From pretty much our inception, we’ve told you that the best way to a fire ‘fit is, well, a fit that’s fire. Slim. Tailored. Proportion. These have been the buzzwords for the well-dressed man, steered into glove-like fits by the likes of Thom Browne and Hedi Slimane. Well, not anymore.
Saint Laurent parted company with its creative director this year, an uncoupling that coincided with menswear’s exhale. Slim is out; big is in. The street has supplanted the suit on menswear’s moodboard. A gang of designers who came of age in the 1990s, who idolise Brian Anderson and not Don Draper, are now fashion’s tastemakers.
Demna Gvasalia at Vetements and now Balenciaga; Gosha Rubchinskiy, of his own eponymous (and Comme des Garçons-backed) brand; Off/White’s Virgil Abloh; and skate-turned-fashion behemoths Supreme and Palace. All have turned the front row away from tailoring and onto streetwear. Fits are now baggy, forgiving, made to catch the air. Suddenly, everywhere in menswear, oversized is the right sized. Even away from the skatepark.
On The Runway
Where street brands led, everyone’s followed. But it’s the labels with roots in streetwear where this turned up volume feels most authentic. Vetements’ oversized hoodies are the new off-duty model uniform, street style grails as identifiable by silhouette – cropped waist, long, flapping sleeves – as their Gothic graphics.
But the idea that bigger is better isn’t just for those with chipped teeth and pavement-scraped jeans. Raf Simons, whose namesake label has long been a playground for unexpected shapes, took oversizing further still. His too-big V-neck sweaters aren’t exactly practical – try to keep your £1,000 sleeve out of your soup – but his Miracle Grow puffers are as close as you’ll ever get to facing the day in a duvet. When winter bites, that’s something you’ll appreciate.
If these looks are fashion as experiment, then other brands translated the look to something more wearable. In an otherwise fitted collection, Prada’s raglan-sleeved cardigans and billowing, patchwork shirts proved just how big an impact a different shape makes. And at Maison Margiela, coats hit ankles, sweatshirts fell off shoulders and covered hands, and bomber jackets balanced short hems with voluminous sleeves. All a lot more wearable – and a lot more freeing.
Learn The New Rules Of Fit
The first rule of oversized is that it’s not a synonym for sized up. Step from M to XL and you look less fashion-forward, more hand-me-downs. The difference between ‘oversized’ and ‘big’ is in the details: shoulders and sleeves might be extended, but the body of a coat will still fit your body when you button it up; a bomber might bulge out over your arms, but with a cropped hem to rein in the more is more vibe.
You also need to pick your pieces wisely. “Keep it casual,” says Giles Farnham, head of River Island Style Studio. “An oversized sweat or hoodie looks great when paired with denim or a tailored cargo pant. But oversized tailoring hasn’t been done well since Armani back in the 1990s.”
Slay Your Layers
The trend for roomier clothes is fuelled, in part, by menswear’s embrace of layers. Unpredictable weather means you need a coat that fits over a tee in October, but leaves room for a sweatshirt, even a denim jacket, once the frost hits.
“Combine multiple oversized items in layers,” says Adam Welch, editor of the Mr Porter Daily. “Shirts and T-shirts work well for the oversized look. Layer your loose T-shirt up with a baggy shirt which should at least have one if not all of the buttons undone to keep everything nice and loose.”
The further from your body, the more leeway you have to go big. “Where layering works well is with a sweat or hoodie underneath an overcoat or bomber,” says Farnham. “Make sure both pieces are are equally voluminous so that your top sits comfortably underneath your coat or jacket. A sharply tailored jacket will look odd over a oversized hoodie and will be uncomfortable to wear too.”
Strike A Balance
Ironically for such a maximalist trend, a little goes a long way. If every piece is oversized, you look like you don’t understand fit. But deft application of the new silhouette proves that you know the rules so well, you’re at liberty to bend them.
“Stick to one oversized item in your look, except when it comes to outerwear,” says Farnham. “Balance your silhouette with tailored and slim pieces. Too much oversizing will not only look slovenly but will also create an optical illusion, making you appear shorter and wider.”
You also need to take care below the belt. Up top, oversized pieces hang from your shoulders, which creates all that lovely drape and movement. Your hips don’t do the same job. “Bottoms are great but work best in formal fabrics that will still follow the contours of your body and complement your silhouette,” says Farnham.
“When it comes to bottoms you’re looking for wide, rather than baggy.” Think pleated trousers that break slightly on your shoes, in wools, not jersey. Joggers have only just earned their spot at menswear’s top table – best not push them too far just yet.
Take Your Outerwear OTT
To dip a big toe in the trend, stick to outerwear. Long, flowing coats look better the more fabric you add, and they’ll slot over your other layers. They’ve also been bulking up for a few seasons, which means to observers who don’t know their Rick Owens from their Tom Ford, you won’t look like you’ve stepped out in dad’s coat by mistake.
“Add a definitive element of style with a more classic and weighty piece, like a loose wool coat,” says Welch. “This makes it clear that you know what you’re doing, style-wise, and don’t just look like a couch potato.”