Moving Beyond Style Archetypes

This post is a response to one of the most common questions I get.

And it’s a great question because it shows that you guys take the concepts I bring up here and on the YouTube channel and take them even deeper.

It’s all related to the Archetypes – which if you haven’t taken the quiz, go do that and get an idea of where we’re coming from with this whole post.

Click HERE to watch the YouTube Video: Moving Beyond Style Archetypes

Click HERE to watch the YouTube Video: Moving Beyond Style Archetypes

The Limitations

The Three Archetypes were never intended to be the only thing you needed in order to figure how you should be dressing. They’re too broad, too all encompassing to help you narrow down what your own personal style should be.

This is especially the case when you factor in that most men are a mixture of at least two, if not all three Archetypes. It’s incredibly rare that someone is entirely Rugged, Refined, or Rakish.

For example, I fall primarily into the Refined category with a strong dose of Rakish and a tiny bit of Rugged. So for me to only dress according to the Refined Archetype is actually missing some of the story I want to (and should) be telling.

A bunch of you have taken that quiz multiple times and gotten different results with only a minor tweak or two to your answers. Or you’ve been surprised by the result you got because you went into it expecting something completely different. And, believe it or not, that’s a great thing. It shows that you’re well-rounded and not just all Rugged, all Refined, or all Rakish.

Think of the Archetype is a big, encompassing umbrella. It catches a lot of the elements of dressing well, but there are smaller segmentations within it.

Tribe

Tribe is the next step down. Let me show you what I mean.

Those four photos all fit within the Rugged Archetype incredibly well. But, the men who are dressed that way would all argue that they’re dressed differently and that they belong to different tribes.

There are a ton of differences between a survivalist and a cowboy or a granola and someone in the military. Yes they all interact with the world physically – but thats the last common denominator.

To argue that there’s some sort of uniform or universal approach to style for all men who fall into that Rugged Archetype is limiting and doesn’t factor in all the nuances that ultimately end up being communicated through our clothing.

Combining Archetypes

So let’s take this a step further. Imagine you fall between the Rugged and Refined Archetypes. Does that mean that the right approach for you is to where something along the lines of old British tweed hunting suits?

Because you’re more Refined than Rugged and your Tribe is one that falls within that sphere of classic menswear. Yes you enjoy doing things outdoors but you should be doing them with a nod to the way classic, distinguished, elite gentlemen used to do them?

Does it mean that you should be more of like a Bay Area/Huckberry Rugged?

That you should be wearing rugged tech gear that’s made very effectively, has good, clean lines, and in a modern, urban environment would look more Refined and dignified?

Or maybe you do something that’s more like Boyd Crowder from Justified.

He was certainly Rugged – having a background in coal mining and running a criminal gang based out of trailers and hollers in rural Kentucky.

Crowder used Rugged elements in his wardrobe to keep in touch with the men he was leading but introduced Refined articles to help set him apart as a leader and give him the opportunity to rub shoulders with others who weren’t on the bottom rungs of the social ladder.

More Than Archetype

These examples are why you can’t just think in terms of Archetype. You can’t just say I’m Rugged or I’m Rakish and believe that’s as deep as you need to go. There are so many different expressions of each of those Archetypes that you can’t believe simply knowing that is enough.

That is why Tribe matters.

If you find yourself at this plateau of knowing your Archetype but feeling like that’s not telling your story well enough – move down into tribe. Think about what the people around you wear and why. Think about how you can implement elements of each of your tribes into a look that works for you. Dive deeper than just the rules and simple Archetypes.

Sound off in the comments below and let me know if you’ve used this concept already. Are you a combination of Archetypes and struggling to find ways to combine them? Are there specific styles that work within the tribes that you belong to and do you reject or accept them? Let me know!

Meet The Author


Tanner is the founder and primary author of Masculine Style. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with his wife and two kids, and helps run Beckett & Robb - a men's clothing company built around custom suits and shirts.
  • Kenny

    I can attest to the changing of archetypes.

    I started out as refined (even though I couldn’t afford it but I was moving in that direction). Then my kids were born. For a long while I kept trying to push forward with said archetype but now as I need to get down with them, not have as much time towards clothing, and also an even more lack of money, time, and energy I found myself drawn towards rugged.

    So it was with great interest I saw different kind rugged of tribes.Also the mix and match between the different archetypes.

    • Tanner

      Great observation Kenny! Different stages in life and moving tribes can bring out various elements of different Archetypes. It’s all in there, but the external circumstances can affect what’s happening internally.

    • Malaquias Alfaro

      I have the same deal here.

      I went from a very refined smart casual everyday, such as suede chukka boots with khakis and an oxford to wearing crewnecks and denim everyday because I picked up a warehouse job.

      Sure I assimilated into a new tribe but my core values were still there. My garments were always tucked in and the focus that was once put into clothing was then put into my work. On the weekends I still wore my smart casual.

      • Love the combination here Malaquias. That’s why it’s not all Archetype, all Tribe, or all Taste. These elements need to be combined to tell the right story!

    • Dude fatherhood can really change things – even aesthetically. Glad to hear you’re adapting accordingly!

  • Hey Tanner, I love the little shots of you getting ready. I think it would have been nice to finish that sector of the video by seeing a full-shot of your clothing, it’s hard to tell what it actually looks like together just by considering each individual item.

    Re. archetypes, I agree that your clothing MUST change. As we change our hobbies, relationships, jobs and friends, we naturally have to change our clothing to fit into those tribes. It’s human biology for us to want to blend in and visually identify with the groups that we associate with. Similarly, we will naturally look down upon outsiders who do dress differently to us. I know just the smallest changes in my friendship group or career have greatly impacted how I dress even when I’m not with those people or in that job.

    Great video Tanner!

    • Love the comment Jack! You’re absolutely right that we adapt and adjust as our circumstances do. To claim that aesthetically doing so is somehow selling out or being inconsistent is silly! Also, I’ll definitely take your advice about giving a full showing of the outfit!