Fashion has a habit of taking from the past just as easily as our favourite films and TV shows are able to transport us into it. Is it any wonder then that film and TV’s eighties obsession of last year spilled over into of some this year’s biggest trends. Everyone was stomping around town in chunky trainers just like the Stranger Things kids or sweating it out through the heat wave in a short-sleeved shirt plucked from Armie Hammer’s Call Me By Your Name wardrobe.
The most stylish films and TV shows of 2018 were looking back as well, to the eighties again, but also the fifties, sixties and nineties. On-screen tailoring also caught the eye, suits in all sorts of guises, spanning all the dress codes we can think of. Could these looks be a glimpse into the key looks of 2019? Some of them have already started. And if nothing else they do provide some mighty fine style inspo.
We already know from his breakout role as Sherlock Holmes that Benedict Cumberbatch can wear the hell out of an overcoat. But in Patrick Melrose, he took his overcoat wearing prowess to the next level, as well as delivering a proper schooling in laissez-faire tailoring.
Cumberbatch is the eponymous Melrose, a heroin-addicted member of the British upper class, flopping about on chaise lounges and in bathtubs through a haze of disdain and malaise. The series was one part glamour, two parts shady which proved to be the perfect recipe for some top-notch sprezzatura style. One standout scene sees Melrose trudging into an NA group in tortoiseshell sunglasses, an imposing wool overcoat with the collar popped and a luxe checked scarf ingeniously tucked inside the bottom of his suit jacket. Big mood.
It was confusing. At times it made absolutely no sense. But for all the bewilderment, the binge-tastic Westworld did give us a resurgence of interest in western wear. It was the one fashion trend this year no one thought they needed, but when we popped on the cowboy boots and embroidered yoke shirt realised we really did.
The shirts on the backs of the cowboy robots in the second season of Westworld were a whole lot dustier and less floral than those waltzing down the Calvin Klein show though. This was western wear as the frontiersman might really have worn them, with casual, thick and textured blazers thrown over a grandad collar shirt and a neckerchief to wipe the sweat from their beaten brow. It proved that the western trend worked best when it was played down and kept neutral. Leave the ten-tonne belt buckles out of it.
Our pervading memories of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury consist of him stomping around Wembley stadium in a white tank top. It’s not exactly the most wearable look to copy – more football hooligan chic on you, than glam rock superstar on Fred. Neither is Brian May’s poodle hair. Thankfully then we got a Mercury through the ages in the biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, which showed an admirable determination to get every sartorial moment exactly right.
Take the costumes worn by Gwylim Lee, the movie’s Brian May, which had actually been sported by the guitarist back in the day. Sportswear giant Adidas was approached in a bid to recreate the eighties style thin-soled boxing shoes the band used to wear. Mercury’s impossibly tight jeans were specially remade by denim hero Wrangler. Sure some of the looks were a bit iffy for today’s tastes but it was the tasteless seventies and eighties. The key is to pick and choose the best, mainly those slick leather jackets and jazzy short-sleeved shirts.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
A TV series that charted the life (and tragic death) of one of fashion’s greatest icons was never going to be lacking in the costume department. Gianni Versace, the founder of the luxury fashion house of the same name, lived a life as fabulous as the dresses he created. And like the label he founded, Versace’s style was not exactly shy and retiring.
Through the series, Versace (Edgar Ramirez) spends most of his time cooly breezing around after-show parties, his own studio and the palatial Miami Beach mansion that became his base for the last five years of his life. The costume designers on the show studied his wardrobe as held at Los Angeles’ Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Museum in great detail all the way down to the seams and stitching.
In the majestic opulence of Versace’s lifestyle and the garments he wears, a stark contrast is made against the seedy underworld of his killer Andrew Cunanan (played with spine-tingling creepiness by Darren Criss). Baseball caps and sloppy tees against velvet robes, beige against Versace gold and Fleur de Lys ornamentation. When Versace’s star shone brightly he lived like a modern-day Sun King.
