The menswear game is one laden with rules – some of these aren’t meant be broken, but others most definitely are. For example, sartorial purists will swear by ‘no brown in town’ and other nonsense sayings that no longer apply to the modern world.
In reality, the laws you should be abiding by are those centred around correct fit, always coordinating your leathers and the like, not centuries old declarations of social decorum.
With this in mind, today we look at five much maligned fashion ‘faux pas’ and illustrate how they can actually be utilised as genuine wardrobe options for the contemporary gent.
1. Tailoring And Trainers
This polarising pairing has gotten a seriously bad rap over the years, although this hardly comes as a surprise. With a number of clueless commuters throwing on comfortable gym shoes with their suit and years of sartorial misuse by teenagers/celebrities trying too hard not to conform, there’s at least some substance behind all the hate.
Despite these heinous fashion felonies, the suit and trainers look isn’t dead – far from it. It does, however, require you to get both components right. If the juxtaposition of casual and smart is too extreme then it completely throws off the aesthetic and you will quickly stray into faux pas territory.
Starting with the suit, opt for soft, unstructured versions in slim, modern cuts that ooze relaxed chic. Opting for an unconventional colour such as olive green, khaki or petrol blue is another easy way of bringing the formality down a notch. Under no circumstances do you want to be pairing trainers with your traditional nine-to-five power tailoring.
As for your choice of trainer, keep them simple and refined. Stay away from the classic Chuck Taylors (quickly side-stepping any teenager/fading rock star associations) and instead gravitate toward clean designs in premium materials such as suede and leather. Sticking with Converse, the Jack Purcell is a much more appropriate silhouette, while brands such as Common Projects, A.P.C., Lanvin and Clae all produce a superb selection of ‘grown-up’ trainers: streamlined and stylish with minimal branding/embellishments.
Complete this finely balanced smart-casual ensemble by ditching the tie, keeping the pocket square and, depending how relaxed you’re feeling, swapping the shirt for a tee or polo.
Perfect for dress-down Friday or any summer event.
- Asos Slim Fit Suit In Beige Linen
- J. Crew Wallace & Barnes Unstructured Worker Suit Jacket
- Asos Slim Fit Suit In Dark Green
- He By Mango Unstructured Linen Blazer
- He By Mango Houndstooth Suit Blazer
- Gant Rugger Slim-fit Linen And Cotton-blend Suit Jacket
- Adidas Originals stan Smith
- Reiss Jack Purcell Jack Purcell Trainers White
- Clae mills
- A.p.c. Leather Low Top Sneakers
- Converse Chuck Taylor Leather Sneakers
- Common Projects Suede Sneakers
2. Cargo Trousers
Many ‘Top 10 Fashion Faux Pas’ lists will include cargo trousers and/or shorts due to their association with unstylish dads and the stereotypical ‘Brit abroad’. But that doesn’t even take into consideration how they’re bulky, unflattering and directly oppose the industry’s continued move towards slimmer cuts and streamlined silhouettes.
Yet hope for this most utilitarian of pieces is not entirely lost. Over recent seasons the cargo trouser has undergone a modern revamp, with current iterations featuring slim pocket detailing and a tapered leg.
These contemporary versions by brands such as He By Mango, Suitsupply and Gant Rugger can be used in exactly the same way as your everyday chinos. Combine with relaxed tailoring or your favourite sweatshirt, give them a couple of trouser rolls – just do what you normally would and let the style itself give an effortless twist to any of you current looks.
When it comes to cargo shorts, some pieces just aren’t meant to be saved. There is no real need for additional pockets, they only throw the proportions out, so stick with clean, tailored versions or more relaxed denim styles instead.
- Asos Cargo Trousers
- Asos Wool Chinos With Cargo Pocket
- Asos Cargo Trousers
- River Island Grey Cargo Trousers
- Incotex Incotex Slim-fit Cotton And Linen-blend Cargo Trousers
- René Lezard Cargo Trousers – Beige
- He By Mango Cotton Cargo Trousers
- Gant Rugger Linen And Cotton-blend Cargo Trousers 191056
- White Mountaineering Pertex Matte-shell Cargo Trousers
3. The Statement Evening Shirt
Otherwise known as the dreaded ‘pulling’ or ‘going out’ shirt. This peacocking patterned piece has been a staple (and sin) of city nightlife for as long as anyone can remember.
Traditionally, they are needlessly gaudy, overtly branded and, in some cases, feature an excessive amount of detailing. Let’s face it, the pulling shirt is right up there with socks and sandals when it comes to style sins.
Yet what we need to remember is that not all statement shirts are created equal. Choose the right style and you’ve secured yourself an on-point piece that will garner attention (in a good way), inject your outfit with a sense of individuality and help you effortlessly stand out from the crowd.
When considering your perfect statement shirt, avoid the following at all costs:
- Excessive buttons – are multiple buttons on every closure really necessary? Does one not do the job well enough?
- Embellishments – wasn’t over-embellishment buried with the Ed Hardy brand?
- Cosmetic stitching – avoid anything with additional seams that don’t actually serve any purpose, especially in contrast colour stitching.
- Enormous collars – are you Harry Hill? No, then avoid collars with a wingspan equalling that of a bird of prey.
- In-your-face branding – it’s been said that subtlety is the new face of luxury. Even if this isn’t the case, do you really want people knowing how much you paid for what’s currently on your back?
With that out of the way, what should you be looking out for?
