Showing posts with label h and m. Show all posts
Showing posts with label h and m. Show all posts

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Cravat Post (and Other Knick Knacks)

   Prompted by a couple of comments on StyleForvm regarding cravat use amongst the young (the most specific being "How can I wear an ascot and not look gay kthxbye?"), I have taken upon myself to investigate this Scoobariffic mystery

   I'll begin by informing you that you're likely screwed if you wear them as ultra traditionally as possible, unless you are genuinely in costume or ridiculously full of elan. I own 3 and only trust myself to wear them to either a wedding, in character at a party or without a standard suit jacket/blazer/odd jacket, unless it's a three piece suit and a cravat that's sized more like a scarf

   Call me a sentimental young fogey, but I rather think the morning suit cravat holds up very well. I wore it as a groomsman last year, yet not only had I no say in the outfit (aside from relatively accurate fit), but when I arrived wearing the lilac cravat in a traditional manner with a pearl tie-pin, the rest of the four-in-hand cravat-sporting wedding party physically attempted to rearrange it whilst I was still wearing it. Good times

Via the New York Times , this J.C. Leyendecker look encapsulates elegance through illustrative prowess

Judy and Fred during the final scenes of Easter Parade, from a Telegraph featurette 

   But you want to know about less occasional and more down to earth usage. So make it casual. You need to refer to Apparel Arts/Esky and the Duke of Windsor on this one, and even if you are young, let Will at A Suitable Wardrobe guide you along the way (he also has the most comprehensive collection of Apparel Arts images in the menswear sphere)

   Instead of a regular cut jacket, try something a touch offbeat (I don't like reusing shots, so the link is necessary) or something more relaxed and informal like a cardigan (Will favours a safari-styled shirt jacket - colonial, yet still uncommon enough to be interesting). Or just get them in a particularly eyecatching size, tune up the nonchalance and colour match with extreme prejudice:

The DoW treats it as just another part of the ensemble by harmonising it with the rest of the outfit. Bold, bright and relaxed

   What I'm also driving at is using scarves instead. You get the combination of flash and practicality without the self consciousness. Some of you may remember this one:

   This would also look rather clean and somewhat exuberant with a waistcoat, either as part of a suit or a more informal ensemble - there's something of the lounge lizard about it. It's also rather enjoyable with a v-neck:

   You should also have noted by now that rather than the standard references of Lord Byron or early 20th century motorists, I'm actually interpreting something of a mariner look, which is far less overexposed and flouncy and much more enjoyable since it doesn't need to be worked at or overstated. Think also to the peacoats-and-flat-caps casual styles of the young Paul Newman but with decorative neckwear

   For those of you who don't want too much material but enjoy the look nonetheless, well, there's always a neckerchief; leaving the ends out is standard, though one can also sport them tucked in like so:

   For the upcoming seasonal change, look to the new collection of a certain Japanese designer whose name, I'm finding, is becoming rather redundant to type. You probably know who I'm referring to by now, and he's tackled this gilded age look with utter aplomb and a clear idea of how to make it natural today.

   As befitting JW's "new feeling for basics," the proportions are executed rather similarly to my own silhouettes, generally mixing slim-but-not-tight upper halves with flowing trousers and structured looks that utilise shorts to avoid severity, alongside some well mannered quirks and enviable pattern mixing

   Observe that the neckwear is even worn with polo and short sleeved shirts and without jackets. A perfect way to bring these Esky looks back into focus:

JW CdG Man S/S10 images from A full review may appear after its release next month

   If you don't believe that you have a flair for the look, the solution is very simple - find someone with a flair for it and take inspiration. After that, the rest seems easy

   As for the neckerchief with suits-look, let me get back to you when I've made it happen for myself. Oooh, excitement

Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Sun is My Enemy

   I like the brightness and the length of the days. I just don't deal as well with the heat (more or less what I expressed the last time the weather improved). "Elegance is harder to maintain in the summer" is a truism that someone needs to print onto a t-shirt. Speaking of upper halfwear, I'm wearing the H&M TREND(Y) shirt I wrote of some time ago. It may inspire the shortest 'Customise Me' post ever once I've changed the position of the collar's buttons

