To prepare for your glory this fall, the last couple of posts were about grooming and getting your body back in check. Yes, those are important topics, but you're probably wondering when I'm going to start talking fashion again. Guys, the time starts now, and I plan to deliver!
Always thinking of you, I did a walk-through of some major retailers to see what their first men's offerings were for fall. This is the time when you can spot right away the top trends that are going to make a big splash for the season. And as to be expected, there were a few hits as well as some serious misses.
So let's start with the flops...
Just Say No to the Giant Croc: Lacoste's latest polo comes in an oversized crocodile chest patch. The first time I saw it, I couldn't help but notice how out of proportion the gigantic croc looked on the shirt. And to make matters worse, upon closer examination, the blown-up croc looked just plain dopey. I cross-referenced the logo artwork with the regular small version and saw that they were basically the same. It's understandable that the original logo is too small to add much detail, but I would think that if they're going to blow up the thing, they'd want to fill up the extra space with some more stitch details.
My beef, however, wasn't even so much a matter of aesthetics, but rather the sad feeling that Lacoste completely missed the mark as a late adopter of the giant-logo-on-the-polo-shirt phenomenon that started a few years back when Polo Ralph Lauren came out with a monstrous pony logo emblazoned on their polo shirts. I think that conspicuous displays of designer logos are really tacky, so when I saw this dumb-looking croc in 12 different colorways, I just got tired. Lacoste gets zero points for originality, and it's really lame for them to shamelessly copy another label's (tasteless) idea ... and a few years too late at that. I normally like Lacoste for being a bit more refined than its American polo shirt makers (they're French, ya see), but this one's a total dud in my opinion. Guys, go ahead and get Lacoste polo shirts, but please stick to the original ones with the small logo if you don't want to risk looking ridiculous.
Flashy Jeans: I've never liked loud jeans on men (or women), but I'm so glad I'm still seeing lots of them around because that only means they're on their way out - for good. There's not much to say about these jeans except that they're tacky and makes you look like a bona fide fashion victim. The most current jean to wear now is a simpler style with a cleaner wash, dark rinse or raw denim, so stock up on those and ditch this bad idea once and for all.
Skull Overload: Don't get me wrong. I love skulls. I revere the profound iconographic influence they've had in culture, art, religion and life since the beginning of humankind. In fact, I dutifully wear a bracelet made from a row of silver skulls (designed by Jade Jagger, Mick's daughter) every day as a reminder of the impermanence of life, which helps me remember to appreciate the preciousness of every moment. That said, I feel that the skull motif has been so overused and abused, especially on t-shirts, that it's become just a nauseating trend. At this point, wearing graphics dripping with skulls doesn't make you edgy - it makes you look like every other dude who's trying to look cool, and failing miserably. And guys, if you're older than 25, please ... give up the dream. Like the skulls themselves, this is a trend that's totally dead. R.I.P.
And now, unto the good stuff...
Tartan Plaid: Remember the madras from summer? If certain schools of thought speculate that madras is a descendant, or at least a distant cousin, of the tartan, then this fall, we're going back to the roots. Think of tartans as patterns you see on a kilt, and you can picture exactly what I'm talking about. If there's one patterned shirt to buy this season, make it a tartan. It goes well with your favorite pair of jeans and look fantastic with another great piece you should look into - the cardigan. Go casual with rolled-up sleeves, a broken-in pair of jeans and sturdy shoes for an Americana vibe. Or dress it up with pristine dark jeans, dark cardigan and lace-ups. Make sure the shirt is slim cut so that you get the most modern look ... and no one mistakes you for a Christmas blanket.
Cardigans are hot this season, especially around now when it's not exactly cold enough to wear a coat. This is a great light-jacket alternative, as well as a more interesting way to layer under a jacket than your typical pullover sweater. I know a lot of you associate the cardigan with gramps, but the latest cardigans are anything but octogenarian. Get ones that fit close to your body in a refined, lightweight wool or cashmere, and you're money. Start with a solid color like grey or navy first, and once you get the hang of it, go for some bold stripes or at least some color-blocking. Wear it over a t-shirt or buttoned shirt, and don't button it up all the way - you want the look to be easy and relaxed, not Mr. Rogers.
Vests have been coming down the fashion pipeline for a few seasons now, but this fall, it's reached its tipping point. This is definitely a trendy piece, so if you want your vest to last for years, get one in a timeless fabric like wool or cotton, and with classic tailoring details - almost as if they would belong as part of a three-piece suit. Stay away from vests with graphic prints or embroidery - that's totally cheesy, and as my friend Chris would say, "That's Douche a la Ruche." Also, you're looking for a versatile everyday vest, so avoid anything too fancy, like silk brocade or ones with a shiny back - you know, the kind you're forced to wear when you're a part of a wedding party. Think of a vest like a blazer without sleeves, and wear it the way you would a blazer. Just like a blazer, you'll see that a vest is a great way to add a bit of polish and structure to your look ... without actually having to wear a blazer.
[Hover over images for designer info.]