Men’s Spring Style Guide

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by Daniel Jameson, Men’s Style Consultant

 

Greetings to the stylistically-minded and fashionably unawares, the fashionistos and the bros, the men of the University of Wisconsin – Madison! Whether you worship GQ or simply love grabbing the coolest tees from clever Mifflin entrepreneurs, you want to look your best. But not everyone has the time to pour over runway recaps and decipher what’s hot and what’s not, and the process behind recognizing a trend isn’t exactly commonplace knowledge. That’s where I come in. My name is Daniel Jameson, and I’ll be your style guide extraordinaire, helping to update your wardrobe with pieces that both qualify as Spring 2011 trends and complement your individual style. With MODA’s April launch arriving at a typical retail season transition, I’ll stick to trends that will help carry you into the summer looking drop dead dapper.

Before we start, bear in mind that, like how Rome wasn’t built in a day, a great wardrobe isn’t created overnight. It’s a continuous compilation of the individual pieces from each season that work best for you, which is a result of taking the time to learn and master the trends and give each a personal test drive. With a little bit of work every now and then, you can build a phenomenal style closet and cultivate a know-how of piecing together looks that present you at your best for any occasion. But I digress – let’s begin!

 

Jeans

The legendary American designer Michael Kors recently said that one of the three most important clothing items every man must have is a perfect pair of jeans. In the college world, however, one pair of good jeans isn’t going to cut it – I recommend at least three, since versatility stretches from that perfect “throw-on” pair for class to a handsome pant for dressier meetings and events. With a little time and money invested in following a few simple guidelines, the denim drawer in your dresser will be revitalized with sophistication and individuality.

Even before discussing jean fit, I feel it of the utmost importance to take a quick moment to talk about sizing. Men come in all shapes and sizes, and retailers have been smart over the past decade in adjusting their options to include all waist and length numbers in their various jeans. Gone are the days where even sizes dominate; it’s just as easy now to find odd-numbered sizes such as 35 x 32 or 36 x 32, as it is 32 x 34, etc. For this reason, above all else, make sure your jeans fit before leaving the store – I guarantee they’ll make it in your size!

Once you’ve found the right size, it’s time to take a look at jean fit. The contemporary trend has been more tailored and slim-fit, which positively accentuates any body type and gives a polished look that shows the world you know how to dress well – so well, in fact, that I endorse this jean fit for any guy. “Slim-straight” is what you’ll want to look for in stores: the jean will have a more tailored, low-rise waist, and will be straight through the leg, so there won’t be a lot of the extra fabric that you’ll find in baggier, “relaxed” fit jeans, but there will be more than enough to feel comfortable. To stay within most college budgets, I’d suggest checking out Levi’s 514 slim-straight and Gap’s Authentic fit.

The final decision in picking the perfect pair is choosing the color of wash. Since we’re getting three pairs of jeans, I’d recommend getting three different washes: one dark wash, one medium/blue wash, and one gray or white wash. Both the dark wash and the medium/blue wash are the most versatile, serving as essential elements in your permanent wardrobe. These two are also the most popular colors season-by-season for denim, so you’ll want to choose well. Look for the darkest non-black pair you can find for your dark wash (a really dark indigo is usually best), and a good deep blue/lighter indigo for your medium/blue wash. The final pair plays into universal spring/summer trends in choosing a lighter, non-blue wash perfect for warmer, sunnier days. If you’re feeling bold, grab a pair of white jeans – they’re a surefire statement piece that look fantastic on anyone. However, if you’re more interested in something a little less stain-prone, find a light-gray wash. Gray jeans are a phenomenal option year-round, and work especially well in warmer weather months when paired with the brighter colors more commonly found in shirts and polos.

 

Tees and Vees

Pants in general are not the only male clothing group to undergo a modern tailoring; t-shirts and v-necks have also seen the effects of the contemporary “slim-fit.” When shopping for tees and vees that don’t bear slogans like “Teach Me How to Bucky,” keep an eye out for such options. Like tailored, slim-fit pants, the slim-fit t-shirts and v-necks are designed specifically to accentuate the upper body without carrying any extra fabric. Pair a slim-fit tee/vee with a slim-straight jean, and you’ll feel just as comfortable as usual while upgrading your style to the 21st century. In the color department, focus on bolder, brighter hues – as the northern hemisphere melts and blooms in the spring, we see colors of all shades and intensities come alive in fashion. Just make sure you don’t pick something that washes you out by matching your skin tone.

 

Woven Belts

This spring, be on the look-out for woven belts, which are a great twist on the traditional solid belt usually worn under most circumstances. They provide a more casual look, so don’t pair them with dress pants for formal events; however, they’ll look great going to class or going out. To choose a color, pick one that specifically contrasts the shade or wash of the pant you plan on wearing it with. For example, pick a lighter brown, khaki or white for your dark and medium/blue wash jeans, and a darker black or brown for your lighter-wash denim and chinos.

