The answer to this question is both yes and no. Let me explain.
At first thought, I genuinely feel that real style icons no longer exist. When I think of well-dressed men from decades past like Steve McQueen, Sidney Poitier, or David Bowie, I think of their originality. They all created their own aesthetics, and the pieces they wore genuinely echoed their personalities. They had the final say in what they wore whether it was to an awards show, work, or a coffee shop.
Now, the celebrities we look to for style inspiration aren’t really dressing themselves. The celebrity men of today all work with stylists who pull racks of designer label clothing. These guys may have some say in what they absolutely would and wouldn’t wear. But these decisions are being made from edited selections chosen for them by someone else. And that stylist will be the final say in what looks good and if the fit is appropriate.
But then I look outside of the celebrity realm where stylists dictate what happenssBloggers mostly call their own shots. These well dressed men shop till they drop to find pieces that represent their style in a genuine way. They are their own stylists, and they’ve created loyal followings based on their style point of view. They may not be in the public eye as often as Hollywood actors or musicians, but they are authentic in their wardrobe selections. They are ultimately responsible for creating the visions that lead to their reblogged and retweeted looks.
And don’t forget about the everyman that passes you on the sidewalk. New York City is home to so many well-dressed guys that even I envy. No one is styling these men. They are the unsung heroes of men's fashion. They wake up every day, throw on whatever they feel like wearing, and head out into the world without a care. They are dressed superbly for an audience of 1, and they should be commended the most as their decisions haven’t been influenced by the presence of a camera.
So to answer my original question, do real style icons still exist, I’ll give a complex answer. Style icons as we once knew them no longer exist. When we look to Hollywood for style cues, we’re getting the POV of someone’s stylist. But it’s bloggers and the everyday guys who are most inspiring because they’re fearless in expressing their true style each and every day. Real style icons are out there. We just have to get creative about where we’re looking to find them.