wearing sunglasses to add a touch of
glamour to their own, sometimes not as glamorous, lives. Soon, identified men's figures, like
Rudolph Valentino, would pop up playing heartthrobs and gaining mainstream acceptance and
significance. Rudolph was known for his rakish, rather flamboyant taste that had influences
from Italy that was distinctly bolder than what most Americans were used to see at the time. He
often wore his signature slick-backed hairstyle. You can see him wearing cufflinks, rings with
dark stones, and he would also not shy away from wearing fur. Overall, his style was rakish through
and through. Even though film was developing into a mainstream medium for entertainment, small
studios like RKO or Warner Brothers had somewhat tight and limited budgets.
This often meant that
especially male actors were expected to supply their own wardrobe, which was used for filming.
And this just shows that the needs were a lot more simple at the time. However, that also meant
that these actors actually had their own style. They would probably get custom clothing that
fit them well and just spoke to their character.
Now, this wasn't just true for C-list or B-list
actors, but also for the stars at the time. Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, and
Fred Astaire would often wear their own clothing in contemporary productions. Obviously, one of the
key differences was that actors were expected to build their own brand while on and off-camera. As
such, one's style and the clothing one would wear became a big part of what an actor had to
understand and master. So, even off the job, Clark Gable was known for his formal wear
and his double-breasted suits, as well as three-piece single-breasted suits. His clothes
showcased all the hallmarks of 1930s style. He had pants with big pleats that were full cut and had
cuffs or turnips. His jackets had a wider lapel with a lower gorge, sometimes patch pockets
and he was definitely a fan of the drape cut. To learn more about that, check out this guide
The jackets also had shoulder padding had some waist suppressions and he would always
wear a tie and a pocket square. Cary Grant, who bought dozens of suits throughout his
career, openly admitted that he didn't choose fashionable suits, but more middle of the
fashion stuff and he never considered himself to be well-dressed, while people looking back
today think of him as this timeless style icon. Choosing a lapel that was neither too slim nor
too wide and being very much middle of fashion is probably the secret to why his stuff still
looks wearable today and timeless. Here you can see him with a three-piece suit in mid-gray
flannel with a darker overcoat and a white shirt, shoes, and hat. Nothing special, nothing
fancy, but just very classic. At the time also, many musicians transitioned into film via
musicals because they were quite profitable. So, consequent singers like Bing Crosby,
Frank Sinatra, or Louis Armstrong became a lot more popular and well-known.
this photo here from Frank Sinatra in 1961, along with fellow Rat Packer Dean Martin, you can see elements of his signature style. It's
a charcoal single-breasted three-piece suit with a five-button vest that's rather on the shorter
side. You can see the pants are cut high-waisted. He has a white shirt with an impeccable
collar. He's wearing a tie and a pocket square, along with a hat. Here you can see a dark
straw short-brimmed trilby with a wide contrasting ribbon. To learn
more about trilbys and hats, check out our playlist here. Note the
pleats on his pants and the fact that he's wearing opera pumps. At the time, opera
pumps were popular for men for evening wear, but not typically for regular suits.
But, it was just a style that he liked and so he wore it. So, if you think back about
the well-dressed men from the 30s, 40s, and 50s, chances are you think of actors first and
Not politicians, businessmen, or other important men at the time. Now, one
could say, "Wow! They had such great style, but compared to today, their clothing
choices were a lot more limited." As a man, you basically had to wear a suit.
There wasn't really a way around that. Sure, you could try wearing jeans and a wife-beater,
but that was socially less acceptable for their status and position. At the time, style
moved much more slowly. Fashion was well-curated and coordinated with manufacturers, and materials
were a lot more expensive. So, people bought a lot less, less frequently. But, spent more in
individual garment. Fabrics are also heavier so they lasted longer. But, the finishing wasn't
quite as refined as it is today.