Little Drummer Girl
Contrary to any preconditioned belief, Little Drummer Girl did not contain any drumming. But what we did get was a taut adaptation of a John le Carré classic with globe-trotting Mossad agents seducing a young British woman into becoming a double agent for them. Oh, and it was all set in the 1970s, turtlenecks included.
Seductor-in-chief, Gadi Becker (played by the towering Alexander Skarsgård) is the main well of style inspiration here. Well, it’s hardly going to be the drably suited Martin Kutz (a wonderfully grumpy Michael Shannon). The skimpy swim trunks left much to be desired, a sign that men’s swimwear has certainly progressed (aka become longer) in the last 40 years. But Gadi’s bottle green blouson jacket was bang on trend – a little oversized to fit over Skarsgård’s hulking shoulders and contrast with the slim fitting and tucked in camp collar shirt underneath. It’s proof that while you might still want to stray from the era’s tailoring when it comes to casual wear, there’s still much to take from the seventies.
Crazy Rich Asians
Last year, Timothée Chalamet was everyone’s breakthrough style icon with a stirring Oscar-nominated turn in Call Be by Your Name, his luscious once-in-a-generation locks and a gender-bending way with tailoring. This year, it was all Henry Golding, who proved to be a ready-made 21st century Hugh Grant (minus the mumbling and bumbling) with his lead role in Crazy Rich Asians, all while displaying the finest roll call of slick suits since Don Draper left our screens behind a veil of fag ash.
On screen and off it, Golding was consistently well suited. In Crazy Rich Asians his cool and calm romantic lead, Nick Young, is a well-heeled and impossibly charming member of the Singaporean elite. A tidy suit is all part of the game with Young possessing an almost chameleonic ability to flit between colourful smart-casual and traditional black tie. It’s the former that really flies high, with a showcase of easy, breezy pastel hues that are set to become one of the biggest tailoring trends over the next year.
Reality TV isn’t exactly renowned for its sterling fashion sense. Let’s just say no one from Saint Laurent was styling the cast of Jersey Shore. But Queer Eye is a different breed of reality TV show, one that’s less focused on the catfights and binge drinking and more on the self-love, social progress, and floral printed shirts.
If you’ve lived under a rock for the past last year (or just haven’t got round to subscribing to Netflix) Queer Eye is about five fantastically fabulous gay gentleman who waltz into a shabby but endearing man (or woman’s) life for an episode. They dust off the cobwebs, throw a glacier cherry on top and voila, better than new and with a fresh-ass wardrobe to boot.
Tan France, is one of this fab five and the show’s fashion expert. His advice rests on the basic tenet that a floral printed shirt and a simple, slim fitting blazer will look good on anyone which is kinda, sorta true. But the fab five themselves have a much more sophisticated style sense. Tan is all into his colourful tailoring, Anton wears the hell out of a Breton tee and Karamo Brown was on our list of the best-dressed men of 2018. It’s a style lesson every week, and not just for the people whose lives they’re making over. We’re taking notes.
McMafia, the BBC drama about a Russian mob mixing it up and getting gritty in London, was not the most colourful show of the year (an understatement if ever there was one). But for what it lacked in floral printed shirts, it more than made up for in its monochrome sheen.
The main protagonist Alex (James Norton) is hardly ever out of killer tailoring. And just like the Bond films, it’s an undisputed lesson in how the classic dinner suit is best kept as so. Peaked, contrast lapels, hidden buttons on the placket, a ribbon down the leg. Norton might only be a contender for the role of 007 at this stage, but from the looks of McMafia he’s got the wardrobe ready and waiting.
The seismic cultural impact of Black Panther was bound to bleed over into fashion somehow. The film’s two leads, Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman were regulars on our best-dressed men of the week list (Jordan even made it as our number one over the whole year). The film’s afro-futuristic style was rooted in the deep history African art, especially in the triangular pattern of the Black Panther suit which is meant to echo the geometric designs worn by African royalty. These colourful geometric shapes were seen edging into streetwear especially in the stylings of the much lusted-over Nigeria football kit.
