Introduction to the Look Book
Welcome to the return of the look book series. You can count on getting a fashion look book weekly/fortnightly from me from now on, and I will also be taking requests for specific look books in the comments. Throughout the series I will concentrating on trends that are big at the current time, staple items and how to rework them, celebrity outfit steals/inspiration, and how to get the catwalk look. This will help mix up the subject matter each week and hopefully cater for everyone.
With that out the way let’s dive straight into this week’s look. As we previewed on this site a few weeks back, the Americana look is going to be a big trend within men’s fashion this year. I noticed when we first previewed this trend the comments from our friends overseas were that one of the major looks for them this year is actually the “London Look”. I think this goes to show that men everywhere are looking for ways to separate themselves from the rest of the endless drones walking around (whether it be localised to your city or country) and create a unique style which makes them stand out. With more and more emphasis being placed on our appearance and men realising the importance of fashion within their lives, we are going to see a massive progression within the standards of dressing over the next five years. I know by the fact that you are reading this site that you want to be seen as a stylish male and fashion leader/innovator within your peer group, and so this look book series should really help point out how to create great outfits and WHAT makes them work.
The Trend and Key Pieces
So to really hit the Americana trend what would be the key pieces? Well first off let’s start with colours. For Spring/Summer you should be thinking beautiful pastel shades that will literally come alive once the sun is shining (fingers crossed) on them. You should find a lot of teal, yellow, pink and blue shades this year within the latest collections and another great unconventional colour to look out for is white. If you have the confidence to pull it off you can pick up a pair of white shorts or chinos and pair them with a bold statement shirt or jacket to create a fashion forward look which oozes style and self-belief.
What is great about the Americana look is that you may already posses a lot of key items you need within your wardrobe. If you were on trend last Spring/Summer you may already have some great nautical/French Riviera inspired items to break out. Bold coloured chinos, pastel shorts, breton striped tees and the like can all be re-used and reworked into your look this year as well. Luckily for us Brits, a print/pattern that really sits well within a true Americana look is the check. With the check shirt and workerwear being a MASSIVE trend over here at the end of last year I know that you will all have a shirt (or five) you can base your outfits around this season. so at the end of the article, take a rummage through your personal collection for anything that has that French Riviera/Nautical/Cowboy/Workerwear/Even “Playboy” feel to it and see how you can rework it to hit new trends (like the Americana) that are emerging this year. You may need to rearrange the colour co-ordination and you may even need to sub in different items (chinos for shorts, tee for polo etc.) but you can make this look your OWN.
So we have touched on how nautical items and workerwear can be reworked for the Americana trend and now we come to probably the third major look; preppy. When you think of American colleges, teen TV shows and films based around American college life, you cannot fail to escape the “preppy” look. You should probably think of it as the rich kid look; with emphasis on upper class dressing and designer labels. We of course do not have to spend the earth to get this look, but the key items to look out for again would be polo shirts, chinos, boat shoes, argyle sweaters, and the like. Think country club over here in England. Again you can see how these items tie in with the nautical pieces you may have from last year (or be looking to invest in this year) with even a dash of geek chic which again was a major trend throughout last year.
The Looks We Are Going For
As with my previous denim shirt look book, where I can I am going to be looking for inspiration from the major publications and retailer look books, because they have the facilities to produce beautiful editorial shots using real models which allows you to get an image in your mind of how an outfit will work before you rush out to buy the pieces you need. For today’s outfits I have taken the images from a H&M look book which really showcases 4 very different types of Americana look you can go for and hopefully you will find one that you like and can adapt to your personal style.
I must mention that I think H&M are really doing amazing things on the high street right now and you should really go take a browse through your local shop sometime. In terms of innovation and getting reasonably priced clothing out there which hits all the major trends, I think only Topman do it better. River Island are excellent as well, but H&M just edges them for me. Shame they don’t have a proper website!
