For a brief, exciting moment I thought the fashion world had looked into a morbid crystal ball and saw a glimpse of the future. It felt like this fall promised to showcase men's fashion trends through homage to entertainment geniuses the world lost in what has been called the "summer of death."
Looking at one of the D&G men's ads, I gasped, wondering if Mr. Dolce and Mr. Gabbana knew that Michael Jackson would no longer be with us and celebrated his legacy by peddling military-esqe jackets as a new fall trend.
And then, the trends townies are already sporting - thin knit scarves bunched around their necks and jaunty hats on their heads -- make me wonder if the fashion world also knew that we would lose John Hughes, the creator of the 1980s movie Pretty in Pink and who brought the world the wardrobe of the lovelorn new waver Duckie Dale.
Okay, technically Duckie wore bolo ties and not scarves around his neck, but both are certainly a bold statement on a man. More than just exciting to see these men's trends come out around the time of these deaths, it would have been refreshing to see some men's fall trends that offered something else, something creative.
Alas, these looks aren't even registering in men's fall fashion. My whole delightful theory that men's fall fashion is a tribute to these deceased legends is beyond inaccurate as the real trends emerge. Casting aside refreshing options, designers and stores are giving men the same old stuff. And with that enthusiastic intro, let's begin.
No season would be complete without a pattern trend. Granted, men really only have two major options -- striped and plaid. But, this season is all about the latter. Plaid and its close companion the checker print are bringing color to your fall wardrobe. The pattern makes its way not only onto basic daywear and dress wear but also outerwear. What can you say about plaid that a lumberjack or Scotsman hasn't already?
Although, there was promise of some 1980s resurgence, it appears that the 1990s have taken a hold of this aspect of fall. Plaid, flannel shirts will become a basic in men's wardrobes. They can be worn over long-sleeved thermal shirts for an easy-to-wear day look. To bring plaid into more professional or evening wear, simply wear a crisp button-down in plaid.
If you wear ties, break up the simplicity of a plaid and opt for a tie with a bold contrasting print and shade. Although, you might be hesitant to mix patterns (and let's be frank, as a guy you might be unable to do it without clashing) it will add a little bit of excitement to an outfit that would otherwise be bland. And the bold use of pattern mixing will be a slight wink at the Duckie trend I thought was so imminent.
If you don't embrace the plaid and/or patterned tie this season, you'll be sorely dreary. The plaid or checker print might be the boldest color palette greeting this season. But the color of fall is...drum roll, please... gray!
Pieces appropriate for daywear such as blazers with jeans or a vest paired over anything will give black a break and hand the reigns to gray. Blazers and pants (along with the combo known as a suit) will be draped in light to dark shades of gray this fall.
More than just evoking the looks of TV's Mad Men (or if you're more literary and old school, the novel "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit"), the cuts of these somber pieces are close to the body. Everything from suit jackets and pants will be trim. Just like any suit, if you can't find pieces off the rack that fit snug, it's time to find a tailor.
Whether you're wearing a gray flannel suit or something that Eddie Vedder sported several years ago, you'll at some point need to throw something over it. Thankfully, outerwear this fall is varied, and all styles complement those dressed up and dressed down looks.
Men fit in with a leather motorcycle jacket adorned. But unlike women, men have fewer options in terms of color, as it's pretty much black or deep brown. Again, the cut will be trim and fit close to the body, and unlike some other jacket options becoming popular this fall, these looks must hit at or around the waist, no longer.
The motorcycle jacket is the nice middle point in terms of curbing fall temperatures. On the warmer (weather) end of the spectrum, a thin knit cardigan is ideal for men this fall. The shape of the men's 2009 cardigan hits two optional trend sets this fall, either the 1990s look or the lean fashion. For more options, go more toward the 1990s trends. These cardigans feel like what a grandfather might wear, larger knit and bulkier in size but appropriate over t-shirts or thermals.
The colors will be muted and subdued, such as a thrilling gray. Then, there are cardigans for the lean look. These thin knits feature more color (and possibly even pattern) and will be a good pairing for slim-fitting button-downs, jeans or dress pants. For lean and relaxed looks, the shape and construction is similar to large buttons, deep v-necks and front pockets.
With two different temperature looks in store and winter creeping up, a longer, thicker coat should manage colder days. These longer coats, which will sit slightly below the groin, will be a vision in wool or waterproof materials. Although the regular man might not be ready for the bold detailing of a jacket that MJ would have donned, masculine ornamental detailing attempts to be brought to men's outerwear, most notably with the toggle clasps.
What one retailer calls a "classic nautically-inspired design," these clasps are long, vertical buttons that clinch through large loops that go down the middle of the jacket. I do believe that you'll find one or two in a muted black shade (also known as gray) as well as camel colors. Depending on the construction (wool is great for dressier looks and you can find thinner materials for daywear), these jackets will be able to take you through winter chicly and comfortably.
As I warned before giving the grocery list of men's fall trends, it's not a thrilling offering for gentlemen this season. I suppose designers and brands should not be responsible for all the blame of uninspiring men's fashion. Yes, they should be pushing the envelope, but there's no point in creating a bunch of designs no one will wear. Stores could be stockpiled with jackets featuring epaulets and gold embroidery detail or cropped pants, but that doesn't mean that every man would (or could) pull off these bold looks. But, if you agree that the actual trends of this fall are lackluster, certainly branch out. Although not original looks, you could take inspiration from the artists that we lost this summer and wear some fashionable (1980s) items that turn the "summer of death" to the "fall of fashion."
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