Fashion for Men: Back to the Classics
By Massimiliano Mattetti
If you think that the trends in fashion for men are always set by a few big-name menswear designers, think again.
In actuality, the factor that most affects today’s fashion for men is the economy. Why? Well, not many people can afford to continuously update and expand their wardrobe based on the whims of trends, but men want to look good and display a sense of style. To do so is really not that difficult if they’re willing to stick with classics in their style choices.
This works because men really aren’t that eager to experiment, or try anything extravagant these days. Most prefer to stick with a more classic, traditional and reliable look that never goes out of date. By sticking with classic choices in menswear they avoid having to continuously shop to update their wardrobe based on fleeing trends.
Even major menswear fashion houses, like Yves Saint Laurent and Lanvin, have abandoned the bells and whistles in designing fashion for men, while embracing the more classic and traditional style, which conforms more readily to what is considered a conservative business look.
You probably know that there are different choices when it comes to classic menswear styles, but you may not know exactly how to categorize the choices that are presented. The classic designs in fashion for men range in style and detail in the three most popular cuts, which are the Italian, English and American cuts. These are the basic differences with each.
America is, traditionally, the home of a more relaxed style for men, which is demonstrated by menswear designers like Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hillfiger. For a suit, the American style generally has a single vent in the back, minimal shoulder padding and a full cut. Cuffs are common on trousers and Brooks Brothers is emblematic of this style, though they’ve recently begun to design leaner suits with double vents. This illustrates how the American taste in fashion for men is evolving, as men here are moving towards a style that is more traditionally associated with Europeans who are more attentive to details than to comfort.
The English cut generally has double vents and a more defined shape than its traditional American counterpart. For suits most folks think of hourglass figures, such as John Steed in The Avengers (a caricature of classic English style). However, London also gave us the sweater-like drape cut. And, in fact, Savile Row has tailors that offer an array of cuts in between. Cuffs are much less common than in the U.S., and a ticket pocket is usually seen on suit jackets and sports coats.
The Italians traditionally put forth a much leaner look in their fashion for men. Most Americans still associate Italian with the Continental style that took off in the late 1950s, and gained popularity with Italian actors such as
Marcello Mastroianni in classic Italian films like La Dolce Vita. This look was slim and simple, and very alluring as it symbolized sophistication and nonchalance. No vents were common in the past, but today double vents are usually seen on Italian ready-to-wear that is sold off-the-rack in the U.S. Speaking very broadly, Roman style is more built up, such as Brioni, while the Neapolitan cut carries softer shoulders. The Milanese is more in the middle of the road, sort of a compromise between the two.
All-in-all, in fashion for men, Americans are most concerned with comfort, yet the English and Italian designs lean towards a desire to look sharper and create a more refined silhouette.
A Word About Color
Black and gray are always the favored colors for the Winter/Fall men’s fashion collections, yet many design houses play with important sartorial details, such as peak lapels, functional buttons and, possibly, a ticket pocket. A double-breasted suit in a solid navy is a wardrobe staple that most men should have and, in this case, the jacket can double as a blazer with more casual looks.
When watching the men’s runway shows in New York and Milan the overall impression that you should take away is that the classics repeat themselves from season to season and are, therefore, an important part of your wardrobe. However, every man should feel comfortable in adding his personal element to his overall style that make it uniquely his own. Nothing is set in stone, and style also an expression of your soul.
Massimiliano Mattetti is one of the founders of Moda In Style, a company that designs, manufactures and sells Made In Italy menswear fashions. Read more about Moda In Style here or visit their website.