Fall is fast approaching and the stores are filling with fresh fall fashions. Unlike past seasons when designers mused of men’s fall from masculinity, this season shows new signs of strength – and of survival – for the modern man.
Internationally celebrated designers created the current collections during the worst economic downturn in recent history, and it shows. The resulting designs aren’t a public pity party about the current value of the world’s currencies or about loss of wealth. Rather, designers seem to be cheerleading their customers to victory with timeless, if iconic, menswear pieces to rebuild their images as the new modern man: a tough guy who’s emotionally stable, yet tinged with the mid-century ethos of doing the right thing for the good of all. It’s a tall order, but so is the return of prosperity after emerging from an economic emergency.
Whatever the crisis leveled on the average man, it consolidated the efforts of the designers who dress them. Men are now focused on keeping a job or getting one. Designers know this, and as if an economic bomb dropped on Western civilization, they reacted to the resultant new way of living by preparing collections to help men achieve their goals. As a man this season, wearing certain key items will keep you looking current in your quest to get made, laid, or paid.
When it comes to tailored clothes, keep it classic. The double-breasted suit made a strong catwalk comeback because its strong-shouldered silhouette says, “I’m serious about business.” While the season’s tailored items are all about sartorial structure, suited for corporate dragon slaying, slouchy sweaters convey calm, cool collectedness once the workday has ended. Try an atypically long cardigan or sweater-jacket, or put on a familiar Fair Isle crewneck, something well worn that Grandma would have knit for you.
Contemporary wingtip shoes smartly compliment a strong suit. Whether black, cordovan, or brown choose a pair with a sturdy leather sole and a toebox that’s right for your personal style. Choose carefully to look current, or risk looking like an outdated and overbearing curmudgeon.
Footwear fashions extend to boots, too. Menswear retail buyers think men need to take a hike or a ride – as long as he’s in Americana Style boots. Motorcycle and suede desert boots are great for more than biking or traipsing through sand dunes. Moreover, with wear and weather they become evermore comfortable. Another great thing about this season’s boot selection is that if chosen well, one could be worn with a suit. Just promise not to wreck them because doing so would eliminate them as a wearable option with a suit.
Outerwear is so important for fall, and the peacoat is a must have. Peacoats give this great look of structured strength on the exterior, a nod to military might. Once indoors and when unbuttoned or removed, a modern man can wow everyone with his softer side. Get your motor running by showing your tough side with a leather motorcycle jacket. From stiff to soft grades of leather, you can look like a total badass or a bit more the strong, sensitive type.
It’s a season of gray goods, which is good for the men who look great in gray garb. A great thing about gray is that there’s a gray suited for most people, from greenish cement gray, to cool bluish gray, to dark charcoal. So complex are some fabrics, some grays are even toasted, ranging from khaki or taupe in their lighter form, to blatant brown-gray blends. Gray has been on the recent fashion scene making the statement of cool ease, but this fall it represents steely strength. From suits to sweaters and everything else that completes a man’s wardrobe, gray makes this strong steadfast statement, and compliments the season’s perky palette.
Designers like Paul Smith, known for his prolific use of color, played with a palette of yellow and red, contrasting with a gray theme. Relying on varying twill textures, his collection took on a town and country attitude. At super luxe fashion house Hermes, gold and red was also de rigueur, juxtaposed against the passivity of gray and navy, and the fighting spirit of khaki. Dolce & Gabbana used lots of black and white with touches of ink, berry, and red hues, perfect for the self-indulgent narcissist to show off to everyone else and say, “Look at me!”
This is just the point of men’s fall fashions. It’s a time to bolster visual appearance so others pay attention to the new well-tailored man with dreams and goals of prosperity. Clothes, such as what are available this fall, certainly do help to make and transform the man.
Designing and managing your image is the secret science of your success.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps professional men and corporate workgroups create effective visual brands. Visit JosephRosenfeld.com for details.