REINVIGORATING 7 TIRED TRENDS FOR TODAY
By Robert W. Ford
Let’s admit an easy truth about ourselves, guys. It’s easy for us to get stuck in a rut. At some point we settle on a haircut we like and then get that haircut for the next five years. We decide we look good in navy blue and fill up our closets with blue shirts and suits. We decide we like a certain look and settle into it for the rest of our lives. Case in point: once upon a time Steve Jobs decided he liked black mock turtlenecks and mom jeans and then never wore anything else. Genius or not, he always managed to look like it was 1994. Keeping your style updated and fresh is the difference between knowing current trends and being trendy. Being trendy is immediately adopting every new look. Knowing the trends is recognizing when to retire certain items and when to update. Don’t get stuck in a rut. Here are seven tired trends you should excise immediately, and the simple fixes you need to keep your fashion game tight for spring and summer.
Axe the Lumberjack Look, Go On an Urban Safari Instead
Love it or hate it, the hipster lumberjack look has been enjoying its moment for about a minute too long. Never mind it’s completely unseasonal to pull off for spring/summer; it’s just played out, gents. It’s officially time to pack away the Pendletons, red buffalo plaid, and especially the Steve-Zissou-inspired ski hat. Most devotees of the urban woodsman take it all the way with a Brawny-esque full beard and moustache, facial accessories that will go very well with one of spring’s hottest trends that also indulges the idea of theme-dressing: the urban safari. Think along the lines of a streamlined, monochromatic khaki look with slim chinos and spring’s answer to the trench: a safari jacket. The urban-safari vibe was all over high-end runways for spring, with Valentino, Balmain, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Maison Kitsune acing the look with hefty price tags. If you’re a hipst-heir, go ahead and break the bank on the Valentino Techno Fabric Safari Jacket ($1,850). For a more affordable interpretation, wear the slim khakis you already own paired with J.Crew’s fatigue jacket (pictured, $168) or their Washed Linen Sportcoat ($218). Even if you don’t want to take the look to the extreme, a lightweight safari jacket for spring says you’re ready for an adventure.
Burn Your Bejeweled T-shirt, Buy a Short Sleeved Shirt with Buttons
If ever there was a trend that needed to end before it began, it’s definitely overly embellished t-shirts. I’m not exactly sure how t-shirts covered in rhinestones, glitter and sequined studs have come to define a certain type of heightened masculinity, but it needs to stop. OK, maybe the four juiceheads in a certain Jersey Shore house have a lot to do with it, but they’re not solely to blame. The bottom line is, a t-shirt is not a dressy item, even if it’s covered in rhinestones and costs $95. If you’ve started referring to any of your tees as "my nice t-shirt for clubbing," you’ve gone astray and need to step away from Ed Hardy and Affliction. Here’s the thing: you can wear a nice short-sleeved Oxford shirt that fits you perfectly and still shows off your hard work at the gym, but won’t make you look like an overgrown teenager. You can wear it with shorts or long pants, untucked or tucked, and you can even wear it with a sports jacket. One of the best-fitting shirts you can buy off the rack is Ben Sherman, offering several different fit options in their classic British tailoring. Especially nice is their Plectrum Series, available in madras plaids, solids, and stripes for spring. For another take on the classic short sleeve, check out Steven Alan’s Single Needle Short Sleeve Shirt or their Classic Collegiate Short Sleeve (both $168). To get the most bang for your buck, head over to Uniqlo and snag their Cotton Linen Madras Check Oxfords ($30).
If Your Casual Alternative to Jeans is Jeans, Reexamine Cargo Pants
A uniform of sorts has sprung up for defining the business-casual look: a crisp pair of jeans with a white Oxford and a navy blazer with really nice shoes. It’s not necessarily a bad look; it’s just completely exhausted. Andy Warhol used to kill this look with skinny repp ties in the early '80s, but that was a long time ago. The epidemic has reached such epic proportions that the easily-offended Kanye West recently felt compelled to tweet about it. West declared, “I hate sport coats with button up shirts, jeans and dress shoes.” That kind of makes it official, guys.
The lesson to be learned here is "casual does not live by jeans alone." To update this look and keep it fresh, replace the jeans with today’s reimagined skinny cargo pants. Yes, that most schlumpy staple of the '90s has reappeared in many collections with less soccer dad bulk and a lot more color. On trend right now, cargo pants have been slimmed down, tapered and the side pockets aren’t as voluminous. Gant’s Peachskin Chino M. ($195) is an excellent take in khaki. JBrand’s Trooper Slim Cargo ($235) also does it well. Converse Black Canvas Slim Fit Cargo ($58 on sale) gives you a forest green option, and Uniqlo’s Perfect Shape Cargo Pant ($50) looks amazing in camouflage. For a big jolt of spring color, try the Skinny Cargo in turquoise from Gant by Michael Bastian ($235).
Lose the Slouchy Knit Hat, and Please Stop Wearing Winter Accessories in the Summer
It’s baffling to see someone on a warm spring day walking down the street in shorts, a tank top, and then a ratty, old, winter-knit ski cap. Hipsters out there, I’m talking to you. No more winter ski caps in the dead of summer. Are you hot or are you cold? Your outfit is confusing me. When someone sees you in a cold weather hat on a warm weather day all they can think is, “Damn, I bet that hat smells.”
