Why does the fashion world, myself included, insist on referring to the “new season” every time the weather changes and we swap one set of clothes for another? I’ve never once looked out of the window at home, as the leaves start to turn, and said to a friend, as we crack open another beer: “Oi, see that. A new season dawns.”
I’m not Jon Snow, Hertfordshire isn’t the land of the north, and so I shouldn't start talking to you as if I’m in an episode of Game of Thrones. (Neither, I suppose, should I pretend I’m in the habit of cracking open another beer; I prefer a G&T.)
So I won’t tell you what’s fashionable this “season”, but I will tell you what you may like to consider, and will be on offer in the stores, when it starts getting a wee bit chillier.
This was the first time for many years I have not attended the rounds of catwalk shows in Milan, Paris, London and New York in person. Instead of sitting in the front rows, soaking up the enthusiasm and eccentricities of the fashion designers and editors, I studied the ideas and trends presented for our delectation by the style elite from the comfort of my office chair: I followed the fashion circus from city to city on-line and through Instagram was able to judge what might make the transition from runway to reality with a cool, detached eye (well, with a pair of spectacles and a Pret A Manger sandwich).
So here’s what I recommend you and I might want to invest in:
Firstly, a Pret sandwich might not be as inappropriate as it may sound in a fashion context. For the first time in some years, Pret, pies and puddings have been embraced by the menswear industry. There is finally a (un)healthy move away from skinny-pinny silhouettes, spray-on trousers and coats so snug-fitting you can barely tuck a tie into them. Baggy is back.
This trend was most popular with the coats the designers sent down the catwalks; many of which were oversized, with loose draped shoulders and belted waists.
The shape was not dissimilar to those old-fashioned, wool tartan-flannel dressing gowns most of us have tucked away in a wardrobe; brought out on chilly Sunday mornings for when we want to cook a big “fattie boom boom” breakfast whilst a Solpadeine tablet fizzes away alongside a Berocca in a desperate attempt to shake off a hangover. Bottega Veneta produced a very nice one in a grey checked wool tweed.
The comfortwear trend permeated other elements of the wardrobe, too. The loose trouser was another popular look: no more Nick Grimshaw-style crotch-huggers this autumn. Many designers, like Maison Martin Margiela, offered instead loose flannel trousers that left plenty of room for everything to swing around and have a good stretch without bumping into anybody they might know.
On a practical level, this also means we will be able to stuff things into our pockets again. I've missed the joy of putting on a pair of trousers and discovering an old tissue, a couple of coins, a random telephone number and a mouldy Malteser that have been sitting there, lost, for a few weeks.
Some of you might argue that the next comfort-friendly item to make its way back into fashion — or, perhaps, in fashion for the first time ever — is taking things too far: the fleece. Should we be embracing something we always find on the back seat of our dad’s car, covered in dog hair, ourselves? I admit it’s controversial. A fleece is contraception disguised as clothing.
Unless you’re a presenter of Countryfile, you will not get a shag if you turn up on a date wearing a fleece.
And yet, some of our most successful and respected fashion designers suggest we give them a second chance. If you are going to tentatively give one a try, I recommend you head to a Polo Ralph Lauren store and check out the buffalo plaid fleece jackets he’s designed. They might just persuade you over to the dark and cosy side.
If you’re secretly quite excited for these new trends, whose icons include Grandpa Werther and Ted from The Fast Show, you can also add to your shopping list a number of related trends that have been around for a few seasons — ahem, I mean years — such as tracksuit trousers (or normal trousers with cuffed hems), corduroy jackets and anything designed with herringbone and tweed.
One word of warning. You may well see a lot of fashionable young men carrying pouches over the coming months. This new form of carrier — a cross between a document case and a washbag — has been deemed a practical and stylish way to carry keys, wallets and mobile phones. It isn’t. It looks affected. And if you carry one of them while wearing your fashionable dressing gown-style coat, everybody will just think you’re off to bed.
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