Making Sense Of Menswear

We’re at a strange point in the menswear year. Spring/summer 2015 collections are now in stores, autumn/winter 2014 sales are thawing out, and next season’s autumn/winter 2015 collections have been shown and will be on sale in around five months’ time. It’s a bit of a fashion maelstrom, so what’s a man to make of it all?

The good news is that – despite the proliferation of brands and an increase in market size overall – menswear still moves at a slower pace in comparison to womenswear, which means there’s less jarring difference between seasons.

With this in mind, we’re set to break down some of the styling tricks we spotted at the AW15 fashion weeks and show you how to work them into your own wardrobe right now – without breaking the bank.

1. Roll Necks Under Suits

Pretty much the definition of effortless elegance, the roll neck has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity over the past year or so. And for autumn/winter 2015, stylists again viewed it as the perfect partner to a suit.

Seen everywhere from Margaret Howell to Gieves & Hawkes, the roll neck adds a smart, sculptural touch to your tailoring, all the while being a damn sight more comfortable to wear than a shirt and tie.

Cult Swedish label Our Legacy combined thick, ribbed versions with relaxed-fitting suits for a modern take on 1980s formal wear, while Kris Van Assche’s triumphant show teamed beautifully-cut tailoring with abstract patterned roll necks in green and blue for a look that was half mod, half futuristic.

Why not try a thin gauge, solid-coloured roll neck (light grey, burgundy and mustard all work particularly well) with a pinstripe suit (a key SS15 trend) for an idiosyncratic outfit that strikes the perfect smart-casual note?

Lookbook Inspiration

zara editions aw13 reiss aw14 john lewis aw14 next aw14 Boglioli aw15 louis copeland aw14 reiss aw13 tiger of sweden aw14 brioni aw14

Key Pieces
  • He By Mango Turtleneck Cotton T-shirt
  • River Island Knitted Roll Neck Jumper
  • Peter Werth Roll Neck
  • Topman Burgundy Salt And Pepper Lightweight Roll Neck Jumper
  • Burton Blue Roll Neck Jumper
  • Topman Navy Jersey Roll Neck Jumper
  • Austin Reed Twist Roll Neck Jumper
  • John Smedley Belvoir Merino Wool Rollneck Sweater
  • John Smedley Belvoir Rollneck Merino Wool Sweater
2. Badges Are Back

Having managed to shake off their student/graduate vibes, pins made a prominent return for autumn/winter 2015.

Maybe it’s a retro thing (think 1960s political badges), or perhaps it’s a reference to Japanese labels such as FPAR and Undercover who have included them in their collections for years – but badges and pins were used on jackets, ties and even trousers as a way to make subtle tailoring pop.

Dior Homme was a particularly prominent advocate, with Creative Director Kris Van Assche adding badges printed with assorted flowers to the lapels of formal blazers.

Why not follow suit? A badge or pin is an easy way to introduce personality to an otherwise fairly sober look. And it’s fairly inexpensive too. Just bear in mind that although punk-inspired, ironic designs are fine for casual outfits, you’ll want to go a little more luxe (think Lanvin lapel pins) when dressing up.

Need inspiration? We like Andrew Bunney’s sterling silver styles. The London-based jeweller started out in 2009 and has since garnered a dedicated following for his masterfully crafted, hand-engraved badges – a charming way to add that extra something to your ensemble.

Lookbook Inspiration

ramsey aw12 calibre ss14 digel ss15 angelo nardelli aw12 river island aw13 daks ss15 massimo dutti 2012 the kooples aw14 luigi bianchi mantova aw14 new look christmas 2014 vistula 2014 dsquared2 ss14

Key Pieces
  • Reclaimed Vintage Leaf Lapel Pin
  • Alice Made This William Knotted Cord Steel Tie Pin
  • Lanvin Onyx Ball Tie Pin 1014395
  • River Island Red Ruffle Rose Lapel Pin
  • Austin Reed Mother Of Pearl Button Lapel Pin
  • Designsix Silver Lapel Pin
  • Bunney Limited Edition Diamond Jubilee Silver Badge
  • Bunney For Oki-ni Hallmarked Leopard Badge
  • Next Silver Lapel Badges
  • Givenchy Basketball Badge
  • Tateossian Pendulum Swarovski Crystal Tie Pin
  • Asos Boat Tie Pin
3. Jackets On Jackets

No, we’re not talking rock-inspired blazers over hoodies combinations, but something altogether more contemporary. As the breadth of men’s outerwear styles grows, so does the potential for creating on point layered looks.

Storied Parisian label Lanvin’s autumn/winter 2015 show served up plenty of inspirational takes on outerwear layering, from an ash grey overcoat worn over a chocolate brown leather topcoat to a contrast sleeve python-fronted bomber thrown over an oversized checked suit jacket.