With so many summer hats to choose from, there’s no excuse for not packing the stretched-out ski hat away for a few months. You won’t miss it much, I promise. Especially if you treat yourself to a hat made in Italy by Borsalino, who have been making hats since 1857. I love a woven fedora for summer, and Borsalino has many styles to choose from, any of which should last for years with a little TLC. Two you should check out are the Mazzini ($395) and the Raffia Stingy Brim ($250). These two hats succeed in being Old World and modern at the same time. Other woven options from Belfry Street look just as great at a more manageable price, like the Belfry Street Mirada Straw Fedora ($45). For perfect street style, you can’t beat Kangol’s 504 cap, the original Kangol cap first made in 1954, available for spring in fresh new plaids ($30).
No More Gauzy Summer Scarves
Men in scarves has been slightly ubiquitous for a few seasons, transitioning from winter to spring and back to winter, and it’s really just time for it to come to an end. I completely understand wearing a scarf in the winter, and I completely understand the idea of a cool accessory for summer, but the mile-long, multi-wrapped trend is going to look dated if you try it again this spring. Ashton Kutcher and the brothers Jonas, I’m putting you on notice.
Spring/summer’s hottest accessory jumps from the neck to the wrist, with statement bracelets popping up everywhere, with adventurous, sporty young things sometimes piling multiple looks on one arm. Kanye (there he is again) made a splash at Coachella with a Madonna-in-the-80’s pile-up of bracelets on his arm that nearly upstaged the Tupac hologram. What I like particularly about this trend is, unlike other men’s jewelry trends, it’s not so much about being big and blinged out as it is about being young, fun and colorful. My favorites from this look are the nautical-inspired, bright, whimsical knotted cords with fish hook and anchor clasps from Miansai ($60-80) and Vanities, who also add in some black skull beads ($95). Especially appealing are the extremely affordable woven and knotted bracelets from Burkman Bros (starting at $12). For great leather and metal options to mix in, you can’t go wrong with Tateossian’s leather woven bracelets with silver, onyx, and bead accents. Unleash your inner rock star with Cool Material’s bass-guitar-string bracelets ($16). Finally, make a serious investment with an Hermes Etriviere 4-turns-around-the-wrist leather bracelet with silver clasp ($780).
Trade in Your High-Tops for a Sleek Summer Shoe
I know I’m going to catch a lot of crap for this one, but it has to be said. I’m officially sick of the extra-tall, gunky, Velcro-necked, leather-and-suede high-top sneaker look with everything. Yes, this look enjoys favor among music’s elite, with everyone from Beiber to Kid Cudi to Diddy to Pete Wentz wearing them with everything from skinny jeans to suits to sleeveless purple hoodies. As much as this may seem like a fresh, modern look, to me they look like they’re stealing Robert Smith of the Cure’s swag from 1986. When I see average Joes on the street or in the clubs sporting this look they always look like they’re desperately trying to look younger than they are. You never want to have the word “desperate” attached to your look. In short, unless you’re actually about to star in a music video or are under the age of 21, you need to avoid this look and explore some other grown up shoe trends for spring/summer.
My favorite shoe right now, bar none, is Thom Browne’s Wingtip Brogue in white. This shoe says summer, right down to the red-white-blue-stacked microsole and matching ribbon on the back to help pull them on. These beauties are handmade in England and will set you back about $1,000. A super cool and comfy alternative is the Brockton White Nubuc by G.H. Bass and co., a steal at only $69. Two of my favorite things come together in one perfect Top Sider with the 3-Eye Boat Shoe by Band of Outsiders for Sperry. It comes in many colors and print combos, but my favorite is the orange in nylon and suede ($175).
Next: Street Style
Start Buying Shorts That Fit Like Your Pants
As much as the cut and fit of pants has evolved over the last few years (would you have even considered wearing something called ‘skinny jeans’ five years ago?), so has the cut and fit of shorts. Most shorts out there tend to be actually rather long and baggy, hanging down below your knees with so much excess fabric flapping around they make your legs look like matchsticks. I saw someone recently wearing a pair of “shorts” that were maybe four inches above his ankle, with enough extra fabric to make a pair of pants for a toddler. At that point, just wear pants. Shorts have come full circle, back to being shorts, i.e. above the knee. And like your pants, they should fit properly. Keeping them trim and fitted actually shows off your physique without making your legs look like twigs. Leave your baggy, too-long shorts behind and consider wearing these more modern options with a belt; saddle shoes sans socks; and a tucked-in, short-sleeve Oxford. For a daytime party, throw on a lightweight linen blazer and have a "Great Gatsby" moment.
For nicer, dressier shorts, try a pair of Glen Plaid Shorts by PS Paul Smith ($320), Barney’s New York Co Op Slim Shorts ($85), or Jack Spade Garment Dyed Shorts ($155). For a more relaxed, casual vibe, try Paul Smith Jeans Dip Dye Short ($195). For the cutoffs look in the summer, try these three options for spot-on cutoffs: Levis 511 Cutoff Shorts ($54), Marc by Marc Jacobs Flip-Up Cuff Shorts ($228), and over at American Apparel you can find great Stretch Corduroy 5-Pocket Shorts in a variety of colors (pictured, $44).