Archive for January, 2009

Constrasting views

I have to admit, I’m usually pretty certain about what I like and what I don’t like when it comes to clothes. But every now and then, I come across something I really can’t make my mind up about.

An article in the Guardian today addresses the issue of Sky News correspondents having taken to wearing shirts with contrast collars (i.e. where the collar is a different colour – usually white – to the rest of the shirt), and alludes to the possible influence that the recent film Frost/Nixon may have had on this.

My immediate response was one of horror. Those shirts were supposed to have gone out with the 1980s (if not before – Frost/Nixon is set in the 1970s, after all), and I’d always had contrasts down as being too flashy and garish to warrant a place in my collection.

shirt

Photo: Mark Puplava

But a quick trawl of the net has made me wonder whether it’s me that’s being old-fashioned. Both Men.Style.com and AskMen.com have commented favourably on the use of contrasts in a modern man’s wardrobe, going as far as saying they even have a place outside the office.

Ultimately, I think I’m going to have to decline the invitation. To me, there just doesn’t seem to be any point in having a multitude of colours knocking around other than in an attempt to show off. The affected style of dressing common to the 70s and 80s needs to be left where it belongs – after all, when it comes to dressing, I’m not looking for sass. I’m looking for a bit of class.

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January 29, 2009 at 12:26 pm 2 comments

Plain simple, or just plain dull?

The Times has proved more thought-provoking today, as ‘Mutton dressed up as lad’ swings (if you’ll pardon the pun, those of you who read the article I’m referring to) back into town.

What is under scutiny is essentially whether plain clothes in muted colours (i.e. traditional golfwear) are a too little dull for the modern links course, but I think the question can be asked on a wider scale. In aspiring to dress more simply, are we condemning ourselves to dressing like a dullard?

I think the answer to that question has to be (unsurprisingly, given the content of this blog) no. All the article seems to be getting at is that guys normally steer clear of bright colours and stripes – as used by brands such as Original Penguin, who sell a pricey but generally stylish collection – but that such things should be embraced as part of the new man’s wardrobe.

I couldn’t agree more – in my view, simple style is not about avoiding vivid colours or patterns, but instead about avoiding garish use of them. A cherry red wool sweater (paired with blue jeans or beige cords) is the perfect tonic for a dreary winter’s day, but a bright purple T-shirt proclaiming that you are ‘Mr Lazy’ (yes, they do exist) is not.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that dressing simply doesn’t mean that you put no thought into it and just reach for the nearest white T-shirt. Instead, if you take the time to match things well, you’ll be able to make a statement with whatever your wearing, regardless of the colour.

January 22, 2009 at 5:53 pm Leave a comment

Screen shots

I’ve just come across this article on ASOS – while it’s great to see the site being promoted, I’m not convinced by the journalist’s claim that it has little competition on the internet.

buy now

The vast majority of the brands I have linked to on this blog have online shops (H&M, the label mentioned in the article, being very much in the minority), and I’ve never had any issue accessing them.

The article would have been better off concentrating on the fact that ASOS is used by so many people because it’s great at putting people in touch with the best lesser-known brands. It’s one of the only major retailers in the UK of classics like Superga, for example, and you’ll see from their index page that there’s a whole new sartorial world out there to discover through them.

Now, before I get accused of completely selling out, I would like to point out that I realise there’s a lot of overpriced rubbish on there. But any site which shines a light on otherwise forgotten treasures is A-OK in my book.

January 21, 2009 at 6:48 pm Leave a comment

Time to quilt?

Apparently a huge row has erupted at the Milan Fashion Week, as Giorgio Armani has accused Dolce & Gabbana of ripping off (not literally, I don’t think, but in the design sense) a pair of quilted trousers that had appeared in the last Armani collection.

While I would hate to trivialise the sort of plagiarism D&G are supposed to have committed, one look at the offending trousers prompts in my mind the question: who would actually want to claim responsibility for them?

January 20, 2009 at 4:00 pm 1 comment

Best fit forward

The web has been buzzing this week with rumours that brand du jour Uniqlo is preparing to enter the vanguard of designer collaborations by hooking up with Steven Alan (best known in the US for his sharper-than-a-knife but pricey collections).

I first spotted it in this New York Magazine article, and then later came across a Telegraph piece extolling the virtues of a new tailored menswear collection Uniqlo has planned for Spring 2009. I can’t work out whether these two revelations are linked, especially as the brand’s press department are keeping very quiet about the Steven Alan rumours – but we can sure as hell hope that we will have something very special to look forward to over the next few months.

January 15, 2009 at 11:21 am Leave a comment

Sheep in wolf’s clothing

I have previously discussed on this site to the pitfalls of slavishly following fashion trends – be they styles of clothing or individual brands.

sheep

Photo: Sasa Zivaljevic

Negotiating this particular minefield is made especially difficult by the fact that niche labels that you may have picked up on in their infancy can suddenly tip and end up on the backs every Tom, Dick and Harry in the country – or, indeed, every Josh, Seb and Harry in the case of British brand Jack Wills.

Their clothes have recently become the satorial weapon of choice for our glossy, vacuous teenagers – ‘Nike for the middle classes’ according to the Guardian – an image which has undoubtedly chased away a number of its previous customers. But while the rapid spread of an individual brand can in any instance seriously detract from its style (as opposed to fashion) currency, it will naturally be the ones making their branding the most visible that will be the hardest hit.

A dramatic increase in the use of large logos on its clothes is one obvious change that has accompanied Jack Wills’ rise to prominence (the picture heading up the Guardian article shows this in its full glory). Previously the branding was more or less limited to a discreet ‘JW’ motif, letting the inherent style of the items do the talking.

Now, of course you can argue that the emblazoning of large logos all over Jack Wills’ clothing is precisely what has prompted it to tip into the wider population. But I can only feel that sticking to their original formula – attracting customers with its quality, not its visibility – would have left the brand in a stronger style position than they are in now.

January 8, 2009 at 2:07 pm Leave a comment


Welcome to the site dedicated to the virtues of simple, inexpensive and ethical style for guys. My blog posts are designed to keep you up-to-date on all things topical, but don't forget also to check out the advice pages and external links for immediate ideas on how to achieve A Simpler Style.

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