Fashion is fickle, but there are some looks that stand the test of time.
Fashion is a fickle beast. A quick dip into sartorial history churns up innumerable styles that have come and gone quicker than you can say ‘so hot right now.’ Uggs for men, bell-bottom flares and three-quarter length trousers are just some of the many fashion trends that have fallen foul to the fast-paced world of fashion trends – and thank goodness, right? But keeping up with the newest, freshest looks can be a thankless, and frankly, costly, task.
To really get bang-for-your-buck and stay sartorially relevant is all about investing in the classics. We’re talking those iconic, timeless and tried-and-tested looks that form the foundation of dapper style. The styles that endure seasons, the ones that weather the ever-changing fashion climate whilst retaining their charm and sophistication.
In this post, we’ll break down some of these sartorial must-haves and how to wear them with an utterly modern twist.
The Godfather of cool: A leather jacket, jeans and white t-shirt
We have none other than the Godfather himself – Marlon Brando – to thank for this legendary pairing. From the moment Brando donned this ensemble in the cult classic, The Wild One, a sartorial legacy was born that still prevails 60 years later. Black leather jacket, denim jeans and a white crew t-shirt – so simple, but oh so ‘cool’. Once the unofficial uniform of counterculture 50s kids and Hells Angels alike, this classic combo continues to retain its bad boy appeal.
As with many of the classic looks, part of the durability of this styling is its simplicity and versatility. Unlike those t-shirts from the 90s, with their neon, acid-induced designs, this look is easily adaptable and sartorially malleable. Each generation has its own take – from the hippy twist of the 70s and streamlined take of the 80s, to the grunged-up vibe of the 90s. Adaptability keeps this look relevant.
Today, this look taps into one of the current trends – texture play. Denim, leather and cotton provide the perfect tools for mixing polished crispness with craggy leather for a sensorial textural experience. Go for well-fitted, straight leg jeans in distressed denim and match them with a bright white crew t-shirt and distressed leather jacket. To complete the look, wear with trainers or boots and steer clear of brogues and loafers. You can also go for funny tshirts to give your appearance a zing
British country gent: A tweed suit
Nothing pays homage to sartorial heritage like the tweed suit. The go-to for country gents and outdoorsmen of the past, tweed evokes a classic aesthetic and heritage vibe. A firm favourite of fashion heavyweight David Gandy, tweed has enjoyed a full-blown come-back in recent years. And it’s not hard to see why. Tweed is both a stylish and practical choice; flexible, water-resistant and hard-wearing, it’s perfect for weathering colder climates and weekends in the country.
To rock this quintessentially British look and pay homage to tradition, there’s just one rule to keep in mind- the fit. To avoid looking like a dusty professor, go for a well-tailored, modern slim fit. Head to a tailor and get one made that fits you perfectly- trust us it’s well worth the investment. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg either- there’s thousands of online tailoring services that are both economic and easy to use. Simply send off your measurements and wait for your handmade suit to be delivered to your door.
If you’re not quite ready to channel the full look, a tweed jacket works well with casual outfits. To effortlessly elevate your look, pair your tweed with some well-fitted jeans or chinos, a shirt or jumper. Just avoid busy patterns and designs to avoid looking like you’ve been let loose in an antique shop.
Nautical vibes: A Breton top and tailored navy jacket
This nautical look finds its origins in the C19th when the French navy first donned the classic white and blue stripe design. Way back then, the simple, yet flash design was created to help spot sailors who’d fallen overboard; and it’s this same eye-catching statement that helps this look remain a wardrobe stalwart. Since then, we’ve ditched the white bell-bottoms and sailor hat in favor of a more chic take on this seaside look. We’re talking James Dean cool- a Breton top and tailored navy jacket.
The best thing about this look is it’s near impossible to get wrong and that’s part of why it’s managed to transcend the ravages of time. The key is to keep it simple and classic. A well made Breton top layered beneath a tailored navy blazer is all you need– if it ain’t broke, right? To really channel Riviera chic, forgo socks and wear with simple, dark coloured chinos or dark jeans. Unless you’re heading out on a yacht or are going for the full-blown sailor look, steer clear of white trousers and keep the fit slim. This look works well for casual events that require an off-duty, yet effortlessly sharp and stylish, vibe.
The old timey: bow tie and suspenders
What do Winston Churchill, Fred Astaire, Charlie Chaplin and Ryan Gosling all have in common? We’d hazard a guess – not much. But what does unite all these men is their dedication to the humble bow tie. First worn during the Prussian wars in the C17th, the bow tie has had a rocky ride in sartorial history. Once the staple of clowns and slightly overly-eccentric men, this neckwear accessory fell foul to garish colours, clashing patterns and oversized knots – a fashion disaster. But don’t let that put you off. The bow tie deserves a firm place in your wardrobe and has a far-reaching appeal.
To get the look today, it’s all about the way you pair it. You can’t go wrong with the elegant and playful combo – a bow tie and suspenders. Suspenders, themselves, have a long-established sartorial legacy and make a statement all of their own, but when matched with a bow tie they really come to life. The pairing gives off an old timey cool with an elegant modern twist. Get the look yourself by pairing trousers and shirt with suspenders with a metal grip and a classic bow tie. Ditching your tie and belt in favour of this trendy duo gives a bit of character to a muted outfit. To avoid slipping into the joke shop realm, follow this one simple rule – the bolder the bow tie, the simpler the shirt – and vice-versa. The fabric is also important: stick to cotton, linen and seersucker bow ties for casual events and save your silk and wool ones for more formal affairs.
Creating a wardrobe built on a foundation of these style essentials is a sure-fire way to stay looking sharp whatever the season. If you’ve got these looks covered, you can build and adapt your wardrobe to reflect the newest trends – however out-there and destined to die a swift death they seem!
Anthony Horner is the director of Empire Outlet, a luxury menswear company that provides high-quality suits and accessories at a price that doesn’t break the bank. Empire Outlet operates online and serves customers all over the world.