I’m fairly certain that everyone who reads this article has been asked at some point in their lives, by a disgruntled parent, irate teacher or responsible adult of any kind – “So if they jumped off a cliff would you do it to?” The answer would invariably be yes, because everyone likes to think that they’re cool, and if everybody is doing it then jumping off a cliff has to make you super cool and anyone that doesn’t, can thenceforth be referred to by any number of cruel and childish names, like ‘Stinky loser pants’ or ‘Cliff loser’ or ‘Would like to preserve his own life rather than jump to an almost certain death with the misguided idea that it will make him cool. . . . Loser.’ But what does all this have to do with fashion you may be asking. To put it simply, do we follow the crowd, or do we remain the individual?

Fashion is largely dictated by trends. What designers send down the catwalks each season becomes the staple from which the fashion conscious public draw inspiration, style choices and new looks, give or take a few modifications. Occasionally we see trends or items that rock the boat a little – skinny jeans for example, cargo trousers or the much maligned camo print that made an appearance last season. The Turban concept (check Jacob Kamara’s article for the full read up); men’s crop tops or skirts are all attempts by fashion designers to try something new, push the boundaries and encourage our own creativeness. Obviously certain items have more success than others; skinny jeans and cargo trousers to a lesser extent, while others fall by the way side.

The Big A/W Trends

But of the trends and ideas that do make the big time, which do we choose if we do make that choice at all? Style is as much about individuality as maintaining a handle on what is currently the ‘in’ look. But how can you be an individual when you look the same or at least very similar to every other Tom, Dick, Harry and perhaps Terry on the street. The whole Topman Model stereotype/concept begins to ring very true. However, you could also argue that to not follow trends leaves you at an immediate disadvantage in the fashion stakes, as these become the big fashionable styles. How can you be fashionable if you don’t follow what is new and cool? Let’s take some of the current A/W trends:

The Urban Bohemian

Urban Bohemian Men's Look Book

A Preppy Chap

The Preppy Fashion Trend - Men's Lookbook

Geek Chic

Geek Chic Men's Lookbook

The Military Man

Military Fashion Trend - Men's Lookbook

I’m sure that every one of you reading has seen at least one person, if not more, sporting what could only be construed as an outfit pertaining to the above trends, and if you haven’t, then the pictures will provide you with the evidence. This is not to say that the people that adopt these trends are unfashionable – far from it – rather it could suggest an over reliance on the current big thing to create a fashionable personal style. We like these trends because of the fabrics, cuts, shapes and the textures they make use of; the overall image they project. From an outside perspective it might seem like the person that does fully embrace a particular look is exceedingly fashionable and completely in tune with the fashion world (or the opposite if you are engaging with a fashion philistine), you clearly understand the nature of dressing well, the complexities of colour etc. But from within it could be seen that you are simply following the crowd, blindly purchasing whatever everyone else happens to be sporting, which, while you do understand fashion, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being an individual.

You could argue that even here at FashionBeans, we are guilty of promoting a devotion to the upcoming trends of the season, with articles focusing on specific looks; what to wear, how to wear it, even providing product picks. All very true, but this it is up to you to then make use of the information to become the individual. We often stress the importance of a transitional wardrobe, not just from season to season, but from style to style. Personally, I feel the best wardrobe is not one that changes every time a new trend comes around, but one that has more invested in timeless, key pieces that transcend most (if not all of) past, current and future trends. Using truly variable items that can and do suit almost anything. In this way, you save yourself wardrobe space, money and time, and you still have a hugely fashionable selection from which to create your outfits. You pick and choose certain items from that seasons looks, and work them into your own style, mixing new ideas with traditional or classic pieces – the more options a piece of clothing gives you, the better it is.

However, this creates a situation where in there is a very fine line between becoming too focused on trending or disregarding them completely. In a similar way to the reactions or use of some of the more controversial men’s fashion items – meggings, skirts etc, there is a balance that has to be struck. Certainly the use of a skirt in men’s fashion is very daring and could be seen as hugely fashion forward, but I haven’t seen it work anywhere outside of designer circles, and even then, they’re pushing it. You, as master of your own style, must find that point between following the trends and creating your own look which makes your style truly unique and fashionable at the same time. To help you along, here is a list of some of the key transitional and timeless pieces that I think can be taken from the current A/W trends:

  • ASOS Double Breasted Military Coat
  • Khaki Crop Cotton Twill Trench
  • ASOS BLACK Double Breasted Trench Coat
  • All Saints Fold Military Boots
  • H By Hudson Westland Military Boots
  • Oat Neppy Yoke Cable Jumper
  • Red Yoke Cable Jumper
  • Ernst Cardigan
  • Red Tartan Western Check Shirt
  • Selected Eject Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Archway L/s Shirt

This of course, is by no means a comprehensive list of transitional items. As long as it can work with a variety of outfits, any item can become transitional. If you feel that one particular style is too common or not individual enough, go for an outside choice, a different colour or style. A good example of this is the quilted jacket, a hugely popular coat choice in the current season, and possibly a bit too popular. Go for the slightly rarer waxed jacket, or duffle coat, or be really on the ball with a shearling jacket. Tell us your items that are transitional in the comments below and we will add them to the picks shown above.

The Debate

Well I’ve had my say. I’ve told you what I think a good wardrobe should contain, but what do you think? This is all about personal opinion, you dress the way you dress for a reason, what is this reason?

  • Are you something of a Trend follower? If so which is your chosen look?
  • Would you agree that a transitional wardrobe is the better option?
  • What kind of Timeless, key pieces do you own or would recommend?
  • Is fashion entirely dictated by trends?
  • Should we embrace everything that appears on the catwalks and shelves?

Get your opinions across in the comments below. And be on the look out (with a touch of irony) for the up coming trends of S/S11.