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Style Advice

Style SOS: Can you wear the skate trend if you can't skate?

Style SOS: Can you wear the skate trend if you can't skate?

"I really like the look of skate clothes, but I'm not a skater. Can I still pull it off? - Paul via Instagram 

It’s no surprise you’re interested in giving this trend a shot – the skater aesthetic is hard to avoid right now, and with its thrown-together sensibility and relaxed fits, it’s not difficult to work out why. The kids who started the 90s movement – or tried to recreate the Californian experience in their suburban towns – are now influencing the market place. They have spending power, they’re likely working in environments where suits are out, and they’re probably starting to feel the pangs of childhood nostalgia. What’s great is that the loose-fitting shapes of the skater aesthetic nod to the revival of 90s sportswear, while allowing you to embrace more casual pieces in a time when overthinking your look is out of style. 

So can you pull it off if you’re not hitting the skate park? The answer is yes, but with some consideration. “The skate trend is a rich source of subcultural influence, with a mix of backgrounds and inspirations, so it’s a good trend to take cues from,” says Thread stylist Toby Standing. “The key is to play with just one or two of the elements – like silhouette or brands to find a look that’s interesting, but still works with your current wardrobe.”

That way, if you aren’t a skater, you won’t look false, which is key when you’re trying out a trend that sparked from an anti-authoritarian movement. What’s more, if you’re not a true skater, it can be intimidating to take on baggy, low-slung skate pants and oversized hoodies, so they key is weaving in pieces that feel wearable in an everyday context, so you don’t end up looking like a teenager or a phony. Here’s how to achieve that, from the ground up.

Shoes

Footwear is one of the easiest entry points into the skate aesthetic. The hallmark shoe? Large trainers with good grip that were designed to help skaters stick to their board. Footwear offers a good opportunity to bring a pop of colour to more neutral-toned outfits, and today, Vans, Converse, and Novesta are an easy choice that anyone can pull off. They’ll pair effortlessly with other skater pieces, like a logo hoodie, or on their own for a dose of the trend. 

Trousers

Typically, skate trousers came in thicker fabrics to add protection and avoid shredded knees, but if you’re not a true skater, these details are secondary. “Skater pieces are practical and comfortable, but the carefree aesthetic can be easily translated into modern wardrobes without the focus on function,” Toby says.  

Cargo pants or Dickies may be the obvious choice, but chinos are a great (and more wearable) take. Since you’re probably not actually headed to the skate bowl, you can get away with lighter tones like stone and beige. Just make sure you pick a wide leg design with a cropped ankle, or roll up a straight leg pair into a cuff above your ankle for an authentic finish. 

If you want to stick to denims, try straight leg jeans rather than baggier styles. In warmer months, switch loose skate shorts for long, wide-cut cargo or chino shorts, and experiment with prints like camo to make a statement. 

T-shirts

Baggy fit tees are a staple of the skate trend, but pick an oversized cut rather than buying outside of your usual size range. You don’t want to be drowning in a t-shirt when there are plenty of loose-fitting options out there. Look for graphic prints and logos for a true skate finish. 

Hoodies

90s skaters covered their faces with hoods to avoid identification when skating where they shouldn’t be. Now, the look focuses on fashion over function. Hoodies can be paired with anything, so pick a style that fits with your existing wardrobe. Try it out in place of a jumper, or under a smart wool coat if you want to sneak a hint of skate into a smart casual look.  

Make sure it’s thick and loose fitting and for full effect, choose a large logo like Stüssy or Carhartt, or bright colours if you want to make a statement. 

Accessories

A wallet chain, bucket hat, and tube socks are are the go-to finishing touches for a true skater, but if you don’t want to go all in, a chunky belt, logo cap, and white sport socks are easier alternatives.

The skate trend is all about simple touches like these and should look effortless, so the key is interpreting it in a way that fits naturally into your lifestyle and wardrobe. To nail this, play with the traditional styles but with a more sophisticated finish, like straight leg jeans with your oversized t-shirt, a branded hoodie with your chinos and boots, or an open check shirt over your graphic tee. And if you do decide to give skateboarding a try for the first time, don’t forget the most important item of all: a helmet.


Words: Ella White
Illustration: Ryan Gillett