Boys, boys, boys. I love boys. Actually, no, I love men. Men wearing amazing clothes. Menswear. I heart menswear. Nothing beats a hottie with a good outfit. I had a conversation last Saturday about the store Albam, a menswear label I hold in very high regard. Think heritage, and luxe meets modern and minimal with lashings of japanese denim and wool jumpers with leather elbow patches. Men, this stuff to women is a little bit like having a cute dog – it makes us swoon. Only you don’t have to bring your good jacket for walks or pick up its poop.
This post is not actually a review of Albam, or even indeed an intentional plug. My point is that men’s style interests me greatly. Indeed at Fashion Week I think I was probably more taken with the guys than the girls. What I love about men’s fashion is the creativity that is possible within very tight constraints. Within womenswear there is more daring in terms of garment shape, and more variation in general – a women has an arsenal of different garments and garment shapes (think how many different shapes of skirts there are – now think of the different hemlines….). In menswear, by contrast, we still abide by very traditional attire rules. Despite the total revolution in women’s dress, men’s dress has changed very little over the past 100 years. True, our attitude is very different, but the pieces themselves are quite archaic. This is why it is so interesting. How can you keep a simple wardrobe of pants, shirts, tshirts, and polos fresh? With a lot of talent is how. With a sharp eye for detail and even sharper scissors for tailoring… Sorry, that was poor. I am above that. Menswear is above that.
I guess part of the reason I am so interested in menswear is how it is so centred on fit and quality. I feel these are two things womenswear in the maninstream has forgotten about. Even the average man understands that he must wear his clothes, not the other way around. This means that if it doesn’t fit his body, he will not buy the amazing shoes/dress/jeans – there is no such thing as “if I don’t eat for a week I’ll totally fit into this”. Men’s inherent understanding of good fit is critical to good style.
Lesson #1: Good fit = Good Style. Work with your body, you will always look your best when you wear clothes. Don’t let them wear you. Don’t pretend they fit when they don’t. I don’t necessarily mean dress size here, I am talking about getting a shape that fits your hips, waist and bust, no matter what the numbers are.
Similarly, guys just don’t buy crappy quality. Their aversion to shopping means they buy things to last. The next time you are binging in Penneys/Primark, go to the men’s section and feel the fabrics. Look at the label if you can’t tell the difference by touch. Men’s clothes in general are made with better fabric, and it shows. The hardware (zips, buttons, etc) are also generally better, and attached more firmly. We should follow suit.
Lesson #2: Quality shows. Forget how much of a bargain it is, a rubbish fabric will wash badly, and lose shape. Not such a hot look after a few washes. There are good fabrics on the highstreet, you just have to be clever about how you shop.
As much as my favourite menswear is the looking-like-you’re-not-even-trying version, I love a man who’s not afraid to dress UP. I have noticed so many guys in London wearing heels on their daily business. There are some really exciting things happening within menswear at the moment, and not all of them are that design-nerd heritage modern minimal thing. You know when I said not much had changed in the past century? Well, I think there is a sea change on the way, where the mainstream is becoming more accepting of daring men’s looks – the kind club kids have been championing since way back when. I suppose it is very tied into gender issues, so this acceptance is a positive not just for fashion but for society in general, and it will be interesting to see what men’s fashion pages look like ten years from now.
Lesson #3 Challenge everything. It helps when your bestie is as outrageous as you, but wear what you like. There are loads of different styles for a reason. We live in times where we can kind of do what we want, we should embrace that. Just make sure you are aware of what you are putting together, there is a fine line between avant garde and total carcrash.
Lads love trainers. I don’t really like them personally, but I appreciate a man with a good pair of kicks. I guess they are the men’s equivalent of Louboutins?
Lesson #4. Footwear is everything.
All images (c) Jane Kenny, 2011
So I love menswear. And at Fashion Week there was lots of it about. I thought it was high time I shared it with you. Also, as an aside, I apologise for the lack of regular posts in the past couple of weeks, I have no internet in my house (will hopefully be back up and running soon), and I have been working like a maniac, so I am having somewhat of a real-life-interfering-with-my-internet-output moment. Soz bbz. xxx