How I filter fashions

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Fashions sweep through the world of classic menswear on a fairly regular basis – no matter how permanent we think our tastes and styles are.

I find it pays to consider each carefully, and then over time decide which of three camps it falls into, something you can:

  • dismiss
  • fold into your existing wardrobe, or
  • become a real personal style signifier.

Indeed, I’d suggest that it is precisely this process that, over time, establishes your personal style.

It is tempting to jump to extremes instead.

On the one hand, to buy into everything, wear it for a few months, and then throw it away. This is unfortunately how much of womenswear operates.

Or, on the other, to be close-minded and dismiss anything new as a fad, often not recognising how all clothing evolves. I find this is most likely to affect enthusiasts of classic menswear.

Like much I write about on Permanent Style, I suggest a more considered and thoughtful approach.

Here are a few examples.

Wide, elaborate waistbands on bespoke trousers are a trend that started a few years ago.

I disliked the more extreme versions (with double buckles and so on) but the fact that simpler versions were merely a change in proportion rather than a loud pattern or colour, did appeal.

I tried it on a few trousers, particularly my cottons from Marco Cerrato (above). I didn’t have everything made this way immediately, but gave it a few months.

I now have three such pairs, and like the character it gives them.

But I see it as an occasional detail; not something I will ever have on the majority of my trousers. It has been considered, tried, and assigned to the middle of those three categories: folding into a minor part of the wardrobe.

Hawaiian or Aloha shirts are a more recent trend.

A few people were wearing them three summers ago, and the last two everyone was.

Instinctively these did not appeal. They were too far removed from my existing wardrobe, with their strong colours, synthetic materials, and boxy fit. But this did not mean they were dismissed out of hand. I watched with interest.

They looked good on many people – particularly those with a more relaxed, flowing style. But the question was whether they fit into my style, not someone else’s.

At the end of last summer I decided to try not a Hawaiian shirt, but a camp-collar shirt in a plain linen (from Gitman Bros) - so experimenting with the cut, but not the pattern or colour.

This I find I like, but only in a very casual setting – with shorts in the heat, and never with a jacket.

The Hawaiian shirt itself has fallen into the first category, and been dismissed after due consideration.

My third example is something that I now wear so often, it has become a core part of my wardrobe.

This is the denim shirt. It predates the other two as a tailoring trend, and barely feels like a fashion any more, given how many people wear it.

I responded to it immediately, and bought a now much-loved one at Al Bazar in Milan (above).

I then had them made bespoke, trying almost every type of denim available. I tried full-on pearl-stud cowboy versions. And I finally ended up selling my own denim, when the one I most loved was no longer available.

I love the denim shirt because it makes tailoring feel more relaxed, more rugged, and (just about, still) more unusual. Much as I hate the phrase, it feels appropriate to call it a style signifier.

Many other trends have been considered and treated in the same way.

Oversized knitwear and outerwear (above, from Connolly), often with a drop shoulder that gives a rather masculine look, I find subtle yet surprisingly distinctive. It has been folded into a part of my wardrobe.

Running shoes of the New Balance variety have been tried and dismissed (the proportions are all wrong); but Common Projects and their ilk have become a big part of how I dress casually.

Gurkha shorts and gurkha trousers are nice, but similar to those enlarged waistbands: just a nice touch of variation.

Hollywood-Top trousers, despite how beautiful the ones I have from Edward Sexton are, I'm still not entirely sure about.

I have a weakness for jewellery, but have firm views about it being personal and valuable. I’ve commissioned my own cuff and been interested in south-western American silver bracelets; these have become a part of my wardrobe.

But necklaces have always seemed a step too far.

Every time I see someone wearing a necklace and looking good, I find it interesting. Jamie does this well, as do others. But they’re not for me.

This, by the way, is how I think readers should consider images of people at Pitti – indeed, most people in the menswear industry.

Not the peacocks with their silly gimmicks, but people like Tomoyoshi Takada, Ethan Newton, or Yasuto Kamoshita.

Perhaps we can call them Pitti People, rather than Pitti Peacocks.

It is their job to constantly explore new styles, many of which don’t work or won’t sell, and certainly most won’t wear all at once, as they do.

But they give us new things to consider, constantly. And I thank them for giving me new things to stimulate and push through that fashion filter.

What have you been considering - or decided on - recently?

Pictures: All Jamie Ferguson except Hawaiian shirt (Sebastian McFox for Styleforum), denim shirt (mine), Common Projects (James Munro) and Tomoyoshi Takada (his own)