Elsewhere, Tom Ford layered a parka on top of a denim jacket and a mac over a popped collar leather jacket, while legendary tailoring brand Hardy Amies played with colour contrasts between suits and outerwear.

As ill-advised as some of these combinations might sound, they each looked fresh, exciting and wearable in reality. Isn’t it high time we had a little fun with layering, rather than seeing it solely as a means to keep us warm?

For now, why not try a denim jacket underneath a cotton mac or a boldly coloured suit jacket underneath a lightweight technical jacket in a neutral hue?

Lookbook Inspiration

allsaints february 2015 massimo dutti aw13 mango man fall 2014 banana republic aw15 the kooples aw12 allsaints aw13 allsaints fall 2013 Calliope ss15 ben sherman aw14 allsaints january 2015 j crew aw12 massimo dutti aw13

4. Muted Looks, White Trainers

Rapidly earning serious style kudos, white trainers have pretty much reached wardrobe essential status. And one of autumn/winter 2015’s most attention-grabbing styling trends saw bright white sneakers paired with darker or neutral pieces for a striking yet considered contrast.

At Joseph, box fresh pairs were teamed with black leather trousers and relaxed navy/grey double-breasted suits, while over at Topman Design, white hi-tops brought a contemporary edge to a predominantly seventies-inspired collection.

The key to nailing this look is getting your choice of kicks right: they should be leather, bright white (no off-white variants), and with minimal to no detailing.

Team with your current separates collection for dress-down Friday in the office, or raw denim and a biker jacket at the weekend.

Lookbook Inspiration

John Elliott 2014 mango man winter 2014 jigsaw ss15 reiss ss14 saba aw15 windsor ss15 h&m spring 2015 new look ss15 harmony aw14 pull and bear black label 2015 reiss aw14 mango man november 2014

Key Pieces
  • Reiss Jack Purcell Leather Jack Purcell Trainers White
  • Common Projects Achilles Low-top Trainers
  • Adidas Originals Stan Smith Perforated Leather Sneakers
  • Acne Studios Adrian Grained-leather Sneakers
  • Selected Homme Dylan Leather Trainers
  • Garment Project Leather Trainers In White
5. Sizeable Scarves

It was a case of the bigger, the better when it came to scarves at the autumn/winter 2015 shows.

While Burberry Prorsum’s chunky, sumptuous fringed designs provided a crowning glory to the collection’s colourful get-ups, at J.W. Anderson they came replete with sumptuously soft tassels and were draped over the top of outfits for a statement effect.

Although mankets aren’t exactly the epitome of practical fashion, a hulking scarf teamed with sharp tailoring is a look designers have decided is set to be big for the more confident among us.

J.W. Anderson Burberry Prorsum

6. Backpacks With Suits

While it feels like this combination has been shown in hundreds of fashion editorials and street style shots over the past few years, autumn/winter 2015 was arguably the first season it really ‘clicked’ on the runways, being shown in collections from stalwarts such as Zegna and Hardy Amies.

If you think about it, suits are the backbone of many of our day-to-day wardrobes, while backpacks are the ultimate way for on the go men to lug their stuff around. The key with making this one work is steering well clear of anything that wouldn’t look out of place in a classroom or on a mountain trek.

The key with making this one work is to opt for sleek and stylish designs – like an all-over navy canvas number or a luxurious black leather style. If you’d prefer to go for something more utilitarian, make sure it comes off more sports luxe than ski holiday.

unknown burton ss15 zara september 2014

Key Pieces
  • Rains Messenger Backpack In Green
  • Sandqvist Hege Backpack
  • Asos Smart Leather Backpack
  • Reiss Raza Leather Backpack Black
  • Want Les Essentiels Kastrup Leather Backpack
  • Mismo Leather-trimmed Cotton-canvas Backpack
7. Smart Coat, Casual Denim

The juxtaposition of beautifully tailored overcoats and relaxed, easy denim showed up in a number of autumn/winter 2015 shows, producing a pleasing contrast with one element dressing down (or dressing up) the other.

Parisian label Maison Kitsuné made the combination look especially chic, while Russian-born Gosha Rubchinskiy put a streetwear spin on the styling trend.

Think dark selvedge jeans with a sophisticated camel overcoat for an effortless high-low contrast.

Lookbook Inspiration

J CREW AW14 suit supply ss15 banana republic aw15 J CREW AW15 Gucci Pre Fall 2015 Gucci Pre Fall 2015 J CREW AW15 river island aw14 Michael Kors aw15

Final Word

If there’s one thing that’s not stylish, it’s slavishly following seasonal trends. Instead, why not pick and choose elements from your favourite looks shown throughout the year? These seven AW15 styling tips aren’t just relevant come September, they’re ideal for incorporating into your looks right now.

Did you spot any other smart styling tricks at the autumn/winter 2015 shows? Will you be trying any of these to add some interest to your look?

Comment below to let us know.