 

Shades of Style

While sunglasses are an essential year-round, the long and sunny days frequently seen at this time of year prompt many to don some of the coolest and most exotic pairs known to fashion. Like any year, the fashion aviator and square-framed Wayfarer will always be in style, but if you’re looking for something with unexpected pizzaz, try out a more rounded, black or tortoiseshell-framed Wayfarer. The shades will set you apart from all the rest and are a great complement to any ensemble. If you’re looking for a more affordable pair, try Topman – they’ve got a snazzy option for just $32.

 

Nautical

No, not everyone you meet on the street wearing boat shoes and blue-and-white stripes is preparing to board a sailboat around Lake Mendota. The nautical trend is a timeless spring/summer tradition of sorts, but is constantly updated every year to give a fresh spin on the old favorite. Simply put, the trend consists of combinations of blue and white, set atop boat shoes, white sneakers, or sandals – all without socks, of course (we wouldn’t want them getting wet while out at sea, right?). Matching the top and bottom is probably the easiest part, as the overall ensemble just needs to contain dominant shades of blue and white. Common examples include light blue denim button-downs atop white jeans, navy and chalk-white striped lightweight sweaters/tees/polos paired with dark washed denim, or even a blue and white striped button down on top of light gray jeans or chinos. The footwear can be simple as well, provided you’ve chosen the correct shade to match the particular shade of the clothes. One worry-free trick is to ignore the two dominant colors and add brown. By pairing any medium to light shade of brown footwear with your nautical ensemble, you’ll ground the oceanic look in a solid earth tone that shows great fashion sense without really trying. To go a step further, add brown accessories – belts, bracelets, and watches tend to be the best options. Most retailers have a wide variety of nautical selections this time of year, with H&M and American Eagle particularly excelling in providing stylish options that fit the college budget.

 

Colorful Chinos

Perhaps the freshest way to update your wardrobe this spring is to invest in a few pairs of colorful chinos. Not only do these individually anchor a great look, but they do so while making a powerful statement. Chinos are cotton twill trousers designed specifically to not be taken too seriously while still maintaining the ability to be dressed up. On top of that, these chinos are not your typical khaki, black, or chestnut brown types worn for formal occasions, but rather bold blues, greens, even yellows and reds fitting for spring and summer weather. So don’t worry about a thing – you can still appropriately pair your favorite flannel button-down with one of these chinos and head downtown with the guys, looking put-together with personal panache.

Lastly, if you can find them, look for “sunwashed” bold colored chinos, since the fading process of the sunwashed style help take some of the edge off the brightness of the color, while giving it a look fitting for the sunny days of the season. Top retail options for affordable colored chinos include Dockers, Tommy Hilfiger, and American Eagle.

 

High Top Sneakers

High-top sneakers are a major trend this spring, so pull out a vintage pair or check out a modernized style with anything from metallics to bold colors, leather to suede, distressing to zippers. They look especially great with chinos or jeans, and can be dressed up or down, so if you’re looking for the versatile close-toed shoe of the season, pick up a pair of high-tops.

 

Retro/Rugby Polos

Spring also brings the weather of the polo, the timeless collared short-sleeve shirt that dominates golf courses around the globe. This spring, there are two great looks that I recommend. First, retro Ban-Lon polos of the 1950s are a fantastic single-color polo with a striped collar and a knit waistband. Next, colorful, striped rugby polos are especially popular, with Polo Ralph Lauren and Lacoste being two of the most iconic stores to pick up your favorites.

 

Scarves

Don’t slink back just yet. I’m not talking about the kind of scarf your girlfriend wears in warm weather or the exceedingly lightweight, see-through silk number. I’m telling you about the rugged, possibly frayed or distressed types peppered throughout the wardrobes of celebrities such as Kanye West, Kid Cudi, and Lupe Fiasco. They’re the excellent accessories to complement your “cool guy casual” look, and add a dash of personality when they’re of just the right wash, pattern, and fabric (common warm weather fabrics include cotton and viscose). Finally, don’t think hard about styling it. As GQ says, “Just wrap it around your neck and let it be!”

 

Sunwashed Flannel/Button Downs

The short-sleeve or rolled-up long-sleeve button down is another common warm-weather top. Most guys already do a great job in this department, and since colors and patterns are really prevalent this spring, keep doing what you’re doing and have fun with it. If you do want to indulge in this year’s take on the timeless top, look specifically for super-faded, sunwashed flannel that radiates laid-back relaxation.

 

So there you have it! The perfect, comprehensive list of trends and modernized classics to inspire your fashion choices this spring! Best of luck on this leg of your style journey, and I’ll see you again soon enough with more tips and pointers. Have a phenomenal season!

This article consulted GQ Magazine for tips.