by Daniel Jameson, Men’s Style Consultant
Hello guys, and welcome to 2012! Considering this year may be quite the game-changer (summer Olympics, Presidential elections, the zombie apocalypse), take this opportunity to change up your game by taking your style to the next level. Resolve to make this your year to step out with sartorial flair, impressing friends, relatives, and that special someone with a newfound sense of killer style. While the weather here in Madison remains unseasonably warm, take advantage of the changing seasons – and this guide – to prep for the months of spring ahead. Without further ado, here are the biggest trends of Spring 2012 you’d be sorry to miss.
Pop That Parka
Perhaps the most unique, standout trend this year is the modernization of the rainy day parka, the dominant outerwear piece in spring collections. Now we’re not talking about that oversized slicker you donned to ward off the bad weather during your excursions in the Pacific Northwest, but rather an updated, mixed-structured piece combining fashion-forward slim and trim urban fitting with those same rugged elements you love (water-resistant nylon and waxed cotton, toggles, epaulets). These parkas are beyond perfect for spring weather here in Madison, as they’ll keep the freezing rains of March and April from soaking through your outfit while balancing the odd temperature differences we experience between the cold outdoors and baking campus buildings. And the best part is, with designers creating their version of the staple piece, you’ll have a ton of variety to choose from. With the myriad of colors available (bold yellows, blues, and reds, as well as statement-making color blocking between paint hues and earthy tones), along with all those extra goodies in detailing, finding the ideal jacket to match your style will be a breeze (pun intended).
One last, quick comment: don’t be afraid to wear your parka with anything. These contemporary pieces are designed to go with everything, from formal button-downs and ties to casual weekend wear.
Return of the Micro
Last spring, the men’s fashion world saw the resurgence of microcheck gingham, the spring/summer pattern favorite where the size of the square check is reduced to a fraction of its size. This year the style is back, bringing along a revised microdot pattern that give us guys the option with which microscopic shape we wish to express ourselves on any given day. These patterns are utterly cool in punching up your wardrobe, as the dazzling effect of the repeating micro pattern (available in a near infinite array of colors and designs) will augment your physique in a way that leaves your other shirts a mere afterthought. Also, one tip for advanced sartoralists: don’t immediately reach for the complementary solid tie when accessorizing this look. Instead, show off your fashion-forward side by mixing a patterned tie with the micro shirt. Just make sure you keep one dark and one light so as to not blind passersby on the street.
A Case of the Blues
If you had to pick a single color to wear this entire season, you’d be totally set in choosing blue. Spring 2012 is all about diving into the color, emerging from its depths covered from head to toe in the broad spectrum of versatile shades available. Key into that last part for a second: broad spectrum of versatile shades. Unlike the monochrome trends of past years, where the idea was to douse yourself in one shade of one color, the secret to success here is in wearing a whole bunch of different shades that together create a cohesive look. The trick is to stay away from matching shades and instead layer complementary ones: a navy cardigan with a cobalt gingham shirt and an azure parka (hint: hello trend mixing). Each blue helps lift and/or root the other shades. Bear in mind that, with blue being one of the most popular colors in the industry, you probably already have quite the collection of pieces in a number of shades. So before you throw away your entire closet, take a look at what you have and play around – you might be surprised by what you can create.
Denim and Leather Jackets
No, I do not endorse wearing both of those materials in the same jacket. But individual denim and leather jackets? The flawless finishing touch to your spring wardrobe. When shopping for either style, remember to keep the jacket a size above the one you can’t get on. The extra, form-fitting tightness will prevent you from looking slouchy, while the rugged toughness of the material itself provides the masculine undertones of the fit. For denim jackets, take a look at dark indigo washes, but be mindful of the cardinal sin that is wearing denim jeans and jackets of the same shade. When choosing a leather jacket, stick with the classic black if you’re investing in a high-quality, timeless piece. If you’re looking for something trendy for the season, try on different shades of tan or camel. Finally, the coolest style of each you’ll see now will be the bomber or cropped, so make those the first you try.
Light Gray Denim
Ending on an easy note, when looking for the style of denim that will separate you from the rest of the pack when walking around campus between classes, choose a shade of medium to light dusty gray, the color that perfectly transitions between the darker shades of fall and winter into the whites of summer. As always, stick with medium to low rise and a slim silhouette, picking fits in slim or slim straight throughout the length of the pant.