For Menswear Trends, Opposites Are Attractive

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No matter your own politics or personal feelings, there is no question: Awareness and acceptance of the LGBT community has changed rapidly. And fashion — particularly men’s fashion — reflects it all.

On April 24, 2015, Diane Sawyer interviewed Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce, on national television for the first time. Two months later, on June 26, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the same right to marry as heterosexual couples. Jeffrey Tambor won both the Emmy and SAG Award for Best Actor for his outstanding portrayal of beloved transgender Maura Pfefferman in Transparent. And last Sunday night at The Oscars, Alicia Vikander won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role in The Danish Girl, the film about Lili Elbe, the first well-known transgender woman.
Closer to home, at a Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia LGBT event two weeks ago, I was privileged to meet Broadway, film and TV star Joel Grey, who just wrote a bestseller about his coming out as a gay man in his 80s. Entertaining and charming as ever, his insights into the overwhelming acceptance of the LGBT community over the past 10 years were poignant and personal, yet at the same time universal.
No matter your own politics or personal feelings, there is no question: Awareness and acceptance of the LGBT community has changed rapidly. And fashion — particularly men’s fashion — reflects it all. The look is somewhat androgynous. Fluid. Options abound, creating huge variation and variety. Truly, there is something for everyone at every price point.
The prevalent trends have become easiness and movement. There is a bit of a retro ’70s feel — very Mick Jagger, very British. London’s Rick Owens again showed full-frontal cut-outs in his jackets — there is a shock factor and a cool factor here. No one expects you to walk down the street with your genitals on display; the interpretation simply underscores the trend toward ease. Freedom. Owens’ jackets — and any well-tailored soft jacket — become a superbly chic look.
Conversely, Savile Row styling looks equally fabulous. Like many of the men in our lives, spring trends are all about opposites, all about the many sides of every man. Hard/soft, sporty/traditional, modern/classic, high fashion/street fashion, Kanye West/Lord Grantham.
Former NFL superstar/talk show host Michael Strahan has his own line. Givenchy creative director Riccardo Tisci designs Dunks basketball shoes for Nike. Talk about opposites! Do you feel like an athlete or a fashionista? A rapper or a titan of business? No need to choose; it’s all about moving gracefully, smoothly. This is modern men’s fashion. It’s cool and hip — and handsome.
Try “cerebral,” dressier denim. Soft jackets, many racing-, safari- or military-inspired. Look for lightweight leather. Luxurious sportswear. Suits are structured and closer to the body. Envision George Clooney. His wardrobe is exquisitely coordinated, exquisitely tailored — and exquisite for each event he attends. Though few look better in a tux, George also looks great in a grey suit, matching his salt-and-pepper hair. We love him in jeans, too, casual in LA or out and about in Lake Como. Watch and learn.
More spring trends: black and white, navy and cream, linen shirts and leather jackets. Sport coats over everything. All men look good in a sport coat. You want texture. Softness. Movement. Cashmere. Lightweight wool. Linen. Pair your sport coat with trousers or jeans, over a crisp shirt, with or without a tie. Here is the season’s must-have — invest in the best you can afford and wear it everywhere with everything.
All men look good in a suit. Made-to-measure used to be for the elite, but that is no longer true. Depending on where you live, you can even have someone come to your office or home. Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman-Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s all offer custom suits, as do Boyds and Wayne Edwards, which has added a location in Bryn Mawr to its Center City digs. Google “made to measure suits” or websites like jhilburn.com, wayneedwardsworkshop.com and indochino.com to find your best match and price point. For an investment that will pay dividends for years, nothing beats the elegance of a suit that fits well.
Try a custom shirt, too. There is nothing worse than when a collar is too big and stands away from the neck. The neck should fit close, and shirt cuffs should fall 1 inch below your jacket. My dear friend Alex, always well dressed, found a terrific website for custom shirts at very reasonable prices; check out ctshirts.com and let the shopping begin.
And finally, in this season of opposites and fluidity, androgyny and Savile Row, there are few rules beyond looking elegant, polished and put together. Follow the style of someone you admire — movie star, athlete, rapper, or royalty — changing your look to fit the occasion. Sophisticated and suave, dashing and debonair, chic and cool. Isn’t that exactly how you’ve always wanted to look? Invest, indulge — and enjoy the compliments!

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