For men, fashion is a much slower roller-coaster ride than for women. Men's fashion trends evolve over time — they don't change overnight as in women's trends.
“By not going extreme on the fashions, the changes are more subtle,” said David Ooley, owner of Mr. Ooley's Designer Clothes, Suits & Shoes at Penn Square Mall. “I think men are a little slower to change, and they don't demand the change.
“Sometimes they have to be given a gentle nudge.”
One thing men do notice, however, is how other men dress, and they do not want to be out of step. For spring, men's fashion is bright, playful and full of patterns, with new high-tech fabrics and a slim, sleek silhouette reminiscent of the 1960s “Mad Men” look.
This week in Mood, we talked with four local fashion experts about what men will be wearing this spring and summer. Our experts are Steve Haggard of S.J. Haggard & Co., Lucas Westendorf and Spencer Stone of Spencer Stone Co. (both stores are in Nichols Hills Plaza) and Ooley.
Today, we focus on men's fashion from the waist up. We'll take a look at men's pant and shoe trends in a future edition of Mood.
One of the most important trends in menswear is the narrow silhouette. Still playing off the “Mad Men” trend, it's all about proportions as they relate to the shape of a shirt, rise of a collar, width of a lapel, shirt sleeve length and coat and pant lengths.
Westendorf: “When you look at a gentleman, you're supposed to see about an inch of shirt collar sticking out of the lapel of the jacket when you look at him from the back. It correlates to the amount of cuff that's sticking out of the sport coat, to the amount of pocket square sticking out. If one of those things are out of proportion like a miniature collar or the sleeves of his shirt aren't long enough, it doesn't create a visually pleasing look.”
Stone: “Our ties are all three inches or narrower. No wider. A younger perspective, with narrower size lapel, keeps it all in balance. Everything we have just fits slimmer, trimmer.”
Ooley: “Sometimes (the slim fit trend) frightens guys because they're afraid they're going to lose comfort if the clothing is downsized. But we're careful to edit our buys for our store into models that have a contemporary look but are not extreme. Real guys can wear them. If you wear a dress shirt that you bought several yeas ago that is much more oversized, you'll find that it doesn't fit in the jacket because there's all this extra material in the arm hole and around the waist. You kind of need a little more contemporary cut shirt to work with the jackets and trousers.”
Haggard: “If you tie a great big tie and you're wearing narrow lapels, it throws everything out of balance. Cuff should break right at your wrist. The bigger the neck size, the larger the cuff. Some guys end up with a big neck, but their (wrists) are not that big. And the cuffs come down and fall over their hands. Cuffs should never fall down on the heel of the hand. It should stop where the heel begins.”
Allow an inch and a half of blousing in the sleeve, Haggard says, so the cuff stays in place however you move.
Men's suits, shirts and ties are blooming in shades of blue, green and lavender, along with the traditional gray and navy. When putting together a suit, shirt, tie and pocket square, don't get too matchy-matchy. In men's shirts, collars and cuffs lined with contrasting colors, or white, are popular.
Shirts and ties are making big color and pattern statements, with gingham checks and plaids playing a huge role in men's spring and summer fashions. Spring shirts come in every color of the rainbow, and especially pastel shades, and can be dressed up with a suit or worn casually with jeans, with or without a blazer and pocket square.
Not since the '70s have men had such liberty with mixing and matching patterns and colors.
Ooley: “Sometimes guys get overly fussy on matching. It's almost better if it's not a perfect match. You want a little interest. Everything's kind of coming up brighter. Ties and shirts are meant to pop some life into a suit.”
Westendorf: “The dressiest shirt has a contrasting collar and cuff. It's very business, very powerful. I'll put that on a guy with dark denim, tan tasseled loafers and a navy gingham checked sport coat. And everybody would freak out about that outfit. Every woman wants it on her guy and every guy wants to wear it. We will sell our dressiest shirt to wear with jeans and boots and a sport coat. ”
Printed chambray is one of Spencer Stone's most popular fabrics for spring, especially worn open-collar, sans tie, with a blazer and dark jeans. A chambray print shirt is also a great choice paired with white or color jeans or chinos for a casual vacation look.
Pocket squares are showing up everywhere you look. Pocket squares are a great way to add a pop of color, interest and extra style to a sport coat and suit jacket.
According to www.pocket-squares.com, the glorified hankies were especially popular in the 1920s, when men would wear a pocket square in combination with a suit, a vest, and the era's typical fedora hat. The website has a good tutorial on several popular pocket square folds. Once they achieve the perfect fold, some men like to pin the square in place. Silk squares don't keep a fold as well as other fabrics, so Ooley says they usually look better randomly situated in the pocket rather than carefully styled.
Ooley: “Pocket squares have become really big again. It's being driven by our youngest customers. And I think what is driving it is if a guy is going to wear a jacket or even a suit with no tie, he's wanting to have some color or pattern. If you're going to go without a tie, you need an interesting shirt and a pocket square. Otherwise you have that ‘They lost my luggage' look.”
Today's menswear fabrics are far more advanced than they were even a decade ago. Whereas wool used to be too itchy and silk too shiny, today these fabrics are high-tech and blended together to be softer, more wrinkle-resistant and more wearable for men than ever. Men are looking for fabrics that are comfortable and light to match the decade's warmer climate trends.
Ooley: “Ninety percent of our suits and blazers are 100 percent wool. There's been such an advancement in the last 10 years in this ultrafine marino wool that originates in Australia and New Zealand.
“Wool is the ultimate natural fiber — with its self-regulating temperature. So these lightweight woolens are not only beautiful and comfortable but they're amazingly wrinkle-free.”
French cuffs are a trend that's on the outs, but Spencer Stone offers a convertible cuff that can be buttoned normally or fastened with cuff links for a dressier look.
Ooley: “Sport coats are still a very dynamic part of our business. Guys are wanting soft constructed jackets. Soft meaning they don't have real built-up shoulders so they don't have an overly tailored or formal look. You can wear it with a tie for business but also can pair with casual pants and knitwear or no tie for casual.”
Stone: “If you're going to wear a jacket, you must tuck in your shirt.”