Trends are misunderstood. Stop most men in the street and they’ll tell you they don’t follow fashion trends, but look inside their wardrobes and hanging alongside the timeless classics you’ll see ripped jeans, seventies knitwear, Cuban collar shirts… and those are just the trends he still likes.
Sure, there’s a lot of 50/50 fashion out there (pyjamas for wearing outdoors, anyone?), but in-between all the catwalk looks trotted out for shock factor, there’s a heap of new stuff that’s not painfully boring and is thoroughly wearable. Ergo, it’s perfect for taking you from plodding pedestrian to menswear maestro.
This spring/summer, you don’t have to concern yourself with the messy business of sorting the cool from the crap – we’ve gone and done that for you. What’s left is all killer, no filler.
Like grimacing through rain-soaked barbecues and festivals, Breton stripes are a summer institution. But since they’ve also been hijacked by everyone from school-run mums to cocky club promoters, you could hardly call them groundbreaking.
The solution: turn them 90 degrees. The vertical stripe is officially menswear’s new go-to pattern. Seen on everything from bombers to field jackets at the global fashion weeks, there’s no denying that it was one seriously stripey season. In real life, you’re aiming for Armie Hammer’s effortless Call My By Your Name wardrobe – but take it too far and you’re one half of Bananas In Pyjamas.
The key to staying well clear of animated fruit is the size of your stripes. The best examples on show for SS18 were straight, narrow and deployed across T-shirts, short-sleeved shirts and cuffed joggers. When creating your own looks, one vertically striped piece at a time is often enough – the double vertical stripe is an advanced style move that only the most confident of men can pull off.
Forget what you’ve heard about opposites attracting, menswear is going for the full-kit look this season. But before you channel Run-DMC in your Adidas Originals tracksuit and shell toes, there’s a disclaimer: we’re talking about tonal colour matching, not wearable billboards.
Think of tonal dressing as spring/summer’s answer to all-black everything, but with way more choice: the outfits on show for SS18 had more colour variations than your average Dulux chart. The real beauty of tonal dressing is that it works for almost any scenario that you can think of. Tonal suiting? Try it for a summer wedding. Tonal pastels? Give it a go on your next summer holiday. Tonal navy? You’ve probably worn that all winter long.
Colours you’re already well-stocked with are a good place to start – think blue or grey – but don’t be afraid of lighter neutrals and even pastel shades as the weather improves. Oh, and three is the magic number for the number of tonal items you should be wearing in one outfit.
Picture this: it’s the nineties, jeans are the ‘smart’ option, and there are more side-stripe trackies walking the streets than people. Now rub your eyes, because hey, it’s 2018 and the side-stripe revival is real.
The proof that side-stripe trousers are no longer unacceptable for grown-ups was the fact that luxury designers went absolutely mad for them this season. There were skinny versions at Balmain, Prada showed them coordinating tops, while Valentino went straight-up retro sportswear. Basically, if you haven’t got lines down your legs for SS18, you’re not doing menswear right.
Side-stripe trousers have come at a pretty good time, with ‘athleisure’ in danger of becoming about as much fun as marathon training. Get a pair of stripes on your pins though and you’ll find the trend can go another mile or two.
The key to making side stripes work without looking like Sporty Spice is balance. Yes, you can wear trainers with them, but you’ll need to add a smart knit or a slim-fit shirt to stop the ‘I socialise at bus stops’ vibes.
Menswear likes extremes. So, just when it looked like circulation-restricting spray-on jeans were never going to die, SS18 gifted us with leg-friendly dad denim. Think loose fit, light wash, unfussy and straight up and down. Like a more stylish, dialled-down version of the normcore trend, dad denim unites baby boomers and millennials through a love of unfussy comfort (just don’t mention the housing market).
Irony addicts Vetements almost single-handedly kicked off the whole dad denim revival, and we couldn’t be happier. It’s comfortable, doesn’t make you look like you’re trying too hard and gives legs everywhere the breathing space they’ve been so desperately craving for the past decade or so. Plus, Simon Cowell has been vindicated: he knew all along that going loose on the legs would eventually cycle back around. Isn’t that right, Si?
As for the rules of dressing like your dad (only much, much better): go for cropped designs or pinroll your jeans (pools of fabric at your feet are still not cool) and team with T-shirts, statement trainers, Chelsea boots and loose-fitting shirts in pastel shades. Skinny jeans, your vice-like grip is no more.
The winds of change have blown for SS18 and what’s deemed hot property in men’s outerwear has done a complete 180. Yes, that silky-soft suede bomber you bought last year is still unbelievably attractive, but if you really want to flex your menswear muscle then a technical jacket (read: anorak or windbreaker) is your safest bet.
Before you groan, we’re not talking dishwater dull mountain trekking gear. The technical jackets you’re about to see land in the shops have kept their weather-fighting superpowers but are now designed in a way which won’t send you to sleep. They come colour-blocked, in pastels or dark and moody shades. The fact that a big chunk of them would look out of place on a ramble is proof of just how much of a menswear makeover technical jackets have undergone.
The very best part of this reinvention is that your styling options are broad. Throw one on over jeans, tailored trousers, knits, shirts, trainers or Chelsea boots… you’d be hard pressed to go wrong. Also, you’re sure as hell going to get your money’s worth – summer, as always, is bound to be a write off.
We know what you’re thinking, checks can’t come back because they never really went away. Technically you’re right, but while checks refuse to ever leave the menswear party, the wrong type can make you look, well, square.
There’s still a chasm of taste between a gingham ‘going out’ shirt for Friday night with the lads and a classic windowpane suit. We really don’t want you letting yourself down in one of those short-sleeved weekend wonders, but fortunately you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to size, style and colour this season.
The safest way to make checks work for you is to try larger or more complex motifs (think heritage, windowpane, Prince of Wales) on outerwear, knitwear and trousers. To avoid giving innocent bystanders a headache, check yourself and make sure that the rest of your outfit is toned down.
Tropical Print Shirts
Sometimes we think that menswear designers are out to do a number on us. Such is the case with the resurgence of tropical print shirts which, on first take, seems like a bit of a sartorial booby trap. Liking a tropical shirt flies in the face of all good reason: they’re usually gaudy, never fit particularly well and are invariably worn by overbearing men as a nonverbal way of communicating that you’re in close proximity to ‘a fun guy’.
Nobody therefore is more surprised than us that we’re fully into the idea of tropical print shirts for SS18. And, oddly enough, it was Paris (definitely not tropical) that embraced the trend most warmly with Louis Vuitton in particular making us sit bolt upright and admit we were wrong.
Getting on board requires subtlety, something lost on practically every printed shirt wearer to date. Seek out designs in pared-back colour palettes and combine with dark tailored chinos or jeans to nail the look. Even if the weather doesn’t play ball this year, the outlook for your summer wardrobe should be totally and utterly tropical.