Style and music go hand-in-hand. A front man and his band always have to look sharp after all. Here some of the most stylish guys in Southern music—both the classics and modern-day icons.
St. Paul & the Broken Bones: Paul Janeway always looks on point in his Billy Reid suits. Classic and understated, he and his friends rock and roll with ties, pocket squares, and colored socks. When I saw them for the first time at their debut show in NYC, their stage presence gave these Birmingham boys instant credibility.
Get The Look: Be a leading man in Billy’s Campbell suit.
Pokey LaFarge: St. Louis-based Pokey and his five-piece gang sport that early 1920s style with class. With wide-lapel suits, fat ties, and high-waisted pants, the look of the old mobster era is making a comeback, but this time around in slimmer cuts.
Get The Look: SuitSupply’s SoHo fit will get you and your cronies the look without breaking the bank.
Elvis Presley: Pretty much everything this guy ever wore (except for that shiny gold suit) has gone down in style lore as iconic. Especially this fisherman’s sweater. Get The Look: With all the cold spells we’ve been having in the South lately, a warm wool number like this one from L.L. Bean could come in handy.
J.D. McPhereson: This man’s style is simple American. The Tulsa, Oklahoma, native wears rough denim, drab workshirts, and dusty boots. Simple fact is, this look will never go out of style. But what really sets he and his bassist Jimmy Sutton apart is their hair. The 1950s cuts with that razor-part and slick pomade make their all-denim look feel dressy in a whole new way.
Get The Look: Visit your barber with a picture of J.D., and then pick up some ImperialBarber Classic Pomade to complete the look.
Little Milton: The 1960s soul movement had some incredible styles. Mississippian Little Milton capitalized on just about all of them. One of my favorites was the tinted oversize aviator glasses.
Get The Look: Opt for a more subtle version, like this pair from Warby Parker.
Duquette Johnston: Another proponent of a simple, American style is Duquette Johnston from Birmingham, Alabama. He just looks comfortable in everything I’ve seen from him from V-neck tees and broken-in denim to wool cardigans and lace-up boots.
Get The Look: You can never go wrong with a good pair of three-season, lace-up boots. These Iron Rangers from RedWing have been a mainstay for years.
Johnny Cash: The “Man in Black” knew one of the cardinal rules of fashion: Everyone looks good in black.
Get The Look: While his looks were always understated, why not kick it up a notch with a timeless black leather jacket? The Schott Perfecto is the original. It’ll never die.
Elias Patriot: This modern-day folk singer from my hometown of Florence has a style all his own. And the cool thing is, he lives it. Every. Single. Day. Daniel Elias Crisler, performing as Elias Patriot, dresses for himself and takes a lot of pride in his presentation.
Get The Look: Layers upon layers—this eclectic mix of prints, patterns, and textures can only be achieved over years of collecting interesting items. But a buffalo plaid shirt, like this one from Woolrich, is a good place to start.
Hank Williams: That hat. Always with the hat. Hank was hardly ever seen not wearing a version of the classic cowboy hat.
Get The Look: If you’re going to go that route, Stetson makes a really good one that will last for years.
Jelly Roll Morton: This New Orleans jazz icon was always seen wearing a tie. Usually, he was sporting a striped or plaid version. Take a note from Jelly: Patterns are always a nice way to mix it up and keep it fresh.
Get The Look: The Tie Bar has all the options you could ever want at a price that will allow you to constantly rotate looks.
For more on Southern music, check out our Next Generation of Country Music feature in our January issue.
Dapper Alabama native Austin Shirey is a barber at Bob & Bill’s Barber Shop in Sheffield, AL. Follow along for his monthly segments on men’s style in the South.