How I filter fashions

Share
||- Begin Content -||

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)

 

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
73 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jeff from Chicago

I’ve been trying as of late to choose bolder patterns and colors. I am trying to fold these into my current wardrobe. I have found this to be a welcomed challenge – forcing me to put more thought into matching and planning. Dressing and buying pieces was almost being done by rote – grey, blue, white, oh…a dash of dark green—sure….zzzzzzzzzz.

I also think of age appropriateness when deciding on something. Nothing worse than some middle age guy (me) – still trying to look ‘cool’ in a young man’s outfit.

Great post this morning.

Alex

This is a great little piece Simon, I personally very much appreciate you sharing the thought process – it’s not something I had as thoroughly formulated in my mind but this succinctly pulls together some of the ideas I have had rolling around in my head.

Michael

Simon,

What are your thoughts on high-waisted trousers? It seems that they are represented everywhere on the accounts of classic-menswear enthusiasts, IMO, at times out of place.

High waisted denim, casual/ odd trousers worn without jackets, etc… At what point does it become “cosplay?”

John

I was thinking about how often I see you in a denim shirt. You hit on something important in this article. The denim shirt adds character and ruggedness to YOUR style and it looks great. I live in the rural southern US on a farm so my clothes are more casual and rugged by nature with less tailoring. i guess I could stand to have a little less ruggedness/masculine in my clothing maybe? Could you take the opposite approach and wear a “fancier more refined piece” to elevate more casual clothing? Thanks for your help Simon. Still learning brother

Anonymous

Simon

Fashion is by definition passing, whereas classic menswear is enduring.

They have no place together.

Are you confusing the intent with flair? And thus some of your readers?

Anonymous

I think you have totally missed my point Simon.

Fashion changes from one season to the next. Comes and goes and is then pretty much redundant.

Formal evening wear is only varied over time because eg movie stars goes to the Oscars wearing a DJ with w regular necktie. Because they want to put their slant on something. But formal evening wear remains unchanged over decades.

Laurent Müller

Thank you Simon for these considerate and inspiring thoughts! This is probably the aspect of PS I appreciate the most.
On my side, probably like many others, I have rediscovered the polo shirt. Only long sleeves so far and mostly in summer, but the casual touch it gives to a otherwise quite classical wardrobe is something I like a lot. It is a similar approach for me as you have with the denim shirts which look great.

Enjoy the summer, Laurent

Rob

Simon, do you think that denim shirts look better with cut away or button-down collars rather than semi-spread?

Rob

Do you think that certain collars suit particular people? Maybe a topic for another post…

Kenny

Simon will not like a few items on my list but here are the iGents’ fads/fashions that I have dismissed in recent years –

a) Outerwear – polo coats, military coats including M65 jackets;
b) Tailoring – wide jacket lapels, spalla camicia shoulders, very open quarters, low waisted/ low rise trousers, multiple pleats, ghurka trousers/shorts;
c) Shirts – extreme cutaway collars, shirring on shoulders/sleeves, mitred cuffs;
d) Footwear – double monk shoes, Balmoral boots, Belgian loafers, white retro sneakers, espadrilles, painted patinas;
e) Jewellery – large watches, necklaces, bangles, bracelets;

Style is permanent but fashion is disposable.

Kenny

It could be a question of what others have adopted from me. I have been wearing John Smedley polo shirts with tailored jackets (wool/silk/linen) for over 30 years. Similarly, I have been wearing seersucker, currently an iGent fad, for over30 years.

I remain loyal to British brands that I have loved for decades – Huntsman, Cordings, Turnbull & Asser, Tricker’s, Crockett & Jones, Chatham, Grenfell, Barbour, Gloverall, Sunspel, Olney, Lawrence & Foster and Chapman Bags. It’s quality at a reasonable price, not faddish “details”, that really counts.

After several problems, however, I have reluctantly abandoned Hilditch & Key for Budd. Closing their Fife factory and switching to Italian manufacture was a big mistake. The new H&K management have lost numerous loyal customers who have also switched to other brands. The new Italian owners of Baracuta have ruined that brand too.

I have no need or desire to go to trunk shows and wait several months for fittings and delivery. Instead, I have discovered regional tailors who can deliver exceptional quality at prices well below those charged by the Savile Row and Neapolitan tailors.

Style is permanent but fashion is temporary and (as I said above) disposable. Quality is not always expensive. High prices often reflect the hype and the inflated bank balances of the gullible wannabes on the iGent forums.

