In this epoch of Instagram influencers who flaunt fluctuating trends, there’s something to be said about style icons who will forever remain victimless to the cut-throat nature of today’s fast fashion cycle. Think James Dean in his plain white crewneck T-shirt, or Steve McQueen donning that navy harrington jacket and well-fitted knit. Today, our man in focus is renowned photographer Peter Beard.
As the heir to a railroad fortune, Beard spent his early years travelling to his adopted home of Africa, mingling with tastemakers, dating supermodels and documenting all three subjects with his camera. And although his snaps of endangered African elephants and icons of the Sixties and Seventies garnered world attention, perhaps one of Beard’s most underrated talents is his ability to cut a dash with an air of nonchalance. Both on and off duty, this highborn New Yorker can frequently execute a rugged-cum-preppy look with envious ease, and whether it’s the military style of his younger days or something more formal he wears now, he’s always had an ability to don clothes with irrefutable flair. Here, we take a look at his finest style moves over the years…
The chunky roll-neck
Few items in a man’s wardrobe are as sophisticated as a rollneck. By opting for one in a thicker material (perhaps ribbed wool), Beard gives off a masculine (yet refined) look, and the fact he keeps his coiffure simple and neat doesn’t deter attention from being focused on the jumper. The splashes of paint – whether part of the original design or not – add a touch of informality and make it seem as though he’s just arrived from his art studio – a creative touch we can certainly get behind.
Roll-neck by Polo Ralph Lauren
Roll-neck by Theory
Roll-neck by Oliver Spencer
The classic tux
Forget everything you know about the new rules of black tie (no, a grey two-piece will never be an acceptable substitute for a tux) and take your style cues from this eveningwear ensemble. Here, Mr Beard sticks to traditional dress codes and keeps things simple, opting for a clean and sophisticated dress shirt and, like the Prince of Wales, a wide peak lapel (a sign of opulence and authority). The diamond-style bowtie also adds a subtle, alternative touch to his outfit and would’ve almost certainly helped him stand out from those who wore standard and pre-tied options.
Tuxedo jacket by Charles Tyrwhitt
Evening bowtie by Tom Ford
Cotton dress shirt by Turnbull & Asser
The military coat
Beard is a specialist in perfecting the rugged look like no other man, and in this shot he does so, but with his own character. The gargantuan outwear and Jeep-style car behind him both inject a military feel, however his fuss-free and swept back hair, unbuttoned front, smile and posture lend a casual attitude which takes all formality out of the picture.
The on-set shirt
Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean you have to dress in a two-piece every day; adapt your clothes to your environment. Beard, for example, wears items which suit the climate he’s shooting in and will give him optimum movement when trying to capture the perfect snap. To channel your inner photographer, go for a loose-fitting, navy button down, and if in hotter climates, something in linen will keep you cool as it’s a material that’ll wick away any moisture.
The statement polo
Not many men can pull off such a calm and collected look when they have a horned piece of brawn standing behind them – yet, somehow, Beard does. If you want to emulate this particular aesthetic, pick up a striped polo (and keep things unbuttoned when the mercury rises), slip into some slim-fit chinos (because you should probably let your go-to denim relax every so often) and put on a timeless pair of frames to help shade your eyes. Bull optional.
Slim-fit polo necks are often a go-to choice for creatives, yet Beard steers away from the cliché by straddling the line between formal and relaxed, having layered his jumper with a structured blazer (both of which come in complementary shades of blue). What really elevates the whole look is the fact that his streaks of silver hair contrast well against the midnight tones of the clothes he’s wearing. To round things off, he has a pocket-friendly camera at hand. Truly a man you want at every party.
Want more style icons? Check out our profile on Gianni Agnelli