Purposeful Negligence: The Key to Effortless

There is something about a rolled-up sleeve on a well-cut shirt. It signifies both an appreciation for style and a disregard for stuffiness. This effortless look is a way of life that can’t be confined to an era and yet has served men and women for decades.

Purposeful negligence harks back to the golden years of the 20th century. In those early days of modern fashion, the men of Hollywood adopted styles that spoke to elegance and sophistication while still allowing elements of their own personality to shine through. Look at James Dean, our Rebel Without A Cause, who pioneered the white t-shirt and jeans combo in his role as Jim Stark – the same role that went on to make him a cultural icon.

A white tee and jeans may seem like a basic outfit, but James Dean turned heads wherever he went. Why? Because he nailed the formula to purposeful negligence. By pairing high rise, straight cut Levi’s 501s with slim-cut T-shirts that allowed movement, Dean established a uniform that was undeniably alluring. Add a lightweight jacket and brown leather boots and Dean was always the most stylish man in the room. The key to Dean’s effortless look was well-made, tailored clothing that featured minimal detailing, the sort of attire that he could wear with confidence and little effort once the formula was established. 

Meanwhile across the pond, French film star Alain Delon was establishing himself as a style symbol. When a Black Tie dress code was required, Delon favoured single-button jackets with slim lapels and pleated white tuxedo shirts, double cuffed with two studs – and no accessories except a cigarette. His goal was to achieve elegance, without the opulence.



In his personal life, Delon favoured a more nonchalant look: linen shirts, knitwear paired with tailored trousers, and lightweight jackets slung casually over his shoulder. His clothing reflected his disregard for Hollywood and his appreciation of the unpretentious. If there was a secret to his style, it would simply be ‘well-made clothes that flatter’. His wardrobe was a masterclass in purposeful negligence. Perfectly shown in his films “Purple Noon” 1960 (crime thriller film directed by René Clément, loosely based on the 1955 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith) and “La piscine” 1969 (The Swimming Pool,  Italian-French psychological thriller film directed by Jacques Deray starring alongside Jane Birkin aka the QUEEN of effortless style.) 

This classic men’s style seeped into the ethos of European cities and today it is a look that commandeers their narrow streets and cobbled lanes. Spotlighted during Copenhagen’s 2020 Fashion Week, it was the unfussy Danish street style that inspired our Ashby Men’s Sleeveless Trenchcoat. 


So how can one replicate the easy charm of James Dean and Alain Delon’s effortless look?

  • Take the time to explore and edit your wardrobe.
  • Be confident in what you wear. Confidence is a key element to the effortless look. Ask the question “How do I feel wearing this?”
  • To achieve the effortless look you should never neglect comfort in return of looking good
  • Fit is the number one fundamental to good style. Have an understanding of how clothing fits on your body
  • Keep your wardrobe organised, every piece should have a place.
  • The goal is to not have to plan ahead but simply to be confident in your wardrobe. The ability to put outfits together should not take long
  • Less is more. Investing in Quality over Quantity and keeping things timeless allows you to get more from less.
  • Know the importance of simplicity, never overdo it with colours combinations, accessories and layering.
  • Don’t over style head to toe in brands and logos.
  • Build your wardrobe around your lifestyle.
  • Be practical especially when it comes to weather conditions
  • Oversized over tight
  • Be thoughtful about proportions and balance.
  • Know your measurements, chest and waist
  • Pay attention to the finer details ( fabrics, colours and accessories)
  • Shirts that fit well and allow movement, trousers that hit right at the sweet spot, and jackets that tie it all together.
  • Including classic hero pieces that elevate your usual outfits and help to showcase your effortless vibe is your first step to making effortless your own. 
  • Once you know your style that is basically effortless

The Ashby Trench is a modern take on the original Burberry trenchcoat that made the high-end brand the household name it is today. Updated to match the pace of modern life, the Ashby Trench is the ideal piece to elevate your style and exude effortless as you move from a work meeting to date night and onto family gatherings. Whether you pair it with vintage denim and a cotton tee or dress pants and a button-down, this inspired coat will be your go-to jacket for years to come. 


Remember that effortlessness isn’t flashy. It isn’t the newest trends or the latest outfits to hit the high street. It’s classic pieces that hold history and speak to a purposeful future. It’s the Ashby Men’s Sleeveless Trenchcoat rounded out with white sneakers or a black leather boot. It’s a conversation of clothing; effortless and eye-catching all at once. 

Words by Alaina Dean & Amy-Eliza

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add to cart