That being said, later on, actors like Marlon Brando or James Dean became famous for their
non-suit, more casual looks. And even actors like Steve McQueen, who would
sometimes wear suits, was also highly regarded for his more casual, rugged personal style. To
learn more about the style of Steve McQueen, check out this video here. Steve McQueen's
style wasn't complicated. Just look at this photo. He wore a pair of khaki pants with some
white socks and then, a pair of well-walked-in chukka boots. His sweater was darker than his
crew neck. He had a lighter shirt and a coat. The only thing is missing here is the traditional
signature personal sunglasses, which you can learn more about in this video. So, what's the style of
the people today? Hollywood is certainly part of the mainstream and pumps out a lot more films and
movies than they used to. On top of that, you have places like Amazon and Netflix that also produce
a lot of stuff. With big-budget Hollywood films, Amazon, and Netflix dominating the entertainment
mainstream world, how come not more male actors are known for their style? Sure, they're actors
like Tom Ford, Ryan Gosling, Jay-Z, Kanye West, George Clooney, and, of course, James Bond, Daniel
It is no longer necessary for an actor to really have this personal style and personal
wardrobe. Just think about the Black Tie outfits on the red carpet at the Oscars and how many
people get it wrong. Oftentimes, they just wear whatever stylist pushes because, maybe, it's part
of the PR campaign. Even low-budget productions today have enough money to pay for all the clothes
of the individual character and, oftentimes, roles are much more varied and nuanced than they
used to be. Most male celebrities today gain more attention for their good looks or their level
of fitness. Daniel Craig, Ryan Gosling, or Brad Pitt are more well-known for what they look like
without a shirt on than with a suit.
This current, sort of, obsession with fitness and looks wasn't
as pronounced during the heyday of classic men's clothing. Also, there's a much bigger emphasis on
product placement these days because that can make a lot of money. Just think of Daniel Craig's
famous scene in one of the early Bond movies, where he corrects Vesper Lynd on the
brand of his watch, Omega not Rolex. [Scene from Casino Royale]
[Vesper Lind] Easy smiles and expensive watches. Rolex? [James Bond] Omega.
[Vesper Lynd] Beautiful The influence of streetwear, hype culture, and
comfort has really changed the way status and wealth, and style are perceived in the public eye
today. Old Hollywood may have been more interested to give that flair of upper class, but
today, it's more about being bold and being true to yourself and just expressing
Even some famous men look down on dressing up. Just think about Mark Cuban or
Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, for example. Now, if you look at famous men today in the
film industry that are hailed for their style, one of the first name that comes up is George
Clooney [The suit-up scene from Batman & Robin] Frankly, in my mind, he wears more of a uniform and he doesn't have a very
interesting personal style. Typically, he wears a suit that
is neither too slim nor too wide with a shirt, without any neckwear, without any
pocket square, matching shoes in black.
Overall, an unexciting outfit. Nevertheless, most people
in the mainstream would consider it to be a classic suit look that is timeless and stylish. It's a bit like the old Cary Grant approach
in our era. But, because everything around us has changed, it's a lot less nuanced
and more boring than it used to be. Now, an actor like Benedict Cumberbatch, on the other hand, has a more
distinct personal style. But, he's also British. You can learn more about
him in our in-depth guide gentlemen of style here. For example, here you
can see him at Wimbledon wearing a green suit with rather slim lapels
that suit his silhouette, a light blue shirt with a blue knit tie, and brown derby shoes, and,
of course, sunglasses, and a more relaxed haircut. Even though we appreciate stars who have a knack
for classic style, there are other actors, like Mahershala Ali or Timothée Chalamet, who use suits
in a different way. Mahershala Ali often likes a monochrome look. I've seen him wearing tuxedos
with a black shirt and a black tie, or he wears a navy suit with peak lapels that's double-breasted
but with a turtleneck sweater, and then, maybe, some yellow sunglasses and shoes that are
spectators and loafers, which is not something you would have traditionally worn with a
double-breasted suit and, then, without socks or no-show socks.