Adam Jones

I will certainly agree with you Kenny on a few points (especially oversized watches with suits and extreme patina’s) but I would disagree with much of your list being fads/ fashions. Polo Coats, M65 Jackets, Balmoral Boots ( could go on but I wont ) are classic items, some albeit having a revival. Or are you referring to the way they are worn, as I then will lend you my support. For one example I love M65 jackets, that I have recently discovered a liking for but I dislike the trend of wearing them with tailoring or any formal outfit. I love and always have loved white retro trainers. Again not with tailoring. So it is the items themselves you are not a fan of or the way they are being worn or combined?

P.S. Try as I might, I still cannot make overshirts/ safari shirts work on me!

Rabster

Simon,
Where on the spectrum would the new Kingman flame coloured tuxedo sit?

Would you ever advise getting one bespoke or is it a step too far ?

Ben

I do not frequently roll in circles hip to the notion of a personal style signifier (which requires distinguishing an element as unique in the first place; the denim shirt, by the way, is so ubiquitous now as to probably no longer qualify in that category) and tend to adopt trends that I like and expect my acquaintances to as well that do not necessitate a massive investment. Some examples include the casualization (ditch the tie and often the collar underneath a suit; athleisure) and slimming down (esp. jacket lengths and trouser hems) of everything and stretchy fabrics for casualwear. Looking forward to the day when I find these features unbearably old fashioned.

DE

Hi Simon, I have been looking at whether texture can overcome the differences in fabrics. Looking at how a linen jacket can work with lightweight wool trousers, or perhaps how a tweed blazer might work with heavy cotton drills. I believe that these experiments work particularly well in Spring and Autumn. Denim is particularly useful (shirt or jeans – normally not both) and looks great with cotton, suede, cashmere, wool, etc. – I know you use it a lot in your own dress.

Robert

Recently, I decided to stop my (futile) attempts at trying to look cool. I’m well past the age anyway. So I went full suburban conventional.

I don’t think anyone noticed.

Peter O

Dear Simon,

You love the denim shirt (which would seem to me very heavy in cloth weight) – maybe also because denim reminds you of linen without creases?

Gordon

Hello Simon,

Thank you for the great article.
Could you elaborate more on the 3 categories?
And also how and why the Hawaii shirt is not suitable for you, hence ‘dismissing’ it.

Just want to know more before investing in some Hawaii shirt.

Best,
Gordon

Sam

What I find intriguing is how accurately one can usually tell how at home someone is in their clothes/style. There must be countless non-verbal cues we pick up with great precision – expressions, posture, the exact way the clothes are worn, etc. Very sophisticated animal instincts perhaps!

I’ve recently come to love ties so I’m going to try to phase in wearing them casually in an environment where they’re completely alien (i.e. broke artists). Time will tell if this has any chance without being seen as an anachronistic try-hard eccentric costume, which is not my intention.

Sam

Yeah, knits and shantung is the game plan, with very soft tailoring etc.

Michael Hill has been a great inspiration to me; a very sharp dresser but very approachable and unpretentious, with just the right amount of rumple and boyish charm. Hoping to find my personal equivalent of that.

Robert

Round my way, women will walk up to you, tug at your tie, and loudly tell you to take the silly thing off and loosen up. I live in a sartorial-unfriendly area.

Martin

I find David Hockney in the seventies was wearing them best.

Robert

David Hockney can wear a bin liner, and people will still worship him.

Nick Inkster

Great topic (although I’m not sure what place Hawaiian shirts have here).

Years ago, my daughters caught the wave of wearing something really expensive (£175 for a pair of jeans!) with something really cheap(Primark T shirts) and it got me thinking a little.

So not so much about your three “fashion” ideas, but more about how things fit together.

What I learnt was that a bespoke worsted suit and a Pepsi GMT just didn’t go together, whereas a smashed up pair of Levis and a blue bespoke Blazer (or tweed jacket) really did. And if you topped that off with a vintage Patek, it made two plus two equal about seven.

As I rarely have to wear “formal” these days (being the proud possessor of a senior rail card), I get a lot of fun from playing with the mix and match that is easy to come by.

Sam

Since you asked: what I’ve found to work well in my context is to wear a tie with an overshirt. It’s a coherent outfit, without any of the establishment connotations of a tailored jacket. In such a casual combination, it’s clear that the tie is a voluntary celebration of style, not worn because you have to. It still raises an eyebrow or two, but since it doesn’t conform to any dress code, at least no one asks if you’re on your way to a wedding or job interview…

It also brings to mind early modernist style (think Moholy-Nagy in overalls with a tie), which was not necessarily the plan but it’s a nice vibe.

The journey continues – thanks Simon.

JH

How did you evaluate the trend (although it’s been so long-lived now, that word is probably no longer appropriate) of bracelets with tailoring? For me, I quite like the look of a bracelet or two (not ten!) with casual outfits but I’m not convinced about them with tailoring.

Nick Inkster

Morning Simon

I made a small contribution to this piece yesterday evening but it doesn’t seem to have been posted. Did you receive it?