   The title of the post was borrowed from a song by my musical idol, Cornelius, who more than likely borrowed it from the book by Henrietta Aladjem. Because of familiarity I can recommend the one, and because it seems fitting somehow, I may as well recommend the other. I hope that whoever's reading enjoyed their weekend

In fairness, the evenings are still cool enough for a little layering. Everyone's a winner, baby

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Under Inspection: H&M Trend for Men S/S 09

   Somewhat unheralded in the stores themselves, but not hidden away either, it took me a few minutes to note that there was a specialist H&M fashion collection distinct from the current offerings of its Oxford Circus and Regent Street bases last month

   A mixture of lightweight fabrics, offbeat cutting and tailoring, bright to the point of lurid colours and sweet, optimistic prints, I wondered if I'd finally found outfits that would suit a Gilligan's Island remake set in 2165, but that would be a spin-off too silly - Team Knight Rider was bad enough. More observation revealed clues that further distinguished the collection - a purple and black label of the H&M logo and, printed on the bottom of the size tag, the word "TREND"

   It's an apt, and on-the-nose, title for a cornucopia of influences that coalesces into a summary of around the last 2 years of menswear (if you're feeling snarky, all it needs is the 'y' at the end). At first, it's a somewhat self-conscious effect, jumping from the shorter tailoring of Junya Watanabe and Philip Lim to the eyecatching but tasteful prints of Dries van Noten to the double lapel buttonholes of Paul Smith. It especially seems to revel in the block colours and busy stripes of Raf Simons and the fabric play and nonchalant cuts of the ever-directional Lanvin, with nods to the moddish tendencies and safari suit days of Yves Saint Laurent

   But none of this is meant to take away from what H&M is for. It's still about basics a-plenty that are to support or enhance the wardrobe of many a fashion-thinking man, and there's an enticing thinking to throwing today's "hot" styles into a blender and kicking it into the affordable arena with nary a care but for success

   Of course, it's mainly of interest for a regular H&M customer looking to side step outside his comfort zone, or, more pertinently, for the ones who camp outside for each year's designer collaboration. Shirting takes particular twists - short sleeves come with waist-level side pockets, or collarless and chest-bearing with pleated details. Other clever-clever ideas include patched flap pockets stacked on top of each other, and barely-there cutaway collars

   The pyjama-inspired shirt trend, possibly approaching a temporary respite for next year, is rendered in tonal grey-blue, with a lighter grey trim along the placket, collar and chest pocket, and there's a somewhat garish number in the same colours in wide, dyed stripes. I ultimately procured a white button-down collar shirt with paneled sides and arms in grey that nods to Junya's recent Brooks Brothers experiments

   Trousers are tapered, cut slim in cotton and nylon, and proffered in a simple range of bright-to-dark colours, but the attention is mostly on the top. The best stuff is the outerwear, boasting a serviceable charcoal topcoat that dresses one up or down, an off-white windbreaker with elongated zipper details (very Tim Hamilton), along with a similar, shorter number in nylon navy, and a lightly crumpled beige-grey leather jacket suitable for your "Quadrophenia in the Summertime" needs

   Par for the democratic age of style we're in, as well as some of this fits together, so the versatility highlights its incongruities. When Trend was first launched last season, H&M itself pointed out that "Menswear right now is all about choice", and there tends to be a case of both too much and too little. The knitwear and coats are generally strong, but not offered in enough colours or variety (less so the knits, admittedly), and also generally lack the bold hues of the other garments. Although the lookbook promised shoes, I have yet to actually come across any, and hope this will be rectified soon. And frankly, since there's deliberately no single guiding aesthetic, no sane or smart man will be piecing together too many looks from this collection, since that way may lie a "hot mess" more often than not. It's not impossible; merely a matter of careful choice. And there really are some fun choices to be made here

   I had to give kudos to a floral print shirt that isn't immediately identifiable as either Liberty or Paul Smith (although the other offering is almost eye-bleedingly bright and busy) , and the short sleeved cardigans with contrasting trim give a subtle finish to a ubiquitous staple; subtlety being one of the strengths that Trend actually has, if one's prepared to dig deep enough

   It has its moments. It's a mess of fun. It can do the Lanvin thing on regular folk without the 80s fabric nightmare results. And it's good to see H&M branching out under its own name

   Take a look

Portraits by Peter Gehrke for H&M via