Style

The 30 Most Stylish male TV Characters

Del Boy falling through the bar. David Brent’s excruciating Flashdance-meets-MC-Hammer-shit dance moves. The one where Kel put the screw in the tuna.

Hallmark TV moments are ten a penny these days, and reasonable currency should you ever need to fill silence on a date/at a bus stop/during a wedding ceremony and want to lay the breadcrumbs to an impromptu debate. But what about the men behind the moments? And more importantly, the clothes that maketh the man? Finely tuned TV threads hold such clout nowadays that entire magazine spreads and fashion trends become devoted to them – Downton Abbey alone has spawned a clothing and paint line. Yes, really.

In the not too distant future, the affable and fashion savvy among us may actually keep our eyes more trained on the box than the catwalks of Milan, Paris and London. But until then, here’s a round-up of the 30 best dressed men ever to grace your TV screen. Move over Milan. All the style advice you'll ever need is right before your eyes. Quite literally. You’re welcome.

  • The 30 Most Stylish male TV Characters

    LESTER FREAMON (THE WIRE)

    Though a fairweather fool may cite Stringer Bell as the Baltimore cop drama’s sartorial don, a keener eye will notice Lester’s classic prep look is far more sophisticated and timeless (and Idris Elba may or may not be in this list as Luther, later on). A man who can turn a gun holster slung across the shoulder into a fashion accessory, his Pringle polos would rival any golfer, and he could just be the man to out sweater-vest Chandler Bing.

    (Image: HBO)

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    JOHN WATSON (SHERLOCK)

    An understated Yin to Sherlock’s brash and obnoxious Yang, John Watson need not trouble himself with the grandiose trench coats, decadent scarves or shined leather gloves of his superior, and is instead quietly brilliant when it comes to style execution. The Haversack jacket, the cable-knit jumper (and lest we forget Martin Freeman's indisputable Mod credentials in real life) - it all adds up to an unmatched style nous. Sorry Sherlock, you may have Hawking's mind and Oxford Dictionary's tongue, but you will forever be second best to your humble assistant in the style stakes.

    (Image: BBC)

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    MR BIG (SEX AND THE CITY)

    Never seen out of a suit, tux or DJ, Big oozes sophistication and class. The on-again-off-again love interest of Carrie Bradshaw, you can question his commitment to a relationship, but not his devotion to bespoke tailoring. Strong, silent and effortlessly mysterious, you never quite know what he's thinking - though we'd hazard a guess that it has something to do with pocket squares. Or blazers.

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    TYRES (SPACED)

    Representing 'cycling chic' back when Sir Bradley Wiggins was still in short trousers, bike messenger Tyres was a clear decade ahead of the curve in the two-wheeled fashion stakes. A day-glo pioneer and rave scene stalwart, say what you like about the Northern Irishman's skin-tight attire and fluorescent hair-do, he's not easily missed on a ring-road, and looks far better than the besuited Bane mask wearing bikers of today.

    (Image: Channel 4)

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    WILL SMITH (THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR)

    Not only was Will Smith's eponymous Fresh Prince the poster child for zany '90s fashion, but there's seldom a modern day trend that can't be traced back to the colour-clashing, Air Jordan wearing Bel-Air teenager. Loud tribal patterns? Will Smith did it. Animal print? Will Smith did it. Snapback caps, the proliferation of sports wear, Danny Welbeck's haircut? Will Smith, Will Smith, Will... you get the idea.

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    BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD

    Blazing a sartorial trail ever since they first invaded television in the the early '90s, Beavis and Butt-Head shun the conventional norms of wardrobe rotation, variance of style and apparel suited for each season. Nay, they pin their colours to the mast by wearing not only comfortable but also functional fashion. Whether bound for a gig, the gym or merely lounging on the sofa sniggering at MTV, they are suitably prepared and undoubtedly relaxed. And, regardless of whether your workplace's dress-code would frown upon band T-shirts, short shorts and brain-dead lethargy, you know that given half a chance to introduce your hungover Sunday wardrobe into the working week - you'd do it in a hearbeat.

    (Image: MTV)

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    JOHN LUTHER (LUTHER)

    A no-nonsense, no-bullsh*t detective who puts his job first and wellbeing second, you'd think John Luther would have no time nor inclination to keep a handle on high fashion. And yet his wardrobe is so innately dapper that you can't help wonder if he moonlights at Armani between cases. With tweed blazer, silver-flecked beard and signature tie come rain or high-speed pursuit, Luther's storylines may be macabre, but viewers can live safe in the knowledge the shock factor doesn't extend to what's on his clothes hangers - should they dare emerge from behind their sofa, that is.

