This fall, men’s fashion designers favored the wearable over the stareable. Rather than put out entire collections composed of the kind of garments not even the "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" cast would don, designers opted for practical, chic looks.
The slim suit makes a return this season but expect a better reception with round two. "Men’s fashion isn’t so faddish. The bubble skirt thing that happened with women’s fashion doesn’t happen with men. They take longer to come around to things," said Daniel Billett, men’s fashion expert for About.com.
Michael Macko, vice president of men’s fashion for Saks Fifth Avenue, agrees. "Men weren’t raised like women to change their closets every six months," he said. "It moves glacially."
It also helps matters when a celebrity warms up to a trend first. Justin Timberlake and David Beckham have both donned the kind of slim cigarette slacks Narciso Rodriguez designed and the same snug jackets Rag & Bone favored.
"More and more guys are looking at the celebrities," said Macko, citing Jude Law and Timberlake as huge influences on men’s fashions.
Depending on which era you lean toward, Billet says this slim suit trend gets its influence from the ’50s or the ’80s when the look fit close to the body with little breathing room. One-button jackets, such as those Calvin Klein Collection and Etro showed, also make a strong comeback.
For those men willing to take fashion risks, the velvet jacket in a multitude of rich colors along with the standard tuxedo jacket returned, this time paired with jeans and more casual looks. "For fall, every show ended with formalwear," Macko said. "The tux jacket is the fun going-out jacket."
In addition, the sartorial accoutrements of the suit came back in full force. Expect to be wearing pocket squares, suspenders, French cuffs, tie bars and cuff links, Macko said.
On the opposite end of the style spectrum, you have sportswear, a look receiving so much technological attention it ventures out of the gym and into casual chic territory as Lanvin’s runway proved. "All the shiny fabrics, zippers and pockets let you go into a casual venue and look very modern and current," Billett said.
Patent leather and metallics also show up in men’s sportswear collections this season. Look for them in the form of jackets and pants from Dsquared2 and shoes, such as the sparkling ones Dries Van Noten sent down the runway. In another nod to the ’80s, sweats and a pseudo-parachute pant surface this fall. Y-3 takes a liking to both, which designer Yohji Yamamoto included in several looks at the fall shows.
If the sportswear trends come off as too modern, perhaps the après-ski look will appeal to you. Designers such as Michael Kors paired the ever-present puffy coat with tailored jackets and slacks while Balenciaga made earflap hats and striped scarves dapper. On the ski bum side of the slopes, Michael Bastian brings thermals, wool-trimmed jackets and alpine sweaters that go so far as to feature actual skiers on them into play.
"We saw turtlenecks on every runway," Macko said. Winter whites and creams predominated the shows, and a down-filled vest paired with the look will look chic.
The collegiate look returns this season, but this time it has edge. "It’s blue blood with a modern twist," Billett said. "The cuts are different, the stitching and the seams are rugged. It’s something a manly man can wear." Marc by Marc Jacobs, Paul Smith and Tommy Hilfiger all took turns creating the look molded after the class-cutting Ivy League student using dark color combinations, sheeny denim, distressed sneakers, skinny ties and odd pattern pairing.
Macko says that men have been wearing their suit jackets with jeans or pairing that suit pant with a different jacket to add some dimension to their wardrobes. Thom Browne, who has his own fashion label and designs for Brookes Brothers, influenced lapels, making them skinnier. In fact, even collars and ties slimmed down for fall, and jackets crept upward.
Hats made a cameo on nearly every runway for fall, topping off the season’s trends. Dsquared2 showed traditional baseball caps, newsboy styles charmed at Burberry Prorsum and John Varvatos kept it cool in fedoras and Panama hats.
Even denim has gone narrower. Macko says that the straight leg (men dare not call them skinny jeans) looks newer, while even the wide-legged look creeping back into women’s fashions is available for the fashion-forward man.
"Most guys care about the way they look," Macko said. "Shopping doesn’t have the stigmatism it used to for men."
Model: Mike Sullivan
Stylist: Susan Stapleton
Stylist’s Assistant: Britany Grant
Hair and Grooming: Rachel Thomasula and Kelsey White for Euphoria Institute of Beauty
Shot on location at the Downtown Cocktail Room