Overall, it was a vibrant feast, one that should make you think about shuffling away from the plain white tees towards a wider colour palette. As long as you keep it neutral with a bit of black of course.
The third slice of seventies style on our list comes courtesy of legendary director Spike Lee. Based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first African American detective to join the Colorado Springs Police Department, BlacKkKlansman is jammed with action and witty, sharp dialogue.
And it’s not just the script that’s sharp here. Stallworth (John David Washington, Denzel’s boy) is the star of the show when it comes to sartorial flair, his outfits differing greatly from those of his white colleagues. While they’re all dressed down in plaid shirts and trucker cups Stallworth struts around in velvet shirts, brightly coloured turtlenecks, and a shearling-trimmed rust suede jacket. Both sides are worthy of emulation, but we’re particularly fond of Stallworth’s denim collection, proof that a loose and lax blue jean jacket can work whatever the decade.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
It had the most talked about facial hair since Tom Selleck was rocking the Hawaiin shirt on Magnum P.I. In fact, Henry Cavill’s moustache was so improbably good he kind of made the upper lip fluff cool again.
The latest instalment of the Mission: Impossible series saw Cavill (and his ‘tache) square off against super agent and hero Ethan Hawke (Tom Cruise). It was a typical spy caper – daredevil stunts, a fine arsenal of trench coats and an evergreen Cruise chilling in a turtleneck on his day off.
And back to the ‘tache. For all of the film’s impossible missions, this was one we’d recommend you try at home. All it takes is a little bit of stubble kept on the cheeks for a modern update and hey presto you’re looking slicker than a spy sipping a martini. Wrong spy film franchise? Give us a break, will you?
Skatewear. It’s all over fashion like a rash with little wheels. One of its main A-list champions is the modern-day street-wearing Cinderella Jonah Hill.
Mid90s follows a 13-year-old boy from Los Angeles called Stevie (Sunny Suljic), who starts to hang out with an older skateboarding crew in, yep you guessed, the middle of the nineties. Hill is in the director’s chair for this one in what is essentially a wistful ode to his adolescence. Turns out Hill was well into skate culture long before Supreme started selling bricks and fire hydrants.
The style is anything but backward though. The current obsession with that eras style makes it feel supremely current as baggy, logo-laden tees are paired with wide-leg jeans and big, boxy sneakers. It makes you think – is this nineties LA or 2018 Brooklyn here?
Set in 1962, Green Book charts the journey African-American jazz pianist Don Shirley (the perennially sharp Mahershala Ali) made through the deep south with his chauffeur and bodyguard Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortenson). Big issues are tackled, and each scene is set out like an oil painting.
From the off a contrast is made between the creative Shirley, with his checked suits, bright turtlenecks and delicate silk scarfs against the gruff Vallelonga, dressed down in some slacks and a camp collar shirt with a cigarette dangling from his lips, dressed up when needs must in an ill-fitting black suit. Be more Shirley in this situation – confident, slick and suave – how every dress-to-impress outfit should be. Although that’s not to say we don’t approve of a good camp collar.
In an elegiac final performance, Daniel Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, a renowned fashion designer driven by his sociopathic tendencies and an unrelenting perfectionism. Set in 1954 London, it showcases a knockout array of mid-century style. The dresses are the main showpiece, but in the garments on Woodcock’s back, we see how raffish and dapper British menswear was in the era.
The lengthy suit jackets and jumbo lapels hint towards what may be a big trend in 2019 tailoring while we could certainly get on board with the chunky roll necks and herringbone overcoats. Woodcock’s taste for a bow tie or a neck kerchief with every outfit is best left in 1954 however (unless it’s black tie or fashion week of course).
Photos last month of the former thespian show him shipping an imperiously on-trend workwear ‘fit far removed from his final character. There was a collective gasp from social media. Could Day-Lewis’ acting retirement open the doors for a late run at the fashion industry? We’ll keep our beady eye out for the Carhartt WIP x DDL collab next year.