    (Image: BBC)

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    BEN EPSTEIN (HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA)

    Given that HTMIIA (that's How To Make It In America, acronym fans) centres round the entrepreneurial quest of two hustling American hipster types trying to make waves on the New York fashion scene, it befits that lead character Ben Epstein should dress like an enterprising fashion designer and not penniless beggar. A simple, non-showy look that's the centrepoint between smart and casual, Epstein's style is more everyman than Gok Wan. Thank Christ.

    (Image: HBO)

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    DOUG FUNNIE (DOUG)

    Long before the horn-rimmed spectacle wearing Hoxton faux geek was infiltrating our consciousness and dive bars, young Doug Funnie sported the preppy look with such panache that we can let him off also sporting a cape on his back and belt round his forehead. Just about. A plain white polo beneath a cut-off knit sweater and canvas shorts, the look has been endlessly plagiarised and yet never bettered. If only Doug were around today/not fictional in order to receive the plaudits personally.

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    FRANK GALLAGHER (SHAMELESS)

    Though not necessarily recommended for business meetings, black tie events or enclosed spaces, Frank Gallagher's ash-burned, puke-stained, and dirt-spattered 'giro chic' get-up is at the cutting edge of high fashion. Why? Well, much unlike the obtuse, angular and indecipherable offerings at just about every catwalk show ever, Frank's thrown-together combination is every bit replicable as it is affordable. And given that the fashion world goes to great lengths to shock, evolve and surprise each and every season, it won't be long before this style is capitalised on, passed off as post-modern and on sale for thousands. You heard it here first.

    (Image: Channel 4)

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    VINCENT CHASE (ENTOURAGE)

    The life of a fictional movie star - though made up - comes with a long list of pressures. There's substance dependency, relationships with porn stars and, of course, the crippling fear of an unceremonious return to worker-bee normality. And yet, despite a torrid and nausea-inducing career of ups and downs, one thing that's never wavered in Vincent Chase's life is his personal style. It's almost as if he has his own stylist...

    (Image: HBO)

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    DON DRAPER (MAD MEN)

    The man that spawned a million fashion editorials on how to 'Get the Mad Men look', a list honouring the best-dressed TV men without Don Draper would indeed be sacrilege. Whether it's the suave suits, society's penchant to naval gaze or simply because they were allowed to light up the office back then, Mad Men effervesces class, and every inch of the ever dapper Draper is a musk of sophistication and prosperity. From oh-so-shiny shoe right up to pomade slicked hair follicle.

    (Image: Allstar)

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    TYRION LANNISTER (GAME OF THRONES)

    What Peter Dinklage's pint-sized character lacks in size and strength, he more than makes up for with an uninimitable style. Yes, unimitable in that his custom-made wardrobe wouldn't be suitable for many (or in fact, any) men, but also from a calculated swagger that can carry off leather waistcoasts, plunging tunics and furry capes - a get up that would get you a hiding if worn anywhere east of Westeros.

    (Image: HBO/Everett/Rex Features)

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    BARNEY STINSON (HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER)

    His womanising and workplace aspirations may be chequered at best, but Barney Stinson's dedication to costume de rigueur is truly admirable. A preacher of the Bro Code and proud evangelist of the need to Suit Up in just about any situation, he is a chink of genteel light amongst an otherwise unkempt group of friends. Granted, his pre-historic attitudes towards women and dating may singlehandedly push back gender relations 40 years or so, but Stinson's assertion that "A well tailored suit is to women what lingerie is to men" is as true a sentence as said by any high end fashion brand.

    (Image: Allstar)

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    ENOCH 'NUCKY' THOMPSON (BOARDWALK EMPIRE)

    There are a myriad of reasons to adore Nucky Thompson. 1) His parents deemed it acceptable to christen him 'Nucky' (well, Enoch - but if you honestly think Nucky doesn't sound better then you are sadly wrong). 2) He's portrayed by Steve Buscemi, a man whose acting deserves more superlatives than currently listed in the English dictionary. Finally, and most importantly (for this list, at least) - 3) Despite being a bent politician and blood-hungry gangster, Nucky's style of dress is suave and gentrified, and a lesson to all modern day criminals. Being bad doesn't mean you can't look good.

    (Image: HBO/Everett/Rex Features)

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    TOM HAVERFORD (PARKS AND RECREATION)

    An entrepreneurial mastermind trapped in a white-collar worker's body, Tom Haverford's dreams of making it as a club promoter/perfumier/lothario are roadblocked on a daily basis by the humdrum monotony of a small government day job. And yet it's the fashion stakes where Haverford comes into his own. A proud peacock, the self-anointed 'Brown Gosling' is unashamed in his efforts to attract the opposite sex with his plumage. It may be as simple as a crisp, tailored suit or as complex as a Davy Crockett hat or diamond gleaming jacket - but you can't help respect the repeated efforts of the 'Brown Superman with a Beard' (him again).

