Why ‘Plus Size’ Men Aren’t Just “Fat”

 

Ever tried on an XL T-shirt in Zara so tight it came up like a crop top? Or attempted to pull on a pair of Topman jeans you couldn’t get past your calves?

I have. And I’m not “fat”. I’m 6 foot tall, weigh 209 pounds and have a healthy body fat percentage of just under 20 per cent. (Not that that matters much when you’re trying to button-up a restrictively tight XL Christopher Shannon shirt in such a way that it doesn’t strain like a sports bra.)

Still, according to the rules set out by an article recently published by a leading men’s magazine I read and respect, if I can’t squeeze into certain brands’ size ranges, then “fat” is exactly what I am. Which doesn’t seem fair considering most of my weekday evenings are spent squatting in a gym, not scoffing burgers.

Of course, I’m not alone in my trials with fit. According to a recent YouGov survey, 34 per cent of men in the UK struggle to find clothes to suit their body shape, whether because they’re too big, small, round, narrow, whatever. Which isn’t hugely surprising when you think about the fact that, owing to biological diversity, we really do come in all shapes and sizes – something most clothing manufacturers who produce on a huge scale simply don’t take into account. Or perhaps more accurately, can’t afford to if they want to make a profit.

The average menswear brand takes a rudimentary approach to size diversity. They start out by designing a garment, let’s say a Medium (typically a 38-40-inch chest), based on the measurements of their fit model – the real-life mannequin whose dimensions are as close to what the brand believes its customer’s are in real life. Then, in order to design bigger and smaller sizes to complete a size range, most manufacturers will simply add or subtract inches while maintaining the ratio, failing to consider the fact that that’s not really how our bodies work.

American Eagle #AerieMan CampaignMen come in all shapes and sizesPHOTO: AMERICAN EAGLE #AERIEMAN CAMPAIGN

“Most brands design off of a block, and scale measurements up to make larger sizes,” says Ed Watson, Creative Director at N Brown, the parent company of menswear retailer Jacamo, which stocks sizes Small to 5XL.

“But while that might take dimensions into account, it doesn’t allow for subtle differences in overall body shape as you get larger. Size and fit are two very different things, and not all brands and retailers have the expertise [or the money – Ed.] to design with that in mind. At Jacamo, we use several different fit models to build our bigger sizes to ensure that fit is optimised across the scale.”

The idea, then – considering most of us buy off-the-peg rather than have our entire wardrobes made for us bespoke – that the reason some brands’ standard size ranges don’t fit someone well is because they’re, well, too fat, kind of misses the point.

Look at Zach Miko for example, the very first ‘Brawn’ model to be signed to major model agency IMG, and the man who has sparked so much of the debate around male size diversity so far (including the article I mentioned earlier) – mostly for being the first ‘plus size’ male model to appear on American retailer Target’s online store.

At 6 foot 6 inches and 240 pounds, Miko’s definitely ‘big and tall’. And while, yes, a few HIIT sessions might shave an inch or two off his 40-inch waist, his detractors seem to be missing the fact that standing at a whopping 8.5 inches taller than the average US male, no amount of sweating it out on a treadmill is going to make him any shorter. Or make it any easier for him to find jeans that won’t look like three-quarter lengths.

Plus Size/Brawn Model Zach MikoIMG’s first ‘Brawn’ model, Zach MikoPHOTO: LEONARDO CORREDOR

“People are, in evolutionary terms, physically getting bigger,” says Watson. Just look at the stats: the average height of a man in the UK has risen by over four inches since the 1870s, while the average male chest in the UK now measures 42 inches, and the average male waist clocks in at 40 inches. Which all suggests brands still tailoring their product to a guy with a 38-inch chest and a 30-inch waist are probably missing a trick.

“There’s a tonne of income being lost over archaic ideas of ‘brand perception’,” says Corbin Chamberlin, New York Times journalist and contributor to Chubstr, a website providing fashion and style tips for bigger guys. “Brands like DXL and KingSize are trying their best, but they really need to get some young blood in to freshen things up – they’re not trying hard enough.”

But while still relatively untapped, the plus size men’s market isn’t entirely underserved – Chamberlin cites Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren as brands worth a punt and, here in the UK, retailers like High & Mighty (which offers sizes up to 6XL) and Jacamo have been catering for larger guys for 60 years and seven years, respectively, while household names like ASOS and Marks & Spencer now offer styles in sizes up to 3XL.

No, you won’t find anything above a 2XL at brands like Reiss. Nor will you find much sized bigger than an XL at high-end stores such as Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. But premium and luxury fashion have always marched to the beat of their own drum, taking pride in their inaccessibility – whether in terms of sizing or price.

The concept of style

Shades Of The Seventies

You’re going to be outside most of the time, and – with any luck – not in the shade. So you should also ensure that you’re in your shades.

“They’re a must-have for being out in the sun all day and even better at covering those dark circles after a night of partying,” agrees James Lawrence, Head of Menswear Design at ASOS.

