Model, blogger, pilot: He has done many things, but David Gandy’s claim to fame is mostly due to his looks and style. Meet this Gentleman of Style, voted “Most Stylish Man of 2015” by the British GQ magazine, among many other accolades.
He was born David James Gandy in Billericay, Essex (1980) to upper-middle-class parents who owned properties and companies. In an interview for the British Express, he said, “The best things my parents taught me were… the things I learned when they took us traveling. It’s when my sister and I were educated, really. We were in Africa, South America, the Galapagos and the Amazon rainforest – all around the world – and we just learned a lot culturally and about differences in the world and different races and cultures. We were very fortunate.”
Studying and Working
He tried his hand at many activities before graduating in computing and marketing from the University of Gloucestershire: rugby, tap dancing, and horse riding were a few of his extra-curricular activities. In fact, he wanted to be a veterinary surgeon, but his grades prevented him from this course of studies.
The modeling career was actually something unexpected for him. The propellant was his roommate, who entered his name – without his knowledge – in a competition that looked for new faces on a TV show called This Morning. On June 2001, he won the contest, and the prize included a contract with a London agency, Select Model Management. “I didn’t aspire to be a model,” he said in an interview for the UK edition of GQ. “I’ve learned along the way.” In fact, as a teenager, he wore mostly jeans, T-shirts, and jumpers.
He has an imposing figure – 6ft 3in – and well built, and this combination makes him stand out among skinny male models. He goes to the gym five times a week but doesn’t participate in team sports.
The Dolce & Gabbana Ad
Among the brands that had his face in their ads, we find Zara, Gant USA, Hugo Boss, and Carolina Herrera. But his most famous work was for Dolce & Gabbana, beginning in 2006: Mario Testino shot the advertising for the fragrance “Light Blue”, showing David and Marija Vujović. He even showed up on a 50-foot billboard in Times Square.
The ad had a very strong reaction and David returned to it in 2010, now with Anna Jagodzinska.
Next year, to celebrate the collaboration, Dolce & Gabbana published a coffee table book and hosted events in Milan where David met the public and signed autographs.
He also released his own (paid) iPhone fashion app, “David Gandy Style Guide For Men,” in 2011, with mixed reviews from the public: “This is a well thought out app but it has not been updated for a while. The fashion recommendations are now out of date – winter stock,” wrote one user; “It’s a good start and ideal idea for an app but it needs to be maintained regularly,” said another.
In 2012, he added two brands to his modeling portfolio – Marks & Spencer and Johnnie Walker in its Blue Label version. It seems that he actually enjoys drinking this Scotch, which he calls “the Aston Martin of the whiskey world.”
Next year, he starred in a short film called “Escapism,” where he drives Jaguar cars such as the C-Type, the XKSS, the E-Type and the new F-Type.
In November 2013, the Marks & Spencer ad campaign was “Magic and Sparkle”, a fairy-tale commercial featuring Gandy, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Helena Bonham Carter.
The active year of 2013 also saw model David Gandy invited to be one of the drivers in the Mille Miglia regularity car course, a 3-day event that passes through some 200 Italian towns, a Brescia-Rome-Brescia tour, recreating the famous 20th-century race. Gandy drove a 1950 XK120 Jaguar, having the British model Yasmin Le Bon as co-driver. He returned in 2015, now with television presenter Jodie Kidd, driving a different XK120.
His passion for cars is very strong and he finally bought his dream auto, a Jaguar XKR-S. He said that “if I could have one car for the rest of my life, this would be it”. He tries to drive it all the time. “My love of motoring was already established by the time I bought my first car, a 1.1 1988 Fiesta Ghia,” he said for the M&S magazine. And if he had to chose the perfect drive, it would be Highway 1 on the California coast. (This author could not agree more; it is a must-see road, with spectacular sunsets.)
Preferences & Style
He takes pride in his British heritage and shuns at his countrymen who go to Abercrombie & Fitch when they have Savile Row as a source of good clothes. He considers Jude Law a good dresser, “mixes contemporary with classical.” By the way, David is fond of vintage accessories, such as old cowboy boots, Dunhill bags, Omega watches.
His grandfather built clocks, and Gandy says that his passion for watches comes from him to the point of forming a substantial collection. Also as a good Briton, one of his favorite books is The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill, full of quotations and quips from the Old Bulldog.
He grooms with Kiehls (anti-oxidants and anti-wrinkle) because he enjoys the bricks and Harley Davidson look of their stores.
The fit is the key to his clothes. He likes grey, the Thirties, checkered or windowpane jackets or suits, as well as the relaxed look of a t-shirt (from his Autograph collection with Marks & Spencer) under a blazer or leather jacket. Ties? He goes with Drakes. As for shirts, Emma Willis and Thomas Pink, mostly bespoke, like his suits – one of his tailors is Thom Sweeney.