    (Image: Allstar)

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    THE DOCTOR (DOCTOR WHO)

    Given that the bow-tie's only notable outings in recent years had been on Pee Wee Herman's neck and within unimaginative 'Geek Fancy Dress' party packs, Matt Smith's turn as The Doctor deserves as much credit for successful PR'ing the tie alternative as he does any intergalactic time travel or slaying of alien nemeses. And although the term 'geek chic' is an abhorrent, vomit inducing turn of phrase, the pairing of natty bow-ties with crisp, fitted shirts and a tweed blazer was a masterstroke by the BBC wardrobe department. Don't be surprised if Peter Capaldi is charged with re-establishing the top hat or a set of shoulder pads when he first graces our screens as The Doc.

    (Image: Rex Features)

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    STERLING ARCHER (ARCHER)

    If Don Draper was two dimensional, cartoonised and a crack shot with a deadly weapon, his name would be Sterling Malory Archer. And just like his Mad Men cousin, Archer has all the same vices - booze, sex, self-involvement and, most excitingly for the animated tailors of the world, a refined wardrobe. When he's not wooing a prospective romance wearing a pair of pants and not much else, Archer is never out of tailored suit. A cad and a dandy, Archer even released a style tome entitled How to Archer: The Ultimate Guide to Espionage and Style and Women, and Also Cocktails Ever Written, with eternal sartorial posers as 'Are two buttons one too many?' duly addressed.

    (Image: FX Network/Everett/Rex Features)

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    THOMAS MAGNUM (MAGNUM P.I.)

    The fact Tom Selleck is still best known and loved for his turn in the Hawaii crime drama some 25-years since it disappeared from TV either suggests it was such a sleek, polished performance that Magnum starved viewers can't bear to picture Selleck in anything else, or that the moustachioed actor's career officially hit the skids around 1988. Oh, except when he was Monica's aging fancyman in FRIENDS, obviously. We'd like to think it's the former, and also that the recent resurgence of flowery Hawaiian shirts was a direct homage to the chilled-out, gun-toting, cigar smoking P.I. Making loud shirts, linen trousers and untamed body hair an acceptable fashion trend since the early '80s - Thomas Magnum, we salute you.

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    CHARLIE HARPER (TWO AND A HALF MEN)

    When you're a hedonistic jingle composer with a wad of cash, Malibu beach house, constant supply of alcohol and nubile young women - logic dictates you can wear precisely whatever the hell you like. But, should your CV be markedly different to that of Charlie Harper, there's still no reason you can't at least look the part. Part Brit abroad part pro-bowler, Charlie Sheen's Two And A Half Men style guide centres entirely around one thing - comfort, and yet has legitimate sartorial roots. The upscale sports wear look of loose-fitting shirts and khaki shorts was a favourite of upscale martini lounges, pool halls and, yes, bowling lanes during the '50s, and was a favoured look of the Rat Pack, and Don Draper at the weekend. Probably.

    (Image: CBS/Everett/Rex Features)

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    SONNY CROCKETT AND RICO TUBBS (MIAMI VICE)

    As '80s motifs go, Crockett and Tubbs' brightly coloured suits and pastel tees is right up there with Margaret Thatcher's face and the fall of the Berlin Wall. A quintessentially summer style, the look is admittedly more at home against the backdrop of sunny Miami boardwalk than drizzly Bradford industrial estate, but Sonny and Rico's retina-stinging style has made a surprise comeback to both catwalk and highstreet in the past year. Also, ever wondered where the shoes-with-no-socks fashion staple emanated from? Look no further.

    (Image: Everett Collection/Rex Features)

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    MANNY DELGADO (MODERN FAMILY)

    While other pre-teens were zipping about on Heelys and wearing football shirts, Manny Delgado was choosing between his favoured pocket squares and smoking jacket, building an appreciation of fashion that far outweighs his tender years. From plush velvet blazers to shined cuban heels, every item that adorns Manny's pint-sized frame is wrinkle free and pressed to perfection. If you had to file Delgado's warbrobe next to anyone his else, his only contemporary would be a certain Mr Henfer. Ironic really, given that Manny's both a poet and hopeless romantic. Oh, and about 80 years his junior.

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    SCHMIDT (NEW GIRL)

    With his dedication to fashion only rivalled by his contributions to the aptly named 'Douchebag Jar', New Girl's Schmidt is a hypersexual, uber competitive mass of abdominal muscles and machismo. His style is described by off-screen counterpart Max Greenfield as 'Justin Timberlake on a budget', though Schmidt worries not about hemorrhaging cash to fleeting, half-baked fashion trends - so long as he looks good (or at least believes so). From his Irish walking cape to his good driving loafers or whole closet of fedoras, what comes off as arrogance is in fact sartorial bravery. Yes, he may all too often look (and sound) like an imbecile, but you have to respect a man who dares to wear.

