The Newest Trend is… ‘Timeless Classic’

If you are not a fan of the rampant lumberjack-bohemian look that has taken fashion by storm this season, you are neither alone nor out of luck. There has been a subversive trend steadily brewing that is as refined and sophisticated as the lumberjack look is common and dated.

The return in popularity of classic fabrics such as houndstooth, herringbone, and tweed has brought with it a resurgence of other timeless pieces, which together create an old-world sophistication. While never having actually gone out of style, it seemed to be in a period of hibernation, suffering through metaphorical winters of the 70’s and 80’s, only to be seen on those dandies fighting to keep alive the tradition of dressing with elegance and pride.

Spotted on the feet of Manhattan’s well-heeled (pun intended) community, are suede loafers, brogues, and boots, which are in many ways more sumptuous and versatile than the same options in leather. One of the best things about suede is that it is both acceptable for almost any office dress code during the workday and can also be transformed into a casual shoe for nightly trysts or escapades. The suede loafer, especially, is one shoe that will never go completely out of style as fashions change. The gold standard is invariably from either Gucci or Ferragamo ($590, pictured) because of their trademark hardware detailing on the shoe that gives it the extra something to complete the look. For a less expensive, though still admittedly pricey shoe, Gordon Rush ($175) makes a great pair for a fraction of the cost.

Suede boots are yet another way to show off your pre-eminent fashion ability while also impressing others with your sensibility. In the form of desert boots, like this pair from John Varvatos ($298), they are rugged and stylish in a way that a pair of Timberlands cannot be (though I still wouldn’t endorse them as a viable substitute for use in a construction site at the price by which they sell). As seen in the photo below, they can also be easily dressed up to look sophisticated, making it the only shoe that can take you from the back yard to the back seat of the company car.

Another item experiencing a renaissance, even among younger people is the patterned scarf, like this one from Loro Paina ($495). While plain, monochrome scarves are great for everyday wear, patterned ones add flair to your outfit and can even become its centerpiece due to their eye-catching design. Also in the realm of scarves, making a comeback is the silk scarf and riding on its coattails, the ascot. While neither provides much in the way of practicality or warmth, when was fashion really ever about practicality?

Leather Ankle Boots: Trendy, Stylish and Practical

One trend that has been on the steady rise this fall is the resurgence of stylish, leather ankle boots that can be worn either dressed up or casually.

The leather boot is a great item because it gives men another option between the sometimes-limited choice of either loafers or regular lace-ups. They thus add an extra flair to an outfit that says the wearer tasks risks and is confident in his style decisions.

For a dressed up look, they can easily be used as a substitute for either loafers or oxfords, depending on the suit. In general, dress boots tend to be on the side of modernity and therefore look better with equally modern suits; the slim-cut, two button styles. This pair from John Varvatos demonstrates that simplicity and restraint are the highest qualities in men’s shoes.

An easy way to wear boots more casually is to choose a brown pair. These are much more easily matched with varying hues of jeans, meaning you get more versatility and wearability. The exact same pair of John Varvatos boots in brown shows the remarkable difference that color can have on the ‘formalness’ of a shoe. Here, the handsome, marbled wood appearance makes them acceptable wear for an everyday look that would not be appropriate in black.

My favorite look is a pair of dark skinny jeans with boots and a waistcoat, which I witnessed to be a very popular look among young, fashionable Londoners last spring. It’s clearly not a look that is easily pulled off by many; a certain je ne sais quoi, rocker-chic is necessary trait for the wearer.

When buying a pair of boots, one thing to make absolutely sure of is that the end be pointed rather than round. While, a rounded pair will make you look old and patently uncool, a narrow point indicates self-assuredness as well as being generally much more fashion forward, if that’s what you are pursuing. Another thing to avoid are ‘hybrid’ boots that have laces but still try to masquerade as a dress boot, or even worse, turn into a ‘combat boot’. Pictured pair from Costume National is a heinous and glaring example of what can happen when the two very separate entities are combined: You end up looking like a combination of Hermione Granger and a suburban, gothic mallrat.

Wearable Trend to Embrace Right Now

This picture, taken from the Mulberry website, showcases the look of this season. The leather bomber jacket, the plaid shirt, braided belt, and slim dark-wash jeans are all integral pieces for anyone looking to follow the latest trends. Even with the plaid shirt, however, I would not classify this look as “bohemian intellectual.” Rather, the slim-fitting bomber jacket and jeans provide a structure to this look that is more the Ramones than Woody Allen.

With the exception of the braided belt, this is a look that won’t soon go out of style. Every man should have a bomber jacket in his closet. They are great for a casual night when wanting to add an element of timeless cool to your outfit and for staying warm well into the winter. When buying one, you should look for a style that is cut close to the body and ends right below your belt. If the jacket is too small, it will look effeminate (as is almost the case in the above picture). This one from Dolce and Gabbana ($1,395) fits perfectly and also has an immaculate style that will still be cool in thirty years (which is almost enough time to justify the price).