Cheers

Robert

I’m sorry, but what is stuffy about tailoring? How does the iGent world define stuffy, for that matter? It looks to me like the men’s style world is made up of a lot of boys, or grown men desperately trying to be boys, who are essentially still uncomfortable wearing proper tailoring. The biggest clue, to me, is the posture.

The very few exceptions (Bernhard Roetzel, for one) just prove the rule.

David

Style is an intrinsic expression of your personality. Not somebody else’s.
Hoping from one fad to another is the antithesis of any definition of ‘Permanent Style’.
Menswear has always been about details that evolve over a relatively long period of time.
If one looks at a true style icon’s life. You may see that their trouser, tie and lapel width may vary during their lifetime but they avoid the foibles of fashion like the plague. They just continue to plough their own furrow with great elan.
Cary Grant, Gregory Peck and Bryan Ferry are perhaps good examples of this phenomena.
Conversely, the dedicated follower of fashion’s flower wilts before the season is out.
These ridiculous outlets from Pitti are truly a pity for those involved but hey, it’s their wonga.
For my part, I wouldn’t be seen stiff sporting all these bangles and beads and with my trousers at half mast.
Time after time the photos just shout ‘this guy is trying too hard’ and just doesn’t know what to do next to get noticed.
Is there anything I would adapt from their world? Absolutely not but they adopt plenty from mine. They steal my denim shirts, polo shirts, cord suits, flannel trousers, roll neck sweaters and chelsea boots. But these are things that I’ve been wearing for the past fifty years and doubtless will do until the grim reaper arrives. They won’t, they’ll hop onto something else and start to take more selfies of themselves.
The opportunity for this site is to try and be a bit more consistent because consistency is an important part of ‘Permanent Style’.
Jason and I will continue to plow our own furrow.

Matt

“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.”

In other words – they look a berk so that you don’t have to.

If I could add to this PS version of ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’, then my top three would be:

Dismiss – Contrived, cookie-cutter, sprezz (mis-tied ties, undone shoe buckles, shirt collars sticking up under turtlenecks etc.)

Everyday dress – Wearing polos with tailoring. Particularly useful at the moment as a fine sea island polo is much cooler than a cotton shirt.

Personal favourite – Casual pocket squares. Usually wool or linen in a muted colour (sometimes matching the colour of the jacket rather than the shirt / polo worn underneath it), worn with a deconstructed linen or tweed blazer and jeans or chinos.

Dan

Great list Matt – you’ve said exactly what I was trying to put in to words.

The Instagram herd has a lot to answer for in the ‘Avoid’ regard. If I see one more tie ‘carelessly’ (or actually very carefully) tied so that the rear blade is a foot longer than the front and is then tucked in to a pair of high-waist trousers, I may scream. It’s costume, in essence.

I work in the City and the ‘pocket square with formal tailoring’ look was absolutely done to death here a couple of years ago. The fad seems to have now died down and you rarely see them anywhere. However I agree that there is still absolutely a place for casual pocket squares and I make use of them all the time when dressing up to go out for dinner etc.

The two things I have picked up in recent times which have become permanent wardrobe fixtures are tweed and socks. It is absolutely possible to wear tweed without adopting the full country ‘uniform’ or looking like a caricature and I now have four or five tweed jackets which I’m desperate to start wearing again. (Bring on the autumn!)

As for socks – I started as many men do, by wearing extremely plain, boring socks. I then did what many men also do and veered in to extremely bright colours, or those with ludicrous patterns or designs or pictures of dogs on them. Finally I feel as though I have reached a happy medium. They are by no means boring and do stand out, but will also complement whatever outfit I am wearing. Simon’s love of green socks is certainly something I have picked up from this site and I have a pair from J. Girdwood which I suspect will wear out before long, given how much use they get.

Matthew

Great article Simon.

I find I always want to wear a denim or chambray shirt too. And Common Projects are definitely a mainstay in my wardrobe.

It is strange that wearing a tie regularly in London today, in most work environments is almost seen as subversive!

Rob D

Ah, another view of the “Comptomesque Belly” I see (I was the earlier anonymous post;, Simon: only made anonymous by accident because you need to optimise the “add-comments” bit of your site for Smartphones, – the text boxes currently disappear off the small screen ). Returning to the belly, I’m not quite there yet so will keep on with the runs!

I agree with the earlier comments about middle age – and you can easily fall into the “Camp Camp” or look a prat who is trying too hard by adopting clothes really directed at the younger man. I’m not a fan of expanding male jewellery either beyond cufflinks, watches and tiepins: I’ve never seen the attraction of sporting an elastic, gemstone or any other type of male bracelet.