He favors matching or contrasting vests in three-piece suits, for they enhance his chest and arms. “There are tailors, and then there is Thom Sweeney. Thom and Luke make suits for some of the most stylish men in London. I can comfortably say that they are the best tailors in London right now,” he said. Colors? “I would stick to neutral colors, such as navy and greys.” He seems quite at ease with double-breasted suits, always with six buttons. Expect a pocket square to be peeking over the edge. Shoes – he believes that a man must buy quality here – are Gucci or Russell & Bromley.
“One assumption is that if you can dress the part by acquiring an expensive three-piece suit and parting your hair, you’ve somehow earned the right to be classed as a gentleman,” according to Gandy. But he goes on: “A gentleman doesn’t follow fashion. He’s more of an individual, he stands out, with the confidence to go against the grain and without a care for what other people think.” Obviously aware of the sprezzatura concept, he says that “A gentleman … exudes style, effortlessly.”
He sees himself dressing in a utilitarian way, “similar to how Paul Newman or James Dean would dress”, in a classical Hollywood way, but not leaving the British tailoring style aside. He feels more comfortable in cold climates, for he prefers layering. Besides the famous movie icons cited before, he likes Tom Ford and Alasdair Willis. He has his own blog, even though it is a bit outdated now.
Signaling that being a fashion model does not automatically make you a fashion expert, Gandy has a trusted image consultant, Joe Ottaway. The head of personal shopping at Selfridges also doubles up as celebrities’ look builder, and Gandy is often seen beside him at fashion events and shows.
His Style Weaknesses
Even with his good looks and taste for bespoke suits, Mr. Gandy isn’t always perfectly attired (like any man, I suppose!). He has a few weaknesses that seem to pop up repeatedly, namely a taste for too-tight jeans (and by that, I mean skin-tight from the waistband to the ankle), light-wash and ripped jeans, low-cut v-neck t-shirts under a suit, and too-tight jacket sleeves. In terms of combining outfits, he has a tendency to take classic upper body combinations (jacket, shirt, tie, and vest, for example) and pair them with the aforementioned too-tight, light wash ripped jeans.
How to Get David Gandy’s Look
- Be bold, but avoid extremes. Mr. Gandy isn’t afraid to wear bold menswear – wide-brimmed fedoras or double-breasted windowpane suits, for example – but he chooses classic colors muted colors to balance out a bold silhouette.
- Choose muted colors. You’ll very rarely see Mr. Gandy in colors like red or green. To get his look, stick to gray, navy, blue, and khaki.
- Keep classics and modern classics separate. When Mr. Gandy looks his best in a suit, the combination usually leans classic or modern, but he doesn’t blend the two. On occasion, he wears more formal pieces with more modern ones (i.e. ripped jeans) but it’s not his strongest fashion statement.
- Wear three-piece suits.
- Pick a signature collar. Mr. Gandy seems to favor two very different collars: a long button-down collar, and a short, classic spread collar.
- Wear your 6×2 as a 6×1, on the middle button. It’s a signature of his that he buttons his double-breasted jackets only on the middle button.
- Hem pants with a full break. It’s not our preference, but Mr. Gandy prefers a bit more length in his pants.
- Layer up. Mr. Gandy is fond of layering with jackets, vests, cardigans, and overcoats.
- Embrace winter…because you get to wear ALL the classic pieces in your closet. Many of Mr. Gandy’s most stylish photos show him in the cooler months of the year, wearing the full kit: an overcoat, a fedora, a scarf, a three-piece suit, and gloves.
- Choose a signature pose. Mr. Gandy is a model, so it’s not surprising that he knows how to pose for pictures. His trademark seems to be keeping one or both of his hands in his pockets.
- Grown a scruffy beard. Mr. Gandy’s facial hair falls somewhere between a distinct beard and a few days of growth, which seems to be a deliberate choice.
The Spanish magazine Glamour named him “Most Beautiful International Male Face” in 2008. He was the first male model nominated for “Model of the Year” by the British Fashion Council in 2010; in 2011, ShortList named him “Face of Today”. The BFC nominated him again in 2012, the same year in which he was voted one of “The Sexiest Men” by the readers of Glamour. In October 2013, he was placed second as “The World’s Top-Earning Male Models of 2013” by Forbes magazine. Next year, the Spanish GQ named Gandy “Model of the Year” at their Men of the Year Awards 2014 in Madrid. In December, Harper’s Bazaar included him in their list of “Best Dressed Men of 2014”.
Debrett’s – a publication best known for their coverage of British peerage – included David Gandy on a list of “500 Most Influential People in Britain” in 2015 and in 2016. On the same year, MTV had him as one of the “50 Sexiest Men Alive”, and the British GQ named Gandy “Most Stylish Man of 2015”.
Some may argue – and rightly so – that it must not be so difficult to be a top fashion icon if you have the physical built and looks like David Gandy. However, as he says, what matters is your attitude, stance and the way you put your style together. So, if you like Gandy style, try finding staple pieces such as a nice leather jacket, a double-breasted suit, good shoes (brown and black will be enough), a couple of hats (fedora and driving cap), t-shirts, all with a fitted cut. Make your best characteristics stand out. Oh, and don’t mind an occasional stubble. You may not have Gandy’s DNA, but you can benefit from his tips. How would you put your look together here?