If you want to keep your eyewear bang up to date, the trend forecast for this festival season’s opticals is bright. “The 1970s resurgence has made sunglasses fun again,” adds Lawrence. “Coloured or mirrored lenses in retro frames are key for spring/summer 2016.”

 

Men's Bold Sunglasses Lookbook

house of fraser ss16 boohoo ss16 mango man 2015 new look

Key Pieces

  • RECLAIMED VINTAGE ROUND SUNGLASSESReclaimed Vintage Round Sunglasses
  • RAY-BAN ROUND SUNGLASSES WITH FLASH LENS 0RB3447Ray-ban Round Sunglasses With Flash Lens 0rb3447
  • ASOS AVIATOR SUNGLASSES IN GOLD WITH REVO LENSAsos Aviator Sunglasses In Gold With Revo Lens
  • RIVER ISLAND BLUE MIRROR FLAT TOP SUNGLASSESRiver Island Blue Mirror Flat Top Sunglasses
  • DICK MOBY CPT SUNGLASSESDick Moby Cpt Sunglasses
  • RAY BAN ERIKA SUNGLASSESRay Ban Erika Sunglasses
  • URBAN OUTFITTERS CLASSIC DEMI TORTOISE SQUARE SUNGLASSESUrban Outfitters Classic Demi Tortoise Square Sunglasses
  • HE BY MANGO ACETATE FRAME SUNGLASSESHe By Mango Acetate Frame Sunglasses
  • ILLESTEVA LEONARD ROUND-FRAME ACETATE SUNGLASSESIllesteva Leonard Round-frame Acetate Sunglasses

A (Dark) Floral Shirt

Put your earplugs in, or rather your sunglasses on (see above), because it might get loud.

“It’s all about making a strong statement at a festival and a floral print shirt is the perfect way to do it, says Giles Farnham, head of River Island Style Studio (not a music label, but rather the retailer’s complimentary personal shopping service). “But avoid novelty or Hawaiian styles and go with something more sophisticated in a dark floral, which has been embraced from catwalk to high street.”

Want to be really on point? Turn to a revere or Cuban collar: that is, the kind that lies flat, like on a bowling shirt. “It’s the shirt shape of the season,” says ASOS’ Lawrence, who also adds that a floral shirt will make it easier for your friends to find you.

No shrinking violet? Match your patterned shirt to your shorts, AKA the “co-ord”, says Farnham: “But stick to darker florals to avoid looking camper than a row of tents.”

Men's Floral Shirts Festival Fashion Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

selected homme ss16 mango man ss16 allsaints 2016 asos 2016

Why Is ‘Sustainability’ Such A Dirty Word?

Last month, two garment factories burned to the ground in Bangladesh and China, claiming the lives of at least 12 workers. The latest in a long line of tragedies, these fires are the result of poor working conditions in often structurally unsound, overcrowded factories – factories where workers earning as little as £25 per month toil relentlessly to churn out trend-driven clothing and accessories which, all too often, end up in landfill just months after they’re unwrapped.

Fashion’s colossal impact both on the environment and human lives is why some designers are choosing to turn the tide. Spurred on by the harrowing effects of the fast-fashion model, a growing number of brands are making changes to their process to slow the fashion cycle.

There are, however, misconceptions; that sustainable brands’ wares are made from (and look like) recycled bin bags or lack the unbridled creativity of less socially and environmentally conscious brands. But, as designers like Ada + Nik are proving, that’s far from the truth.

Founded in 2013, the London label fuses a Goth sensibility with Greco-Roman influences, which roughly translates as slick, punky all-black looks. Far from the hemp-led aesthetic that’s often unfairly attributed to sustainable brands, their modernist collections are made locally from by-product materials and are testament to the fact that it’s possible to create clothing that doesn’t sacrifice style for sustainability.

We caught up with Ada + Nik co-founder, Ada Zanditon, to talk clothes-swapping, eco-friendly tech and why designers should ditch the ‘all or nothing’ approach.

Ada Zanditon Interview

Ada Zanditon InterviewFashionBeans: When designing for Ada + Nik, how do you think about your brand’s sustainability?
Ada Zanditon: For us, designing always begins with the concept. I think people get confused and think that the final look of your product and [its sustainability] are linked, whereas in reality they aren’t.

When we’re designing, we come up with a concept about who our intended man is. So there’ll be a punk influence; there’ll be a rebel influence; there’ll be the influence of warriors and gladiators. It’s about exploring our ideas. We [talk] about the form and the silhouette, and we’ll base designs around words like ‘tension’ or ‘architecture’.

The sustainable part is in the nuts and bolts of everything. That element comes from the production process, the fabric-sourcing. So you can have an incredible-looking jacket that’s sustainable, but it has nothing to do with the way it looks.

A common misconception is that making things in a conscious way is more difficult, but the process of sourcing materials and transporting them is always challenging. If you think about it, using local manufacturing may cost a bit more, but it means it’s all designed and made in the same postcode. I think that’s a really important part of [Ada + Nik’s] story.