He's not afraid to wear
bolder colors such as burgundy suits, for example, with less contrasting shirts. Timothée Chalamet
is known for his bold outfits. It can be a suit that's super trim cut with a
bold flower print or something else that's just over the top. So, the question becomes: "What
has changed since then and now?" At first glance, it may seem that actors back then were just
themselves versus today it's all just about marketing. But, if you take a closer, look you
realize that, even in old Hollywood, they had their ways to protect the reputation of actors.
Back then it was important for the studios that their contract actors and performers had a squeaky
clean reputation because anything else was bad for business. This aspect of Hollywood is pretty
well-covered in the Coen Brothers' "Hail, Caesar!" [Scene from Hail, Caesar!] It was so simple. [stuttering] Cut. Because of that, studios and
record labels pay top dollar to make instances simply disappear. Clark Gable
and Mary Pickford are certainly the most infamous cases for that. Today, exposing scandals is
just part of the game of the show business.
There's even an entire industry of bloggers and
influencers who do nothing but highlighting those things. As a lover of classic style, it's much
harder to find role models in Hollywood today. Fortunately, there are a lot of period productions
that pay great attention to the clothing worn at the time. I'm sure many of us gonna do classic
menswear by watching Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Peaky Blinders, Downton Abbey, and so forth,
or just think about Kingsmen, for example.
They created an entire range of clothing. And even
though we disagree with many details in the movie, it definitely helped to create an interest
with mainstream men in classic men's clothing and that's a good thing. By the way, to
learn more about Kingsmen and the details, check out these videos here. Now, another big
difference between then and now is the fact that men are much more free to choose whatever
they want when it comes to clothing. Back then, you could wear a suit, maybe a slightly different
color, your tie could maybe be different.
But, today, you can truly wear whatever
you feel comfortable with and express yourself through your clothes. We believe
that's a good thing and with the internet, it has become easier than ever to find
like-minded peers at the other end of the world that you can nerd out with about the details of
your particular style interests. In the last ten years, there has been an increasingly large
number of influencers, Youtubers, and lately, TikTokers who help keep classic style alive.
Maybe you're even watching one right now. And while you can't rely on Hollywood giving you
great examples of classic style, you can bet we always will. In today's video, I'm neither wearing
a 30's suit nor a modern outfit. Much rather, I picked something that really reflects my own
personal style and it goes well with the season. It consists of a rather unusual mottled green
fresco suit, which I bought secondhand as my very first high-end suit years ago on eBay for 40 or
50 bucks. Fortunately, I haven't outgrown it yet.
Fresco is a really airy material and you can
feel every breeze in it, which makes it great for warmer climates. Yes, the color is bold
but if you tone down the rest of your outfit, it can still be a great classic look. Here,
I'm combining it with a thin blue and white striped shirt, which is a Winchester shirt, and
if you want to learn more about those, check out this video here.
It has a white club collar.
I'm pairing it with a brown model knit tie, which is, likewise, very summery and works with
the green. My pocket square is a darker green, so it has some contrast to the suit. It has
elements of blue, which picks up the shirt, and elements of brown, which you can see in my belt
and shoes. My cufflinks are gold and tiger's eye with an eagle claw from Fort Belvedere.
pairing them with a gold ring that is green with a green tourmaline. And the colors work well
with my green belt, which is from J. Press and Ivy style inspired. By the way, you can learn
more about that style here. I'm pairing them with dark brown suede derby shoes and I put
in a green pair of Fort Belvedere shoelaces to just spice it up and tie together with
the outfit. By the way, all Fort Belvedere accessories can be found in our shop, just like
the pair of socks I'm wearing here, which are our two-tone solid Oxford socks in cotton. This is a
mix of blue and light blue, which has a sheen of green and, therefore, it works well with the suit.
It provides enough contrast but it's not too bold. [The Gentleman's Gazette theme song plays].