Summer’s best statement pieces
What is summer if not the time to make a statement?
Get your own personal stylist to help you find clothes you love. All online, completely free
Trend can be a dirty word when it comes to fashion. In an industry where style is designed to endure, trends can read as cheap, unsustainable, and instantly passé – dating as quickly as it takes a model to do a turn on the runway. Who can forget the fleeting Crocs craze or puka shell necklace trend of the late nineties? But despite their often cringe-inducing reputations, some trends are worthy of sticking around for longer, and many do. The trick is adopting the trend early enough to get the most wear out of it.
According to the Diffusion of Innovation Theory, developed by Professor E. M. Rogers, there are five adopter types when it comes to trends: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. And as much as you might like to imagine you fall into the first two categories, most people land in either the early majority or late majority categories. But if your instincts are strong enough to get in on the trend early, you might get some solid wear out of it before it becomes ubiquitous enough that your dad starts sporting it to family events.
To understand how to distinguish trends with shorter shelf lives from those with longer ones, we spoke to Lizzie James, Buying Manager at Thread, who sifts through countless trends each season. “Changes to shapes and silhouettes tend to have much more staying power than say a colour or print shift,” she says. “When I see a room of different brands all creating a similar print and feel bored by it, then I know it’s just a short-term terms. But when I see brands and designers developing shapes in their own way and adding new touches, I instantly feel excited by these developments and know it’s got staying power.”
An example of a silhouette trend as of late? Relaxed trousers. “Fits have been getting much wider for a good few seasons now, and these silhouettes aren’t going away,” Lizzie says. “Each season, I’m seeing more and more people experimenting with trouser shapes and fabrics that show it’s getting more commercial. There are so many different details being added that make it possible for everyone to add their own twist on the trend without feeling like a clone of someone else.”
So what are clear indicators that a trend will stay around? Lizzie notes that when momentum builds slowly and consistently around a specific trend, it’s a sign that it’s here to stay. “When a trend blows up really quickly and ends up in every shop window on the high street, it can die just as fast,” she says. “Trends that develop gradually over a few seasons seem to be the ones that stick.”
To keep us privy to the burgeoning trends worth adopting this summer, we tapped Thread stylist Toby Standing to spotlight three of his favourites. And when it comes to all those other quickly hyped-up trends you see in high-street windows? Go ahead and leave those to the laggards.
Why it works: Voluminous silhouettes feel like a nice departure from the skinny, streamlined styles that dominated fashion in the last decade. “They give you the opportunity to play with proportions, and although this look feels very modern, it also has a slightly retro vibe to it that lends your outfit a more interesting edge,” Toby says. “It also works especially well in warmer months when you want to throw on something looser and more breathable."
Why it has staying power: “Silhouette is one of the biggest movers in menswear trends, and relaxed cuts have no sign of slowing down,” Toby says. “It pays to start investing in this one now, as it’s only going to continue to gain momentum over the next few years. Plus, it’s comfortable and looks more mature than skin tight silhouettes.”
Which elements to avoid: “You don’t want to go too over-the-top with this trend.” Toby says. “The point isn’t to drown in your clothes, so don’t buy a pair of trousers that are three sizes too big. Opt instead for relaxed cuts of trousers in your size. If you do want to invest in an item that’s a size or two too big, make it a t-shirt or sweatshirt – something that lacks structure.”
Why it works: Functional garments always add an interesting element when incorporated into everyday dressing. “In addition to looking great when contrasted with both smart and casual staples, their functionality can be genuinely useful,” Toby says. “Think of the trail sneakers, for example. They’re super easy to wear for long periods of time because they've been designed to wear on long-distance hiking trips. When you throw them on in your day-to-day life, you’ve just made your day infinitely more comfortable. A practical bag, in lieu of one designed purely for style purposes, can also add more ease and efficiency to your day."
Why it has staying power: Utility pieces have been a mainstay in men’s fashion for decades, and with the shift towards more functional, hardworking pieces in everyday dressing, they’re now gaining even more traction. “It’s worth stocking up on rugged boots, workwear-inspired denim, and a chore jacket – they’re great foundational pieces and are easy to pair with other wardrobe essentials,” Toby says.
Which elements to avoid: “The idea here is not to look like you’re actually going on a hike, so avoid a head-to-toe utility look,” Toby says. “Instead, select one or two utilitarian items to include in your everyday look – and you'll avoid looking like you just stepped off the campsite. A great way to select pieces is to look for items that borrow inspiration from utility wear, instead pulling directly from the shelf of a utility shop.”
Why it works: Suits are no longer a workwear requirement, so you have a license to have more fun with different shapes and styles. “Slim-fitting suits and the coordinated steez they give you will always be in style – especially if you work in a more corporate environment – but they aren’t always what you want to be wearing day to day,” Toby says. “Co-ords consist of wearable items that look great together and separately. Think of them as your weekend wardrobe’s answer to your tailored suit. They also look great in more creative offices and social events.”
Why it has staying power: “Dress codes will only continue to relax, and the requirement to wear a suit every day will continue to become less common, so people are going to jump on the opportunity to wear something more relaxed,” Toby says. “This style of dressing feels like a great spiritual successor to the suit.”
Which elements to avoid: “Don’t spring for garish prints,” Toby says. “You want to make a statement with your look, but not for all the wrong reasons. Because you’re wearing matching items, which will already give your look enough interest, don’t double down with a head-to-toe Hawaiian print.”
Words: Allison Pavlick
Photography: Jamie Stoker
Styling: Freddie Kemp
Styling assistant: Toby Standing
They say you should skip any trends that you’ve already lived through. But we say, experience counts