Do you think the definition of ‘sustainable fashion’ is too narrow?
The definition can be too narrow, not in terms of what is available but in terms of awareness around sustainable fashion and how sustainable fashion is portrayed.

I do think though, that this is beginning to change. I don’t think we should be communicating about sustainability as if it is a trend – it is instead how the industry should operate going forward and the negative stereotype around the aesthetics of sustainable fashion need to be shaken off.

Can you tell us a bit about your ‘narrative jacket’?
It [a leather jacket with a built-in Narrative Clip camera] was an Ekocycle collaboration that was sold in Harrods.

To create it, we used a material that was made from recycled plastic bottles, then combined that with our leather. It transpired that this recycled textile was showerproof and wind-resistant. It also featured this fine herringbone pattern, so it was a cool technical fabric that just happened to be made using post-consumer waste.

5 Bold Colours You Can Actually Wear This Summer

Warmer weather means two things for your wardrobe: 1) it’s time to switch to clothes that make you feel cooler (easy), and 2) it’s time to start passing on the black and navy in favour of brighter colours (less so).

There’s a reason most men avoid vivid colours like the plague. And it’s because they don’t want to look like a rainbow just threw up on them. If bread-and-butter hues like black, grey and navy are ‘safe’, then bolder ones like yellow and red are simply asking for trouble.

So to help you navigate the pitfalls of expanding your palette, we’ve tapped the expert knowledge of the men who dress well for a living. This is your key to colour:

Pink

Once considered as masculine as Bear Grylls on steroids, pink only gained its feminine status in the early 20th century. Since then it’s been championed by the likes of Barbie, Paris Hilton and Becky in HR who loves her glittery feather pen.

Now’s the time, however, to rediscover pink’s not so feminine charms. Branded resolutely male in the 19th century due to its punchiness, pink deserves a place in the modern man’s wardrobe too. First things first, we’re not talking the bubblegum shade of pink that covered your 12-year-old sister’s bedroom walls. But pink’s subtler faces instead: colours like peach, rose and salmon.

“For casual attire, look for earthier, more washed out pinks, rather than vibrant pinks,” says menswear creative Nas Abraham. “Then combine them with olive tones, warm bronzes and browns, and [try wearing with] pale wash jeans or denim jackets to ground them.”

One of pink’s best assets is its versatility. A pink fine-gauge jumper or shirt will pair easily with black or blue jeans, sand or navy shorts and even green chinos. Though you’ll want to swerve styling it with bright white where possible – unless, that is, you’re intentionally taking your style cue from TOWIE stars.

As with any brighter hue, it’s worth taking stock of your skin tone before taking the plunge. Guys with a darker complexion can pull off most shades of pink, but those with fairer skin should opt for darker variants to sidestep the washout effect.

 

Men's Pink Fashion Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

mango man 2016 mango man 2016 tommy hilfiger ss16 debenhams high summer 2016 bally ss16 m&s

Key Pieces

Green might just be the new black. Not only does this colour sit well with most others, from navy to yellow – making it nearly as versatile as a neutral – green also reads less obviously gendered than other bright colours. So, unlike pink, you can pile it on without fear of prompting digs from your mates.

New to green? Kick off with an olive drab military shade. A field jacket or pocketed overshirt in this colour is a no-brainer: they’re both trending this season and, truth told, won’t ever really fall out of fashion thanks to their army ties. What’s more, they’re well worth the money. Throw either over a white T-shirt and pale, distressed jeans in summer and switch for a black jumper and black denim combo once the temperatures dip.

“I’m currently obsessed with building a wardrobe around greens and neutral colours as they feel effortless worn together,” says Billy Rainford, stylist at Harvey Nichols. “[But make sure] that you have other tones in your wardrobe to break down your outfit.” Stock up on light neutrals, deep reds and blues to make green go the extra mile.

Men's Green Fashion Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

windsor ss16 mango man 2016 tommy hilfiger ss16 reiss ss16 bal ss16 stenstrom ss16

Key Pieces

  • ASOS SKINNY BLAZER IN COTTONAsos Skinny Blazer In Cotton
  • PAUL SMITH JEANS POLO SHIRT WITH ZEBRA LOGO REGULAR FIT LONG SLEEVESPaul Smith Jeans Polo Shirt With Zebra Logo Regular Fit Long Sleeves
  • YMC SWEATSHIRT WITH IN GREENYmc Sweatshirt With In Green
  • RIVER ISLAND KHAKI GREEN ZIP SLEEVE BOMBER JACKETRiver Island Khaki Green Zip Sleeve Bomber Jacket
  • RAG & BONE COTTON-CANVAS FIELD JACKETRag & Bone Cotton-canvas Field Jacket
  • HE BY MANGO GARMENT-DYED T-SHIRTHe By Mango Garment-dyed T-shirt
  • CARHARTT WESLEY SHIRT LEAFCarhartt Wesley Shirt Leaf
  • TOPMAN GREEN STRETCH SLIM CHINOSTopman Green Stretch Slim Chinos
  • TOPMAN KHAKI CHINO SHORTSTopman Khaki Chino Shorts

Yellow

For most men, the very idea of wearing yellow prompts a feeling that’s anything but mellow. But while there’s no denying yellow is tricky to ace, it’s far too powerful a hue to write off entirely.

