The sun is setting on the day of the dandy. In a market saturated with snug suiting adorned with umpteen paisley pocket squares, a rebellion has been brewing. All hail the welcome return of the minimalist. In recent seasons we’ve seen menswear relaxing somewhat. Out with the buttoned-up fare of old and in with simple, sharp construction and pared-back design features.
But not all minimalists are cut from the same cloth. There’s more than one way to skin a sheep and turn it into a frills-free shearling jacket after all. No matter your budget or your taste, there’s a bells and whistles vacuum for you. And each can be given a twist of personality, worn right.
The eponymous designer may have left, but the house that’s borne her name since 1973 is still a byword for minimalist style. For this season, faultlessly-cut ready-to-wear comes in the form of block-coloured knits and oversized outerwear, underpinned by the brand’s razor-sharp tailoring and basics.
A standout piece from autumn’s Jil Sander collection is the maroon two-button button suit in wool-mohair. Proof that you can ditch embellishment but still make a statement, its slim lapel and narrow silhouette will work just as well with a skinny black tie and white shirt as it will with a black roll neck or tee.
Suit in wool-mohair, available at jilsander.com, priced £1,300.
If Jil Sander is the godmother to minimalist menswear, then Acne Studios is the cool older brother lighting up in the school yard, a battered biker jacket slung over his shoulder.
Since Jonny Johansson launched his denim brand in 1997, Acne (Ambition to Create Novel Expressions) has grown to boast a carefully considered edit of ready-to-wear, accessories, footwear and jewellery. As effortless as it is wearable, Acne’s success is in its no nonsense approach to design.
If you only ever buy one piece of Acne Studios, buy a bomber jacket. Every season Acne offers a contemporary take on the classic utility of the MA-1 bomber and the midnight blue ‘Selo Light’ bomber, with its satin-finished shell, streamlined silhouette and sturdy zips is a particular standout. Wear it with the provocative ‘GENDER EQUALITY’ sweatshirt and you’ll certainly turn heads at the local.
Acne Studios Selo Light Jacket, available at End Clothing, priced £419.
In love with Acne’s effortless cool, but struggling with its price tags? Cult Parisian brand A.P.C. (Atelier de Production et de Création) is a one-stop-shop for understated essentials. Designed for ‘head-to-toe dressing’, A.P.C. Is best worn layered and its diverse product offering affords you the opportunity to play around with the styling relatively risk-free, since almost everything goes with everything else.
Wherever you stand on the gilet, their ‘Dustin’ navy take, crafted from a quilted Italian shell, is undoubtedly versatile. On warmer autumn days, throw it on over a sweatshirt or lightweight roll neck. As the frosts start lingering, just add an overcoat.
Not satisfied with creating cool urban clothing, A.P.C’s accessories offering is also second to none. Its backpacks offer fashion and function in equal measures; the brand’s midnight blue version in glossy cotton twill construction not only includes a capacious 21 litres of space, but also looks just as sharp with an overcoat as it does a bomber jacket.
It’s hard to believe that H&M’s younger sibling COS has only been with us since 2007. ‘Collection Of Style’ prides itself on offering the finest in function and affordability. The label’s distinctively clean, architectural aesthetic runs strong as a theme season upon season, making for wearable staples that won’t become obsolete after a few months’ wear.
A white collarless shirt with a subtly graduated hem is a prime example of how the brand – and minimalism more broadly – ensures enduring wearability. Dress it up with a slim navy suit and sneakers, or down with a block-coloured sweat and jeans.
COS’ unstructured knits are also worth exploring, with a strong selection of roll necks, pullovers and cardigans on offer. The melange grey cardigan in a boiled wool has an air of Scandi nonchalance to it, but to really embrace your inner Mikael Blomkvist wear it oversized with a white shirt or tee.
Famed for serving a term as Artistic Director (womenswear) at Paris’ byword for luxury, Hermès, Christophe Lemaire launched his first menswear collection in 1995. Lemaire’s point of difference as a menswear brand is in its subtle nuances in design; twists on staple pieces that set his work apart from any other minimal fare on the market.
A classic example of Lemaire’s alternative approach is the collarless shirts from the current collection. The off-centre placket and pleated front, back and cuffs that create a voluminous fit, is a fun departure from the familiar.
The unique cuts and design features of the collection means that it works best together, so try the shirt under the Lemaire tweed overcoat with asymmetric button fastening. If your pocket doesn’t quite stretch, then we’d recommend shopping his excellent collection for Uniqlo.