When I was young, shortly after the Crimean War and when Vogue still used to have a men’s section, I went to work as an assistant to the magazine’s men’s editor.
His name was Marcus von Ackermann and he was deeply glamorous. I was always impressed at how he used to be one step ahead with the trends. He would come in wearing a duffel coat when nobody else was wearing duffel coats and then a year later everyone had one (they’re fashionable again this winter BTW); the same with velvet jackets, or monk-strap shoes. He somehow always knew what was coming next long before the rest of us.
After a couple of years, I caught on to his trick. The designers show their ideas on the catwalks a year before the clothes actually hit the stores, and so all fashion editors and store buyers see the new trends a sneaky 12 months before everyone else. And that’s how we get to pretend we’re more fashionable and clued up than we actually are. And so, in the spirit of good will – which I like to think makes me the Baby Jesus of the fashion world – I’m going to tell you what’s coming your way next summer that you could start investing in right away. It’s a sort of style Wikileaks (which makes me more Julian Assange than Baby Jesus, unfortunately).
Many of you might be relieved to know that the skinny-pinny trouser is on its way out. It doesn’t mean that those of you who like skinny-pinny have to ditch them altogether (Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent will always be there for you), but most of the designers sent trousers down next summer’s catwalks that had at least one, if not multiple, pleats. Think David Bowie in 1983’s "Modern Love" video. Beware though, a multiple pleat can make you look larger at the waist than you actually are, and a baggy trouser can appear to shorten your legs. So choose wisely to avoid a nasty bout of Oompa-Loompa-dom.
You will naturally have observed, and quite possibly have invested in, the trend for printed or patterned shirts – especially those adorned in fauna or flowers. Well, this trend is going to grow and grow. Florals were all over the collections for next summer – on everything from sneakers to suits (the latter happily tended to come in a more toned down damask than hothouse-flower pattern). This might sound a little scary – Kim Kardashian’s disastrous pre-birth ensemble for the New York Met Gala springs to mind – but can look rather dashing. If you’re a little unsure, just try it on a pocket square or tie.
Double-breasted tailoring continues to flourish. There are quite a few dashing examples around this autumn (especially checked ones), but next summer there will be even more. These look just as good worn as suits or blazers (a popular trend in Milan and Paris was the mismatched suit where you look as if you’ve teamed together the jacket and trousers from different suits).
Talking of suits, you might be surprised to hear that the boiler suit made quite a few appearances. An item popular with both decorators and forensic pathologists has moved into the fashion arena. And I’m not quite sure why. I suppose they at least guarantee that your outfit goes together. Unless you’re tall, skinny, live in Hoxton or have a leading role in Silent Witness, I would recommend you give this trend a miss.
The fashion for sports-influenced clothes continues at a fast pace. This winter you will have noticed that numerous trousers have an elasticated cuff rather than a hem at the bottom of the legs (influenced by jogging pants). These can look good worn with a heavy shoe or boot during the winter, and next summer with a sneaker and no sock. As the year goes on, you will also see a number of windcheaters, high-performance fabric coats and parkas (hiking and climbing were both popular themes) hit the stores, as well as numerous backpacks (either big, glam, leather ones or strappy, utility-style designs).
Finally, shoes. These are always the easiest thing to update to stay one step ahead of the crowd. The fashion sports sneaker continues to rule the roost: brightly-coloured, littered with high-tech fabric panels, and designed with a track-ready silhouette, these eye-catching constructions can look just as neat worn as a bright pop of colour at the bottom of a smart pair of grey flannel trousers as they do worn casually with a pair of jeans or chinos.
As well as these, next summer the braver members of the fashion cognoscenti will be wandering around town in a pair of strappy sandals (or even Birkenstocks). Your tootsies had better be in good shape. Otherwise, the Bilbo Baggins’s among you might prefer to indulge in one of the season’s more peculiar trends and wear their shorts and sandals with socks; long, black socks to be precise. Yep, if you’re buying some nice cosy dark socks this winter, rest assured you could get as much use out of them next summer, too. See, the fashion world isn’t so flighty after all.
Jeremy Langmead is a columnist for Esquire magazine. The October issue is out in shops now.