Considering their day job is to make guys look dope, it’s peculiar how many menswear designers default to a jeans and sweats uniform that seems more suited to reinvigorating the garage than the zeitgeist.
The kind assumption tenders that when you’re helming a label, creativity you’d exert on your own wardrobe is better spent reinventing everyone else’s. Fair. But as these men below prove, you can expend energy on your own swag without lessening what you send down the runway.
It’s arguably an unfair advantage in the style stakes when a) your dad is one of British menswear’s most decorated names b) you run one of menswear’s most innovative fashion labels with him and c) he blessed you with the kind of genetics that snared a modelling contract with the agency that once managed Naomi and Cindy.
Still, kudos to Charlie Casely-Hayford for parlaying this hand into a style that embodies what his eponymous brand does best: sportswear reimagined by some liquored-up Savile Row exile. Think slim-fit suits cropped above sh*t-kicking boots; colour-blocked outerwear, cut roomy to hang over his six-foot-six frame; or, sure, sweats and sneakers, but with a deconstructed jacket shrugged on to switch that silhouette into something more individual.
He’s a lesson in the benefits of knowing your body and its best fit, then understanding the power of less.
A slim-fit navy suit, given a punk spin with a floaty tee and boots that could kick down doors.
Casely-Hayford Titus Navy Suit Jacket, available at casely-hayford.com, priced £505.
You don’t get seated next to Kanye at fashion week without making some serious heat. And Virgil Abloh’s label Off-White is hot enough to scald. His high-end streetwear is collecting famous fans like football stickers, courtesy of pieces that are at once distinctive and super-wearable – grail for the hypebeast looking to stunt on his squad.
Abloh’s own look is like a living moodboard of where streetwear’s at now – think box logo Supreme hoodies and Palace tees, bookmarked with Nick Fouquet millinery or a NASASEASONS cap, and Kith’s latest must-cop kicks. Ideally finished with his own, signature outerwear.
Though his own designs are part of streetwear’s breathless hype cycle, his look is streetwear as it once was – comfortable, distinctive, but without being ostentatious. It’s just good clothes, fam.
A patched, camo work jacket, worn loose over a black tee. If a fire brand logo flickers into view when you move, so much the better.
Off White Sahariana Camouflage-Print Jacket, available at Selfridges, priced £715.
AMI’s slogan could be ‘don’t overthink it’. Since Alexandre Mattiusi founded the label in 2011 (well, re-founded – he shuttered its first, tee-selling incarnation) it’s been an extension of his own, unfussy style: classic menswear, made just different enough to be distinctive.
It’s a Parisian take on streetwear, where single pieces dress up and down by context, and the same rolled chinos are as comfortable with lace-ups and a blazer as sneakers and a sweatshirt.
In an industry obsessed with thinness, Mattiussi is an example of how simple pieces, cut right, are kind to the dude who hits the gym and happy hour. His suits are slim but not skinny, creating shape but not constricting what’s inside. He knows that a denim shirt takes tailoring somewhere unexpected. And his layering game is world-beating – proof that a loose-fitting overcoat completes any look.
On most heads, a scarlet beanie is a cry for attention. On Mattiussi, it’s a wink that says you can look sharp without taking yourself too seriously.
AMI Knitted Beanie Hat, available at Matches Fashion, priced £45.
If you’ve ever littered your bedroom floor with rejected clothes, it’s easy to resent Patrick Grant’s ability to make whatever he wears look like it was built for him. But then, it probably was – he’s got high fashion house E. Tautz in his stable, as well as tailor Norton & Sons, both of which have struck sartorial gold reworking their archive in modern ways.
And like his labels, Grant transitions effortlessly between the off-duty comfort of wide-leg chinos with a safari shirt, and the kind of suiting you’d expect from someone with an address on Savile Row.
But what sets Grant apart is details. Inspect his tailoring and you’ll spot a thicker lapel, which creates a more masculine silhouette; or double-breasted jackets that hit his upper thigh, an old-school move that balances legs and torso.
His downtime looks, too, always have something to set them apart – a heavy turn-up on a wide-leg jean, say, to stop the fabric billowing. Of course, the fact that he also looks like he could be walking his runways, not just dressing them, doesn’t hurt.
Wide-legged field trousers, ported from mid-century battlefields to conquer the 21st century street style wars.
E.Tautz Army Green Field Trouser, available at etautz.com, priced £230.
Now, Mr Ford somewhat undermines our earlier statement about expressing creativity in personal as well as commercial wardrobes. But if you’re going to have a uniform, then an impeccably tailored black suit and a white shirt crisp enough to cut diamonds (topped with an unwavering Blue Steel) are a touch more finessed than a crew neck and denim.
Having a signature look also cuts down on time spent picking clothes in the morning. Helpful if, like Tom, you need to fit four baths into your daily schedule. But it also makes you more memorable, the clothes becoming an extension of your personality. Hence why it’s better to lean formal than reach for the sweat set each morning.
A black, slim-fit, peak lapel suit. What else?
Tom Ford Black Slim-Fit Peak Lapel Wool Suit, available at Mr Porter, priced £2,320.