Fashion can be a fickle mistress. She can also be straight-up sadistic. Three-quarter-length trousers, straw hats, Uggs for men, what was she thinking? And what were we thinking for listening to her?
To make matters worse, designers like nothing more than performing Lazarus-like feats, giving a second shot to styles we thought were banished to menswear purgatory until the end of time. But while last summer’s bum bag renaissance (or was it the corduroy comeback?) may have made you regret binning such items in horror all those years ago, there are certain pieces you can dispose of safe in the knowledge they’ll never stand a chance of coming back into fashion.
Cheesy Slogan T-Shirts
Whether or not you’re with stupid, the only thing your T-shirt should tell people is that you’ve got the building blocks of a good wardrobe down to a fine art. While tees with political messages or bold streetwear branding have been trending recently, they shouldn’t open the door for older styles that are supposed to show the world that you’ve got a sense of humour – but actually just advertise the fact you’re a douchebag.
Your rotation of basics doesn’t have to be plain, mind (although it’s never a bad move). Just remember, puns or sexual invites are as inappropriate on your clothing as they would be yelled at strangers in the street. Plus, there’s no such thing as a female body inspector. We checked.
The Fix: Plain Or Printed T-Shirts
Deep V-Neck T-Shirts
If you’re not a washed-up porn star, former Jersey Shore cast member or Cristiano Ronaldo circa 2007, then you’d better have the self-respect to stop short of trussing yourself up in breast-baring slithers of cotton. Deep V-neck T-shirts don’t so much flaunt your gains as bizarrely feminise them – no matter how much of a Lothario you think they make you look.
Instead, stick to classic crew necks and put the Vs (of a less naval-plunging proportion) to work on premium knitwear, whether worn under a suit or solo for a Riviera chic look.
The Fix: V-Neck Knitwear
Like Halloween’s Michael Myers, these boxy, clunky, ugly – yes, ugly – excuses for footwear simply refuse to die. We’re not sure (and frankly, don’t care) why they were invented exactly, but despite how ‘smart-casual’ you think they might look, or how comfortable they might be, we appeal to your humanity to chuck yours and save your fellow commuter’s eyes.
Even Gucci tried to make them happen and failed. If a brand that has made billions off something a horse sticks in its mouth can’t make them work, no one can. So, scrap them, and stick to time-honoured footwear styles like classic round-toed Oxfords and Derbies. Your feet will thank you, and so will we.
The Fix: Round-Toed Shoes
The Chin Strap
Shaved most my beard off on Monday, got bullied for it at work on Tuesday, regretted my decision by Wednesday and on Thursday and Friday and Saturday… you get the idea. Granted, Craig David was responsible for some of the biggest tunes of the early 2000s, but ‘7 Days’ and ‘Fill Me In’ will forever be overshadowed by one of the worst facial hair styles in history.
The main issue with David’s pencil-thin chin strap is that a beard should never be shaved along the jawline. You could have a bone structure to cut cheddar on and you’d still end up with a double chin every time you peer down at your phone. Instead, always look to taper under the neck and simply tidy up top rather than create overly harsh lines.
The Fix: A Well-Groomed Beard
Uggs For Men
Forget ‘winners don’t do drugs’. ‘Winners don’t wear Uggs’. Much better rule to live by. Don’t get us wrong, in recent years the Californian brand has produced some rather stylish hiking boots and even a sneaker or two. But these were an out and out abomination.
Ben Affleck, guilty. Ronnie Wood, guilty. Even the usually unlambastable Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake and Jaden Smith – guilty, guilty, guilty. You burn the boots, we’ll burn the evidence, and we can all move on with our lives in proper footwear.
The Fix: Hiking Boots
Regardless of how much you can squat, no one wants to see the results bursting out of your denim. Supposedly inspired by the ban on belts in the US prison system, sagging jeans were adopted as an anti-authoritarian statement by LA gangs and hip-hop stars during the 1990s. Unless you’re either, letting your jeans drop below your buttocks is sartorially short-sighted at best, cultural appropriation at worst.
Jeans should sit on your hips to let the legs hang properly against yours, while tailoring should sit nearer your waist to prevent an acre of shirt appearing between your jacket closure and trousers. If your legwear falls down by itself, congratulate yourself on sticking to that cardio regime and promptly reward yourself with some that actually fit.
The Fix: Well-Fitting Jeans
Gap Year Jewellery
Unless you’re Mãori or in a nineties boyband, there’s no excuse for jewellery made from puka shells, beads, pebbles of dubious heritage or fraying strands of rope woven by this amazing Indian spirit healer, who really showed you how to discover yourself. You have a job now. It’s time to let those pre-university days go.
