Rugged, Refined, and Rakish: Rakish

Read the intro to the series, the Rugged Man, and the Refined Man.

The Rake is a man who is socially masculine. He influences individual people to his will by means of his attitude, his charisma, and his disdain for following the rules of society and being beholden to another man. While he is capable of using direct elements to accomplish his goals, he lives largely in a subtle world and is always thinking two or three steps ahead of the people around him. He is constantly adapting to new situations and thrives in his ability to do so. He is the playboy, the rock star, the outlaw, and the vigilante.

Of all the lifestyles young men who are newly aware of their masculinity aspire to, the Rake is the most common. Also known as the player, the international playboy, and the Cassanova, the Rake is the irreverent son of the refined man. He has no concern for money, nature, or other men unless they hamper or improve his ability to travel where he wants, bed whom he wants, or experience what he wants. He is not competitive with other men directly so much as he is competitive with the indirect ideals of masculinity and how he personally gauges his success.


A Rake can be a starving artist, a rock star, a freelance writer, a construction worker, a trust-fund baby, or even unemployed. His status and influence doesn’t come from his influence on other men but from his influence on women. He is the man who has taken the time to learn what makes women tick and how to use that to his and her mutual benefit – most of the time.

As Western society continues to decay, as movement in any direction is heralded as progress, as the bonds that created civilization continue to be hacked at, more and more men will embrace the selfishness and nihilism of the Rake and find themselves sitting poolside while the rest of the world reverts to chaos. Sadly, as men and masculinity are more and more maligned in media, schools, and work environments, the number of men who will forgo the Rugged and Refined archetypes in favor of the relative ease and freedom of the Rake will continue to increase.

In a thriving civilization the number of Rakes who can fully embrace this archetype are few and far between. However, they thrive and multiply when societies start the slow march to ruin. Therefore, a good indicator of the health of a given society is the degree of allowance, tolerance, or adoration given to the Rakes.

This is not to say that Rakes are inherently bad or evil. They are simply men who can only thrive under a certain set of circumstances. And even if a man is not a full-on Rake, we would do well to embrace a bit of the social disregard and irreverence they epitomize.

The Style

johnny depp 3

A Rakish style is all about attention and peacocking. From a Danger and Play perspective, it is almost entirely Play. A Rake’s clothing may sacrifice function for the sake of form because he knows that form has a function in and of itself. It is a style that is on top of trends without being trendy and is not concerned about the origins of the clothing. A rake will buy something that is lavishly expensive or insanely cheap for the very same reason – he likes the way it looks. His clothing:

  • Is always blurring the lines. It is either a bit too skinny or a bit too baggy without ever going into extremes.
  • Is a constant mix of High/Low, not because there is concern for being able to fit in, but because the Rake wears what he likes, regardless of how formal or casual it is.
  • Is a constant mix of different eras, genres, origins, and patterns for the same reason he embraces casual and formal clothing.
  • Shows more skin than the Rugged or Refined man. Rake style is epitomized by the exposed chest and can also be seen in higher shorts, sandals, or tank tops.
  • Utilizes pieces or materials that are considered to be more feminine. Things like jewelry, silk, and even lace can all be used effectively to curate a wardrobe that accomplishes the Rake’s desired ends.
  • Embraces loud colors, bold patterns, and irreverent details.

The Tricks

Focus on both quality and quantity with a deference to quantity. Everything you own should have a story. If it doesn’t, make one up. Each ring on your finger should have an adventure behind it; each patch in your pants should be the result of a fight or an escape; each material should come from a different part of the world that you (claim to) have personally visited.

Younger Rakes can tweak with fits and cuts. Wear your pants cuffed too high and too tight. Have jackets and coats that barely come past your waist instead of all the way to the bottom of your cheeks. Throw on the occasional pair of too-baggy pants. The key is knowing what looks good and then tweaking the rules. You can’t look like a Rake if you don’t understand the principles of fit.

Older men should focus on classic fits but play with pattern and color. If an older man looks too bohemian, his masculine credibility is compromised and so is his ability to accomplish his goals. Older men should focus on classic fits but embrace colors, patterns, and materials that are outside the norm.

Learn to wear jewelry. You don’t have to adorn yourself with stacked bracelets, multiple necklaces, and a ring on each finger, but embracing jewelry and the masculinity it expresses in non-Western cultures will make you appear well-travelled, slightly rebellious, and nebulously masculine.

Show some skin. Ditch all of your crewneck T’s for deep V-necks and henleys. I normally advocate leaving two buttons undone on button-up shirts but Rakes can get away with three or more.

Repair instead of replacing old and worn out clothing. Clothing scars are almost as interesting and compelling as those on your skin. They will imply stories of adventures and conquests that other people will want you to tell them.

Look to famous Rakes like Johnny Depp for style cues and inspiration. Avoid going to the costumed-extremes of Pick-Up Artists like Mystery. They take this principle to its logical extreme.

While there is a Bohemian aspect to world-travelled Rakes, there are other methods of this as well. The classic Americana preppy with loud colors and lobster-printed pants is a Rake in his own right.

The Risks

Because Rake style embraces masculine queues from other cultures, you will risking looking effeminate, androgynous, or gay to those who are steeped in and embrace Western culture. A Bohemian Rake will not fair well at a country bar in Texas or at a beach party in the Hamptons. The Rake’s style has the most limited audience of the three archetypes and will polarize you from your audience.