One trend I’d really like to see spread would be the return of the hat (not woolly ones – proper hats). A hat is such a useful garment in rain or cold, and is ubiquitous in old photos (funny how social class in those photos correlates with top hat/bowler/straw boater/flat cap). Most men still eschew them, perhaps afraid of looking pretentious or having it knocked off by some yob, but its a practical garment and a stylish one, and worn with confidence looks great.

Dario

Hi Simon,

It’s the first time that I see the drop shoulder thing, so I have a question: The jacket in the first photo… Is that a “drop shoulder” as well? Or is it simply a jacket that is too big?

Thanks!

Paul Lewis

Kerry King is looking sharp in the last picture!

Limekiln

Simon, even as an oul’ fella of 58 I continue to enjoy your style musings, including this one. As a general point, I think your writing style is one of the real successes of your venture. It’s perhaps a subliminal effect for all except language nerds like me. You are articulate and direct, and I especially appreciate the absence of the latest buzzwords that infect almost all other men’s style sites – even ones that are also of value. For example the absence of the word “kicks” to describe footwear, the absence of the verb “drop” when announcing something has just gone on sale…and other frivolous nonsense.
Keep up the good work.

Ant

As an aside – great to see Wade McNeil’s doppelganger make a cameo appearance at the end of this piece!

Fascinating how people evolve their wardrobe over time, and like an earlier poster said, there is a lot to be said for getting comfortable with your own style, wearing it confidently, and respecting those that take a different view.

Hesh

Simon,
Thank you for another thoughtful post. I love your custom cuff. Where did you have it made?

Matthew

Great post Simon.

Common Projects are a mainstay in my wardrobe.

One evident trend is a lack of ties in business environments. It is strange that in London now, in most work and social environments, wearing a tie is almost subversive. It is now a choice rather than adhering to a uniform – maybe that’s a good thing?

COLIN MACDONALD

Simon I am certainly with you on the aloha shirts.
regards

ezequiel

great article!

surely i am not the only one that keeps a list of his wardrobe (both current garments and whishlist). personally, i try to keep it between 50 and 55 pieces.

whenever i discover a “trend”, i try to determine first whether it appeals to me (my personal style/body proportions/lawyer life) and then whether it would be an upgrade for another item in the list.

for example, i recently ditched the classic grey sweatshirt from the list for a navy rugby shirt, which i find more interesting/refined and, hence, more in tone with the rest of my wardrobe.

other recent trends that i am a hooker for, and now are personal style signifiers, are wider waistbands in tailored trousers, tucking in everything (t-shirts, sweaters), turning up the ribbed bottom of sweaters and sweatshirts and unbuttoning ocbds when wearing a suit and tie.

Lucas

I am having trouble understanding the disdain directed at Pitti peacocks. Simon, you write of your Pitti people: “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.” as if they pull ideas out of thin air. I’m sure they don’t get all their style hints on the morning commute.
The peacocks can try as many things as they like and the rest of us can dismiss, fold in, or adopt as we like.

Rob D

Let’s keep a light-hearted approach: clothes are fun. Yes they are important for keeping us warm/dry/cool as the weather dictates but they are also such a manifestation of a wide range of personalities: that German phrase “Kleider machen Leute” (clothes make the people) is so true. If clothes weren’t fun we wouldn’t be distracted from our valuable worktime – instead reading Simon’s blog and typing these responses (In fact I imagine Simon when he’s replying – sitting on a beach: yeah, yeah ,yeah, got to say something to this one to show I’ve actually read him….)

George

Hi Simon,
On gurkha trousers.
I am considering them as a variation to a classic beige chinos. Which brands would you suggest? A quick google search does not return much, apart from Rubinacci’s which are out of budget, even though I am sure they are great.

Nick

HI Simon

What do you make of tailored trousers with drawstrings? Brunello Cucinelli have a couple of styles in their latest season and I’ve noticed other brands jumping on the same bandwagon.

Cheers
N

Matthew V

I agree about drawstring waist tailored trousers!

ametorist

Great framework. This does require some patience with a capital “p”, which guys on either end of the style conscious continuum may lack.

And now, to answer your question:

I tried wide leg work trousers. Firm dismiss. I felt like a manikin in a vintage shop.

I tried unstructured blazers. I never dress up in tailoring except for weddings, and most of these occasions aren’t too formal. When I wear a blazer now, the unstructured is my style. I played around with a lot of pocket squares and even boutonnière pins but as one of your other articles pointed out, I have recently moved away from flourishes like these except for certain deliberate instances.

I recently tried moccasin style boots from Yuketen and I’m very smitten thus far. I opted for a thick rubber sole and roughout leather, which can already be found across my everyday wardrobe (Viberg work boots, Tricker’s golf loafers with a Morflex sole), so yet to be seen whether these are a “fold into” or “define.”