As with pink, yellow works best toned-down. (Unless it covers just a couple of square inches in total, in which case you can even try canary.) Think less hi-vis vest, more muted mustard. Shout-out here to Oliver Cheshire, the model and London Collections Men ambassador who – in a honey-coloured suede jacket – single-handedly put yellow back on the agenda at the SS16 shows last June. (Granted he’s a model, but it’s the styling – anchoring the attention-grabbing yellow with subtler pieces – that’s the secret to Cheshire’s success here.)

But if you’re not planning on sitting FROW at fashion week anytime soon, there are less bank-busting ways to make your wardrobe shine. ASOS stylist Dennis Glanz recommends putting a relaxed, streetwear-inspired spin on the hue this season: “Adding some yellow to your wardrobe is a fantastic idea for SS16; streetwear brands like HUF and Champion have some great hoodies and T-shirts for an unfussy way to wear [yellow].” Not to mention Vetements’ infamous DHL tee – a snip at just £185 pounds. (We jest.)

9 Ways A Tailor Can Make You Look Better

1. Replace Buttons And Zippers

No, it’s not exactly rocket science, but having your tailor replace missing buttons or faulty zippers saves you having to carve out the time to do it yourself. (Or, you know, learn how to do it in the first place.)

2. Make Your Trousers Longer Or Shorter

When choosing between a pair of trousers that fits well at the waist but not through the leg and a pair that fits nicely through the leg but not at the waist, always plump for the former – because your tailor can help you with the rest.

Altering trouser leg length is a relatively low-cost, fuss-free alteration. To shorten trousers or jeans, a tailor simply removes the garment’s original stitching (and any excess fabric) and creates a new hem that sits higher up the trouser leg.

Lengthening, on the other hand, is more complex (and costly) and involves sewing on additional fabric to the leg and lowering the hem to achieve a better trouser break.

A tailor taking up a trouser leg

3. Taper Trouser Legs

One for guys who don’t skip leg day, tapering trouser legs is an easy way of ensuring trousers or jeans that fit at your waist and thigh also fit well through the lower leg.

Tapering involves slimming the trouser leg down from the mid-thigh/knee area to the break, stripping away excess fabric and creating a new seam that sits closer to the body. Ideal if you want your denim or chinos to look less like your dad’s.

 

4. Make Your Shirt Fit Better

You might not prize your shirt as highly as the tailoring you wear on top of it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth streamlining.

Adding darts (subtle sewn-in folds) to a shirt can instantly improve how it fits through the torso, tucking in excess fabric and giving you a sleeker silhouette.

Although you’ll find plenty of DIY guides on adding darts to a shirt, it – like most alterations – is best left to a tailor you trust unless you consider yourself a skilled seamster.

Tailor measuring up a shirt to put darts in it

5. Give Your Shirt A New Neckline

Always thought that crew neck would work better as a boat neck? Or maybe you want to kill the collar on your favourite button-down?

A good tailor can help you achieve both. Although in many cases, like with a T-shirt for example, it’ll be easier (and more affordable) to just buy a new one, having your tailor work on the neckline is not only a more environmentally-friendly approach, it’ll also allow you to keep what you like about the garment (e.g. the colour or print) while optimising how it fits at the neck.

 

You can also have your tailor switch up your smarter shirts by replacing the collar (and cuffs in some cases) with a different style – e.g. scrapping a classic straight point collar for a tab collar, or trying a different colour in the same style to create a custom contrast collar shirt.

6. Get Rid Of Pockets

Some shirts look better sans chest pockets. So if you’d rather your favourite shirt had a more minimal appearance, check in with your tailor who should be able to remove the pocket(s) without leaving behind much of a trace.

Results vary, with holes from where the pocket was originally stitched sometimes visible, so get your tailor’s professional opinion before pushing the button on this one.

7. Slim Down A Suit Jacket

Arguably the best thing about buying a suit off-the-peg is the money it saves you. But, while it’s possible to pick up a pretty close fit, chances are you won’t look bespoke by buying ready-to-wear.

There is one tailoring solution that can make a serious difference, though – taking your suit jacket in at the sides. Many of us already know that suit jacket sleeves can be shortened and trousers can be made slimmer, but your tailor can also give your suit jacket something closer to a custom fit.

This works especially well for guys with a naturally broad back and shoulders. Just make sure the suit you opt for is as close a fit as possible – especially through the shoulders and back – so that a simple taking-in at the waist is all that’s needed to look on-point.

 

Will Wearable Tech Ever Be Stylish?

magine it’s winter. Imagine it’s snowing. Imagine – knowing that you’re already running late for work – you step outside the comfort of your centrally heated home, and into the freezing air. Where the icy wind stings your skin, and the sub-zero temperatures instantly set your teeth chattering, no matter how tightly you wrap your coat around you.

