Designers have an odd habit of working in contrast to the uniforms we’re supposed to wear. Take tailoring, for example: at the start of the decade, as office dress codes relaxed in reaction to the world’s wealthiest men sporting hoodies, razor-sharp tailoring and double-monks suddenly became the style-conscious gent’s preferred look.

Seven years on, and with most men chained to desks, designers are harking back to a more masculine era, when clothes were about protecting from sparks and grease. Enter functional fabrics and heavy duty jackets that look designed for welding in.

These days, take inspiration not from a man who knows 15 different tie knots, but one who can fix a gearbox. Here’s how to evict Beau Brummell from your wardrobe to make way for James Dean.

Opt For Workshop-Appropriate Denim

The king of the workwear fabrics, denim has the ability to make any outfit look like it belongs in front of a machine (and not one with a glowing apple on the front). Just look at the long list of blue jeans wearers: cowboys, factory workers and even your dad on DIY weekends. All manly AF.

Pristine selvedge remained the go-to for several years, but in recent seasons designers and high-street brands have moved towards styles that look more than just a little lived in.

Instead of shelling out a month’s rent for trousers someone else destroyed, don’t be afraid to rough up that raw indigo-dyed pair you’ve obsessively protected from rain, spilt drinks and washing machines for the last two years.

Bite the bullet and run them through a delicate cycle on 20 degrees Celsius, or leave them in a cold bath overnight. The fades that emerge are the signal they’ve seen somewhere other than just the house and office.

Keen to go the whole hog with rips? Use a scalpel or Stanley knife to slash a pair of thin lines at the jeans’ knees (preferably not while you’re wearing them) and let the threads fray. If that’s too much, one of this year’s biggest denim trends is for raw hems on slightly cropped jeans – so take the scissors to the ends while keeping everything else fresh.

Not got the patience to wear in raw denim or a steady enough hand to create rugged, ripped jeans yourself? Helpfully, brands ranging from high street to high-end have jumped on the trend and are producing plenty of pre-distressed styles that pass the mark.

replay aw15 Simons AW16 selected homme 2016 The Idle Man 2016 selected homme 2014 River Island AW16

Key Pieces

  • Mastercraft Union Indigo Slim Tapered Selvedge Jeans
  • Replay Anbass Slim Fit Jean Ripped Light Wash
  • Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren Washed Black Ripped Jeans
  • Nudie Grim Tim Jean
  • Denim By Vanquish & Fragment Damaged Five Years Tapered Jean
  • Levis Vintage 1966 501 Jean
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Vintage Marc Jeans
  • Uniqlo Men Slim Fit Damaged Jeans
  • River Island Blue Ripped Dylan Slim Fit Jeans
  • Nudie Jeans Lean Dean Slim-fit Organic Stretch-denim Jeans
  • Jean Shop Mick Slim-fit Distressed Selvedge Denim Jeans
  • Rag & Bone Slim-fit Distressed Stretch-denim Jeans

Swap The 1950s Sweep For 1970s Roughness

It’s time to bid adieu to that perfectly preened barnet. Both texture and length are going to be key over the next 12 months; think the collar-brushing locks of Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in All The Presidents’ Men and Chris Hemsworth in Thor.

Not that it will grow in overnight, mind. However, start now, and you’ll be able to pull off that ‘straight out of the ocean’ surfer swagger in six to eight months.

To go hell for leather hair, ignore anyone who brings up ‘peak beard’ (again). Providing it suits the face it calls home, 10-day stubble gives off the desirable impression of a man that’s been too damn busy bringing his A-game to bother with shaving.

Of course, we all know that ‘just got out of bed’ hair does require a little bit of effort. Though the right products, such as a salt spray or matt pomade scrunched into the hair, will help produce a natural, textured finish.

