It seems that with more and more emphasis being placed on sharp tailoring and a more refined silhouette within men’s fashion as a whole, many of our trusty old casual pieces are being left on the shelves, or at the back of the wardrobe. Jeans are being substituted for chinos, hoodies for unstructured blazers and sweatshirts for classic knitwear or trend-led polo necks.
After reading Paul’s excellent guide on how to wear the 3 key knitted jumpers you need in your wardrobe for autumn/winter 2011, I thought I would showcase an alternative jumper style that is making a comeback unlike anything we have seen since Steps reformed. However, this is not a tragedy (I’m so sorry), as the sweatshirt has always been a key menswear staple that just seems to have lost its way slightly with the rise to prominence of the modern gentleman.
The sweatshirt has always been the epitome of easy style and effortless cool. It is one of those ‘go-to’ pieces you have in your wardrobe that you can throw on with a pair of jeans/chinos and know you look good. They have always been a very casual piece, due to their athletic/sports connotations, but just like your typical knitted sweater; they will keep you warm, are great for layering and are versatile enough to be able to dress down or up.
This autumn/winter I am predicting another rise in popularity for the sweatshirt. Sweatshirts were certainly making a few waves in the spring/summer seasons with the popular preppy and US collegiate trends, and look set to build on this momentum going forward – we have seen them featured a lot recently in clothing campaigns and editorials, and they have even developed their own mini-trend that I will detailing later on in the article. Versatility will play a key part in their resurgence, as they can be used to dress down or formalise a look using the same principles Paul detailed when styling the knitted sweater.
Current Season Sweatshirts
Before we start on how to style, let’s showcase some of the current seasons styles you can add to your wardrobe. Notice that these aren’t your typical loose, athletic type sweatshirts any more – everything from leather patches, to waffle and marbled detailing are available:
How To Wear
As we mentioned above, the sweatshirt can be worn on its own with a simple pair of jeans/chinos for those casual days where you just want comfort without neglecting style. It is a low key look, but it can be made your own through your choice of colours, accessories and surrounding pieces. Why not try a grey sweatshirt with burgundy chinos, some tan hiking boots and coordinating grey chunky socks?
This is only a 4 piece outfit, but your bottom half does all the talking; meaning you can throw on your sweat and know that you look good, whilst giving off the impression that you are not even trying [see look book top centre for a spring/summer variation]. Hats, scarves, gloves and jewellery can then be used to give your outfit some individuality.
Men’s Sweatshirts Look Book
Wearing The Sweatshirt: Elegantly
Taking a leaf out of Paul’s book, I thought I would show you how you can dress up a sweatshirt just like you would a knitted jumper. The key here is to opt for a classic slim fit style in a neutral colour so it still retains an essence of chic. This way you can pair it with smarter items like polos, shirts and trousers without it looking out of place.
Although a v-neck would be optimal for pulling a sweatshirt off with a shirt and tie, the look book above does show that you can do it successfully if the sweatshirt has a neckline that drops just enough to give a hint of what is underneath [bottom right]. This is actually a much more subtle approach to having your shirt and tie fully showing, and gives off some of that classic preppy/ivy league charm.
If you are layering a shirt underneath your sweatshirt, you can afford to choose a bold shirt colour or pattern, as the sweat will neutralise some of the brashness. Tip: A great way of tying the colour scheme of your outfit together would be to match the colour of your shirt underneath to your socks or another key accessory.
In the outfit below we start by taking a menswear staple – the grey sweat – and layering a beige shirt and dark green striped tie underneath (striped in order to reinforce that typical preppy vibe). We then add some smart navy chinos, a tan belt and some great brown loafers in order to bring the outfit up a notch and really hit that smart-casual look we are going for. Layer a classic trench, blazer or sports coat over the top if the weather requires it.
Wearing The Sweatshirt: Trend-Led
To show you just how versatile the sweatshirt can be, I have styled an outfit below that takes inspiration from the heritage trend that is so popular right now.
This time we opt for a sweatshirt with leather patch detailing, as it hits the whole outdoors/country vibe perfectly. It also means that if you were to wear this particular sweatshirt on its own (taking off the jacket) you wouldn’t lose the overall essence of the trend. Layer a similar coloured shirt underneath in order to sharpen up the aesthetic subtly, and throw on this season’s ‘must-have’ tweed blazer over the top.
Finish this look with classic dark slim-fit jeans, some thick chunky socks and a pair of on-trend hiking boots. Notice how the colour of the socks coordinates with both the sweatshirt and shirt base tones.
The Williamsburg Trend/Look
For the past year or so, all of us here in the UK have had an obsession with US style – specifically New York. Williamsburg is actually a neighbourhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, and is famed for being home to New York’s creative community and most stylish men/women. The Williamsburg trend and look seemed to develop out of our love for anything to do with collegiate or ivy league style; particularly items such as varsity jackets and printed sweats.
Williamsburg’s effortless thrift store meets Ivy League look is perfect for integrating the sweatshirt this season, and to give you a visual as to what the look is all about, check out the look book below:
Obviously none of the looks above actually feature a sweatshirt, but this was just to reinforce the aesthetic you can create. The perfect partner to your sweatshirt this year is the varsity jacket, which you can layer over the top and pair with casual jeans/chinos and some clean trainers for an easy to wear every day look. The varsity jacket style to look out for this autumn/winter is the new leather sleeved version – with Matt Allinson even including it on his list of 10 items he needs for the coming season.
Accessories and colour are key for this look, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Beanie hats, backpacks, coloured socks, bold watches and jewellery are all in play and will channel the essence of the urban dandy.
Mini Trend: The Raglan Sweat
FashionBeans readers will know by now that what separates you from the rest of the crowd are the details. So when looking to purchase a sweatshirt this season, make sure you look out for the raglan sleeved sweat. A raglan sleeve differs from a typical jumper as it creates a diagonal seam from the underarm to collarbone, meaning the sleeve is sewn directly to the neck of the sweatshirt, not just the body. This is a practical design consideration adopted from the sweatshirts sporting history, as the raglan sleeve gives the wearer greater freedom of movement in the arms.
This is one of those underground mini trends where it would not even be noticeable to everyone on the street, as it is not a wild alteration to the overall appearance of the sweatshirt. However, those who are into fashion and care about the details will recognise this subtle nod to a trend that just gives your sweat that differential from the others you will see.
For those of you who really want to stand out, some raglan sweats have been given different coloured arms compared to the body of the piece, meaning the diagonal seam and cut is even more prominent.
2 more key details to look out for this season are:
- The ‘V’ Stitching: This is an iconic piece of detailing for the classic sweatshirt. The ‘v’ panel (just underneath the neck) is again part of the sweatshirts sporting heritage, as its function was purely for sweat absorption.
- Marl Flecks & Marbling: Much like the key knitwear trends of the season, marl flecks and marbled patterns have made their way to the sweatshirt. Flecked marl gives the sweatshirt a more retro appearance, and is perfect for hitting an ironic geek chic look when thrown on with other key accessories like the Casio watch and geek specs. Marbling fabric techniques will also give your sweatshirt that natural differential from all the other plain coloured sweats on the market, as well as giving your top some ‘texture’.
So now I want to hear what you think:
- Do you think the sweatshirt can make a comeback this year?
- Has the time of the sweatshirt and hoodie official gone?
- How do you style your sweatshirt when you wear it?
- Can it play an integral part in your wardrobe with menswear moving to a more refined and classic style?
- Will you be purchasing a sweat this year? If so, what type?
Let us know in the comments below…