fashion

InTrend Spring 2013: Flare Is In The Air

As always, the spring runway shows were all over the board. From Gaultier showing a fabric lobster worn as a shirt to more than a few fashion houses showing nightgowns (yep, you read that right) as “outerwear,” it’s easy to leave the runway scratching your head. Where do we go from here?! 

We dove in deep and read between the lines in order to bring you the top four trends we can expect to translate onto the streets near you this spring. While the fashion kings definitely have their own point of view, the one commonality among them this year seems to be a fever for flare. Gone are the days of the “urban dandy” and Americana throwback trend of subtle classic looks. 2013 is taking us to the future in technicolor. Look for bold patterns, quirky nods to times gone by in bolder, exaggerated iterations and above all else, the message is to take a few risks and have as much fun as possible. With that in mind—we bring you our guidebook to Spring 2013.

Busy Bottoms 

Get your minds out of the gutter, boys—we’re talking about patterned pants here. This season we couldn’t get enough of the variations of trousers that came down the runway in repeating graphics, bold tartans and contrasting stripes. Whether slim fit or in voluminous versions (another trend that will be gone before it came—see: don’t bother),  this look is all about getting attention below the, um, waistline. To make this look your own consider blocking your outfit all in one or two colors. The consistency in tone will help the pattern stand out without looking like you’re rocking clown pants. Think bright, fun and casual. While definitely not a boardroom look, this style means business. Go big or go home, kids.

(Band of Outsiders, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Duckie Brown)

LL Cool Gay 

You might not have been raised on the mean streets, but if you’re anything like me you at least have a little J.Lo flavor deep down somewhere. I, for one, am still Mikey from the block. If the runways this season have anything to do with it, you’ll be sippin’ Gin n Juice with Snoop Lion in no time. Think of this trend more as a tribute than an imitation. It’s Brad Goreski meets Notorious BIG. Hip-hop style is known for it’s big statements and even bigger jewelry. Rock a cluster of gold chains over a buttoned-up look or tilt your brim ever so slightly while sporting your ultra-preppy tennis outfit. It’s about incorporating quintessential hip-hop styles like multi-color camo, chunky jewelry and sports logos, while having fun with it to bold up otherwise classic outfits. As long as you keep it to one or two signature pieces (at the very least, you can rock sneakers!) you really can’t go wrong. 

(3.1 Philip Lim, Dsquared2, Kenzo)

The New Nirvana 

He smelled like teen spirit and most of us spirited teens would have sniffed up whatever he was giving. For children of the ‘90s, Kurt Cobain was a zeitgeist fashion moment. Now, nearly 15 years after the grunge explosion, a new brighter more-graphic version of the classic Seattle style is in full force. More about how you style your clothes as opposed to which clothing you wear, this look is about layered loose pieces over body hugging shirts and pants. Wear a classic rock T-shirt with an almost-neon plaid button up tied over one shoulder and cinched at your chest. Rock chunkier boots but add patterned laces, or wear a simple button up open with a striped tank underneath with two or three necklaces. Think Johnny Depp 2018—on the way to Whole Foods. Again, this isn’t a dress like 1990 costume party. Take one or two elements of the look and incorporate it into your own every-day look. 

 

 

(Todd Snyder, General Idea, 3.1 Philip Lim)

 

Prep Pop 

This is definitely one of the most common trends on the runway this season. We are talking almost comically preppy ensembles. Think sweaters tied over your shoulders, saddle shoes, polo shirts and parted hair. Is that enough? Of course not. To capture the trend, add a dash of sass to the mix with bright colors and over-the-top volume. Look for cable knit sweaters with collars so wide they practically fall off your shoulders (see Burberry Prorsum below) and polo’s in tech fabrics that stretch and cling in less than traditional ways. While the runway versions may be way over the top, just like the grunge trend above the translation to your real life comes in small manageable doses. Just a little bit of prep will add some real pop to your personal style. 

(Canali, Burberry Prorsum, Gant) 

For Suits Sake: A Guide to New Suits

Recently, I was asked by two friends to weigh in on a sartorial question they had been arguing about.  "What do you do with those tags on the sleeves of suits and overcoats?  The kind with the designer's logo on them. Do you leave them on or take them off after you purchase a suit?" I'm here to set the record straight about this and a few other small details when purchasing a suit or overcoat. Do you remove these tags? The short answer to this question is yes! Please, for the love of all that is good and right in the world, remove this tag after you make a purchase and for sure before you ever wear this suit out into the light of day.   

