Brand and shopping advice

Should I care about trends?

Should I care about trends?

It can often seem like there’s a big difference between ‘fashion’ and ‘style’. The former is all about change, a different thing every six months. The latter – which we rather prefer – is built on timeless clothes that will always look good. But despite how opposed they same, the two are linked; what starts as fashion tends to slowly trickle down, from runways to the high street.

You can see this process at work if you think about how men dressed in the 1980s. Even those not into ‘fashion’ tended towards bigger blazers and looser trousers. Two decades on, it’s tricky to find anything other than slim fits in most shops. It’s a transition that started out at designer labels and, over time, percolated into the wardrobe of the normal man, who rightly doesn’t give a fig what happens in Paris or Milan.

This knowledge can be a powerful way to improve your own wardrobe, even if you have no interest in studying fashion blogs. “You don’t need to worry about the fast-moving stuff,” says Thread stylist Brooke Philips. Most trends, like colours or particular items, disappear so quickly that it’s not worth investing. “But other stuff filters down, so it’s good to be a little bit ahead of the curve.”

Things like silhouette, or how society defines what’s smart or casual (just look at the way most offices have gone in the last two decades) tend to stick around for years. If you can be aware of them earlier than everyone else, your wardrobe will feel modern and interesting. You’ll also get more for your money, as you’ll have a couple of years of wear from certain pieces before everyone else cottons on.

Now, we’re not recommending you try a vinyl overcoat or silk blouse (both, unbelievably, genuine trends at the moment). But the three looks that we’ve broken down below are easy to wear, on-trend and will flatter almost anyone. Perfect if you feel your style is stuck in rut, or you just want to bring your wardrobe up-to-date.

Wider legs

Wider legs

Photographed: Samsoe & Samsoe jacket (£144.95); MVP t-shirt (£12); Dickies chinos (£45); Converse trainers (£59)

In some areas of the fashion industry, trousers have transformed from spray-on skinny to things that look like windsocks. But for the normal man, shapes have loosened up more subtly. “A wider leg creates a more relaxed silhouette,” says Brooke. “A lot of guys don’t really think about it, but it’s a really simple – and powerful – way to experiment with your look.”

If you’re used to slim or skinny fits, try a straight leg, which doesn’t taper from the hip to the ankle. “They don’t scream, ‘I’m wearing wide-leg trousers’, but they’re a bit different and can be really flattering,” says Brooke. Particularly for guys with larger legs, or who are top-heavy, since they create a better sense of balance. They’re also much more comfortable. “Just be careful to keep your silhouette cohesive,” says Brooke. “Don’t go super-tight on top; keep things a little bit looser there too, maybe with a relaxed-fit shirt, or an overshirt. Things that have some movement.”

Military

Military trens

Photographed: Oliver Spencer coat (£359 for similar); C.P Company t-shirt (£129); Paul Smith chinos (£125); Grenson boots (£425)

Almost every staple piece in the menswear wardrobe has its origins in the armed forces. From t-shirts to cargo trousers to the trench coat, they began as practical pieces that transitioned into civilian wardrobes as soldiers and sailors left the ranks and took their uniforms with them. Which is why clothing that nods to that heritage is such a perennial trend, and one that’s particularly prevalent at the moment. Best of all, it also means it’s extremely easy to wear.

“It’s all about things that add some extra utility,” says Brooke. “So jackets with patch pockets, or boots with chunky rubber soles. Colours too can have a military reference; drab, olive and khaki are all the kind of thing you might see on a parade ground.” Odds are, you’ve already worn – or own – some of these pieces already. Which makes adopting it a breeze. “Just remember that less is more.” Any more than one or two pieces and you can look like you’re playing dress-up. “Think about layering too, as the fits are generally a bit looser. Soldiers don’t tend to go around in skinny trousers, as they’re not very practical. So everything should be a bit more relaxed and more comfortable.”

Corduroy

Corduroy

Photographed: Reiss jumper (£120); Oliver Spencer cords (£159); Converse trainers (£59)

Fabrics, too, can go from being a bit dated to suddenly modern. And corduroy has recently been resurrected from professorial wardrobes. “It’s cropping up more and more,” says Brooke, “particularly in finer wales – that means the distance between the ridges – because from a distance, they barely look like corduroy at all.”

The trick to making it feel contemporary is to avoid anything your grandfather might have worn. If you're worried about looking fusty, avoid browns and tans and try shades like forest green and black for trousers, or burgundies, pinks and mustards in shirting. “It works great for winter because it’s warmer and it also offers loads of texture,” says Brooke. “But again, you need a looser fit. Spray-on cords are not going to be comfortable.”