Although all of us at Styleforum are as pleased as punch with the explosion of interest in men’s clothing and fashion that has accompanied the new millennium, there have been a few aging menswear trends that made our teeth hurt when they were new and aren’t treating us any better now. Some of them are still clinging to life, and that needs to stop. The usual Styleforum disclaimers apply: it is, of course, possible to embrace the entire list below and look great. Theoretically. In a parallel universe, maybe. If you’re still hanging on to all of these, I’m sorry. For you.
- Wooden Bead Bracelets
You know what we’re talking about. For a good five years, iGents the world over had these bracelets stacked halfway up one or both arms (and, we assume, sock-less legs as well). As an idea, we fully support men’s jewelry – and even the odd bead. But they have become the grown man’s elastic band bracelet; the ideal way to show how cultured and worldly you are, collected without thought or intention. Thankfully, this trend has almost killed itself off, but to everyone still in denial: please. Let it die.
- “Fun” Socks
They don’t make you more interesting. They don’t show your personality. If you honest-to-god love your bright pink argyle, fish scale, or curled-mustache socks, we can’t stop you. But no one’s going to find you more daring, more exciting, or any bolder than you would be if you were sporting a sock that didn’t suggest you also sleep in a race car bed (Disclaimer: if you sleep in a race car bed, that’s awesome and please send us photos).
- Contrast Buttonholes
We’re not sure who thought this up or why. Perhaps men were having trouble finding their buttonholes, hence reduced to running around in a state of unbuttoned panic. Perhaps internet MTM companies needed a thousandth feature to grant a $1 upcharge. Or perhaps, in an era of endless customization, men in search of ways to make themselves stand out thought that red thread around a white buttonhole was the best way to show off their sartorial chops. The absolute worst offenders are contrasting buttonholes combined with busily-patterned shirts, most of which have extra-tall power collars and contrasting cuffs. Most egregiously, these made their way onto the cuffs and lapels of sport coats, which…sorry, I was too busy retching to finish that sentence. Just Say No.
- Contrasting Cuff Dress Shirts
I’m not sure how to feel about these. On the face of it, a shirt (or jacket) that hides a special fabric reserved only for the wearer is perhaps the most Styleforumish of affectations, and one that I cannot ideologically oppose. However, when contrast cuffs are combined with the in-your-face stripes and collars (also contrasting on the underside) of Jermyn-inspired clubwear, men the world over are done a disservice. This is the ultimate boss form of the “going-out shirt,” and should be avoided at all costs. There’s no better way to say “Hi! I’m probably an asshole.”
Addendum: Contrast Anything, Come to Think of It
Yellow shoelaces? No. Purple collar tips? Please. If it seems like a gimmick, it probably is – and a gimmick does not a well-dressed man make.
- Teensy-tiny ties with tie clips
I blame Mad Men, and by extension, JCrew. For a couple of years there, every other man on the street had declared himself dapper, a man’s man, by virtue of jacket lapels skinny as a pinky finger, a tie as narrow as a pencil, and to top it off – a tie clip (need we mention the ubiquitous gingham shirt?). Okay, I may be conflating a few different trends there, but they definitely went hand-in-hand, and were usually found beneath thick-framed retro spectacles. It’s one thing to bring the 60’s back, it’s another to use your lemming powers for the sake of looking like an anonymous office drone. It’s not minimalism, people. It’s just bad.
There’s a lot to be said for a tie that doesn’t make you look like you’re performing at a high school rock show, but to be fair, this has deep, deep roots. It reappeared in the mainstream alongside the the geek-chic look of the early 2000’s (we’ve talked about this before), but it’s not Joe Craft-Sixpack who’s to blame for the resurgence of the skinny-tie-and-bar. After all, who doesn’t want to look like Mick Jagger in his younger days? Sadly, at this point, the romance has become mundane. We must insist that your ties – and your lapels – increase to a respectable width. And please – leave the tie clip at home.
There you have it: five of the most egregious aging menswear trends that really, desperately need to be buried. Does this list mean you’re not allowed to embrace color or personality? Of course not. It means that even when you’re dressing with the times, good taste should govern your stylistic decisions. Because “more, more, more” has never been a particularly effective guiding philosophy, and that extends to clothing.