When you walk into the men's section of your local department or specialty store, you'll most likely be greeted with rack after rack of very similar-looking suits or overcoats. Those tiny labels on the sleeves my friends were referring to are there to identify the designer easily so you don't have to go digging on the inside of the suit to find out who made it. That is their only purpose. They aren't there as a design statement or an artistic embellishment. Leaving them on more or less announces to the world two things: First, you want everyone to know how much or, worse, how little you've spent on this item and second, you don't know enough about suits to be wearing one in the first place. Either way, this clearly isn't the message you want to be putting out to the world in the one garment men have to convey power and refinement. 

Buying an "off the rack" suit unfortunately does not mean you can actually wear it off the rack, as the list of rules in purchasing a suit don't stop with just the arm label. Because suits and overcoats are expensive investment pieces, there are other hidden element's that need attention before you take that suit out for it's maiden voyage.    You'll notice on most suits that certain areas are sewn shut. (Usually the pockets and the back vents...) The reason for this is shipping—it prevents major creases, rips and tears, and keeps the garment in an overall pristine condition on its way from factory to store. I can't tell you how frustrated I get when traveling around New York on the subway and see people walking around in their suits and overcoats with the back vents still tacked shut. I once even had a friend argue with me that it was meant to be this way. (I promise you, it isn't.) All it will do is make the back of your suit jacket pull in odd ways and restrict your movement.

The pockets on a suit are more of a grey area. My tailor insists I keep my exterior pockets on a suit tacked shut except for the breast pocket. His argument is that the suit has plenty of pockets on the inside to hold the essentials, and the moment you start shoving a wallet, keys, cell phone, etc. in your outside pockets, the more the suit looks like a bulky misshapen mess. I do what he says partly because he has a long list of powerful and well known clients that look impeccable at all times...and partly because I don't want to get yelled at if I bring these things in to him for alterations in the future.  However, I'm usually of the school of thought that you should wear your clothes and not the other way around, so if you prefer to open the pockets and use them, do it. Just don't use them as a hold all because it will alter the shape of the suit drastically and make you look lumpy.

If all these rules sound complicated or you are too afraid to take a seam ripper or scissors to your brand new purchase, my advice would be to find a reputable tailor that can make these adjustments for you. You'll likely need to pay a visit to one anyway as most suits do need minor alterations in the beginning. The pants may need hemming, the sleeves may need slimming and the back may need to be tapered to fit you properly. Just ask your tailor to remove the tacks and tags while he's making the other alterations and he'll most likely do so gratis. Keep these things in mind the next time you purchase a suit or overcoat and you'll look like you paid a visit to Savile Row.

      

What The Ish Is “Snappy Casual”?!

We’ve all been there. You get that masterfully embossed, perfume-spritzed invitation in the mail with all the details on that fabulous party that’s just around the corner. Everything is straightforward—from the occasion to the location. One thing, however, stops you dead in your tracks. “What the ish is snappy casual?!” With each party planner trying to top the last, dress codes have become a science to decode. Fear not, my sartorially challenged friends, I have unmasked the mystery and developed a foolproof guide to help you navigate virtually any dress code dilemma. 

Let’s start with…

Formal

Despite your initial nostalgia for the long-loved high school milestone (the “winter formal under the sea”), formal is not a time for powder blue leisure suits or mini shampoo bottles full of Boone’s Farm. Formal, as requested in an invitation, not only means a tuxedo but it specifically means a tuxedo with a white vest and white tie. Think Titanic, royal, and that adorable picture above of el presidente and the first diva. If you want to get real jazzy, this is the one attire where tails and a top hat would actually be acceptable. Unless you’re Mr. Peanut, those “accessories” are unacceptable elsewhere. 

Semi-Formal (or Black Tie)

Formal is to the Inaugural Ball as Black Tie is to the Oscars. The most common dress code among dressy events and galas, Black Tie (also referred to as Semi-Formal) is meant to be traditional but not too dramatic. Black Tie is not a figure of speech. You have to wear a black tie and a tuxedo—no exceptions! Black tie affairs are much more about a woman’s ball gown than a man’s ensemble, but feel free to dress up your outfit with a pair of spectacular shoes, a funky hidden lining in your suit jacket or some fun and interesting cuff links. Style is all in the subtle details with this one.

Black Tie Optional (or Creative Black Tie)

Sticking with our award-show theme, Black Tie Optional is the dress code of the Gammy’s. This is a dressy experience, but one that is meant to be more fun, more irreverent and a little bit sexy. Dark suits in black and navy are more than acceptable—and often preferred. Ties are required in one form or another but can run the gamut of colors and patterns. Have a little fun with this dress code. Dare to wear a maroon slim-fit suit or a bright paisley print shirt under your black suit and black bow tie. Creative Black Tie is your chance to look like a rockstar ready for the red carpet. Seize the day!

