There are certain people who will always remain cool, and will always remain in the pantheon of male style icons. Steve McQueen. Kurt Cobain. Johnny Cash. But head, shoulders, and spacesuit above them all, is the one and only David Bowie.
Born David Robert Jones in London in 1947, Bowie’s career has spanned five decades, twenty five studio albums, and dozens of iconic photographs, looks, and outfits over the ages.
Though we don’t all have the rakish thin figure or superbly chiseled features, there’s still plenty we can learn from Bowie. This week, EveryGuyed takes a look at the man, and what lessons we can learn from his career.
Bowie got his first real break with the creation of his Ziggy Stardust character, an alien rock star. Birthing the glam rock era, Bowie was a bold, attention grabbing figure clad in bright silvery colors and with bright red hair. Bowie’s manager believed that for Bowie to be a star, he needed to act like one, and be treated like one. Thus, Ziggy Stardust was born.
The idea here is not to take the pale white makeup, shiny spacesuit or neon red mullet, but to adopt the same big personality and fearlessness from this era. Personality can make or break a look, and the sharpest suit will look dull and lifeless on someone without this requisite confidence.
The Thin White Duke
Bowie’s next big steps took him into a dark, post apocalyptic world, accompanied by a character he called the Thin White Duke. A direct result of his increasing cocaine habit, the Duke was a brutal, romantic character.
For this look, Bowie bleached his hair, slicked it back, and he a waistcoat, black trousers and crisp white cotton shirt. A classic look inspired by the cabarets of the early 20th century, it’s a basic, minimal look that plays to his greatest strength, his lean body. Finding a great basic look that can play to your strengths is always worth your time.
Bowie In the 1980s: Let’s Dance
1983’s Let’s Dance was a surprise to critics, with its post-disco sound, in contrast to his earlier glam rock and world music influenced albums. Changing from art house to top 40 dance pop was a big risk, which paid off big.
With his big 1980s suit and pompadour, it’d be easy to dismiss the lessons of this era, but most critically, the Bowie of 1980 understood the importance of change. Though some things are timeless, Bowie understood the importance of keeping an eye on prevailing trends, if only to skew them. Keep your eyes peeled and remember to pay attention.
The David Bowie of today has taken the opportunity to revel in his role as pop music’s most eminent composers and artists. Secure in who he is, Bowie’s look is marked by an understated, matured look that is marked by thin, classic suits that play up his lean physique.
As you get older, don’t fight the urge to tone down your look as you grow. Having lived a long life, Bowie is comfortable doing what he wants now, and that includes leaving the latex and makeup in the past, and dressing like a man in his sixties. A very well-dressed man his sixties, knows he’s sixty, and doesn’t try to recapture his twenties.
As you get older, don’t fight the urge to tone down your look as you grow.
Though we don’t have the wardrobes, or the chutzpah to carry off some of the looks that Bowie uses, there’s still plenty we can learn from each aspect of Bowie.
- Ziggy Stardust: A great personality is just as important as any accessory or piece of clothing, and is necessary to turn a good look into a great look.
- The Thin White Duke: A classic look that plays to Bowie’s lean body, you should always know your strengths and weaknesses, and be able to play those up.
- Let’s Dance: Don’t be afraid of change. Fashion changes constantly, and it’s worth keeping your eye out to know what to avoid and what to play to. Even if you don’t feel like playing to those trends, it’s best to know what’s to be avoided.
- Today’s Bowie: Be sensible and dress for your age. Do whatever you feel you need to at age twenty; just be aware that age catches up with us all, and be prepared for when it does.
Bowie’s lived a hundred lives, and adopted and abandoned a dozen personas and characters over the years. While we’re not in that same league, there’s something to be learned from every stage of the man who fell to earth’s career.