8 Modern Icons With Dodgy Style Pasts

From Gosling to Becks to Idris Elba, these are the high profile style icons who have definitely improved with age

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In the world of modern men's style, there are certain irrefutable icons - men like David Beckham, Ryan Gosling and Idris Elba - whose names have become synonymous with expertly chosen outfits, whether they're schmoozing the red carpet or caught off guard on their way to the shops.

But while their best-dressed credentials may seem set in stone, it definitely hasn't always been the case (sorry Becks). Even multi millionaire, generation-defining style heavyweights can have a dark sartorial past. 

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Here we take a look at eight big names who have transformed themselves from baggy, cringe-worthy wannabes to tailor-made fashion mainstays - proving to the rest of us that improvement is always possible. 

David Beckham

The '90s, where a full-length leather trench coat was a thing you could buy

David Beckham: Patron Saint of dressing to perfection and having great hair all the time (apart from the cornrows, but we won't mention them), but there was a time where even the best-dressed man in Britain didn't have it quite so easy.

This is - you'll remember - the same David Beckham who wore a sarong as evening wear, a do-rag to meet Prince Charles and more shiny leather jackets than most men have any right to sport in a lifetime. 

And while it might be easy for us to judge, it's likely that all those risks (terrible, terrible risks) are what made Dave the impeccably dressed man he is today.

Justin Timberlake

No matter who you are, a red carpet fedora is never a good idea

A bit like shooting fish in a barrel this, considering the fact that JT rose to prominence in the late '90s boyband storm of shiny tracksuits, shinier shirts, cargo pants and frosted tips, but then he's only got himself to blame really.

While Justin Timberlake is now a suave, well-groomed operator who counts Tom Ford as a personal friend and outfitter, part of him - and us - will always remember the time her wore an all denim suit and cowboy hat to the MTV Video Music Awards.

Tom Hardy

Black shirts and school trousers do not make a style icon

Tom Hardy is a bit of an everyman style icon, the kind of guy who doesn't try too hard day-to-day before becoming the best-dressed guy in the room when a formal event rolls around. But he's had to work for it.

As you can see, mid '00s Tom was just another hopeful in his dad's old blazer and a satin shirt with three too many buttons undone, which just goes to prove (once again) the transformative power of a well-cut suit.

Alex Turner

Amazing what becoming a rockstar can do to a man's style

While his over-exaggerated rockstar aesthetic can comes across a bit pastiche at times, there's no denying that Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner has come a long, long way since the band's 2008 debut.

Back then he was just another indie try hard in an upturned polo-shirt and baggy jeans, before evolving into the kind of guy who's made vintage leather jackets, pompadours and cuban collar shirts a signature look. 

Idris Elba

Idris, mate, what on earth is going on over on the left here?

He's cool, he's handsome, he's a former Esquire cover star and a regular on best-dressed lists year after year, and yet there was a time when Idris Elba wore open-toed sandals and some sort of inexplicable poncho/tunic/shirt/dressing gown to a public event, so there's still hope for you yet.

Encouragingly, Idris has left those murky fashion days behind him and is now much more likely to be seen sporting power coats, modern tailoring and an enviable array of trainers.

Jeff Goldblum

Sorry, Jeff

At age 63, Jeff Goldblum is one of the best contemporary dressers around and one of the very, very few men doesn't look like a complete knob in a leather biker jacket and wide-brimmed hat. Quite the opposite: he looks great in them.

But then even someone as resilient and style savvy as Jeff isn't impervious to the modes of the '80s and early '90s, as seen by this frankly astounding trifecta of inky black mane, polyester shirt and blue, blue jeans. 

Ryan Gosling

That's seriously Ryan Gosling

A man so deeply entrenched in the lore of men's style that it's almost impossible to recall a poorly dressed past, Ryan Gosling may just be the biggest benefactor of a few years experience and a decent haircut. 

Whereas once he dressed like a delirious stoner who wheeled out against his will for the masses, now The Gosling is a man who has mastered everything from out-there suiting to effortless basics and, frustratingly, just keeps on getting better at it.


Drake: A very serious man.

The man christened Aubrey Graham has done an enviable job in transforming himself from just another cheesy pop rapper into one of the most bankable cultural commodities of the decade. 

And while his penchant for oversized and over zealous streetwear might not be to everyone's taste, there's no denying that the years have been very kind to the Canadian rapper with the startlingly symmetrical facial hair.

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