But what if that coat was heated? What if, instead of piling on more layers than a millefeuille, all you needed to do to keep warm was flip an ‘On’ switch?

These are the questions that spurred Rana Nakhal Solset, founder of Emel + Aris, to develop the Smart Coat – the world’s first high-end, self-heating overcoat. Launched on Kickstarter earlier this year, it seamlessly mixes trailblazing technology with the finest Italian Loro Piana fabrics and a Savile Row cut. In other words, it’s a game-changer, a giant step forward for what’s increasingly referred to as the wearables market – that nebulous term that covers everything from fitness trackers to smart textiles.

The Smart Coat’s concept is simple. A light and inert polymer (buried in the coat’s lining) uses power from a small pocket-sized battery (concealed within an interior chest pocket) to produce far infrared heat that spreads across the body, heating the wearer’s muscles and increasing their blood flow so that they feel toasty all over.

The coat is safe, features three different heat settings including low (1), medium (2) and high (3), and although not yet through its first production run, has wooed some 250 backers into parting with their hard-earned to get their hands on one come autumn.

Despite not being the world’s first heated garments – Solset is working with a manufacturer who’s been tinkering with the technology for over 30 years – Emel + Aris Smart Coats (the brand is launching with two for men and two for women) are the first of their kind in that they are pieces of wearable tech which are actually, well, wearable.

EMEL + ARIS

Sure, recent years have seen wrist-based devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers get a lot sexier, so much so that CCS Insight expects $7 billion worth of them to ship in the next six months. But when it comes to more conspicuous fashion pieces (like T-shirts or jackets instead of accessories), it seems form is invariably forced to take a back seat to function.

It’s partly to do with the technology available. “The sensors used in wearables used to be so large – I remember once being shown one at CES that was the size of a pager,” says Rachel Arthur, digital innovation strategist and founder of fashionandmash.com. “But they’ve shrunk to the point where now we have sensors like the Intel Curie, which is smaller than the size of a button.”

Batteries have slimmed down too, a development that’s enabled Solset to make her Smart Coat a reality, without the awkward bulk. “A few years ago, you would’ve needed to walk around with something like a 2kg battery to heat our coat, but batteries are getting smaller and smaller,” she says.

It’s not just advancements in tech that are helping make wearables more stylish, but the popularisation of the idea that wearables should be stylish. “There have been shifts on the tech side,” says Arthur, referring to the tech industry’s somewhat rude awakening that overly conspicuous (hello, Google Glass) or downright ugly wearables won’t sell well. “As a result, companies are bringing people in to think about the user experience, and integrating design from the beginning instead of just bolting it on at the end.”

Take, for example, the new Jacquard-enabled Levi’s Commuter jacket, the result of a hook-up between search engine giant Google’s Advanced Technology and Products Group (ATAP) and the iconic stateside denim brand. Although ostensibly an ordinary Levi’s Commuter trucker jacket, there’s more than meets the eye – the jacket is fitted with a sensor in the left cuff, allowing its wearer to easily answer calls, skip songs and adjust the volume with a mere swipe or tap. Which is, when cycling alongside an artic truck, a damn sight easier than fiddling with the screen of your smartphone.

Tom Cridland offers sweatshirts, blazers and T-shirts guaranteed for 30 yearsLEVI’S COMMUTER X JACQUARD BY GOOGLE

No, it won’t do your ironing for you, and there aren’t currently any plans to make it shoot laser beams. But it’s groundbreaking nonetheless.

Why? Because it looks good. It looks good because, despite the fact that it’s technologically enhanced, it doesn’t advertise it. All its gadgetry is contained in a subtle, unassuming button-sized sensor and the fabric of the jacket itself.

That’s what makes this jacket innovative – thanks to Project Jacquard (a Google-pioneered innovation in textile technology), Levi’s is able to weave interactivity into its garments using conventional fabrics on standard, industrial looms.

“Conductive thread has been around for a while,” says Arthur. “But what Google ATAP Jacquard has managed to do is integrate the weaving of conductive thread with existing manufacturing, without the need to set up a completely new factory and supply chain, and that’s where the innovation is in this project.”

How To Dress For Every Event You’ll Actually Attend This Summer

The Heatwave When You Still Have To Go To Work

Britons lust for sun until it actually arrives. Then we rediscover a national inability to handle heat. Train tracks warp. Headlines scream that “Oxford is hotter than Dubai!” And men everywhere shed clothes like they’re lined with napalm. But a glimpse of nipple won’t be welcomed at your morning sales meeting.

You have two weapons in the fight to stay cool and decent: fit and fabric. Skinny- and slim-cut clothes trap warm air against your already sweaty skin. Loosen up and it starts to flow. “A boxy shirt will keep you cool on those hotter than hot days,” says Nick Eley, head of menswear design at ASOS. The shape is already off dress code, so don’t push it any further with hula girl patterns – plain white designs reflect heat and the rancour of HR.

