Two simple letters conjure countless images of the Château Marmont, hedonism, fast cars, Sunset Boulevard, Beverley Hills and cocktails under palm trees: LA. The city of angels has become the ultimate home of celebrity infamy and 80s-inspired glamour, with plenty finding the very best parties (and the very worst pitfalls) in its urban sprawl.
With this aura comes a style and fashion that is relaxed by day, and luxuriously gaudy by night – in the best possible way. When done right, you too can look every inch the playboy millionaire. So this summer, let our transatlantic friends inject some American opulence into your ensembles.
Inspiration for this sort of look can be found everywhere; take Ryan Gosling from Drive, throw in some Versace, a dash of beach grunge and channel a little Duran Duran and you’re almost there.
For those a little wary of taking the plunge into pastel and neon territory (guys, I’m with you there), it’s all about taking inspiration from this particular style. LA can be our influence, as opposed to our template, and looking like the professional party animal doesn’t necessarily mean looking like a prize prat. This summer, let’s enjoy a little LA debauchery (and look like a don doing it).
Hopefully, we’ll be graced with plenty of sunshine – which can only mean we’ll be lucky enough to dust those shorts off. Wide-legged denim and rolled-up hems are back on the fashion radar, reminiscent of 80s boardwalk style and the birth of skater culture.
Topman currently offer various shades but if you’re looking for a little vintage precision, go for the acid wash or paler blues. Priced at around £30, they’re one of the cheaper high street options, but if you’re looking to save, don’t hesitate in hacking up those old baggy jeans. In fact, we once created our very own guide on how to turn jeans into shorts.
Two to three inches above the knee is the ideal length; too long and you’ll look like a middle aged tourist in three-quarter lengths, too short and you’ll like a Vengaboys tribute act. Don’t worry about rough jagged cutting – the hems will be out of sight when rolled up anyway.
Taking a dip? This season’s swimwear specialists have been championing an abundance of colour, so don’t be afraid of bold and bright primary hues to look every inch the poolside prince. Lyle & Scott bring the block stripe to the forefront, whilst other brands such as Oiler & Boiler and Tommy Hilfiger are right on trend with a plethora of prints. For those of you where money isn’t an object, look no further than Orlebar Brown, who arguably make the most flatteringly cut swim shorts I have ever seen.
As for your upper half on these coveted (yet painfully infrequent) summer afternoons, the oversized vest and shirt won’t look amiss on the streets of LA or on this season’s trend frequency.
The plain white tee is a staple of any man’s wardrobe, and one simply isn’t enough. Try a looser fit to really embody the West Coast look and toy with a size that suits your body type best. However, do take caution. Whilst ultra-tight may seem flattering if you’re on the more henched side of the physique scale, nobody wants to look like an extra in a Ricky Martin video. Avoid at all costs.
On the flipside, avoid XXL fits on a smaller frame unless you want to appear as if you’re drowning in yards upon yards of billowing cotton (a mistake that I’m unfortunately guilty of in my youth). Everywhere from Primark to Prada offers their own variant of the basic tee, but you really do pay for quality. For those wishing to avoid the utmost in chic simplicity (plain denim and monochrome colours aren’t for everyone), opt for the Aztec print which is everywhere this summer and partly inspired by the sun worshipping culture of a bygone LA.
Throw on a casual denim jacket if you’re feeling a little cold or indulge in the charmeuse bomber jacket, but try not to clash with other components of your outfit. Double denim is a very tricky look to get right, and teaming rich hues with busy prints is only going to end in disaster.
The fantastic thing about LA style is the rather miraculous transition from laid back daywear to luxurious nightwear – and things get incredibly dapper when the sun finally sets.
Leave the comfortable denims and tops for the early hours and bring out the blazers, tailored shorts and standard uniform quiff for the evening. Despite the acceleration in the formal stakes, successful style is dependant upon the effortless spirit behind every ensemble, and this particular look is no exception to this golden rule.
To really mimic Miami Vice cool (without the rolled-up sleeves and unforgivable mullets), delve into pastel hues and remain unafraid of colour. H&M currently stock plenty of pieces in this vein, with blazers £40 to £60 that are guaranteed to make a statement in salmon and electric blue. For those looking for a subtler move, light greys and classic navy are still completely acceptable. Team with a crisp white shirt (again, an absolute essential) and keep it neutral to avoid going overboard.
The devil to understated style really is in the detail, so leave the ties for the office and go for a good old pocket square; either stuffed in the top pocket nonchalantly or folded flat. Remember, looking too strait-laced is in stark opposition to the hedonistic LA lifestyle, and sometimes looking a little rough around the edges is a bonus.
Farah can provide all the tailored short goodness you need for summer evenings, with a variety of colours around the £40 price tag – and don’t feel the need to match blazer hue to other colours. Combining a calmer shade with something a little more of statement is fine, as is mixing it up with tailored trousers: the world really is your style oyster here.
If you want authenticity, however, try to view your outfit as a subtle reference to 80s New Wave and American extravagance.
So, there you have it, a few basic fashion rules inspired by our fellows across the pond. Whilst daytime may seem like a stark contrast to the gaudy realms of nightime attire, one consistent thread remains: the need to look effortless. There’s no room for top buttons fastened, pocket watches or finely polished brogues; it’s all about roughing up tradition and presenting something that is far more inviting of excessive debauchery.
Looking stylish yet unafraid of the night’s heavy activities remains at the heart of a sweet, cool and sophisticatedly laid-back LA style. Even if our summer doesn’t prove quite as exotic, with a little work, we can give those transatlantic fashioneers a run for their money.