What do we all try to do best these days? Even when it comes to what we wear? Multitask! Given the state of the economy, we’re all trying to do more with what we already have and what we invest in for our wardrobe. Fall 2009 menswear is a study in what’s smart, enduring and functional.
“This season’s offerings are very purposeful from workwear reinterpreted for function and style to blazers that do double duty as outerwear pieces,” says Tom Julian, a fashion industry expert and author of Nordstrom Guide to Men’s Style (Chronicle Books, $19.95). “Navigating the trends and determining fashion’s intrinsic value isn’t difficult when you’re armed with some basic information,” he says.
So, what does Julian predict budget-minded men will freshen up their wardrobe with this fall? Here are his top menswear trends:
— The hybrid jacket. Part-blazer and part-outerwear, this garment is all about multitasking and multifunction. “The 2-in-1 factor makes this jacket the season’s go-to item for price and value,” says Julian.
Designers have placed distinct pockets to house MP3 players and phones, while convertible collars, throat latches and removable linings have been detailed for a handcrafted touch.
— The plaid patterns. What’s the visual for fall? Plaid patterns in updated and reinvented scales, proportions and color combinations. Look for hints of this trend inside collars and cuffs on shirts and inside jackets. “This classic is no longer the domain of the lumberjack or the country gentleman,” admits Julian. “Plaids now contemporize the wardrobe and can be dressed up by layering patterned plaid items with other plaids or dressed down by teaming plaids with denim.”
— Workwear. Recalling an American heritage, workwear gains new respect and appeal from young entrepreneurs and creative minds. “Clothes are now chronicling a modern day utility while resonating with pure and contemporary style in pieces like vests and jackets,” observes Julian.
High-end wools, leather and suede are the canvases for functional jackets that are detailed with everything from rivets, zippers and industrial stitching. The work shirt becomes an urban staple and is worn as a layering item with Henley shirts and rugged cords.
— The cardigan. The evolution of the cardigan continues, and this season’s menswear trends prominently feature the sweater as outerwear.
“Thicker yarns, interior linings and button closures allows these knits to be outdoor-friendly,” says Julian.
Collars that wrap, stand up or crossover are other important details on cardigan sweaters. Closures can be zip-front, toggle-front or asymmetric. Julian notes that the fisherman’s sweater was a runway favorite for many designers in Italy.
— Tailored clothing. Guys, it’s time to invest in the silhouette shift. There is a new slimmer statement from brands that appeal to younger customers. “Let’s not forget that there are many young men who have never purchased a suit as a result of the casual dressing era,” Julian points out. “Keep it tailored, but mix it up with a vest or half-zip sweater over a woven shirt and tie. Fine gauge knits and turtlenecks add a contemporary flair.”