* This article contains NO plot spoilers but does reference character names and traits *
This week I got to see director Matthew Vaughn’s latest comic book adaptation, ‘X-Men: First Class’. After hitting the right spot with last year’s genius hard-hitting, laughter generator ‘Kick-Ass’ (it included a killing montage to the Banana-Split music! Genius.) I was eager to see how Vaughn would grapple with the cult that is X-Men.
The X-Men franchise, for those who have somehow avoided the Wolverine-clawed fans, is all about individuals with specials powers, fighting for good or evil. This film is set at the beginning of the characters self-discovery, showing how they deal with their powers, previously hidden from society. However, as much as I marvelled at Eric’s lifting of a submarine with his powers alone, Sebastian Stan’s fire-ball consumption and deadly regurgitation, and Hank’s gigantic feet, it was the characters’ sartorial powers which impressed most. No CGI required.
James McAvoy (also at his sartorial finest in ‘Atonement’ alongside Keira Knightley) plays Charles, an Oxford student who oozes traditional English style and qualities – mind reading being the exception. Charles shows how to combine formal pieces into a relaxed, traditionally smart style. Think traditional tailoring and heritage British brands like Purdey, Vivienne Westwood, Barbour and Richard James. To make sure he doesn’t look dated, slim-fit shirts and trousers combined with a singular piece from a suit (separates technique) make for a sharp young thing.
His magnetic power is very impressive but his knowledge of season trends certainly is enviable. The polo neck was all over the Milan catwalk at A/W, often under shirts or blazers; Eric is a fine example of how to get this trend bang-on. Combining the polo with a hard wearing leather jacket gives the outfit masculinity, with formality and class added by the deep blue or purple polo neck, which is tucked into his straight fitted trousers.
Although the tight, slim trousers are the go-to cut for most trends right now, when pairing with a leather jacket, opt for a straight trouser cut to avoid a ‘wanna-be-biker’ look.
When Eric stops off in the sunny climes of Argentina, he reveals a new power; the power to adapt his wardrobe to the weather. Ditching the heavy leather for the ultimate summer colours, he shows that white and buttery cream blend together perfectly.
Tucking the loose fitting shirt into contrastingly fitted shorts brings formality to the outfit, edging away from the Magaluf tourist and closer to a well-travelled Indiana Jones type. A brown belt draws attention and bridges the divide between the white and tan/buttery cream shorts.
Nicholas Hoult plays science-type Hank. Demonstrating how to keep traditional style up to date and modern (in a similar way to McAvoy’s Charles), what is most interesting about Hank are the feet. His big feet may give him the ability to run fast and climb like a monkey, but it’s the pair of brogues that he takes off which catches the eye.
The shoe of the season (and many to come), a brogue will keep you look smart from S/S without socks to A/W with bold coloured socks and a heavy trench coat on top. Durable, these shoes can easily be worn formally with a tux or with breezy in shorts. The most flexible of footwear?
The battle for good over evil really does heat-up when you look at these foes, if that battle is for best-dressed. Janos Quested summons whirlwinds that cause havoc when directed at enemies. It is impressive then that he always manages to look like he’s just waltzed out of Harrods with a new wardrobe.
Janos shows how to put a suit together. A matching suit and tie combination is always needed when worn over a white shirt, however remember that a tie in a slightly different hue often looks best.
The importance of colour is taken further as Janos only wears dark suits, even a darker shade of purple. It is important to note how different shades look on yourself; you should always be trying to utilise colours that complement your skin tone and hair/eye colours – it is these little details that often go unconsidered, but can make your overall look even better. Janos opts for a dark hue, complementing his dark complexion and hair.
He also shows the finer details. Cuffs peeking from under a dark suit add contrast, also achieved in the always important pocket square. Take note of the bowtie. The big season hit, Janos shows how a bowtie should neither be too small or overly large, risking either a puppet or magician look; make sure it’s just right.
Talking of complexion…
Azazel may not show much ground-breaking style throughout the film, wearing the same great outfit throughout, but he does show how the details create an outfit.
Please don’t go looking for skin coloured pocket squares unless you have a molten red face (definitely not if you have a fleshy-red face!), however Azazel shows how the pocket square can set off an outfit. Do try and match it with a shirt or jacket, even if this means only a slight colour match. Pocket squares can look great thinly poking above the pocket or bursting over the top showing texture. Experiment and see what looks good for the occasion.
The big bad boss of both evil and style, Sebastian Stan dons many formal looks throughout the film, however one power he has mastered is that of toning down a formal look to create a more laid back appearance.
Stan wears his collar open as if spending a lazy day around a sunny holiday resort, but to keep a stylish disposition, he wears a matching neckerchief and pocket square in deep red silk. A silk neckerchief (a big accessories trend this season) keeps formality and must be matching any pocket squares worn.
Director Matthew Vaughn did not let me down, and neither did the styling team. The varied characters of X-Men help showcase a variety of different trends and clothing combinations. If there is anything the X-Men show, it’s that the details often make the man. Azazel’s red jacket lining, Eric’s contrasting belt, Janos’ peeking cuffs, they may not be as impressive as the magnetism, mind-reading and whirlwind creation, but they certainly pack a punch.
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