I’m getting quite knowledgeable about sport.
I watched the first series of The Jump, the second series of Splash!, the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics, and am aware the Fifa World Cup kicks off in Brazil quite soon. I also have two pairs of Nike Flyknits. By my reckoning, that practically makes me an athlete. I’ve decided to go professional in après-ski and am currently looking for a major sponsor if anyone’s interested?
My enviable sporting prowess is likely to hold me in good stead for the next season or so. Not only because this summer all everyone’s going to talk about is footie, but because the fashion world is getting all jiggy about sport, too. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you have to run around town in a shell suit, wife beater and a baseball cap. Nor do you have to have the carb-starved physique of Towie’s Dan Osborne to sport the look. Nope, those clever designers have made it possible for us all to look a bit sporty without actually having to do any physical exercise whatsoever (thankfully, the menswear world is a lot kinder than womenswear).
Cuffed trousers (with jersey or elasticated hems) or tailored sweatpants have been on the rise for a few seasons. And they look as if they are here to stay. Some feel more casual; others – such as those by Neil Barrett or Bottega Veneta – look quite smart. The fashionable are opting to wear their smart sweatpants with tailored jackets and brightly coloured sneakers or even brogues. Invest in a pair now, or wait for autumn when there will be more offerings from Paul Smith, Dries van Noten, Alexander Wang and Balmain.
Before summer kicks in – assuming, optimistically, it does – you may want to invest in either a gilet or a windcheater. Japanese brand Junya Watanabe has produced a good version; so too (more affordably), has Gap. Once again, this sports-influenced item is worn mixed up with more formal attire: wearing one over a blazer or a suit jacket is the most popular look. If you get the proportions right, this works very successfully.
The alternative is a windcheater: these have been upgraded from the football terrace to the catwalk and look great teamed with a pair of slim, tailored trousers and over a white T-shirt or chambray shirt. One of the best for this spring is by Lanvin. The other sportswear mainstay that refuses to leave the fashion spotlight is the humble sweatshirt. Of course, these look and feel great paired with sweatpants for the weekend, but once again the fashion forward are working them with more formal items: under jackets, over shirts with a bit of knitted tie peering through the neckline, or simply with a pair of tailored trousers and leather lace-ups.
Trainers I don’t need to tell you about. They are Fly(knit)ing out of the stores. You will notice the number of men (and women) posting pictures on Instagram of their beloved new purchases. New Balance has been having a moment, and now it seems it’s time for the return of Adidas’s Stan Smiths. Or, if your tastes are a little more fashion razzy, Balenciaga is also on a roll.
If you think this sports-based trend is a little too unrefined and needs a healthy dose of well-pitched ponciness, fear not. I have something for you, too.
If an afternoon’s elegant boating is as rough a sport as you fancy, then the regatta stripe is a big trend this summer. You can go all Jerome K Jerome with Henley-style stripes on blazers, trousers (the best were by Ami), or just on a tie. And, thanks to the weather earlier this year, boating is a sport you can now take up on your front doorstep.
Alternatively, if you don’t mind waiting until the autumn collections arrive in store (usually June, just as it’s heating up, ironically), Missoni have a collection inspired by off-duty surfers. You will soon be able to sit around a campfire, discussing point breaks and pop-ups, wrapped in an outsized knitted blanket costing hundreds of pounds. Après-surf is another sport I might turn out to be rather good at.
So, as you can see, we can all pass for Olympians now. It’s just that some of us only wear our athleticism on our sleeves. I think I can live with that.