Your materials should be just as breezy. Linen and light cotton are riddled with tiny holes, which ensures air circulates. “Linen is a great option in tailoring or for granddad collar shirts,” says Olie Arnold, style director at Mr Porter. “Lightweight chinos are also office-worthy.” If shorts definitely aren’t, then a slight roll gets some ankle skin on show, to help your body dump heat. But won’t get you handed a P45.

(Related: 4 warm-weather fabrics your wardrobe needs)

Men's Office Attire Summer Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

massimo dutti nyc ss16 mango 2016 matalan ss16 massimo dutti 2016

Key Pieces

  • SUITSUPPLY HAVANA BLUE PLAINSuitsupply Havana Blue Plain
  • REISS TATE B WOOL AND LINEN BLAZER CHARCOALReiss Tate B Wool And Linen Blazer Charcoal
  • TED BAKER ONETWOS LINEN BLAZERTed Baker Onetwos Linen Blazer
  • UNIQLO MEN PREMIUM LINEN BUTTON-DOWN COLLAR SHIRTUniqlo Men Premium Linen Button-down Collar Shirt
  • SUITSUPPLY EGYPTIAN COTTON WHITE PLAINSuitsupply White Plain
  • CLASSIC FIT EGYPTIAN COTTON CAVALRY TWILL WHITE SHIRTClassic Fit Egyptian Cotton Cavalry Twill White Shirt
  • M&S COLLECTION COTTON RICH SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT CHINOSM&s Collection Cotton Rich Super Lightweight Chinos
  • REISS BENNETT STRAIGHT LEG CHINOS STONEReiss Bennett Straight Leg Chinos Stone
  • SUITSUPPLY GREY LINEN-COTTON TROUSERSSuitsupply Grey Trousers

The Wedding With The Vague Dress Code

Weddings used to be simple. If the sun was up, your wore tails. Once it dropped, black tie. But dress codes have mutated. Today’s couples demand things like ‘rural chic’, ‘Shoreditch formal’, or just ‘fabulous’ – a request so nebulous it could mean a suit or short shorts. How do you make sure you’re not the only guy with his thighs out?

You dress up. “You want to be smart, but not as smart as the groom,” says stylist Kitty Cowell. The smartest move of all is to find out what he’s wearing ahead of time, then drop a rung or two down. If he won’t spill – or you don’t want him to know you’re trying to pick an outfit the day before his wedding – then you’re safe in tailoring, with removable trimmings.

That doesn’t mean the outfit you wear to work; the shade should be celebratory. “Wear separates rather than a full suit,” says Arnold. Neutral combinations – think navy with brown/beige, grey with blue, white with charcoal, etc. – will work in any pictures, whether the wedding party is in tails or tees. The shirt should be plain, with a classic point or button-down – not spread – collar. Then if you’re the only guy who turns up in a tie, you can pocket it.

 

On which, your breast pocket should star a bright silk square, which complements your suit jacket – yellow or pink is suitably nuptial. If it turns out even that’s too much, you can move it to the pocket inside your jacket.

Finally, shoes. “A monk-strap is more interesting and will work both smart and casual,” says Arnold. If you do need to take your look down yet another peg, nip to the bathroom and ditch the socks.

Men's Smart-Casual Wedding Summer Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

Zachary Quinto’s Best Style Moves (And What You Can Learn From Them)

Fine Wining

Tonal tailoring is the smart way to stand out without ignoring dress codes.

On paper, the combination of tan leather brogues, a navy tie and Shiraz-coloured suiting might seem ridiculous. But the wine shades are subtle enough to drink in. Chin chin.

Zachary Quinto Wine Coloured Suit Fashion And Style Outfits/Looks

Keeping Up With The Quintos

Proving that Balmain isn’t all bodycon and Kardashians, Quinto wears this sharp geometric jumper with ease.

All-black everywhere else means his look pops, without having to consult a colour wheel. The wire-rimmed glasses and silver toe cap boots sing a statement note.

Zachary Quinto Balmain Jumper Fashion And Style Outfits/Looks

Cuban Missile

An actor’s calendar may be full of events that demand suiting, but Quinto is quick to jump on the Cuban collar shirt at the more casual Nantucket Film Festival.

Summer’s biggest trend is best paired with muted staples (in this case, cropped navy chinos and brown Derbies), which allows the sophisticated print to speak for itself.

Zachary Quinto Cuban Collar Shirt Fashion And Style Outfits/Looks

Uniform Blues

Blue is a man’s best friend and Quinto is only one Oxford shirt away from a full-blown relationship.

Menswear’s most versatile hue not only sits well with almost any other colour, it also complements most skin tones. So, if you’re on the pastier side, try mixing and matching shades of sky, eggplant, navy and royal blue – then anchor with your best white trainers. #BFF.

Zachary Quinto Tonal Blue Chinos and Shirt Fashion And Style Outfits/Looks

Style Veteran

Tucking your polo into chinos is a move more vintage than your grandpa, but it hasn’t aged since the days of healthy smoking adverts and food rationing.

Better yet, Quinto revitalises the classic formula by contrasting a deep blue top with terracotta trousers. The right way to respect your elders.

