Rugged, Refined, and Rakish: Rugged

Read the intro to the series here.

The Rugged Man is one who is physically masculine. He bends nature to his will by means of his brute force and has a cave-man attitude that brooks no nonsense. There is nothing subtle about the rugged man and everything in his life exists for a specific, direct purpose. He is the adventurer, the mountain man, the gladiator, and the blue-collar worker.

Throughout almost every age of man, the rugged archetype has been a necessary and crucial form of masculinity. Without the infrastructure and technology we have available to us today, individual men were required to physically, forcefully, and violently bend nature to their will in order to provide for themselves and their families.


If you wanted a home, you built one; if you wanted meat, you killed it; if something threatened you, you dealt with it. There were other men for you to rely on, but the vast majority of your place in the world was carved out by you and you alone.

All men, by virtue of our biological makeup, have this element of rugged masculinity within us. Even the basement dwelling gamer has it, he simply satisfies it through virtual substitutes as opposed to real-world activities. The Rugged Man is why shows like Man vs Wild and Survivor Man fair so well. It is why football and other contact sports are so popular. It is why Everest was climbed and men skydive from the fringes of space.

The Style


A rugged style is defined by complete versatility. From a Danger and Play perspective there is all danger and no play. A Rugged Man’s clothing never sacrifices function for form, even if the function is a bit more subtle than what is readily apparent. His clothing:

  • Allows for full body movement and range of motion – nothing too tight.
  • Shows off his physical stature making him a more imposing foe – nothing too baggy.
  • Is made of materials and weaves that can withstand daily abuse and nature’s defenses – denim, leather, tweed, and rough weaves.
  • Has no excess for display or show – no excessive frills or embellishments

The Tricks

Focus on traditional clothing. Because we live in a world where the Rugged Man is not as necessary as he once was, clothing has not changed as drastically. For inspiration try to find old photos of men from the turn of the century. Don’t focus on their suits or city clothing so much as their work clothes. Most likely they will consist of jeans; cotton or tweed trousers; waffle-knit henleys; flannel shirts; wool stocking caps; heavy wool coats and jackets; leather belts, suspenders, and boots; and simple, natural colors with little-to-no patterns.

Look for military-inspired clothing. Things like field jackets, trench coats, earth-toned colors, and functions like epaulets or flapped pockets all originate with the military and give off a Rugged impression.

Look also for hunting-inspired clothing. Traditional hunting patterns like buffalo plaids, gun-club checks, and others are all rare these days and have a visual link to their heritage. Similar to military clothing, hunting gear was functional and the clothing had extra reinforcement in seams, close-able pockets (and more pockets), and thicker materials.

Don’t worry about wrinkles. Rugged clothing is casual and not appropriate for dressed-up events. This also means some of the preparations necessary for dressed up events are unnecessary  now. A pressed shirt isn’t any more functional than a wrinkled one – it just looks better. Therefore, your appearance will be more Rugged by allowing the natural wrinkles their place.

Embrace frayed edges and minor damage. These are work clothes, they don’t need to be perfect. A frayed cuff or collar gives Rugged clothing some character.

When there is major damage, patch over it or repair it rather than replacing the garment.

Shop at stores like LL Bean, Sierra Trading Post, and Duluth Trading Co. They cater to outdoors activities and traditional makes.

The Risks

More than any other type of clothing, the Rugged wardrobe has been co-opted by limp-wristed sissy boys gallivanting as men. The term “urban lumberjack” is on the rise for a reason. A generation of boys who grew up with the idea of masculinity being a bad thing are at odds with their own natures and the world they grew up in. Rather than embracing the virtues of true masculinity, they trick themselves into believing they’re men simply by dressing in a traditional manner. This frees them up to continue to act in any way but a masculine one and they can call out their manhood if it is ever questioned.

Because this is on the rise, you will be accused of being an urban lumberjack if you embrace the Rugged style too heavily. This can be mitigated by lifting heavy things and building your physique; actually participating in traditionally masculine activities like hunting, working on vehicles, and blue-collar work; having the body language that comes from knowing you are capable of being a physical threat to those around you; and being consistent with the same brook-no-nonsense attitude your clothing indicates.

The Reward

You will be a polarizing force. People will either hate you or love you. Many will call you trendy or hipster while others will see you as genuine. You will intimidate some and earn the respect of others. You will be physically imposing. People will joke with you less, socialize with you less, but depend on you more.

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

Remember that Rugged, Refined, and Rakish styles are not all polarizing. You are free to incorporate an element of any or all three of this into your style as you learn to adequately express exactly who and what you are as a man.

For the rest of the series see:

Refined Man,

Rakish 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.
  • Brian

    Great post. Curious to hear which of the other two styles you consider polarizing.

    • MasculineStyle

      Thanks. In a way, all of three of them can be as they all are ways to set yourself apart as an alpha male instead of one of the herd.

  • Peregrine John

    This is my native element, though I play the suburban pretty well as a mask. As I shed that crappy garment – and a lot of crappy garments that go with it – it’s good to see icons and ideals that help me dodge the urban lumberjack look. To be honest, in my hot and semiarid location (almost 80 deg. when I got home at 6:20 last night) I’m in more danger of looking like Crocodile Dundee than a Men In Trees wannabe.

    Now, at my best and most ideally wardrobed (working on funds for that), I still wouldn’t be straight-up Rugged. A performer, I do Refined pretty well, and better as I get back into shape, which is, in my ever-humble opinion, absolutely necessary to do Refined in a properly manly way. I also very much enjoy the Rakish look and its relaxed ways, though even at my ideal there won’t be nearly so much of that as the others. As you very wisely point out, few of us are purely one or another, but should look in the mirror and the soul to find our best point on that sartorial triangle.

  • Phil Ford

    Sorry just stumbled on this article which I think is kinda lame…. like a tutorial for posers. What the heck is a waffle knit Henley? I’d say if you even know what this is you must be some kind of fashion sissy. Wear whatever the hell you want to wear without getting fashion tips from some blog. And the only military gear you should be wearing is the stuff you dig out of your duffle bag in the basement. You know.. all the stuff you slid past CIF when you separated. Civilians walking around in military gear should be treated with extreme disdain. They are posers.

    • Paco Simard

      I don’t think you get it. The article discusses style as an authentic reflection of yourself. If you’re a rugged man then dress it. Nowhere does it suggest being a poser. If someone were to wear rugged clothes and he’s not a very rugged man that would be incongruent with himself and people would see through that and it wouldn’t be a style that works to his advantage. In which case he’d be a poser. And the only type of man who is a sissy is the one that can’t step out of his comfort zone, for example by learning names of clothing he doesn’t know the names of; waffle knit Henley. Google it. And stop stealing military gear. That’s taxpayer money.

      • Phil Ford

        It ain’t stealing if you wore the shit out so bad CIF didn’t want it back. 😉

    • Zeejet

      Old comment but I’ll bite. You sir are an insecure wreck if you feel the need to post a comment on something you claim to have no respect for and get all flustered about what other men wear. Your idea of masculinity is so backwards and outdated if you think men’s fashion is for “sissies” and that civilians have no business wearing military-inspired clothing. I hope you one day deal with your insecurities as a man and get over all this because your attitude is the definition of “majoring in the minors”. If you get all worked up about this, I can’t imagine how you handle real life challeneges.

      • Phil Ford

        Flustered? Worked up? Dear me.

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  • Andrew Brovan

    At the end of the article, where you show the example pictures, how can I find a shirt like the one in the fifth photograph? Is there a name for it?