What I will do though is show you how to get the looks above from our favourite shops on the internet. This means I may sub out items that I cannot get an exact match to, and maybe even use different items altogether, but the premise will be the same as the images shown above. Where you get the value is that I will also describe how and why certain items work to hopefully give you a fuller picture in your mind.
The Look Book
Look 1 – College Style
H&M describe this as the college movie hero who makes the girls “swoon”. Not too sure about the last time I actually saw a girl swoon, but never-the-less this look is about a confident young male who knows how to dress. He does not shy away from bold statement colours as he WANTS to be noticed and will also mix casual and formal items together in order to give off a relaxed but well put together look.
So here we are going to use some keys items you may already posses. They have started with the bold blue trousers/chinos which are really the focal point for me. The blue they have used is so deep and such a great shade that you cannot fail to be noticed against the sea of indigo jeans roaming around your local city. When you have a focal point and bold colour on your bottom half it is always best to go subtle with your top half. This time they have used the check shirt (Americana Workerwear) with a red/mauve base. Blue and deep red always colour coordinate very well, so this is a look you can pull off by itself on a hot day with the sleeves rolled up casually.
What they have done now though is mix in a casual piece (hoody) to really bring the whole outfit down a notch on the formal scale. Remember that although the chinos and shirt had relaxed colour tones, the items themselves are traditionally formal pieces. It also means we can now throw on a blazer, without this outfit becoming really stuffy. With the blazer you can go for an unstructured or structured version, depending on your personal preference.
The colours they have used for the hoody and blazer are also what I would call spring/summer colours. Look for beige and light greys in order to break away from the formal edge that a blazer provides. When layering items like a hoody and blazer it is also best to pick colours with the same base tones. In this outfit, by keeping the top half colours quite neutral, it also means the focus remains on the bottom half. Subtly will go a long way in sub-consciously communicating that you are stylish.
For footwear, you can throw on the white canvas or plain trainers. Again this casual item means that the outfit remains rooted in relaxed formal and even smart casual. What I would do now though is add a bold statement colour sock to the ensemble which will allow you to roll the pant legs up should you wish to really add some flair and personal style to this look. If I were you I would keep the sock colour based on the main colour in the check shirt to show you care about the details. In this particular look book example we would use red:
Look 2 – All American
This time H&M have gone for a pretty simple and clean look but used very bold colours to really make a statement and stand out. The “All American” title I suggest is because they have very much put emphasis on Red, White and Blue in this outfit in order to show allegiance to the national colours. The check shirt as described above is also very much Americana through and through.
Again let’s start with the bottom half, although this time there are key colour pieces throughout the outfit. The red shoes are a massive statement, and really show confidence and self-belief. I love how they have mixed it with some pastel blue socks, as the colour just peaks through when paired with the beige/stone chinos that have their pant legs rolled. The little details like this are what I really notice in an outfit and makes such a difference to your overall look. Imagine a plain black or (god forbid) white sock in there… doesn’t have quite the same effect does it?
Again we are using the bold coloured check shirt, which as you can see has a base of red, white and blue. Again a subtle detail that ties all the bold statement colours together with one single piece. Yet again this would look just as good an outfit with the jacket missing if it is a hot day. The bold blue jacket injects another statement colour into the whole ensemble, and with these focal points you just cannot fail to be noticed.
My favourite part though has to be the addition of the braces, loosely left hanging down in order to give off a relaxed vibe. This outfit definitely has a bit of a preppy touch about it, and the braces really add to this. Hopefully you will have some in your wardrobe still from the geek chic look last year, but if not feel free to use skinny or thick strapped braces in this outfit:
Look 3 – Kid Rock
I think this look has roots very much within the American music scene. Think the indie look over here in Britain but with a twist. This has elements of geek chic but in an ironic way. That is the key to pulling off a look like this, using great items of clothing and dressing in a slightly “geeky” way on purpose. You are obviously not a geek which will come across in your demeanour and confidence – so in the end you just look like a well put together and stylish male.