Zachary Quinto Cropped Trousers and Shirt Walking Dog Fashion And Style Outfits/Looks

Rank And Style

Black tie is the most rigid dress code to navigate, but Quinto makes his own mark with a rounded cravat, in lieu of the done-to-death bow tie.

It’s the subtle alterations which prove that the devil really is in the red carpet detail.

Zachary Quinto Black Suit with Cravat Red Carpet Fashion And Style Outfits/Looks

Deep Space Fine

All-black-everything always flatters, but it can also flatten – with no colour contrast, your look ends up uniform (read: boring).

Quinto does the smart thing by combining textures: a slubby jacket, a rich cotton Henley and some shimmer from that pocket square and those gleaming shoes. The result? Monochromes with black hole depth.

Of The Most Versatile Summer

Denim Jacket + Tee + Jeans

Think you can’t wear denim in summer? Think again.

Okay, sure, squeezing yourself into a pair of raw jeans isn’t the smartest move on summer’s most brow-drenchingly sweaty days, but lose the weight and you’ll keep your cool. Lightweight denim (that’s under 12 ounces a yard) is more flexible and breathable than its heavier counterpart, letting you keep that rock edge without overheating.

Team a washed denim jacket with a tee and distressed jeans for an off-duty look you can wear everywhere. (Pro tip: button the jacket all the way up for a slightly smarter finish.)

 

AllSaints June 2016ALLSAINTS

Leather Bomber + Breton Shirt + Chinos

A naval staple at heart, there’s no arguing the Breton shirt is a menswear classic that skews more casual than smart. But there’s something about its French heritage that makes it so much more refined than a mere piece of fisherman’s kit.

 

A Breton shirt works just as well for a dinner date as it does a stroll to ease the hangover the next day. Dress it up with a buttery soft leather jacket in the evening or keep your look to just one layer in the midday heat.

Mango Man 2016MANGO MAN

Blazer + Shirt + Cropped Trousers

Feeling the heat in the office? Cut loose with a look that’ll let you breathe.

Small tweaks like choosing a trouser that lets you feel the breeze on your ankles, losing the collar on your shirt, or simply undoing a couple of buttons, helps keep sweat at bay without getting your boss’ finger wagging.

What’s more, you won’t need to pack a change of clothes for the post-work round either.

Reiss SS16REISS

Linen Blazer + Polo Shirt + Trousers

There’s no disputing the fact that T-shirts work with tailoring, but sometimes you need a little more structure to your silhouette.

A polo offers the best of both worlds: it’s lightweight and breathable like a tee, but – crucially – comes with a collar, helping you cut a slightly smarter figure. (Without having to resort a stuffy button-down shirt.)

The beauty of this look is you get all of the polo’s sportswear appeal when worn solo with some trousers, but can leverage its more sartorial side by slipping into an airy blazer. Riviera style made simple.

 

Brunello Cucinelli SS17BRUNELLO CUCINELLI

All-White + Bomber Jacket

Got tan? Bronzed like demi-god David Gandy? No? Then you’d better start catching rays (or faking it), because all-white isn’t going anywhere.

Once the preserve of 1990s boybands, head-to-toe white has been topping the menswear trends charts for a few seasons now, and for good reason: it’s easy, it’s light-reflecting (and therefore sweat-preventing) and it works everywhere – you just need to switch up the pieces in the mix depending on where you’re headed.

Sure, a white vest and shorts might come off a bit Chippendales at your in-laws’ family barbecue, but change tack with a white short-sleeved shirt and chinos and you’re onto a winner.

If you’re not alright with a white-out approach, spike your look with a piece in darker colour for contrast. Especially useful if you’re nearly as pale as the whites you’re wearing.

Primark SS16PRIMARK

Mac + Tee + Jeans

A typical British ‘summer’ might best be described as grey and sweaty, but on the rare occasion it’s bright and breezy, you want something that looks like summer but still stops a chill in its tracks.

Cue the mac. Lightweight and cut slim, it promises coverage without the cumbersome bulk. Opt for one in a brighter colour like cobalt blue, tan or burgundy and you’ll steer a staple that’s traditionally reserved for the rainy season into something more summer-ready.

Here, ripped jeans and a T-shirt roughen up the mac’s clean lines, but you can just as easily team it with a linen shirt and cropped trouser for an equally versatile, albeit more squeaky clean take.

Selected Homme 2016SELECTED HOMME

Field Jacket + Polo Shirt + Cropped Trouser

Like all menswear pieces lifted from the military, the field jacket comes packed full of the versatility a man needs to meet the demands of modern life. (As well as generously sized pockets for pretty much everything you’ll need this summer: sunglasses, a bottle of SPF, that can of Red Stripe…)

Give it a look that’s more smart-casual than desert squad by flanking it with pieces that skew slightly more sartorial – like a polo shirt and tailored cropped trouser.

Rounded out with a pair of minimal trainers, it’s your new go-to for city breaks and country getaways.

Where Do Trends Come From?

Where Do Trends Come From?

