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January 2014 is here and we’re already being hounded by fashion mags and the high street to fill our wardrobes with the latest floral, embellished or tweed offerings. But what about the blokes? Women’s fashion seems like a high speed juggernaut, crashing through trend after trend, keeping girls on their toes to make sure they stay stylish as the seasons change. However, if we’re continuing with the transport analogy, to many, men’s fashion is a little like a tug boat, occasionally catching your eye with a fabulous suit or two, but otherwise churning out the same garments year on year. Personally, I find men’s fashion so much more exciting than womenswear. I’d pick a copy of GQ over Grazia, Cosmo or any other women’s read, purely for the fashion pages. There I said it.
If you’re a bloke reading this you may think I’m crazy. According to many of my male friends, the high street is full of the same graphic t-shirts, cable knits and vans-style shoes, you’ll probably say you have no choice but to follow the flock when it comes to style. This is true to a certain extent (if you’re boring.) Men’s fashion is all about design and shape, you’re not there to look pretty in your clothes, you’re there to make a statement. The classic brogues, sharp shirts and biker jackets just don’t work on girls in the same way, so take risks and keep your eyes open for those stylish classics.
Don’t believe me? You’ve just missed the biggest date in the men’s fashion calendar; London Collections: Men. This yearly offering by the most well-known menswear brands allows London to showcase the innovative work of designers from Saville Row to LCF. Yes, women’s fashion is at the heart of British culture, but menswear design in the UK has brought the world the humble bowler hat, the trench coat and the three piece suit among other creations, so for three days per season men’s fashion deserves to be celebrated.
I was lucky enough to see the Autumn/Winter menswear collection for E.Tautz, a gentlemen’s brand of 19th century London re-launched in 2005, owned by Saville Row’s sweetheart Patrick Grant. A regular in the GQ style stakes and loved by the fashion girls, Grant has a penchant for all things elegant with his collections encapsulating the modern day dandy in bold prints, tweed and beautiful brogues. Helping backstage I got to handle the latest collection which included geometric designs, intricate embroidery and some statement coats so stylish that even the models wanted to take them home! The look was incredibly polished, described by a blogger as ‘modern day Sherlock Holmes’. The look was polished, chic and oh so British, leaving the crowd, which included David Gandy, Tinie Temper and Mark Francis of MIC fame cooing for more.
For something a little more casual, Burberry dressed their boys in loose trench coats, traditional checked scarves and polished brogues. The look was mixed with the addition of some shearling coats and oversized knits, creating a stark contrast with the stylish suit trousers, circa 1950’s/Prince Philip. Feeling brave? Have a look at the MAN collection for Autumn/Winter 2014. A range designed by creatives from Topman and Fashion East, the brand are known for their rebellious attitude and they didn’t disappoint this season. They hit the headlines with their silver mouth guards which shocked the press, but the real stars were the clothes on the catwalk. From Japanese-inspired designs to military berets, MAN gave guests a buffet of fashionable titbits to chew on. Their most wearable elements included acid wash jumpers emblazoned with ‘Dream on’ and ‘R.I.P’ in the classic Disney font. Keep a beady eye on Ebay for similar, more affordable designs as I guarantee these tongue in cheek styles will hit the high street.
Granted, the styles on display were for Autumn/Winter 2014, but four key pieces will feature in any fashionable gent’s wardrobe for every season. After all, a boy can do no wrong in a trench coat. No fear, I’m not talking about a beige ankle grazer offering; unless you’re John Cusak in Say Anything and have a boom box handy I’d steer clear. Instead, opt for a navy blue short trench. It will keep you dry during the Lancaster monsoon weather (i.e. all year) and you’ll look like a real man at those grad interviews, instead of being dressed by mummy.
Secondly, invest in some brogues. I’m not suggesting that you’ve all got to become hipsters, but they look great on any guy. Pair with a sharp suit for the above interview or dark jeans on a night out. If you don’t want to look like you work at Topman try something a little different and opt for a suede pair in black or a brighter colour if you’re feeling brave. Suede is an educated man’s spring/summer option for footwear, just please remember to not wear them to Hustle.
Next up is the suit. Yes, unfortunately one day you’ll have to wear them and not just to funerals or your cousin’s wedding. Yep you probably regret that cummerbund you wore for prom, but that’s no excuse to shy away from the manliest garment in your wardrobe. If you pride yourself on being ‘off the wall’ then go ahead and get a double breasted suit, it’ll probably compliment your wacky hairstyle and oversized specs. Want to play it safe? A single button suit in black, charcoal or navy blue is your best option. Stuck for inspiration? Dermot O’Leary is one of LCM’s Ambassadors and he’s been appointed to this role for a reason. Hate him on the XFactor, love him for his style and you’ll do just fine.
Finally, make room for a fitted shirt in your wardrobe. Whether you choose a bold colour (if so PLEASE don’t ‘compliment’ your look with fake tan) or stick to navy, grey, black or white, remember the buzz word is fitted. Make sure your shirt’s not too roomy, but don’t buy one that could be spray on. Fuchsia was the shade of choice for a number of designers for Spring/Summer 2013, but I’m not expecting blokes to warm to the Mr Blobby colour scheme. Like all high fashion, some choices are best left on the catwalk, however LCM is an exciting source of inspiration and effortless style which should be perused rather than strictly followed. Just please boys, mix it up a bit.