It’s not that hard to dress well, particularly if you strenuously avoid trends in favour of stuff that won’t go out of date in six months. A couple of well-fitting suits. An assortment of quality basics. A few pairs of good shoes. Congratulations: you’ve completed style.
The only problem with hewing to those ‘timeless classics’ that we’re so fond of banging on about is that after a while it starts to get a tad, well, dull (for us as much as you). How then to change the stagnant bathwater of your rotation without throwing out the baby that is your minimalist, capsule wardrobe – or splashing out too much?
If you’re concerned about a boring wardrobe, below are seven ways to dress more directionally for spring and beyond without going completely off trans-seasonal track. Or just bonkers.
The trend for thick-soled, Derby-style shoes currently afoot presents an opportunity for you to increase your profile.
“To achieve a quick win, dress from the bottom up,” says Mr Porter style director Olie Arnold. “Invest in a pair of alternative Derbies, such as […] kiltie ones or […] chunky suede creepers.”
Yes, you’re stepping outside your comfort zone – but not that far, because everything else can remain grounded. “Not only does everyone notice footwear – remember that shoes are the window to your style – but they can bring an element of interest to an outfit of timeless classics,” adds Arnold. In short, you’ll be double-shoegazed.
The definition of inanity is wearing the same thing over and over again, as noted swaglord Albert Einstein didn’t say. Thankfully, the fix isn’t rocket science.
“If you’ve got a shoe rack full of trainers, sub in a pair of chunky Derbies or penny loafers, or swap out your bomber for a deconstructed blazer,” says Luke McDonald, a stylist at online personal-shopping service Thread.
Or vice versa. “If you’re all set for smart garb but lack casual options, minimalist sneakers are perfect and still look great with suits,” continues McDonald. “Or if you normally layer smart knitwear under a coat, try something sportier like a hoodie instead.”
If you’re in a union of similar dressers, changing your game will also put you in a different league.
After a period of low-key restraint, menswear has veered in the opposite direction towards show- and thumb-stopping statement pieces. “This season, graphic prints and pops of colour are key trends,” says Arnold.
If you’re understandably worried about stitching yourself up, don’t be. “Even if you’re a little wary of some of the wilder prints, I can assure you that this trend can be worn easily through knitwear,” he adds. “An overstated graphic or bright coloured knit can be the solitary eye-catching element of an outfit when teamed with simple pieces such as a plain tee or white shirt with denim jeans or flat-front trousers.”
In other words, all your other normcore clothes. Although the aim is to make your look more interesting, you’ll still need the basic building blocks of a wardrobe to avoid going the full Jared Leto.
As a man of style, doubtless you’re on first name terms with your tailor and know your measurements down to an atomic level. But that’s all the more reason to try something bigger on for size.
“Mix it up with a wider-leg trouser, a looser jumper or an oversized shirt,” says McDonald. “This can be tricky if you’ve been on a slim or skinny tip and have a wardrobe full of form-fitting garms, so start with a T-shirt if you’re feeling cautious.”
Again, the beauty of this move is that it doesn’t just allow you to keep everything else in your rig the same: it practically relies on it for you to maintain balance and not body-double for Tom Hanks when he transforms back to a kid.
If your palette is restricted to exclusively navy and grey with a few highlights of, er, black, then consider that a blank canvas on which to experiment.
“Bold colours will add interest to a drab wardrobe,” says McDonald. “Jewel tones work best with basics and pastels can be the perfect thing to prepare for spring.”
Not quite David Hockney? Burgundy, olive and camel are a level up from navy and grey while still being unimpeachable, versatile and not at all suggestive of a kid’s TV presenter.
Beyond that, there’s brown and burnt orange, colours straight out of the seventies revival, but less distressing a prospect than flares. Or at the daring end of the spectrum, on-point pink. Just stick to one piece, Picasso.
If silhouette or colour is a little too rich for your tastes, texture is a much more understated flex that’s also often overlooked. And in a tone-on-tone ensemble, mixing fabrics is not optional but essential if you don’t want your outfit to appear flat.
Yet more seventies mainstays, velvet and velour lend a luxurious feel to utilitarian bombers and sportswear such as sweatshirts and joggers. Rugged styles such as these, in turn, mitigate the material’s louche qualities and prevent you from resembling Anchorman’s Brian Fantana. Not that there’s anything wrong with velvet tailoring, mind. But it’s an advanced vibe.
More conservatively, trade your worsted wool suit or cotton poplin dress shirt for nubby flannel, or your shiny silk tie for matte wool. Or splice a pair of corduroys among your jeans.
‘Plain’ is not complimentary. If everything in your locker blends into one, then deploy some disruptive pattern material to break up all those block colours.
Raise the bars this season with vertical stripes, which are a little swervier than the more common horizontal ones, not to mention more slimming. Suits, shirts and trousers are the obvious lines to go down, but pinstripes can confer an unexpected formality – and therefore interest – onto sportswear and tees.
The Hawaiian shirt is also saying aloha again for SS18, most notably at SSS World Corp, the label founded by street style icon Justin O’Shea following his brief, Metallica-headlined stint at Brioni. Yes, the prints might be louder than 11, but they’re typically dampened by being rocked in concert with khaki, olive or (fade to) black.