From Steve McQueen to Serge Gainsbourg, How to Nail the Look of the ’70s Most Stylish Men

Kareem Rashed
·4 min read

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We may be 50 years out from the summer of ’69 but, at least in fashion, the age of Aquarius is upon us again. Menswear is experiencing a ’70s renaissance, revisiting the era’s unabashedly sexy styles and rendering them anew. Bell-bottoms and Ultrasuede aside, it was a great time for men’s fashion. Sixties counterculture gave way to disco decadence, yielding bold designs with equal parts groovy ease and louche glamour. Can’t you just smell the Drakkar Noir? The latest iterations dial back the outré flourishes, distilling the ’70s down to its most stylish elements: sharply peaked lapels, roomy trousers, slick boots, all in a sun-faded palette of earthy neutrals.

The ’70s best-dressed celebrities provide a font of inspiration for wearing these styles today. Just think of the menswear luminaries who peaked (sartorially speaking) during the Me decade: Bowie, David Hockney, Curtis Mayfield, Paul Newman, Al Green, Dennis Hopper. The list goes on. To help you get into the groove, we’ve highlighted four of the era’s most memorable dressers and provided a tip sheet for taking their look into 2020. Their inimitable swagger, however, you’ll have to source for yourself.

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Bryan Ferry

Bryan Ferry
Bryan Ferry

The Roxy Music frontman is suave personified. Even when he’s dabbled in flamboyant duds (lamé and leather, oh my!), he pulls it all together with debonair grace. That’s largely due to his penchant for tailored clothes, taking traditional silhouettes and wearing them with a more rebellious attitude. Case in point: this double-breasted blazer with double-wide lapels, teamed with a time-worn denim Western shirt and a rather posh silk ascot—because, why not? It’s a little bit trad, a little bit rocker and all-around chic.

Mick Jagger

ROLLING STONES - MICK JAGGER, VIENNA, AUSTRIA - 1973ROLLING STONES, VIENNA, AUSTRIA - 1973
ROLLING STONES - MICK JAGGER, VIENNA, AUSTRIA - 1973ROLLING STONES, VIENNA, AUSTRIA - 1973

Before Harry Styles, before Pharrell, there was Mick. The Rolling Stone set the template for today’s peacocking musicians and, in many ways, the template for the modern rock star. The ’70s saw Jagger at his dandy prime: Edward Sexton suits with scuffed up sneakers, hip-hugging trousers with billowing shirts and let’s not even start on the hair. We’re partial to this relatively pared-back look—you could copy it piece by piece and look just as rakishly handsome today. A drapey crepe shirt, pleated wide-leg pants, and a Panama hat is a foolproof recipe for summertime elegance.

Steve McQueen

Actor Steve McQueen and actress Ali MacGrawThe Getaway Movie Screening at the Directors Guild of America, Los Angeles - 8 Dec 1972
Actor Steve McQueen and actress Ali MacGrawThe Getaway Movie Screening at the Directors Guild of America, Los Angeles - 8 Dec 1972

They don’t call him The King of Cool for nothing. McQueen just oozed the kind of effortless swagger most men spend their lives trying to achieve. The fact that he never looked like he was trying is what makes McQueen so admirable. His bad-boy persona on-screen translated to his off-camera style in rugged workwear and American staples worn with devil-may-care nonchalance. This is a perfect example: denim on denim (yes, it can work!) paired with a creamy ribbed turtleneck. Too hot for a sweater? Save the turtleneck for fall and swap in a tee for an equally renegade look.

Serge Gainsbourg

French singer Serge Gainsbourg and his girlfriend British actress Jane Birkin are seen in Cannes, France, as they attended the International Film FestivalCannes Serge Gainsbourg And Jane Birkin 1974, Cannes, France
French singer Serge Gainsbourg and his girlfriend British actress Jane Birkin are seen in Cannes, France, as they attended the International Film FestivalCannes Serge Gainsbourg And Jane Birkin 1974, Cannes, France

He may not have been a conventional looker, but Gainsbourg didn’t let that stop him from strutting like the Left Bank’s Casanova. Unlike his scandalous music, Gainsbourg favored more classical fare when it came to his personal style. He wore the ’70s finest with a typically Gallic air of insouciance: rumpled, unbuttoned shirts, weathered Chelsea boots, pinstriped suits, accessorized with an unending stream of Gitanes. It’s a style that’s both polished and unfussy, epitomized by this ensemble of a simple white tee, single-breasted, peak lapel blazer in a natty glen plaid and a pair of aviators—just in case you doubted his rebellious streak.

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