There’s no getting away from the fact that fast fashion and fleeting trends are driving forces in menswear. However, equally true is the notion that real style lasts indefinitely.
The Oxford shirt, the trench coat, the bomber jacket, the desert boot – just a few examples of how great designs can transcend decades, even centuries, remaining stylish throughout.
But what about today’s items? Which contemporary garments have the longevity to remain wardrobe staples 50 years or more from now?
Well, provided that by then we aren’t all zipping around on hoverbikes, wearing silver spandex jumpsuits and space helmets, we’d put our money on these 10.
Grandad Collar Shirt
Also known as the stand collar shirt, this smart-casual power player is a modern classic in its own right. Owing to its clean-lined profile and subtle retro feel, the style is likely to be firmly rooted in the wardrobes of men for years to come.
“When men get older they find themselves steering away from the prints of their youth. It’s just a fact of growing up, like nose hair and beer bellies,” says Topman site editor Jamie Carson. “Experimenting with shapes is a clever way to steer classics in a trend-forward direction, which is why a crisp, white stand collar is the future of shirting.”
Chalk it up to their lightweight construction, superior comfort or the fact that they just look damn cool. Whatever the appeal, knitted trainers have exploded into mainstream menswear, and it seems written in the stars that they’ll become the future’s favourite footwear.
“Knitted trainers are primarily built on fairly new technology, but they have been a major hit with menswear enthusiasts,” says Alexander McCalla, a stylist at online men’s personal styling service Thread. “They’re an easy choice for day-to-day wear, whether lounging around or hitting the city, undoubtedly a future staple.”
If there’s just one thing that the athleisure movement leaves imprinted on the menswear landscape, we and Chris Seddon of clothing subscription box firm The Chapar would put a fiver on it being the tailored jogger.
“Sportswear as fashion is still a relatively new phenomenon, and it’s anyone’s guess what will stand the true test of time. But, that said, with its slick aesthetic and max comfort, the refined jogger is one I’d put my money on.”
A classic in the making, mark our words.
In recent years the backpack has shaken off its uncool status, going from functional (read: ugly) gear to the ultimate in functional luxury.
“You may relate the backpack to when you were running for the school bus way back in the day,” says Imogen Ashby, a stylist at personal shopping service Enclothed, “however, in black or brown leather, this will be the coolest and most practical way to lug belongings to and from work for the foreseeable future.”
Mark our words, premium backpacks are set to join satchels, holdalls and briefcases in the menswear hall of fame.
The coach jacket is already a streetwear staple, with its roots firmly planted in sport. Perfect for navigating tricky temperatures thanks to its lightweight yet water-repellent shell, it’s not a piece that’s about to return to the bench anytime soon.
“It’s [the coach jacket’s] versatility that makes it a future classic,” explains New Look menswear editor Luke McCarthy. “With nylon, cotton-blend and even denim versions out there, the stripped back style makes it effortless for anyone.”
Granted, the merging of casual and smarter clothes has had some unintended consequences – trainer shoes, we’re looking at you – but it has also birthed a more relaxed take on tailoring and a piece that’s a sure-fire classic of years to come.
“The unstructured blazer is going to be a wardrobe staple throughout the years,” says Ashby of Enclothed. “Worn with jeans and a T-shirt, or a shirt and chinos, this type of blazer will become your future go-to jacket.”
Tailored Swim Shorts
Do you really think the classy gents of 2040 are going to be strutting around the beach in baggy board shorts? Of course not. Tailored swim shorts are already the gold standard poolside and their popularity will continue to climb.
“No more will men want those baggy, knee-length shorts,” says Tom Courcey, deputy editor at online menswear retailer The Idle Man. “A shorter, more classically fitted short is what will be seeing us through season after season, a few decades down the line.”
The hoodie is one of the most polarising pieces in modern menswear. Some swear by the sportswear hero, while others wouldn’t be caught dead in one. But this is changing, with many high-end brands and designers now getting behind the teenage favourite.
“With brands… producing a range of [premium] hoodies, people have been going mad for this streetwear staple of late,” says Courcey from The Idle Man. “A classic pullover in grey or black, teamed with a black leather biker jacket is always a great look.”
Prioritise fitted cuts and premium fabrications such as loopback cotton, merino wool or even cashmere to get the most wear out of yours.
Knitted Polo Shirt
Lightweight, effortlessly cool and endlessly versatile – the knitted polo shirt is a stayer for sure. Perfect with jeans and casual footwear at the weekend, it looks equally slick tucked into cropped trousers and finished off with a pair of loafers for smart-casual events.
“This luxe man-staple came into its fashionable own back in the 1960s with the likes of Sean Connery’s Bond and Jazz legend Chet Baker,” says Seddon from The Chapar. “It’s the woven embodiment of classic and another 50 years isn’t going to change that.”
Overshirts have been around since the days they were a utility garment worn during the American gold rush. More recently they’ve gone from miners to #menswear, but will it last?
“The overshirt is the perfect layering piece, and with its military structure and contemporary design, it’s easy on the eye too,” says Thread’s McCalla. “The heavy cotton and wool varieties work well with a smart outfit, while technical and suede versions add a little something extra to a casual look.”