    (Image: 20th Century Fox/Everett/Rex Features)

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    THOMAS BARROW (DOWNTON ABBEY)

    The TV show so adored it spawned a fashion (and paint) line, Downton Abbey's rarefied turn-of-the-century style is irrevocably en vogue. As Edwardian Savile Row styles have now broken free of regattas and overtly chintzy affairs, breeches and coat tails are now seen as a viable fashion acquisition. And amongst the Lords, Ladies and guttersnipe servants, Thomas Barrow stands alone as a gentrified gem. Whether sporting a waistcoat, double-breasted jacket and serving tray in his role of underbutler, or sporting the (prerequisite) khaki military style as a Corporal, the Downton man is always impeccably dressed, even outshining his high society superiors.

    (Image: Flickr)

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    DEREK TROTTER (ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES)

    If you need any convincing that Derek 'Del' Trotter is a British institution of style, take a walk down any market along the length of breadth of the nation, and you'll find a whole fleet of plucky traders and wheeler dealers both channelling the chat and style of the Only Fools underdog. Combining flatcaps, always buttoned shirts and a camel-hair coat with plenty of gold, Del Boy's sharp exterior is seldom anything but pristine. Sure, the jewelry's all knock-off, fur coat fake and the fat cigars Hamlets not Cohiba, but in his esteemed position of Cockney-cum-Yuppie, appearances are everything. What's more the style's endured to the extent that oversized 'Del Boy coats' have even become a wardrobe essential for fashion conscious women. Luvvly jubbly, you know it makes sense etc, etc...

    (Image: Allstar)

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    HOWARD ROWBOTTOM (FRESH MEAT)

    Sometimes, the most illustrious fashion icons are those entirely oblivious to the groundbreaking styles they throw together. Enter Scotch slaughterhouse assistant and Geology student, Howard. Though socially awkward and sporting a gruff disposition, Howard's attained cult status on account of his loud, garish jumpers. Actor Greg McHugh, who plays the eccentric undergrad, once admitted to ShortList that he's often besieged by tweets from fans, begging to know where they could buy them. “Howard could probably have his own Kate Moss-style fashion range,” he said, though at the time of press it would appear no formal talks with Topman have been forthcoming...

    (Image: Channel 4)

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    WOODY (THIS IS ENGLAND '86/'88)

    Formerly a skinhead with a taste for Doc Martins and braces far stronger than any political beliefs, This Is England's move from cinema to the small screen sees Woody reformed and immersed in the rat race. Still embracing traditional Mod stylings, Woody nixes the belief that smart cannot mean stylish - combining gingham shirts with cardigans, fairisle knits and a tie - just to remind you that he definitely means business. Though it also helps if you ignore the forehead tattoo.

    (Image: Channel 4)

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    ALAN PARTRIDGE (KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU/I'M ALAN PARTRIDGE)

    No stranger to fashion, Alan Partridge is a sartorial innovator, and creator of such trends as 'sports casual' and 'imperial leisure'. As comfortable in a suit and tie as he is a Castrol GTX bomber jacket or training shorts with perished lining, Partridge is incredibly ahead of the curve for a man in his mid-fifties. Sure, the baby blue short-sleeved suit worn for the premiere of Alpha Papa may seem out there now, but here's a man who wore a gilet at a time where it was only acceptable for farmers and young women, so those who criticise may be left eating their words, and indeed sleeves, when the style takes hold in 2029.

    (Image: Rex)

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    ANDY BERNARD (THE US OFFICE)

    Proving the preppy look is not for golfers, rich kids or American college students alone, Dunder Mifflin's Andy Bernard is a proud forebear of layering being at the heart of any good look. Encompassing khaki chinos, shirts and pastel sweaters, he's seldom seen without an accompanying blazer and tie or bow-tie. Though this bright and brash colour clash would have been scorned a decade ago, you'd now be hard pushed to enter an office - paper manufacturer or otherwise - without encountering a a would-be Andy impersonator.

    (Image: NBCUniversal Media)

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    MAURICE MOSS (THE IT CROWD)

    Computer genius, social simpleton and yet an accidental style icon, Maurice 'Moss' Moss is the Tom Ford of Reynholm Industries' IT Department. It's no coincidence that the rise of 'geek chic' was eerily in tandem with Graham Linehan's sitcom first appearing on television, with Moss' neatly-tucked plaid shirt, canvas slacks and horn-rimmed spectacle uniform soon spreading through popular culture like a particularly nasty computer virus.

    (Image: Allstar)