We take a look into our top 10 chivalrous icons of the last 100 years. From the smooth demeanour of Sean Connery to the rugged style of Tom Cruise you won't be disappointed with our picks.
In 1974, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Liza Minnelli asked Steve McQueen to attend a fund-raiser for an actor named James Stacy, who had lost an arm and a leg in a motorcycle accident. It was a black-tie affair, and all of the biggest names in show business—Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, John Lennon—were in attendance. McQueen showed up in a plaid Benetton lumberjack shirt, blue jeans, boots, and a long beard. It was vintage McQueen. The star of The Great Escape and Bullitt achieved icon status because of the girls, the cars, and the tough-guy persona. But writer James Wolcott’s description of McQueen as a “surf bum–hippie“ is most fitting. McQueen was at his best when he looked like he’d just washed up on the beach. His rugged, dressed-down style—dungarees, V-neck T-shirts, wrinkled oord shirts—perfectly complemented his dusty blond hair, china blue eyes, and hard, almost weathered features.
All the actors who’ve inhabited the role of James Bond have enjoyed the trappings of style—killing bad guys in Savile Row bespoke—but only one of them can truly be said to have style. (And no, we’re not talking about George Lazenby.) Sean Connery is still the yardstick by which all other Bonds are measured—the arched eyebrow, the dry wolfish smile. But we at William Wood Watches think it mostly has to do with the way he moved. It only looked effortless: Before he was cast in Dr. No, Connery was an ardent student of the Swedish movement teacher Yat Malmgren, whose book on body technique became Connery’s bible. That’s how the former bricklayer from a hardscrabble section of Edinburgh learned to walk with (in one observer’s memorable phrase) “the threatening grace of a panther on the prowl.“ Read it as a gloss on his penchant for violence or his sexual prowess: It works both ways.
The Kennedy Brothers
After campaigning with Jack and Bobby Kennedy in 1960, in a move to emulate the president, Lyndon Johnson ordered six custom suits from Savile Row tailors Carr, Son & Woor. Typically, LBJ missed the point. Yes, the Kennedys wore expensive tailor-made suits (always dark, always two-button). And sure, they had a fondness for Brooks Brothers oord shirts and striped ties, and even their casualwear was conservative (preppy staples like crewneck sweaters and cotton khakis). But it wasn’t the clothes that made these men. It was the subtlety and simplicity with which they wore them, says designer Thom Browne, whose modern takes on the Kennedy look currently outfit the latest generation of JFK acolytes. “For the past fifty years, whenever fashion has gotten away from the Kennedy look,“ Browne notes, “it’s been a mistake.“
You’ve heard it all before, right? George Clooney is smart, handsome, funny. Oh, and he makes a suit look “simply fantastic.“ (We didn’t say it; Giorgio Armani did.) But the wisecracking rogue that women (and men) love to love traveled a long road to get here. Let’s not forget that before interning at ER
, he played the floppy-haired Booker on Roseanne
and paid the bills as a handyman on The Facts of Life
. It’s all a testament to that old saw about men getting better looking (and just plain better) with age. Which is why these days Clooney not only writes, directs, produces, and actually acts (hello, Oscar!) but also carries a dark suit and a head of silver-flecked hair better than anyone. But we don’t dare call him a fashion plate. His pal Armani knows better: “He wears the clothes; they don’t wear him.“
As Britain's foremost footballer, David Beckham quickly established himself not just the sport's best-dressed man, but also one of Britain's most stylish sons - a title he's continued to hold with little competition even now his professional sporting career has come to an end. His latest venture is the heritage British clothing label Kent & Curwen, and with the legend that is Beckham behind it, success seems assured.
Whether as the hip-hop star The Fresh Prince or one of Hollywood’s most bankable names, Smith’s style has inspired many others. Though his choice might have evolved over the decades, he’s still known as one of the best-dressed men on the red carpet, today. Over two decades later, the actor’s style might have progressed, but continues to be an inspiration for men. Transforming out of his b-boy choices into leading man attire, Smith is often seen in crisp suits that are a few notches above the regular. Think monochrome checked blazer, a pop of purple in an all grey outfit, a double-breast shawl-collar vest, and a bright red suit.
Leonardo Di Caprio
One of the most famous men on the planet and a world-renowned Oscar winning actor the world over and global warming activist, Leonardo DiCaprio has arguably got it all, especially an impeccable fashion sense to match. The 42-year-old actor has been Hollywood mainstay ever since he was a child actor in roles which have seen him don spectacular suits and marvellous outfits as part of The Great Gatsby and The Wolf of Wall Street. To the more relaxed look he featured as an undercover Police Officer in The Departed. His trademark outfit has gone from relaxed fit jeans and colourful tops as a star child actor, to trim, perfectly fitting suits and a remarkably sharp look. Simply add a belt, and you got yourself 1980’s Jordan Belfort, it’s that easy to gain this kind of style, Leonardo DiCaprio is certainly one slick individual, with fashion for days, like a fine wine, he only gets better with age.
David Gandy is the most recognisable male model in the business, hailed for his muscular physique in an industry dominated by extremely thin men, he's held lucrative deals with M&S and fronted countless magazine covers since he entered the business 16 years ago, but his longest and most notable alliance to date is with Italian design house Dolce & Gabbana. Ever since he caught the eye of the duo back in 2001, he's been the star of their fashion shows and campaigns, and the brand ambassador and face of D&G Light Blue since 2006. The term "man-crush" may as well have been invented for this model-turned-entrepreneur.
Over the years Tom Cruise has adopted the role of some of the coolest men in Hollywood cinema. Whether he was flying jets in Top Gun or spying for the government in Mission Impossible, Cruise has had his fair share of fashionable characters to play. I think we may all agree that during his prime, Tom Cruise was very attractive… In 1990, 1991 and 1997 People magazine rated Cruise among the 50 most beautiful people in the world, and in 1995 Empire magazine ranked him among the 100 sexiest stars in film history. Also a trend setter, Tom Cruise is renowned for wearing his signature aviator style sunglasses, which he famously wore as Maverick in the 1986 film Top Gun.
Being Superman, there’s some expectation placed upon the extra-wide shoulders of Henry Cavill, an action hero who has mastered the art of both dressing sharp and being immensely stacked – not to mention rocking a moustache with old-school Hollywood flair. He spent years scrapping around struggling to find his big break as an actor, famously losing out at the last minute for roles in Harry Potter, James Bond, Batman and – most crushingly of all – Superman, first time around. While he was waiting, he kept plugging away, working in a bar in London and a nightclub (Liquid) in Jersey to pay for flights to LA. Now there’s no stopping him: from Man of Steel to The Man from UNCLE via hit transatlantic TV smash The Tudors, his career is soaring (in more ways than one).