Recommended Products

  • Babyliss Pro Speed 2200w Dryer 5541cu
  • Kent Brushes Head Hog Brush
  • Murdock London Sea Salt Spray
  • Matt Pomade
  • Jack Black Texture Cream
  • Styling Paste
  • Loreal Professionnel Mythic Oil
  • Label.m Dry Shampoo
  • Moroccanoil Hydrating Shampoo & Conditioner Duo

Invest In Shearling

Back when men spent most of their lives outside, hardy materials like shearling were reserved for workwear. While the majority are more likely to spend the nine-to-five in a stylish office rather than herding cattle, there’s no harm in looking like you could if you wanted to.

Why are we suggesting this with summer just around the corner? Well, it’s not all that surprising that shearling is pricey, considering that this wool inside, suede outside material is removed from the sheep and tanned in a single piece. But considering its continued prevalence at fashion weeks (both on the runways and on the streets outside), picking up a jacket now at a time when many may be in the sale guarantees the best cost-per-wear when autumn rears its head again.

Though decent man-made options like borg do exist; if possible try to buy the real deal. Plump for a high-quality option and it’ll age like George Clooney. It’s the type of piece you’ll either hand down to a son or make all your money back on if you decide to sell it in five years.

Similarly, tread carefully when buying vintage. Pre-owned styles tend to come with a wider, boxier cut that isn’t right for every body shape and, let’s face it, there’s nothing manly about looking like you’re wearing an older sibling’s clothes.

mango man 2017 allsaints aw15 Brunello Cucinelli aw16 club monaco 2016 crombie aw16 reiss aw16

Key Pieces

  • He By Mango Faux Shearling Aviator Jacket
  • Topman Camel Faux Shearling Coat
  • Topman Washed Blue Denim Exaggerated Collar Flight Jacket
  • Zara Double-faced Coat
  • He By Mango Faux Shearling-lined Jacket
  • Reiss Tyson Shearling Coat
  • River Island Black Borg Lined Faux Suede Jacket
  • River Island Black Borg Collar Faux Suede Jacket
  • Allsaints Karson Shearling Biker Jacket
  • Norwegian Rain Moscow Shearling-collar Technical Coat
  • Reiss Revalstoke Shearling Jacket
  • Kent & Curwen Nicholson Shearling-trimmed Virgin Wool Peacoat

Make A Statement, But Don’t Shout

There are several different types of archetypal ‘men’ that can be channelled using a variety of statement pieces, i.e. lumberjack – flannel shirt, soldier – bomber jacket, and so on.

Whichever rugged statement piece you choose, don’t overdo it. Unless you really do own a hog, that multi-zipped biker jacket, accordion panel trousers and buckled boots is probably (read: definitely) a bit much.

Whether the aim is to channel biker man, workshop man or something else, keep the basic foundations of the outfit the same – weathered denim and a classic white T-shirt – and allow a single piece to speak for itself.

Tweaks offer personality but should be kept subtle – a capped sleeve and cigarette pack like James Dean, or a beaten-up neckline, for example. It should go without saying that boot spurs or a tool belt are surplus to requirements.

allsaints mango man 2017 mango man 2016 scotch & soda burton frame aw16


All this talk of rugged materials and manly icons of eras past needn’t mean it’s time to chuck a job in marketing to start fixing vintage motorcycles.

High-low dressing is the sartorial middle ground and refers to the art of combining formal and casual pieces in a way that rids the former of its stuffiness, and the latter of its sloppiness.

Of course, striking the right balance is tough. One of the easiest methods for nailing the look is to rely on the texture offered by fabrics to create contrast. For example, try a leather biker over a shirt and knitted tie; a shearling coat over a suit; or even introduce a denim shirt to the usual nine-to-five rotation.

The make the pairing seamless, opt for tried-and-tested designs and iconic shapes. Don’t be tempted by on-trend cuts or patterns. Stick to the classics and you’ll be able to wear that bank balance-bruising purchase a decade from now, rather than regretfully trying to recoup the outlay on eBay when trends inevitably change.

mango man suitsupply brunello cucinelli aw17 theory aw16 brunello cucinelli aw16 j.crew aw15