The story always plays out the same. You look at the runway pictures and think, yeah, maybe. Those slim-fit jeans have been feeling a bit restrictive recently. And didn’t your boss turn up at work in spray-on jeans the other week? You spot what appeared at fashion week on some street style don. Then an Instagram influencer. A glossy editorial.

When it hits shelves nine months on you’ve already decided yes, this one’s for you. You buy, try, and feel awkward when friends comment on its debut. Then in creeps comfort – body and brain acclimatise to a new shape. What was a statement becomes default. Facebook proffers a skinny-jeaned time capsule and you shudder. This shape, this is the one that actually flatters a man’s body.

Time ticks on and your wardrobe expands until, one day, you try something new. Saw it in an ad, thought why not? It feels… OK. OK becomes everyday. Eventually, wide legs get muscled out. Facebook. Shudder. This is the shape. Repeat.

“A fashion trend lasts two to five years,” says Henrik Vejlgaard, a trend forecaster whose book,Anatomy Of A Trend, analyses how these cycles bubble from idea to ubiquity, then eventually burst. However immune you think you are, however static your style, at some point trends will infiltrate your world.

Missoni SS16
Runway trends have a habit of infiltrating your wardrobe, no matter how timeless your styleDOLCE & GABBANA SS16

They move from insiders down the fashion food chain, percolating through society until what was once cutting edge becomes the norm. Each group endorses the trend for the group behind, but taints it for the ones before. You see Zayn’s souvenir jacket, you want it. Your dad takes a shine to yours, you take it to Oxfam.

But there’s a distinction, Vejlgaard says, between a trend and a fad. Fads burn bright, then fade away, a six-month burst of colour, or a pattern that appears for a season then goes back in the drawer. Womenswear tends towards the former, says Graeme Moran, head of fashion and features at industry bible Drapers: “One season will be all black and white, the next everything’s colour. But menswear changes slowly. It’s more gradual.”

Which is why, when these shifts do occur, they can seem titanic. For a decade, we’ve dressed slim, as Hedi Slimane’s skinny-obsessed Dior tenure met Don Draper’s suits and a generation of men suddenly discovered how clothes could really, really fit. But as the trend filtered down, what seemed transgressive on runways became the norm.

Don Draper
For better or worse, Don Draper influenced how a generation of men dressed for work

Apprentice candidates, fashion’s canaries, popped up in narrow lapels and cropped trousers. Dads no longer saw their sons’ skinny jeans as effeminate, but as a viable option. In reaction, silhouettes expanded. Tailoring lost its padding. After a decade, trussed up menswear seemed to – aaaah – relax.

The pattern is so predictable; it can seem like the customer isn’t even involved. When runway season sees variations on such narrow themes – a ubiquitous fabric, an omnipresent cut – you end up wondering if they’re all in some collusive WhatsApp group. “Hey Raf, let’s do big trousers this year, yeah? lol Demna.”

The reality is less sinister, if no less opaque. Your wardrobe is predicted two years ahead of time. But it’s done by Powerpoint, not text. And though forecasters don’t dictate what you’ll wear, they do at least steer with a heavy hand. Because fashion is business – a leviathan, $3bn global business – and money loves certainty.

The further down the runway brands can see, the less chance they’ll show skintight tailoring when customers want something that billows. Which lessens the chance an entire season ends up on markdown.

Relaxed Leg Trousers - Bally AW15
Relaxed cut menswear has been years in the making and is a direct response to our propensity for skinny and slim fits

One of the most important hands on fashion’s tiller belongs to Volker Kettennis, a former designer, now menswear director at WGSN. Since its founding in 1997, the company has sifted cultural flotsam to pinpoint how designers translate what they see in the world to their runways, and whether those designs might percolate down to the masses.

Just as importantly, WGSN lets designers approach a new season with some context. Fashion is a tension between the new and the familiar: tip too far one way and you’re boring; the other, customers get spooked. Trend forecasters show designers what consumers want, so they can flex their creative muscle in ways that will still sell. “Being completely in a vacuum is not always sensible,” says Kettennis. “You need to be aware of the space you operate in. The things going on around you. Then you can decide to go with them or against.”

Which means that what hits runways isn’t the output of a single, creative mind, but grounded in research about where tastes are now, and where they’re heading. This process is geared around fashion’s production cycle: from first designs to runway show takes up to a year, then another before the clothes hit stores.

So while brands work on SS16, Kettennis’ team pulls together predictions for SS18. They pore over developments in fabrics and manufacturing, but also what’s happening in film, art, design, sport, politics – “The things that directly influence fashion,” he says, “but also the things that influence designers.”

Relaxed Leg Trousers - Bally AW15
WGSN predicts what we’ll want to wear two years ahead, based on what’s happening in film, art, design, sport and politics

Which is why, despite designers working apart, common threads emerge. “Exhibitions are hugely important,” says Carol Morgan, a lecturer in fashion communication at Central Saint Martins. Two years on from the V&A’s record-breaking David Bowie retrospective, menswear was awash in the thin white duke’s androgynous shapes and lush fabrics.