At this point we’ve already entered the backlash to the backlash stage of things, and it had us wondering how we all got here. In fact, it seems the answer is simpler than you’d expect. And it has a lot to do with timing, the unique advantages of the Internet age and the not-so-unique evolution of personal style.
Now that it’s spring, everything is abloom—even your local newsstands, thanks to the newest crop of magazines swathed in brightly colored menswear.
In other words: the April issues have arrived.
And in our grand tradition of taking the pulse of printed menswear journalism, we’ve thumbed through all of the highly glossy/flammable pages of the usual suspects to give you the rundown on the upcoming trends, recent cultural phenomena and the requisite amount of eye candy.
Here at Kempt HQ, we often receive letters from our readers—most of it adoring fan mail, but every so often we get a nude photo. Also, every so often we get an inquiry from a wayward soul who we feel compelled to answer...
“I’ve been looking to buy a new pair of shoes and I keep seeing these classic styles with absurdly colorful soles. I like them, but I wonder in what situations they are acceptable? For instance, could I wear neon-orange-soled brogues with a suit to work and still look professional? Or are they strictly casual? I’m not looking to buy something that I can only wear in the most specific of situations.”
While we’ve noticed more and more neon soles pop up over the past few seasons, there’s no guarantee this look will still be in favor five years from now, or even next summer, so if you’re planning on spending the few hundred bucks on a pair of shoes that are classic in every sense other than the sole, you’re taking a serious risk.
So we’ll start with this, dear reader: if you’re looking for your first pair of dress shoes, these are not them—if that’s the case, you should be taking the standard navy blazer approach: find a pair of shoes that will go with everything else in your wardrobe, from gray flannel to twill, like these cap toes from Allen Edmonds.
It’s finally happened: the camouflage trend has jumped the shark.
It all began innocently enough—the arbiters of the heritage movement began digging deeper into the history of Americana and a trend was born. At first, we were happy to see more bold patterns finding their way into menswear (even if, like the Navajo print before it, there were some lingering issues of decorum). But then labels began using it with wanton disregard: wingtips, backpacks, boardshorts... and then came the all-camo-everything look. We gave the Japanese a pass because, well, we admire their enthusiasm.
The suit in question was designed by Thom Browne, which does give the look a bit of leeway toward the fashion-y end of the spectrum. But we must draw a line somewhere. And so, we’re decreeing a moratorium on civilians wearing more than one piece of camo simultaneously. Effective immediately and lasting indefinitely.
The gents over at Valet have uncovered the story on how Billy Reid became the official peacoat supplier of James Bond for the soon-to-be-released Skyfall. (As luck would have it, Daniel Craig had picked one up for himself a few years back and has been a fan ever since.) It’s more confirmation that Mr. Reid is still riding high. The jackets sold out instantly once a few film sleuths figured out where they came from, so another limited run is on the way, available for preorder now and shipping on the same day Skyfall is released... But of course.
A heavy overshirt can do wonders for your layering strategy this time of year.
And this quilted Kemsey shirt from Penfield that’s just arrived at Austin outfitter Stag might be the finest specimen we’ve seen yet. It’s cut like your favorite button-down, but quilted like your favorite down vest (or, if you’re really up on the trends, your newest blazer). It makes for the sort of layer that can hold its own as outerwear but also low-profile enough to act as the insulating layer to a light jacket—say, a raincoat. Which means it’ll be getting more use than you might expect from something that’s neither a shirt nor a jacket (nor shacket).
Call it what you want, as long as it keeps you toasty.
Here at Kempt HQ, we often receive letters from readers. (Most of it fan mail.) But every so often we get a question from an inquiring mind that we feel the need to address—and put our Ann Landers hat on to come up with the best advice we can give. (It’s a bucket hat if you were wondering).
This week, we received an email from a reader whose wife seemed to be encouraging him to wear “skinny jeans.” Which begs the question: can an adult man ever get away with wearing hip-huggers?
Ah, the siren song of the standing desk. So close, so seemingly healthy…and yet so far.
Adrienne Jeffries tangled with the calf-destroying monster recently, and lived to tell the tale in this morning’s Observer. It’s a familiar story, starting with good intentions, medical statistics and kind words from start-up CEOs. By the end, the kind words have been replaced by back pain and the ridicule of her co-workers.
It’s enough to make you wonder, what leads a person down this path to begin with? And before you say, “well-established health benefits,” we’ve got another possibility we’d like to propose…
We’ve been getting some weird vibes from the menswear blogodome lately.
It’s a sudden antisocial feeling, an uptick in cold shoulders—and, more recently, a cotton pocket square that says “fuck off.” The days of polite, well-behaved pocket squares are gone now, possibly never to return.
We’re not taking it personally, but it’s hard not to notice: menswear’s gotten a lot grouchier in the last few months. Maybe it was inevitable, given the recent level of swagger in certain corners, but we can’t help thinking something’s gone terribly wrong...
A lot of new ideas arrived on the menswear scene this past year, but as we cast our gaze forward to 2012, we only see a few of them lasting through the next twelve months. So to let you know what you can safely count on wearing a year from now, we've rated some of the most discussed tricks in the book on a simple AAA-to-D scale (with apologies to Standard & Poors). If you want a credit rating for your double monks, look no further.
Circa 2007, they were one of the coolest brands there was—a playful riff on the workwear obsession that was only beginning to show its teeth—but as the flood of Barbours and Red Wings gave way to Isaia and double-monks, Daiki Suzuki’s brand of well-tailored woodsiness hasn’t been quite as much in demand.
So how does one of the best designers in the business respond to a sea change? Let’s just say it gets interesting...
Walking to work this morning, we spotted no less than five gentlemen wearing suede desert boots. Six, if you count the pair on our own feet.
It’s no wonder; they’re great shoes. On some level, we should have been glad that the men of New York are catching on to the glory of Clarks. But we weren’t glad. Instead we felt a creeping sense of unease, and wondered if we should sneak back to our apartment to change.
It’s a common moment for gentlemen of style—and for anyone as allergic to trends as we are, it’s a moment that deserves a closer look...