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 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!