As the nights get longer and the days get colder, every element of our wardrobe transforms into something more durable, more protective. At FashionBeans, we’ve consistently pioneered rugged, masculine workwear – it’s a classic look, and one that is every inch as practical as it is stylish during autumn/winter.
However, what do evenings that require a little formality entail? What about the gents amongst us that dislike loafing around in casual denims? With plenty of events coming up this winter that command a certain degree of style, today we look to draw inspiration from the film stars of the past; an epoch of enigmatic, sharply suited men that exuded a toughness without the need for hunter-gatherer behaviour.
Yes, the gents of the film noir era are timeless figures of fashion, and this season, you can look the star of your own stylish gangster murder mystery.
Key trends such as workwear, autumnal colours and layering remain intact, but injecting an essence of tailoring can work wonders this winter: don’t let the sudden drop in temperatures compromise your own sharpness.
Whether you’re looking to secure a deadly femme fatale at the office Christmas party, or step it up a notch for Boxing Day turkey curry at your aunt’s (I really hope others have to suffer this tradition also), following a film noir style is a classic and contrived sartorial decision.
Any self-respecting Humphrey Bogart or Gregory Peck would not be seen dead without a good suit, and I don’t mean your average navy or grey number. There’s nothing wrong with these staple pieces, but winter can often inflict a sense of monochrome dreariness upon everyone, and colour is not the sole preserve of summer and spring.
I often find myself falling into the trap of wearing all black and looking a little bland, and I’ve quickly learnt that a streak of vibrancy or a fine print can make you the standout gent at any formal occasion.
When investing in your next tailored pieces, go for patterns outside the regulars: plaids, dull tartans, tweed and herringbone all represent excellent choices, and have been advocated by our very own Matt Allinson over recent weeks.
The three-piece is the ultimate in sophistication, whilst simply combining blazer and trouser separates is a casual, more theme-fitting choice. The detectives of ages past usually stressed and solved those crimes within the confines of an office after-hours, so loosen your skinny tie and don’t spend too much time tucking and folding – it makes the look more natural.
I understand a decent full suit can set you back a few quid, so pairing your shirt and trousers is another viable option; our style icons did the same when sordidly leaving the apartments of Marlene Dietrich and Lauren Bacall – a casual spin on a traditionally tailored look.
Since film noir depended so much on shadows and silhouettes, the sharpest of all outerwear was necessary for our silver screen heroes. The iconic Burberry number is probably the most identifiable and coveted in the fashion world, but unless you’ve got £500+ to spare (feel free to throw it my way too), there are plenty of high street options.
The belted beige knee-length is a classic and a personal favourite, but grey, navy and black all counter a vintage-esque pattern. When purchasing something like a trench coat/mac, I think it’s incredibly important to remain traditional. Gimmicky ‘statement’ fastenings and gaudy prints will only cheapen an otherwise flawless piece.
Whether you’re an office bod or media mogul, the trench is an essential for any guy wanting to fine-tune his own style. The film noir of the 40s pioneered a strong look – one that still remains relevant to contemporary menswear – and the trench is an emblem of the fearless, hard-boiled detective.
Vintage brogues are best here. Reiss, Kurt Geiger and Acne all do incredible variations on classic men’s footwear, but nothing beats the feeling when you unearth a true second-hand gem. A pair of black tasselled loafers I bought for £20 are an invaluable find, and four years on, are still incredibly sharp and hard-wearing.
Combining the film noir look with a pair of Converse or Vans would instantly ruin such a polished aesthetic, so keep it formal. The only exception to this rule is the earlier mentioned shirt and trouser ensemble; when diluting the tailoring, untucking the shirt and folding up the hems, donning a more casual footwear style can work surprisingly well – a modern take, if you will.
The fedora is undoubtedly the quintessential piece associated with film noir, but exercise incredible caution. Since we take inspiration from classic looks of years gone by, complete mimicry can push even the coolest of our kind into costume territory. Looking cool to a formal event is more than desirable, but nobody wants to be mistaken for fancy dress.
Accessory wise, cufflinks, collar pins and a basic white pocket square are all acceptable but don’t overthink it; our favourite film noir heroes are all down-on-their-luck, uncaring fellas, not preened to perfection.
In terms of hair, a flyway brushed-back quiff is a fantastic option. Wear without too much wax or spray, or go all out with the slicked side parting – if you can pull it off.
The complex stories of The Black Dahlia and LA Confidential may have sent your head reeling, but that doesn’t mean your outfit has to be so convoluted. This party season, opt for a tailored look that’s less than polished and you will be on to a winner.
Don’t be afraid of patterns and fabrics that aren’t completely plain; as we move into the depths of autumn/winter, we’re set to see a whole host of different, industry-challenging prints that are quickly being absorbed into the contemporary fashion consciousness. Look every inch the Hollywood hero – double-crossing damsel and perpetual cigarette optional.