Here I have used really great investment pieces to get the look. Starting from the the bottom we have the Paul Smith leather trainers as they are just constructed amazingly and shows straight away you are not a typical geek. Leather trainers also adds a formal edge that canvas will not, and this is important when pulling off a look like this.
Next we have the jeans which have slightly higher than normal turn-ups. This is not rolling your leg up this time, it is one fold so that the pant leg now just scrapes the top of your footwear. “Ankle Swingers” is a term the Brits might of heard of because guys that wore their trousers this short used to be picked on for being “unfashionable” and “uncool”. This is ironic now that we would do this on purpose as a smack in the face to those who have plain and boring style. Again it emphasises the whole geek chic look to a T. I picked PRPS jeans because they are such an amazing jeans manufacturer and are American (clever huh). My genius aside, they also have more attention to detail than you will find on 99% of other brands, which means when you fold that pant leg up you are going to find intricate coloured stitching which will really ram the point we are going for home. Details guys, details.
For the top half they have gone with a double layered polo combination. This is something you do not find often over here in Britain, but I have it on good authority that it is definitely a look which is popular with our American counterparts. I actually had an American contributor once who wrote me an article on how to pull off this look effectively. I would either go one of two ways here, keep the shading subtle within the same colour tones; so blacks underneath greys, light blue underneath navy etc. or go for an opposite contrast effect like I have done in this example. Here I picked a plain black polo shirt to layer underneath the Penguin white polo shirt. I did this because black and white make an amazing contrast, but I also wanted to coordinate with the trainers, and accessories which we are coming to. Penguin is again another famous American brand which is making some waves over here, and I love this black lined version which is set-off by the matching colour underneath. Remember to expose some of the bottom polo shirt sleeve in order to get that great contrast. “Popping Collars” is also a very American thing to do but again it is optional and probably a bit too “cool” for geek chic.
Accessories we are really going to use to ram the geek chic look home. Geek specs are a must and I am still in love with this look from last year. The timex or casio plastic watch is also a great way to add some geek into your look. Of course if you wanted to be ironic you could pick yourself up a “Toy Watch” which is one of the hottest fashion watch brands right now… how many geeks would know about them huh?
Look 4 – Buddy Jr
Buddy Jr is part Nautical/Riviera and part geek chic. This time the colour tones are kept quite consistent whilst it is the patterns which change slightly. For the bottom half we have the subtle check shorts in a grey/blue tone, which is paired with the short sleeve (wider check pattern) shirt in a similar colour way. What you will notice on the shorts and the shirt however is the fact the item has been rolled in both cases. The shorts have the leg rolled up to create short shorts whilst the short sleeve shirt has also had the sleeves rolled up. This again is kind of a “geeky” thing to do, because short shorts have quite long been unfashionable. However this season sees the return of shorter length shorts within all the major designer collections, so again this time it is ironic and actually a bang on trend look.
I love how they have used the white canvas belt to break up the top and bottom half, and this is necessary when patterns match, in order to give that differentiation. It is also an item which really plays on the French Riviera vibe. The bottom half is kept really simple by adding in some black socks – pulled up of course to add to the geek feel – and some bold coloured canvas shoes. You could substitute these for a pair of coloured deck shoes quite easily and it would still work very well within the concept of the outfit.
Once again add the classic geek chic items (specs and watch) to finish off the look:
What you will find in this look book is that H&M were going for some very different looks which all center around the American colours, ethos or stereotypes. To my disappointment they didn’t actually use a lot of pastel colours, although they did mix in some very striking statement colours and in the end created some great outfits. These all have a very subtle Americana trend feel to them and it means that we can incorporate these looks within our wardrobe and personal style really easily.
I will however make a point to revisit this look when it comes to providing you with a Nautical and French Riviera look book, as pastel shades will be a high priority then. What is does mean is that you should be able to see how all these looks (Nautical/Riviera/Americana/Geek Chic) are adaptable and even relate to each other. Key pieces can be used to create a whole different type of look and hit different trends just by varying the surrounding items and accessories, and this is the key to building and maintaining a versatile wardrobe each and every season.