I'm with you on the Steve McQueen thing! He is my (and I'm sure many others) sartorial benchmark.
I've always been a fan of juxtaposition in style. For instance, I am very heavily tattooed, but I like to go above and beyond with my outfits to kind of tone down my tattoos.
If I'm wearing a Fred Perry polo, chinos and trainers I look like a criminal and no one sits next to me on the train haha.
If I have a navy blazer, chinos, weejuns and a nice button down, old ladies sit next to me and tell me how nice I look hahaha!
I'm definitely at a point in my life where I absolutely do not want to portray a "hooligan" image, but I still consider "the look" important. This thread has been great for me because I don't see many fellas who are similar in age and experience in San Francisco who are moving towards the toned down "look". If anything I've seen a disturbing trend in this city of grown men going through some kind of mid life crisis an BECOMING "skinheads" at the ripe age of 35-45 hahaha!
It's truly revolting...
I can relate too a lot of this as I have quite a lot of tattoos,in my case nothing below the elbows or neck / face / head..so wearing a short sleeve shirt and trousers nothing shows.
The reactions of people who have known me for years but have never seen my tattoos can be hilarious when they do see them,some people become negative,but on occasion women who haven't taken any interest before suddenly become friendly,usually non tattooed women, I never follow this interest up as I find that a bit strange.
I agree about not wanting or needing to dress like a hooligan,in fact I don't dress to attract attention ( I tend to dress for my own 'gratification' if that's the right expression ).
I also see these types who seem to have become skinheads / hooligans / bikers in middle age and I give them a wide berth the same as the 'still a skinhead at 55 mob' or the re-enactment lads, one of the oddest things for me is the guys with both arms completely sleeved and no other tattoos,usually with a large gold earing and a large dog on a chain..LOOK AT ME,please look at me !
People ( myself included as you have just seen ) are quite judgemental about appearances,I am sure this goes back to ancient times where you had to look at someone and make a quick decision if they were safe or dangerous,fight or flee...the Look for me should be a bit understated,innocuos,even boring to someone who sees me,toned down as you say.
As I have said before one of the great things about wanting 'the Look' now is that because there is no definitive style as in the skinhead period for instance,we can be more creative and experiment,I would be the first to admit that I have got it wrong many times,this is one reason why this thread is so interesting to me,to see what other peoples ideas are.