For those who haven’t thought much about it, it’s one of the fashion industry’s best-kept secrets: Sizing is a relatively new concept, built up out of necessity for uniformity with the advent of soldiers’ uniforms during the previous century’s world wars, then ballooning through the big-box boom.
Indeed, this was because, well into the 1900s, almost all clothing was hand-tailored if not custom-made—at home, or in a haberdashery. “One of the most common things we hear from clients is that they need clothes that just fit right,” says Robin Ashton, a Woodbury resident and personal stylist for national men’s clothier J Hilburn.
This month, we asked Ashton—along with business partner Amy Greenlay and the experts at Maple Leaf Hair in City Centre—to share their top 10 tips, tricks and trends for men into fall/winter 2018.
- Every man needs one dark, patterned suit.
A dark suit is timeless, and it can be worn with a smaller-patterned shirt and tie for a wedding or a white shirt for a funeral, Ashton says. “The versatility of this wardrobe staple is the key: The jacket can be worn on its own as a sport coat with denim or chinos, too,” she says. “Another quick update you can do is make your suit more casual by pairing it with a plaid shirt or polo shirt to create a rich, textured look. Add a pocket square for a pop of color.”
- If you can’t beat the classics, join them.
The problem with a lot of men’s wardrobes, Ashton says, especially men in their 30s, is they purchased a poorly fitting blazer straight out of college, and now the fit is out of whack—if it ever was close to begin with. Enter the classic navy blazer, a staple piece that will be on-trend for years. “Or, if you’re a little more fashion-forward, consider a navy patterned or checked sport coat, which is great for date night,” she says. “Whether you have been together for years or it’s a first date, you want to look like you have made an effort!” Wear a classic sport coat with a micro-print shirt and dark denim, or mix up your sport coat with sneakers and chinos for a relaxed look.
- Custom is king.
Ashton recommends always having a rotating closet of custom shirts: Three plain solid white shirts, then a solid blue, then something with a check or a plaid, she says. “In terms of colors, navy, brown and pacific blues (a teal-y, brighter blue color) are big for fall 2018.”
For those unfamiliar with the way J Hilburn works, Ashton says she meets with clients for an initial fitting where she takes measurements and gets a sense of their personal style. Once this step is done, clothing can be ordered online through her website, or she can bring each season’s samples and order catalog out for another consult. Because each customer is measured, much of what is ordered is custom-cut to the precise fit. “Custom shirts start at $99, and they’re completely tailored to you, 90 percent are custom-made,” she says. “Some of our sweaters are ready-to-wear. Denim is not custom either, but fit.”
- Cut the cuff.
To update your wardrobe without breaking the bank, shop your own closet for an easy update: Simply take your trousers to a reputable tailor and have the pants tapered to get rid of the cuff. “A tapered leg is definitely the latest fashion trend to be on top of,” Ashton says.
- High and tight.
What’s a wardrobe without the personal man-scaping to complete the look? In hair, the high taper continues to be on trend, says Bill Buda, master barber at Maple Leaf Hair in City Centre. The style has been around for a couple of seasons, and is still defined by the tapered shave up to the crest of the head, but the length of the quaff up top is not as long as it has been, he says. “The hair cut is very important, it’s the foundation. The gels and pomades give the finishing look,” Buda says. “This is one haircut that you can style many different ways. Gentlemen have to have an office look, crisp and clean looking. That same style can be worn on a date, in a more casual nature.”
- Why not polka dot?
Accessories pull outfits together, and they also lend that bit of intrigue. “An unexpected pop of color gives you an elevated look,” Ashton says. Add a pocket square to finish the look. “Don’t be afraid of patterns or prints in your necktie collection. This can tie your look together.” Also, she says, the crazy sock trend seems to be winding down, but socks should not be overlooked. Men are choosing subtle patterns like small polka dots or checks, preferring a more cohesive look—and this includes socks that blend in with their wardrobe as opposed to standing out.
- Beards and ’staches: Uber-manicured.
The facial hair trend, while taking a bit of a hiatus in the summer, is about to take an uptick, thanks in large part to Movember (Mustache November, a movement in which men grow their mustaches to raise awareness for men’s health, particularly prostate and testicular cancers). The change in this trend is a really nice, manicured look, says Buda. “Everyone gets educated, because they want to grow a mustache,” he says. “Again, there’s a lot of products. There are moisturizers, cleansers—keeping it clean is important.”
- Deliberate lumberjacking: It’s not going away anytime soon.
We have seen a lot of flannel the past couple of falls, but it’s not the material this season, rather the plaid patterns getting mixed in. “Men in their late 30s trying to replace those wardrobes want to dress better and be in style to keep up with the younger guys—they like the convenience of having a stylist, because it’s a quick style that infuses a lot of confidence,” Ashton says.
- English tan shoes are a must.
This is a trend that began a couple of years ago that is not going away, Ashton says.
- Go West, young man.
Pacific hues rule the roost this winter, but this isn’t limited to the steely teal known as Pacific blue that’s hot right now. “Navys, wintry blues and pops of purple go very well with greys and taupes that will take you from fall into winter,” Ashton says. “With clients, I wouldn’t suggest such bold colors for a full suit, but I would say that we should look at sweaters, pullovers and shirts.”