Style Icon: David Hockney

Some men have it all, don’t they? David Hockney is a British institution, a living legend, a master of the easel and – as if that wasn’t enough – a real style inspiration with his playful sartorial choices. The down-to-earth Yorkshireman (is there any other kind?) is not only one of the most influential artists to have come out of the 20th century; he has also been a major influence on menswear over the past fifty years plus.

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With his penchant for vibrant colours and bold patterns – in his art and in his attire – there is rarely a dull moment with Hockney. And it’s refreshing to see such effervescence in easy-to-wear clothing that actually men of all ages can be seen in.

There is so much we gents can learn from the way Hockney dresses. From the stripes to the dots, prints to patterns, bright shades to pastel hues, his smorgasbord of styles demonstrates how colour can come to play an essential role in a modern gent’s wardrobe without being over the top in its exuberance.

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Another of Hockney’s many tricks is his ability to fuse different clothing ‘genres’. This is a man who looks just as affable in a loose-fitting, pastel blue sweater as he does dapper in a Prince of Wales check suit. Frankly he makes looking good look easy, which, no matter the situation we might find ourselves in, should always be at the core of any style statement.

Hockney is inspiring the fashion world just as much today as he was the Pop Art scene in the 60s and 70s, when he first appeared with those now iconic round glasses upon his face and shock of bleach-blonde hair atop his head. The spring/summer ’14 collection from Burberry (another British institution in its own right) very much pays homage to Hockney, while GQ has the modern fashion icon Pharrell Williams in Hockney-inspired garb for their latest style manual.

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Now while I could wax lyrical about David Hockney until the proverbial cows came home, it’s time to offer you a few key pieces that will help you replicate this great man’s great look.

A Clash of Colour

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No artist quite manages to capture colour in the same way as Hockney, but it is his clever mix of gentle pastels and brighter tones that grants him fashion kudos. This season, be it with a bright red sweater against a pale blue chino, or a soft pink shirt teamed with canary-yellow shorts, we might not be able to afford one of his original works, but we can certainly adopt a little of his look.

gant rugger sweatshirtsliam casual shirtscardigans vneck

bright blue blazersharvey twill shortsstraight fit newport

Spots and Stripes

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Hockney, like all purveyors of truly great art, has never been one to follow rules. Nowhere is this more evident than in his combining of spots and stripes within one outfit. The ‘rule’ to follow for a shirt/tie combination normally dictates that if one is patterned, the other should be plain. Hockney juxtaposes patterns and colour to create wardrobe pieces that go against all that we’re told but look fantastic.

prorsum shortsspot collar shirtsfine dot shirts

custom fits shirtsstriped short shirtsreid billy shirts

Hockney’s Preppy Boy

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When one pictures the preppy look, connotations immediately conjur up images of posh boys in beige chinos and v-neck sweaters draped over shoulders. Hockney takes this look and turns it on its head with a luxuriant use of colour and eccentricity. Enter bow ties in Prince of Wales check or cobalt blue knitwear over a bright red shirt. This is the most fun the preppy look has ever been.

prince blend suitswales trousersoxford silk shirts

florals bow tieshappy white socksmilo wingtips

A Final Note

The beauty of the Hockney look lies in its defiance of everything we are taught about how to dress and what to wear. There is such a mish-mash of colour and pattern that it simply should not work. Yet individual elements comes together to forge a look that is truly stylish and full of character.

Hockney’s look, which he achieves with aplomb, comes down to men embracing their true selves. There is nowhere to hide with a look like this, but with all of contemporary fashion’s scope to widen the parameteres of our personal style, it is ideal for a 21st century gent.