Sartorial simplicity for a fresh spring look
Simplicity can be a difficult concept to grasp with menswear. This is because if you ask most men to dress with ‘simplicity’, they will immediately follow the meerkat interpretation: ‘Easy!’ they will gleefully think, ‘Simple means easy.’
Sorry, gentlemen, but no. Far from being a passport to thoughtlessness, stylish simplicity demands (at least at first) a spot of focus from the wearer. You must first consider your staples – the sartorial dry goods in your wardrobe that
you can turn to, whatever the occasion. For many of us, these alter only rarely. My current basics include white poplin shirts; straight-cut raw jeans; round-necked lambswool jumpers; beaten-up brogues; and a well-cut, notch-lapelled, single-vented jacket. You might be a cardigan man, or a trainer head, or a corduroy purist: whatever. The point is to identify the core cluster of items that both suit you and in which you feel most comfortable. Once established, these form the basis of a wardrobe that delivers maximum style for minimum effort.
As you search for your staples, the trends should not be ignored. For spring Louis Vuitton has extended the emphasis on nautical – the classic pea coat, Breton striped top, deck shoe and fisherman’s jacket are all good options. Emergency-services plain bright colour is another motif that has pulsated its way from high-fashion catwalk (Salvatore Ferragamo) into the real world. A flash of high-vis is, I’d say, a slightly younger look, but one worth experimenting with.
Other new menswear directions include sleeker lines in suiting (Tom Ford’s James Bond wardrobe is taking effect) worn with cutaway collar shirts. Try sporting a handkerchief instead of a tie for a stylish addition that rings the changes.
But, the key to the new simplicity is establishing your own style and sticking to it. Here are 4 guiding principles…
The three Fs checklist
Consider fit, function and fabric when contemplating a new purchase: Does it fit perfectly? Will it do the job you need it to? And is the material robust, washable, and soundly stitched? If there are no ‘nos’, say ‘yes’.
1. Buy one great piece instead of three so-so equivalents
Economies of scale save space in your wardrobe, and save you time choosing what to wear. There’s no shame in wearing the same item often.
2. Play with pattern
But don’t go crazy. As fashion gets simpler, one patterned garment in an outfit makes for an eye-catching focal point. Two patterned items may look like a cry for help.
3. Only wear what you love
If you don’t adore something at first, chances are you never will. Sales assistants or spouses should only be permitted to persuade you into buying something if, secretly, you didn’t really need persuading in the first place.