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The guide to timeless style

The guide to timeless style

Fashion is all about the next new thing. But style thinks long-term. At Thread, we’re big fans of the second approach, which is why we love clothes that are timeless. Timeless style ignores trends and instead focuses on the items and outfits that have looked good for 60 years – and will endure at least as long again.

“These are things that have been around since the dawn of casual dressing, when guys stopped wearing suits all the time,” says Thread stylist Toby Standing. “Things like chinos, jeans, sweatshirts and biker jackets. These things have stood the test of time. They’ve gone in and out of fashion, but they’re still worn a lot. They’re timeless.”

Trends date an outfit, but when you stick to the classics you can transcend time. You become permanently stylish, the kind of man who people will look at in old photos and think, “That guy had the right idea.” “Look at people like James Dean, or Steve McQueen, as examples of how to pull this off,” says Toby. “They still look good now which means that look will never date. It’s not about three-piece suits, it’s about things like selvedge denim and a classic Oxford shirt. A lot of guys think that ‘basic’ means ‘boring’, but if you pick the right items and combine them well, then they’ll always have personality.”

The best thing about timeless pieces is how easy they make getting dressed in the morning. “These clothes have been worn millions of times by millions of men,” says Toby. There are no surprises. The same items always go together. The rules around fit and colour have been worked out, so you don’t need to work them out yourself. “Even if you do like experimenting, timeless style is a great fallback, or a base to try new things. You can pick any pieces out in any combination almost, and you’ll look good.” If you follow these four approaches, you’ll be stylish right now, and stay that way for the next 60 years.

1. Invest in quality

Quality investments

Photographed: Nigel Hall Stone Mac (£245); Hardy Amies Navy Blazer (£295); Oliver Sweeney Leather Belt (£99); Tsovet Watch (£365); Boden x Cheaney & Sons Derbies (£350); Il Busseto Wallet (£85); John Smedley Lundy Crew Neck Jumper (£150)

Timeless clothes, as the name suggests, aren’t the kind of thing you throw away after a single season. “They last for ages,” says Toby, “so it’s worth investing in quality. You can wear them often, you can wear them for years and they’ll never be unstylish. The only reason you’d ever have to get rid of them is if you damage them.”

Timeless pieces are proof that sometimes, spending more money works out cheaper. “It’s all about cost-per-wear,” says Toby. “And nothing in your wardrobe offers better value. If you buy an Oxford shirt that costs twice as much, it will last much more than twice as long because the fabrics will be better, the construction. It will also fit better and be more flattering.”

If you’re sceptical about the difference you’ll get by spending more, items like chinos, jeans and leather jackets offer immediate proof; because they’re so simple, the only thing that justifies the price increase is how well they’re made. “So they’re a great way to see if that step up in quality makes sense for you,” says Toby. “There’s less risk.”

2. Go with the experts


Photographed: Gant Rugger Slim Fit Indigo Chambray Shirt (£85)Armor Lux 1525 Long Sleeve Loctudy Striped T-Shirt (£55)Lacoste Classic L12.12 Navy Polo (£79)Levis 501 Original Fit Jeans (£65)Clarks Desert Boots (£95)Adidas Stan Smith (£79)Inis Meain Arran Beach Crew Knitted Jumper (£225)Andersons Andersons Woven Leather Belt (£109)

Every brand on earth has its own take on timeless items. But there are others that specialise and have done for decades. “Levi’s has been making perfect jeans for 150 years,” says Toby. “Clarks invented the desert boot in the 1940s and that experience means that it still produces pretty much the best one you can buy.”

When you buy from a specialist, you’re getting more than just quality – you also get authenticity. There’s a story behind things like the Lacoste polo, which was invented in 1933 by Rene Lacoste so his fellow tennis players could stay cool and move freely, or the adidas Stan Smith, the original tennis shoe, which was endorsed by the eponymous American champion and sparked all manner of imitators. “When you buy something from those brands, you get a great piece of clothing, but you also get a story,” says Toby. “With simple pieces, that can lift your entire look.”

3. Make your colours your own

Timeless colours

Photographed: MVP Lindley Raglan Loopback Sweater (£30)Lacoste Classic L12.12 Polo (£79)Vans OG Authentic LX (£59)Albam Yarn Dye Lavender Crew Neck Sweater (£89)Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket (£295)MVP Lukin Stone Shorts (£24)Joules Pink Laundered Slim Oxford Shirt (£55)Wax London Strood Navy Chinos (£90)

The easiest way to make timeless clothes feel lifeless is by wearing the wrong colours. “There’s nothing to distract the eye, so you need to make sure your clothes suit your complexion,” says Toby. “If you don’t know what they are, head to your Style Summary, which breaks down the shades that work best for you. And if you need any more advice, you can always message your stylist.”

A mistake most men make is to think that timeless style means bland colours. “Navy, grey and white are great and suit everyone,” says Toby. “But they’re also what everyone wears. Whereas introducing something a little different makes your staples feel more personal. It becomes your wardrobe, rather than everyone’s wardrobe.” If you’re naturally colour-shy, then start small. “A khaki Oxford shirt is still timeless and as easy to wear as white or blue.”

Once you’re more confident, introduce either pale or dark shades of brighter colours. “Purple is hard to pull off, even on something really simple like a sweatshirt,” says Toby. “But lavender is much more subtle and it goes with other colours much more easily.” It’s also a great way to make the same items and outfits feel different through the year. “In winter, mustard looks great because it’s a deep, rich colour. Then in spring and summer, try washed-out yellows, which feel much sunnier.”

4. Use classic pieces as a jumping off point

Add flair

Photographed: Levi's Trucker Jacket (£90); MVP Arbour White T-Shirt (£18); Suit Dr Tate Chinos (£89.95); River Island Bandana (£6); Converse Chuck Taylor 1970s Hi Trainers (£69)

Timeless style can be either a look on its own or, if you prefer to dress with a bit of flair, a safe foundation for experimentation. “You can build on timeless pieces with things that are specific to your taste,” says Toby. “It could be a watch with a bit of bling, a shirt with an interesting print or a bandana in an eye-catching colour. If you wear these things all together then your look gets really busy. If you ground them in clean, simple clothes then you get some zing, but don’t look zany.”

This is also a great way to add a personality to your look. It turns something classic into a signature. “The options are pretty endless,” says Toby. “Try a pair of interesting sunglasses, or a hat that you really love. Because timeless style is such a neutral, versatile backdrop, these pieces will slot into your wardrobe and work with anything else you’re wearing.”