That’s not to say men’s jewellery can’t be stylish. Bracelets, cuffs, necklaces and rings are all fair game. Just choose simple styles that are minimal, lightweight, and act as an extension of your outfit rather than upstage it.
The Fix: Grown-Up Jewellery
Do you have friends? Do you wish you didn’t? Then why not wear a pair of drop-crotch trousers? The instant illusion of wearing a big, sagging adult-sized nappy on your lower half will ensure you’re never invited to another social gathering ever again. Win.
Of course, we’re not against drapey, easygoing styles altogether (unless they reach flare proportions – more on that later). But the comfort you gain from these wardrobe horrors is nothing that you can’t get from a pair of relaxed-leg trousers. Plus, Bieber likes drop-crotch. Nuff said.
The Fix: Premium Joggers
Oversized Belt Buckles
Freud would probably have had something to say about this. Much like a tank-sized SUV or an extensive air rifle collection, the idea behind a brash and brassy oversized belt buckle is to let everyone know you’re packing. But in reality, it does exactly the opposite – not only exposing your deepest insecurities, but also your godawful sense of style.
Leave the giant eagles, bullhorns and anything equipped with a bottle opener to the wrestling world and downsize your XXL belt buckle to something more run of the mill (solid leather for smart, woven for casual). Not only will your trousers look better, but people will also stop mistaking you for a line dancing instructor. Win-win, really.
The Fix: Understated Belts
Crocs are possibly the biggest example of false advertising in the 21st-century. With a name like that, you’d expect something pretty bad-ass, but what you get is foam clogs. Foam. Clogs. No part of this sounds like it’s going to look good, does it?
Frankly, no one cares how good your feet feel in them – unlike the once-maligned Birkenstock sandal, these will never regain their stylish status. Mostly because they never had it in the first place. For something equally lightweight, comfortable and summer-appropriate, try a pair of espadrilles or driving shoes instead.
The Fix: Espadrilles & Drivers
The ‘Going Out’ Shirt
Two common misconceptions are responsible for spawning this fashion monstrosity. The first is that you’re never dressed up without a ‘proper’ collar – for that, we have hoity-toity golf clubs to blame. The second is that you’ll stand a greater chance of pulling if you’re wearing something that stands out – a trick no doubt thought up by some misogynistic pick-up artist. Hence the going out shirt: oversized, obnoxiously printed and unfailingly worn untucked and unbuttoned to the lowest possible chest hair. It’s less a wingman, more sartorial wing-clipping.
Ugliness aside, the main issue is that you don’t need a wardrobe dedicated to ‘going out’. Dress for where you’re heading, not the fact that you’re heading there. We’re already drowning in dress codes. Don’t invent another one for the pub.
The Fix: Pared-Back Smart-Casual
We’re going to put it out there and say there isn’t a haircut bad enough to warrant wearing a straw fedora on top of your head. Not now. Not ever. Even if your barber was out until 4am and showed up to chop your mop still blind drunk with nothing more than the plastic knife and fork he ate his kebab with. Still no.
You’re not Bruno Mars on the beach. And if you are, get a better hat. Like a baseball cap. Or a bin bag.
The Fix: Baseball Caps
There will be very few readers of FashionBeans who remember these from the first time round in the 1970s, and (hopefully) only a few misguided enough to try them in bootcut form in the 1990s. But don’t be swayed by the fact that Gucci, Valentino and Raf Simons have all tried to revive the flare in recent years, for they are every bit as terrible today.
Reason #439 why we hope these never come back: the fact that the only way to wear them was with frayed hems dragging on the floor, soaking up rainwater and sweeping up every cigarette butt on the street as you walked. Gross.
The Fix: Straight-Leg Cuts
Three-Quarter Length Trousers
You might think that with the quite literal rise of the mankle, trousers deliberately cut off mid-calf would save you precious minutes cuffing your denim. But rather than hinting that you’re a man so busy he can’t find time for a pinroll, they actually paint you as one wracked by indecision, whose inability to choose between trousers and shorts left him with their bastard child. You’re only one step away from cargo pants with legs that zip off.
There is, of course, a right way to wear cropped trousers. The key is that no one should mistake them for long shorts. A slightly relaxed, rather than calf-hugging cut, which ends just above the ankle, lets you flash your trainers without looking like you’ve been bathing in Miracle Grow.