Rugged, Refined, and Rakish

One of the most common complaints I see about my site on online forums or other areas on the web is that what I advocate is too hipster. Oddly enough, these accusations will usually come from men (or their women) past their mid 30’s who are still content to wear a T-shirt, cargo shorts, and flip-flops. I get that someone who has taken no real concern for his style is going to see everyone who dresses with care as a hipster – even if the accusation couldn’t be further from the truth.

In my Danger and Play series I spoke on the differences in attitude between dressing with an element of danger and dressing with an element of play. These two can be mixed and matched to accomplish certain effects and the same man can wear both styles on different days to drastically change the physical impression he gives.

That being said, the distinctions between styles can still be taken a step further.

If you think about the apex, alpha male that most men aspire to be, there are a few different categories under which those men fall.


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.


The Refined Man is one who is financially and influentially masculine. He bends the world of men to his will by means of his connections, his money, and his political/social power. He is capable of mixing both direct and subtle elements to accomplish his ends and has so much clout that he very rarely has to adapt to situations going out of his control (because they never do). He is the titan of industry, the politician, the hedge fund manager, and the 1%.


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.

Any individual man can embody any or all of these different types of the alpha male. Take Teddy Roosevelt as an example. The man was the epitome of a Rugged man. He was physically tough and imposing, even completing a speech after he’d been shot. At the same time, he was a refined man who knew how to dress in a way that met his station as president of the United States. He did not attend meetings or address the nation in his work clothes but did so in a well-fitting suit that fit the styles of the times.

Depending on what kind of man you are, you can build your wardrobe to better communicate it. There are elements of danger and play in all three of these men and the following posts in this series will break down each type of man and how to dress accordingly.

For the rest of the series see:

Rugged Man,

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.
  • rno

    A new series? Awesome. This is what I come here for.

    Incidentally, one of the things I’m tired of seeing at other style advice sites is the recurring discussion: “but guys, shouldn’t we feel bad about encouraging a masculine standard of clothing? and what does that even mean, anyway?”

    • MasculineStyle

      I haven’t seen a direct statement like that. What sites are seeing a masculine appearance as a problem?

      • rno

        Hmm, guess I don’t have any really notable examples bookmarked. I recall every now and then seeing a passing remark about “heteronormativity” on MFA. But, here’s one of MFA’s moderators attacking the idea of masculinity in clothing, on his personal blog.

        • MasculineStyle

          I wish that were an interesting read but it sounded like another limp-wristed dude who decries the notion of masculinity altogether rather than embracing it.

  • Brian

    Holy shit this is awesome. Can’t wait to see the upcoming posts.

  • disqus_VitedR8JKl

    I come to this site specifically because it is a little bit “hipster”. Most of the looks I would not be caught dead in but on occasion I get some great high/low ideas and for that I thank you. I guess you could say that I come to this site for inspiration.

  • Peregrine John

    Too hipster… Geez. Look, there are plenty of other places to get other styles, and as hipster goes, the advice here is a long, long way from the skinny jeans and knit hats I see at my local Starbucks. Do I wear hipster? Nope. It’d look silly on me. But like the other commenters, I find inspiration here, and a lot more than 1 look.

    That dispensed with, I like the general breakdown of styles that combine danger & play which you cover here. It’s a good trio of archetypes to keep in mind.

  • DB

    I come here because a year ago I was clueless about style. I come to learn the basics and then apply them to myself, the images posted around male fashion sites, and other men I see throughout the day. Through that I hope to define my own style that is coherent with my lifestyle and my masculinity.

    The best analogy I have come up with is that style is analogous to visual art. Before you can develop your own artistic style, you need to explore and become proficient at the fundamentals. You need to capture the form of your subject matter and how colour, light, and shadow interplay. Once you have mastered the realism of your subject, you can abstract from that and through this process you will arrive at your own particular style.

    Style is the same process. I learn the fundamentals, practice, make mistakes, and eventually hope to become proficient. At the same time I develop my own sense of coherent style and then start breaking all the rules in a way that makes sense for me.

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  • Ryre

    Isn’t there another category: the intellectual man? We’ve got archetypes that get their power from the physical, and financial spheres. What about the scholars?

    • MasculineStyle

      There is that category, but the intellectual’s effect on the world is indirect, whereas the other three are more direct. I could do a post on dressing like a professor, but men don’t want to be like and women don’t be with professors.

      • Matt Carroll

        I think it’s totally wrong to leave it out.

        The intellectual man wants to make his mark on the world. And they end up making the biggest mark on the world.

        The problem is that the area is filled with boys. They don’t want to make a mark on the world. They treat things like a toy, solving meaningless puzzles, fucking around, and generally isolating themselves instead of changing the world. Big Bang Theory epitomizes this. That’s why men don’t want to be professors, and why women don’t want to be with them.

        The nearest “masculine intellectuals” I can think are philosophers like Plato and Nietzsche, or scientists like Richard Feynman, Einstein and Carl Sagan. And the traits are harder to nail (shirts and beards?)

        • MasculineStyle

          Good point and I’m happy to reconsider. However, I have no idea what makes up an intellectual style and the best way to encapsulate that in a masculine way.

          • Judah

            If you don’t understand, why should anyone keep reading your work? Do try harder.

          • Jacob Amey

            In my opinion an Intellectual can be rugged, refined, or rakish. This blog Tanner writes on is about the style of man. Not the intellect of man. You can be an Intellectually rakish man. Just as easily as you may be refined. I know this is a two year+ old discussion but i would urge you to take the readings for what they are. I appreciate the specialty of this blog. The more broad information becomes the more vague and bland it would also become. To answer your question directly, a man that has the testicular fortitude to say I don’t know is one you can tust in matters of information he does know.

        • dsf eiejif
      • Durtal

        As a PhD student who actually does want to be like a professor, I would
        like a post on how to do this in a stylish way; preferably in a way that is attractive to women. The only one of the three
        styles above that wouldn’t seem completely ridiculous on me is the rake,
        but that isn’t always appropriate for a lot of the situations I find
        myself in.

        • David olafsson

          The lesson here is not to go all out one way or another. I would like to position myself in the “Rugged” style, but i couldn’t carry an all out rugged style. So i will do it with a little heavier threads, higher pants, suspenders(wide and basic colors, no fancy patterns) rugged shoes(not too shiny, but not military issue either). Facial hair, but groomed. So for you, you can defo go for the rake, but tame it in a little.

  • Davy Buck

    I avoid the “refined man” like the plague.