In honour of Father’s Day Annmarie O’Connor presents her menswear style edit, plus she showcases the celebs who wear it well, from their twenties to their fifties, and beyond.
The trend is a fickle creature. Ever the shapeshifter, keeping up with its seasonal demands can be a challenge. Yet, it is this mercurial temperament which makes it so alluring.
After all, being able to tame a trend takes confidence (and bonus points for an air of devil-may-care diffidence) which, in turn, commands admiration.
That said, not all trends are created equal. It takes a discerning eye to ascertain which ones will add value to your wardrobe and, more importantly, how to wear them without them wearing you.
If spring/summer 2017 is anything to go by, a third party may need to be enlisted. Here are the headlines.
This season is a game of two halves. Depending on your level of fashion commitment, there’s a trend for just about every taste from shades of sober stone to proud pinks and purples; Prince of Wales checks to graphic windowpane box prints; discreet banker to bold deckchair stripes; although the pervasive pyjama top makes a reappearance (more laidback than layabout); high-tech utility wear (did you see Michael Fassbender’s parka, designed by Craig Green, in Alien: Covenant?) reinstates weather-worthy wardrobe staples as closet keepers.
All of this and the big kicker — lightweight suiting in oversized silhouettes with abbreviated hems. Oh, and the male romper! I told you we needed to call in the big guns.
It’s a brave new world. So, where does a fella start when it comes to making smart sartorial choices? Lorcan O’Regan, buyer at Cork’s Saville Menswear (021-4270334; www.savillemenswear.ie) recommends squaring up to the check print.
“It has been a big part of the fashion landscape for over two years in various incarnations, especially the Prince of Wales style which is dapper and more wearable its bolder, graphic counterparts.”
Think Carey Grant’s iconic Savile Row plaid suit in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959) or Ryan Gosling’s recent red carpet coupling — a Ferragamo check jacket paired with black and white separates.
Saville’s edit of ready-to-wear Italian brands like Remus Uomo and in-house made-to-measure suiting ticks the trend box for any age or occasion.
David Cashman, fashion blogger at www.DapperDaveCash.com agrees about boxing clever with checks but suggests including stripes as part of the geometry of one’s look.
“I think a key piece for this summer would be a stripe shirt as it’s very easy to style. Pair it with navy chinos and white trainers and you are good to go.”
Sound advice for the safe bet but if fashion does favour the bold, what are the riskier style moves worth a punt?
James McDonald, menswear personal shopper at Brown Thomas, Cork, maintains ‘minimising’ can have maximum impact on one’s seasonal repertoire.
His recommendation? “Start with simple colour palettes,” he advises, “like light blues, stone and navy.
The adventurous could push to introduce whites and off-white to brighten up their summer wardrobe. I like to mix plenty of off-whites into my wardrobe. It instantly adds that summer feel, even if it is still drizzling outside!”
Fair point. A-listers like Michael Fassbender and Pierce Brosnan have mastered this style hack both bravely from head-to-toe and judiciously with softer neutrals.
Saville’s Lorcan O’Regan agrees about lightening but also brightening one’s wardrobe.
“Nudes and stones may be trending but bold colours make an equally strong style statement. Our sharply tailored Eton shirts are the perfect example of how to have fun (especially, the colourful butterfly print) while still looking sharp and on trend.”
So, colours and prints get the thumbs up. What about suiting? Should men be donning their shoulder pads and hiking their hems as per the Balenciaga and Lanvin catwalk offerings? This is where the discerning eye and expert advice come in handy.
Unstructured may be the new buzzword in silhouettes but it needn’t mean drowning in fabric. Much of what’s on the catwalks finds a more refined expression in wearable and saleable terms.
McDonald explains that the rise of smart casual is a breezier alternative to the new suiting rules, especially where unstructured blazers are concerned.
“This trend has been going strong for years, but now almost every brand is championing it,” he states. His top tip?
“Mix pieces like a linen mix blazer from Hugo Boss or Canali with open collar shirts, classy knitwear and comfortable trousers. Look for unlined and unstructured to keep things breathable and smart. Linen mixed with silk is a great choice as the silk means the blazer doesn’t wrinkle as easily.”
Indeed, McDonald’s peerless practicality is a strong part of tackling trends successfully.
Understanding what suits your body shape, age and lifestyle commitments are half the battle. The other half, according to McDonald, is knowing a good tailor, especially when approaching middle age where, he maintains, ‘fit becomes hugely important.’
Ah, the looming ‘age-appropriate’ conundrum! Age, according to the old adage (excuse the pun) may be ‘nothin’ but a number’ but the subtleties of skin tone, weight and hair colour changes demand that certain tweaks are made. According to Cashman, a subtle approach is often the most effective.
“Pick your statement piece, for instance: a floral shirt; then keep the rest of your outfit muted or incorporate trend-driven accessories like a colourful tie and pocket square or a flash of print in your socks.”
Looking for inspiration? Look no further he maintains than, TV presenter and style star Darren Kennedy whose suit collaboration with Louis Copeland (six seasons) and meticulous attention to detail warrants him a front row seat at London Fashion Week.
There you have it; the style sages have spoken. It’s now up to you to wear the wisdom well. And remember: trends may come and go; but while they’re here, there’s every reason to have fun with them.
BY THE NUMBERS
Advice: Play the market Assets: Experiment with trends but invest in accessories like a great watch and a pair of brogues or loafers that’ll upgrade fast to high fashion.
Ambassadors: Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis, Jack Reynor, Harry Styles
Advice: Spread the risk Assets: As life change (more wedding invitations and job interviews), so too will your wardrobe.
Diversify your wardrobe among designer, mid-range and less expensive pieces.
Spend the least on trends but invest in a capsule of quality suits and basics (the best your money can buy).
Ambassadors: Ryan Gosling, Domhnall Gleeson, Conor McGregor, Paul Galvin, Aidan Turner, Darren Kennedy
Advice: Be mindful of the overall portfolio.
Assets: As skin tone and body shape change, be sure to introduce complexion-balancing colours and be sure to keep fit at the forefront of all buying considerations.
Small adjustments will save a complete overhaul.
Ambassadors: Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Justin Trudeau, Brendan Courtney
Advice: Invest in high yield pieces.
Assets: Think of the future performance of what you buy. Consider the return on investment of more classic pieces as opposed to of-the-moment trends the value of which is more dependent on market fluctuations (what’s hot, what’s not).
Ambassadors: George Clooney, Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson
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