To the above point, both the Rugged and Refined styles will earn you the respect of men and women. The Rakish style will only build your success with women. Yes other impressionable men and boys will want to emulate you and your success, but well-established, masculine men will you see you as a symptom of their failing efforts. If you exist and are successful in your existence, it is because the world they have created is starting to decay. Expect resentment, ostracizing, and outright hatred from men who will see you as their enemies.

Many people will not take you seriously, as a result the normal script of going to college, getting a job, getting married, and starting a family won’t work for you – which is fine for most men who aspire to be Rake’s anyway. You will have to get creative when it comes to making money or establishing any semblance of permanency in the world.

Like the other two archetypes, there needs to be consistency between your attitude, your self perception, and the way you dress. If you really do want to settle down with a wife and kids, embracing too much Rake will hurt your ability to do so. If you can’t walk into a room and command it with complete disregard for the comfort of others, you will be a disingenuous mannequin, not a Rake who can back up the social risks he takes by wearing such attention-getting clothing.

The Rewards

If your attitude and clothing are consistent you will have license to experience parts of the world Rugged and Refined men will never know. The largest reward for the Rake is variety. Variety in food, variety in culture, variety in women, and variety in experience. You will have more freedom to go and do what you will than most men ever imagine. You will see cities, experience danger, and participate in activities that the rest of the Western world only reads about it books or sees on TV.

Below is a gallery of photos showcasing different elements of Rakish Style. Not every man in every shot is going to epitomize masculinity but all of them have elements of a Rakish Style.

For the rest of the series see:

Rugged Man

Refined Man


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.
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  • David kuh

    Although I like this style, I think it comes off as quite gay. Especially on someone with muscular body types. Any tips in this department?

    • Peregrine John

      It’s more an archetype than particular style, an approach or philosophy instead of a look. The reason it “seems gay” is that gay men tend to have less compulsion to following older sartorial rules, while at the same time being fully aware of them. I am generalizing horribly, yes, but those described by that are the ones that cause the reaction you asked about. As Marcel Marceau said, “We learn the rules so that we may forget them.” Jimi Hendrix said something similar. In any case, a devil-may-care approach combined with attention to body and clothing appearance does give the peacocking effect that gay men often use to appeal to men (note the overlap in philosophy with that used by attractive women) and to satisfy their own aesthetic.

      So what’s a straight man to do? Well, not worrying about it is most of the battle. Women can tell one way or the other, and even if they can’t, they’re attracted to it. This is the bad boy who knows how to dress, the man of resources who’s above or tired of petty rules, the gentleman who refuses to look like just another dude. Do they wonder about you? If so, it’ll just draw them in a bit more. Still useful. The other thing to do is to make it your own. Head more the Depp direction of rule-breaking instead of details that strike you as “precious” or feminine. You’ll eventually broaden into notions (such as masculine jewelry) you may blanch at right now. The main thing, the defining thing, for the Rake is to not give a damn.

      For the record, most of this is more planning than experience on my part, trying to find my own approach to this. It’s working so far, having hedged into it over years without the benefit of Tanner’s mental structure to work with, and with that it should go farther, better, and faster.

      • goldushapple

        >>As Marcel Marceau said, “We learn the rules so that we may forget them.” Jimi Hendrix said something similar.

        But in what spheres? Art? Fashion? Law? Social norms?

  • This was a great post and it’s reminded me to dress more to my style. I do world travel writing for a hipster magazine and live with musicians and artists, so I’ve really got to get off the Don Draper train and start looking congruent with who I am. Can you recommend any blogs or people to look at for inspiration? I trust your opinion more than pretty much anyone else on the web, Tanner.

    • MasculineStyle

      Glad you liked the read Arred. Tumblr is a great resource and I follow a lot of fashion-forward blogs on my own tumblr. Another option is to check out A lot of their stuff is fairly classic but they wander quite a bit into hipster territory too. Hope that helps.

  • Mason Allen

    I’ve never known much of anything about style, but after reading this I can see I have always been very rakish, even when I started to dress up more.

    I am now a rookie in B2B sales and I’m afraid my rakish tendencies will make me repulsive amongst potential male clients. Should I just tone down the rakish style or get rid of it all together in this case?

    • MasculineStyle

      I’d recommend balancing out the Rakish with more elements of either Refined or Rugged styles. One of the keys of being well-dressed is playing to your audience. It takes some finessing to find the right balance between that and still communicating who you are, but you’ll get the swing of it. Don’t be afraid to experiment while you’re figuring it all out.

  • jaynat

    Great read, I was just curious to any other brands or other celebrity examples that really embody this style to get a better feel for it.

  • Pedat Ebediyah

    This is interesting…on a thin line..being “rakish” in the style / fashion sense as opposed to being what could be considered an immoral and incorrigible “rakehell”.

    Tanner skirts with the “rakehell” aspect of this persona, without pointing out the malignant side.

    NTTAWWT, but it’s quite illuminating. One doesn’t have to be immoral to defy convention, even when one LOOKS like those who are immoral and defy convention. LOL.

  • Davy Buck

    If any man showed up at my office with orange shoes, he’d get tossed out on his ear. Are you kidding me?

  • Is there a mix between the 3 Archetypes ?