The term “legend” gets tossed around so much today and is used so loosely that it has lost its meaning. “Icon,” on the other hand, holds up to a different standard. The list of American Style Icons is both small and prestigious. And even though our list may look different from yours, we can all learn something from these three American style icons that helped pave the road of men’s fashion.
SAMMY DAVIS JR.
When it came to acting, singing and being an all-around entertainer, Sammy Davis was easily in a league of his own. But off the stage, Sammy was even cooler because of his larger than life personality and style. I mean, you can’t be part of the legendary “Rat Pack” without impeccable taste.
Signature look: Anyone can look good in a suit, but that doesn’t guarantee wardrobe success. One of Sammy’s style gifts was knowing how to pull off a suit that fit him to a T. Every photograph of Sammy in a suit shows him looking fit and distinct because of the details. Whether he dressed it up with a skinny wool tie, or finished it off with his signature pinky ring and Rolex watch, in every shot he looked amazing.
JOHN F. KENNEDY
It’s easy to look back at President Obama and think that presidents have always looked stylish, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. In fact, the last time we have seen a president as sharp as Obama was when Kennedy was in office. Becoming the youngest president in American history at age 43, JFK and his style were especially impactful. His look represented youth, class, and hope for America. In addition to being one of our most progressive presidents, JFK will truly be remembered for his style legacy.
Signature look: There’s no doubt JFK’s best style moments were when he was away from his desk. And if we could highlight one style trait of President Kennedy it would be how well he pulled off the preppy look. On the weekends he was often spotted in Georgetown in cashmere sweaters, tennis shorts, and Ray Ban Wayfarers emulating cool and laid back confidence like no other president before him. Having a wife who could easily be mistaken for a Vogue model on his arm didn’t hurt either.
Taking a walk on the wild side, none other than Kurt Cobain continues to inspire the “grunge” movement with his iconic style (and has been doing so since long before Yeezy season). His personal look was raw and unpredictable, just like his personality, and it’s the reason we love him. Kurt Cobain deserves to be mentioned among the greats because of the fashion risks he took. It’s common today to see a celebrity on the red carpet with a pair of ripped jeans, dyed hair, and oversized cardigan, but Kurt Cobain was dressing this way long before it was actually cool.
Signature look: Ripped sweaters, red hair, and vintage tees are all looks Kurt Cobain is responsible for. But the accessory that will always be synonymous with him are his signature white oval frames. In fact, today if you Google “Kurt Cobain frames,” they will pop up in your search engine. Because the glasses have become iconic, it’s no surprise that they’re now making a strong comeback and can be seen on fashion forward celebrities. Kurt Cobain will always be remembered for his music and Nirvana, but his fashion sense will also live on.
Tony Logan is a freelance fashion journalist and marketing director at Lift Bridge Publishing.