For the belt, the trick is not to just find any old, braided variety. Previously existing only in the realm of grandpa fashion, design houses from Prada to Balenciaga gave the braided belt a much-needed reworking, making them wider and sturdier. This one from Diesel ($70) is one of the coolest and most stylish you can buy. It has a distressed looking front with the rest in braided leather, clearly distinguishing it from your father’s golfing belt.

Despite my avowed detest for all things plaid, I surprisingly don’t find this shirt terribly odious. The red, white, and gray color scheme keeps it simple and not looking too much like a tablecloth pattern. This one from J.Crew ($50) is almost identical in pattern. Just be wary that a bad pairing of plaid and leather will leave you looking like one of the Village People.

In the spirit of this outfit, a pair of boots would be a great addition to pull the look together. This pair from Mezlan ($149) are both affordable and undeniably stylish. The subtly Western look brings another dimension to your outfit without being overwhelming or tacky. When wearing slim jeans, make sure that the leg of the jean goes fully over the boot instead of tucking it in, which cannot be done without looking like the guy who’s trying way too hard.

3 Dress Shirts You Should Own

For the past one hundred years, the dress shirt has been an easy identifier of the working man. With the proliferation of young Silicone Valley millionaires who prefer jeans, sneakers, and t-shirts, things have become good deal more blurred. Most likely however, you are still wearing a dress shirt to the office daily and see no end in sight. A dress shirt is one of the best ways through which to show your personality. Besides the basics, there are a few other shirts that you should look into adding to your wardrobe.

A solid white shirt is the quintessential and absolute basic in any man’s wardrobe. It was probably the first dress shirt you ever owned and will likely be the last one you ever wear. Not surprisingly, the white shirt comes in more variations than a cup of coffee from Starbucks. A white shirt worn to work is likely not the same one you would wear for a casual Sunday brunch. The white work shirt should be fitted, no breast pocket, and obviously not wrinkled. Since you will almost certainly have (or should have) quite a few in your wardrobe, there is no need to spend frivolously for each one. A moderately priced shirt can be had from Banana Republic, where they have sizes to fit just about any extreme and also now make most of their shirts fitted.

This particular shirt is a good find not only because it is affordable, but also has a close to body fit and French cuffs normally associated with shirts at least double the price. It definitely falls into the dressier category but is great from the office to dinner downtown.
Shirt Pictured: Banana Republic, $55

One increasingly noticeable trend has been the popularity of subtly striped and gingham shirts, both of which provide an opportunity for more creativity when dressing for work. Brooks Brothers carries an ample supply of slim fit options. This particular shirt is more traditional but gives a self-assured appearance, making it the perfect shirt for work.

Shirt pictured: Brooks Brothers, $79.50

This is one of my favorite shirts. If you wear this into a board meeting, it sends one very clear message: I’m the boss or should be. In general, white contrast collar shirts are enjoying a remarkable resurgence, with companies from Gap to Gucci creating their own version. They are always best paired with French cuffs, which add to their refined and sophisticated appearance.

Shirt pictured: Etro, $178
For a less expensive version: Banana Republic, $67

Smart Sweaters for the Season

Autumn is basically synonymous with sweaters. As the temperature continues to fall, they are always the logical and most comfortable choice of cool weather wear. Worn alone or with a shirt, they have moved far along from their dark age of ill fitting, ugly designs.

One of the biggest trends this season for sweaters is a turn away from v-neck sweaters to the timeless appeal of a crewneck sweater. A crewneck sweater provides a more refined look as it is a much more acceptable choice when wearing a tie. This sweater from Dolce and Gabbana is one of the coolest I’ve ever seen and is also a good model to follow when shopping for a similar one. The neck of your sweater should be wide enough so that it will show enough tie without looking loose. A crewneck should also be fitted and end right before your belt in most cases. Personally, I prefer to tuck in a sweater for a clean line, which I think gives for a much more sophisticated look.

Keep in mind that there are many more affordable options for stylish crewneck sweaters. Other good ones include:
J.Crew Cashmere Crewneck, $235

Gap Crewneck, $45

That said, every man also needs a v-neck sweater for more casual occasions, like a dinner out or a round on the golf course. I sometimes wear a v-neck sweater without a collared shirt under it for a minimalist, more European look. A great look this season is to wear lightweight v-necks, which are easier to tuck into your pants without looking nerdy or strange. This Armani sweater is so seamlessly integrated into the outfit and gives a very sophisticated silhouette.

Banana Republic Silk Cashmere V-Neck, $48

Michael Kors V-neck, $195

One last item, to be filed under ‘trendy’ is a chunky, knit sweater which is great both for following the bohemian look as well as lounging around your house to stay warm and comfortable. Unlike crew or v-neck sweaters, they should not be tucked in, but should also not be overflowing and baggy at the same time. This one from J.Crew is a good example of how to wear one: dark straight leg jeans, a worn-in leather belt, and yes, a plaid shirt (if you must).