Business/Semi-Formal (Wedding Invitation)

Business attire is pretty straightforward—it means you need to wear a suit and tie. That’s pretty much it. Not so straightforward are wedding invitations that come with the dress request of “Semi-Formal.” Fear not, nine times out of 10 this is simply the mistake of the bride (or, regrettably, often the wedding planner, who should know better) and does not mean you need to arrive in black tie. In today’s wedding attire standards, Semi-Formal means wear a suit. The good news is, at least for you casual Carls out there, you aren’t required to wear a tie to the wedding. Make sure if you don’t wear a tie that you embellish your look with a pocket square to balance the informality. 

Business Casual/Dressy Casual

This is the request that probably stumps people the most. The reason I believe that business casual has been confused for so long is the fact that so many men simply lack the wardrobe to do this look correctly. In today’s working world, men often either wear full blown suits to work or much more casual options. When it comes to rocking “business casual,” they end up wearing their suit with no tie or a pair of khakis and a polo shirt, purely out of desperation. Neither one is acceptable. When working dressy casual or business casual think separates. Wear a deconstructed jacket (no lining—and don’t you dare wear your suit jacket as a blazer) with a pair of flat front chinos or slacks. This dress code always calls for a button up, but more casual cotton options are a cool alternative, as are cardigans or V-neck pullovers worn over a knit or felt tie. Long story short, dress like you are in a J.Crew or Banana Republic catalogue and you will be on the right track. 

Cocktail/After 5/Smart or Snappy Casual

Cocktail and smart and snappy, oh my. All of these descriptions drive me bananas! They are all just a fancy way for saying, “Dress like you are going out for the night in Hollywood.” They could have also said, “look cool.” The idea is that this isn’t just any old night out. For any of these invitations consider that your outfit should be special. Keep things slim fit. Don’t be afraid to rock some color (like these boys above). Concentrate on accessories like pocket squares, narrow and polished belts, great watches and shoes. Don’t be the guy in just a pair of slacks and a button up—that is so boring. If you must do the button up, go for a pair of chinos in a bright color with a crisp white shirt. Don’t be afraid of a slim tie with a tie bar or even...wait for it...a turtleneck! Whatever you choose, your look must say nighttime, sexy and cool. The only way to achieve a look like that is to feel it. Try on as many outfits as it takes and pick the one that gives you swagger.    

A little extra advice ...

Always wear a suit to a wedding. 

The tie is optional for day weddings. But for evening weddings you must wear a dark suit and a tie.

If you must rent a tuxedo, order it a full size smaller than normal. 

You’ll thank me later. 

When it comes to business casual, veer toward the more formal and mimic your boss. 

Business Casual at Google means jeans and a button up, at a hedge fund it means a suit with no tie. At your first event go toward a more traditional look and gauge your peers. 

No matter what the dress code—if it’s after 5 p.m. you need to wear dark colors. 

If it’s before 5 p.m. you can wear lighter colors. See? Easy!

Wear good shoes and always keep them polished. 

Sorry dude. You can’t wear your Converse with a blazer.

 

Auston Björkman Talks SIR New York

(Auston is wearing SIR New York jacket and Grey Ant sunglasses; Photo: Amos Mac) 

Several weeks before the rush of New York Fashion Week I had the opportunity to attend Project NY,  a three-day, trade-only event showcasing the Fall 2013 lines of high-end contemporary menswear designers. While there, I sat down with designer Auston Björkman and chatted with him about his label, SIR New York.

Currently in its fourth season, Auston started his own line after cutting his teeth with the likes of Thom Browne and Loden Dagger. A graduate of the menswear program at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Auston's concept behind the brand is athleticism with a hint of provocation. "It's kind of like sexy athletic wear combined with high-end design and street wear,” he says. “It's also about texture: layering and pairing unexpected technical fibers with natural fibers to create a new texture and a new print."

Here's what else Auston had to say about SIR NY:

Who is the SIR Man?

It seems to be evolving quite a bit. I thought of it more as the high-end creative, sort of gay-ish city dweller that's really into fashion, but it's morphing more into street wear; hip-hop, rappers…the people that are really following it are the kids who are really into fashion and music.

What is your favorite piece from the Fall 2013 collection?

The neoprene, for sure. I'm in love with sublimation prints on neoprene. Honestly, after I've done this [collection] I want to touch nothing else ever again.

What's been your greatest source of inspiration?

Duality. I try to combine two different athletic endeavors or something that is seen as macho—like a macho sport—with something that is more refined. For example, one season it was archery and racecar driving. I take the racing stripe but then maybe a dolman sleeve that you would see in womenswear, but don't see that much in menswear, and pair it. Or feature a shoulder guard that an archer would wear. I try to balance that masculinity and femininity in the clothes a lot.