Firstly, dismiss the very premise of a ‘going out’ shirt – your entire wardrobe should be versatile enough to seamlessly transition from day to night. Secondly, look for styles that are well proportioned, fit perfectly and, if you’re going down the printed route, follow these simple rules:
- Don’t abandon good taste – muted, subtle patterns are enough to separate your look from the crowd. Garish prints or colours are not necessary and don’t fit in with our versatile ethos.
- Confidence is crucial – awkwardness and self-awareness aren’t easy to hide, so have faith in your style and shirt.
- Smaller scale prints are easier to pull off – a pattern that’s sleek and sophisticated on a smaller scale can quickly become gaudy and tacky when enlarged.
- Anchor your shirt – any statement piece is easier to pull off when the rest of your attire is classic and restrained. Neutral tones and wardrobe staples will anchor any bold print while allowing it to take centre stage.
- Ymc Linen Shirt In Floral Print
- Suit Dover Circle Print Shirt In Navy
- Farah Vintage Blackthorn Shirt In Navy
- Topman Navy Off-white Baroque Print Long Sleeve Smart Shirt
- He By Mango Slim-fit Striped Printed Shirt
- Paul Smith Jeans Mens Tailored Fit Shirt – White
- Officine Generale Slim-fit Spot-print Striped Cotton Shirt
- River Island Oxford Shirt With Paisley Print
- J.crew Printed Cotton Shirt
Aside from a classic wristwatch and wedding ring, men’s jewellery has always been a divisive subject. However, the modern gent’s attitude towards jewellery has started to soften somewhat over recent years. Bracelets, in particular, have gone mainstream and the ever-increasing popularity of tailoring accessories such as tie bars and lapel pins means that adorning yourself in metal is no longer taboo.
As far as style sins go, jewellery often offends when it is overused. Stacking your arm up to the elbow with bracelets was fleetingly cool once – and we mean that in the very loosest sense of the word. Similarly, overt pieces such as ‘YOLO’ rings, ‘swag’ necklaces or three-inch-thick chains don’t contribute to great, individual style. In fact, they only serve to mark you out as a guy who has no clue about subtlety, sophistication or dressing well.
Restricting yourself to two pieces of jewellery is the easiest, entry level way to adopt this growing accessory trend. Suddenly deciding to wear a ring on every finger and a couple of necklaces layered on top of each other will raise a few eyebrows and come across as incongruent – remember that any accessory you decide to add to your outfit should represent you fully and be an extension of your personality.
It goes without saying that items like bracelets and rings are significantly easier to wear than a striking pendant necklace, so start small and build up your confidence levels.
Minimalist pieces in classic materials such as leather, stainless steel or titanium epitomise timeless style and will add a discrete, masculine feel to your look, whereas more colourful takes are less versatile but ooze individuality and can be used to inject a shot of life into your outfits.
As far as trends go, nautical-inspired jewellery has become extremely prevalent over the past couple of years, with anchor motifs (applied to both necklaces and bracelets) proving particularly popular.
Finally, it goes without saying that rosary beads, shark tooth necklaces and puka shell bracelets should be left to Richard Hammond and the rest of the midlife crisis club. Oh, and let’s all agree to never call it ‘mewellery’, ever.
- Miansai Fishing Hook Bracelet
- Miansai Leather And Enamel Anchor Wrap Bracelet
- Dominic Jones Pius Ring
- Alexander Mcqueen Silver-plated Skull Chain Bracelet
- Yuvi Silver And Woven Cord Bracelet
- Seven Jewellery Dual Texture Ring
- Tateossian Braided Leather Bracelet
- A.p.c. Mens Silver Anchor Pendant Chain
- Maison Martin Margiela 11 Men’s Classic Brass Ring
Few accessories have the ability to ruin outfit quicker than an awful hat – especially the fedora or trilby.
Despite the stigma that is now widely attached to these styles, wide-brim hats have been enjoying some positive exposure over the past six months with many style-conscious gents demonstrating how to pull off these ill-fated classics – our street style gallery is a case in point:
There are two prerequisites for wearing a hat: serious self-belief and a high quality, well-made design. Neither is enough on their own, but there is just no getting away from cheap, poorly constructed headwear – the difference is eye-wateringly noticeable.
Similarly, if you haven’t got the confidence to don that handmade Italian fedora then you will simply struggle to fake it. Wear it with pride, on the other hand, and it will instantly bring an adventurous, rakish touch to any of your ensembles.
With the warm weather now tantalisingly on the horizon, consider a panama design for a strong, seasonally-appropriate accessory. After making its mark last spring/summer, it’ll bring a touch of continental flair to your look that the tired straw trilby can’t.
- Lock & Co Hatters Straw Panama Hat
- Blue Harbour Luxury Panama Hat
- Brixton Wesley Fedora Hat
- Topman Burgundy Puritan Hat
- Ami Wool Panama Hat 192851
- Borsalino Medium-brim Woven-straw Panama Hat
Have Your Say
Individual taste and personal style plays a major part in overcoming any fashion obstacle. So forget any previous negative connotations or faux pas labels and consider adding one of these five key pieces to your wardrobe this year.
When done right, they will turn heads rather than raise eyebrows.
But now it’s time for your view:
- Do you currently own any of the pieces showcased today?
- Will you be adding any of them to your wardrobe this year?
- Are there any other items you feel are too hastily judged?
- Have any traditional ‘sins of style’ gone on to become your signature, in a good way?
Drop us a comment below with your thoughts…