Where is the least likely place you've found inspiration?

This season I was inspired by dying glaciers. I had been watching a documentary and it was so beautiful and yet so sad at the same time, watching these glaciers turn black and just disappear. I started thinking about what if that actually does happen, and then paired it with après ski sportswear, something you would wear to a ski lodge, and thinking what if that just disappears altogether? So it's this sort of very comforting but then unsettling thing. So that's pretty unlikely I think. But really anywhere; it could just be the way something's lining up, the way the lines are on a building…really anything.

Who are your style icons?

That also changes quite a bit. I really like what ASAP is doing right now; going into lesser-known brands that are very androgynous and street but also high-end. That's been driving my inspiration the last couple seasons. And then there are the classic Clark Gable sort of men. So it's often the juxtaposition of two opposite things that really combine for me and coexist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are five items that make up a stylish man?

For me it's not necessarily the items, but how you wear it. A stylish man could be wearing the ugliest thing in the world but there's something about the way he'll wear it and be so confident. Maybe just tuck it in somewhere that you wouldn't expect or leave it untucked like you wouldn't expect or button it all the way up—its something about the way you put it together and how you feel in it. For me it's not an item and it isn't a label or anything like that. It's just the confidence and the ease and how you wear it.

Have you always wanted to be a fashion designer?

No, I started out wanting to be an architect and then went into photography. I'm kind of a small guy, so I started sewing to tailor clothes to fit me and then I started working in leather and latex. From there I was like, "Well how do I do this?" I realized that I wanted to wear things that I didn't see anywhere else.

What luxury do you indulge in?

Alpaca. If you're talking about clothing, it's just the softest, most-comfortable thing you could ever have. To me, it's better than cashmere, it's so great…and leather.

What can we expect from SIR for Fall 2013?

Sublimation prints and neoprene. It's almost a paired-down collection from the last season, but it's very targeted. Black and gold are the color schemes this season.

Again, there's that ruggedness but yet the ease that I really like is there. Really, the sublimation prints are the key item. It's the most beautiful way to print fabric that I've ever played with and I'm in love with the whole process.

Where does SIR retail?

In New York, we're at Oak, Atrium, OwenShop Untitled and International Playground. In L.A. we're at Joyrich. Isitan in Japan. The Unconventional  in the UK and Lab and ID in Toronto.

(Auston is wearing SIR New York, Grey Ant sunglasses and Dr. Martens boots; Photo: Amos Mac)

Preview the rest of Auston Björkman's Fall 2013 line at www.sirnewyork.com

 

Flower Power: This Ain't No Hawaiian Shirt

You might be a big Don Ho, but it’s still totally inappropriate to rock your Tommy Bahama shirt out on the town. So don’t get things twisted when we say 2013 is the year of the flower. That’s right my friends, from Bottega to Gucci and all the way to Calvin, this season the boys in Milan were strutting their stuff in everything and anything floral. While on the runway the looks were a bit more exaggerated—think something out of The Birdcage—the runways must always serve as inspiration if not literal translation. So how do we make this work?

Here’s the deal: print was BIG in 2012 with plaids, stripes and patterns of all kinds taking center stage. In 2013 the trend pushes forward with the more adventurous floral print—daunting indeed, but still definitely doable and without a doubt cool. Rock this look in one of several ways. First, avoid traditional “Hawaiian” style shirts. Look for options in oversized, blown-up versions or shrunken mini prints. Second, either go totally muted and almost monochromatic or vear in the opposite direction with extremely bright and graphic-looking prints. Think unusual and quirky. The rest is all in the styling. 

I suggest sporting your louder options under a blazer or sweater, letting just enough flair do its work. For more muted and understated prints, go ahead and let them buck on their own. Sport a simple ensemble that lets your shirt take the focus and make sure that the funky floral is also fitted and styled with either an ultra preppy feel (a la K Swiss and khaki chinos) or a bit of rock and roll (add leather cuffs, ray bans and Converse Chuck Taylors). With all this said, you’ve got to be confident! Floral should be an accent that tricks out an outfit and brings it to another level. If you aren’t confident and you don’t feel comfortable mixing it into your style—don’t do it. You can definitely wind up looking like you’re one fanny pack short of a cruise. That being said, stay tuned for next year’s post on the great fanny pack craze of 2014...  ;) 

Some of my favorites below:

Maison Martin Margiela; $515 at Mr Porter

Ben Sherman; $95 at Nordstrom

Daniele Alessandrini; $126 on Far Fetch

Topman; $56

Gucci; $490 at Neiman Marcus

Golden Goose Deluxe; $134 on Far Fetch

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