The Big Idea: A Tale of Two Wardrobes
Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times is debatable; what’s certain is things are confusing on many levels right now. The past year was set to the tempo of the pandemic’s fits and starts: celebratory re-emergences followed by cautious retreats, promising news tempered with sobering reality checks. For many of us, this two-step extended to how we dressed, with our wardrobes toggling between WFH casual and back-at-it polish — often several times in the span of one week.
In fashion, the topsy-turvy-ness of it all has largely manifested in two contrasting schools — essentially, dual visions of what post-Covid life has in store. Will we come back swinging, ready to inaugurate the roaring 2020s a few years late? Or is it time to dial back the excesses, opting for restraint and a certain seriousness? Judging by the runways, both scenarios are possible.
The tug-of-war between minimalism and maximalism is nothing new, but this year that age-old dichotomy has taken on greater nuance. It’s less loud versus quiet and more reverence versus irreverence. Some have taken the Great Upheaval as an opportunity to walk on the wilder side, imbuing traditional styles with a frisson of subversion and making clothes meant for having a good time (see: Edward Sexton’s decidedly louche suits and Brioni’s opulent alternatives to staid black tie). Even Brunello Cucinelli, whose collections are typically a master class
in tonal dressing, laced his latest designs with flashes of tangerine and fire-engine red. It may be a subtle statement, but that’s the point: you can buck convention in any number of ways.
Others have answered with a return to the classic pillars of menswear, pivoting from the laid-back sensibility that has dominated the past several years. Whether it’s John Lobb’s whole-cut oxfords or dress shirts from Jermyn Street stalwart Budd, this camp makes a case for the enduring relevance — and elegance — of formal clothing, finely rendered without bells or whistles. While such understatement may sound underwhelming, simplicity can be striking; just look to Ralph Lauren’s mostly monochromatic autumn lineup for proof.
These two outlooks emerged as the overarching trends, but if the past two years have taught us anything style-wise, it’s that anything goes. Consider the recent Oscars red carpet — there were still penguin suits aplenty (looking as smart as ever) but also guys in sequins, combat boots and, in Timothée Chalamet’s case, no shirt. The point is that finally you needn’t pick one lane or the other; today men have the luxury of playing to both sides of the sartorial spectrum (and Dior’s autumn collection, combining sharp tailoring with luxed-up sweats and Birkenstocks, is a prime example of how the two can coexist in one ensemble). Whether you want to colour outside the lines, hew to the tried-and- true or do both, style in 2022, ultimately, is about choosing your own adventure.
Brioni has long been known for eye-catching dinner jackets, but the brand’s latest collection made a more subtly sumptuous proposition for after-dark attire. Satin shirts and trousers in shades of bark brown and pearl grey were teamed with classic black or white tuxedo jackets, giving the impression that one just tossed the latter over their PJs before
out. In one instance, creative director Norbert Stumpfl forewent a jacket altogether, combining a matching shirt and trousers cut from fine white silk faille. Worn with the sleeves rolled up and shirt untucked, the ensemble appeared unassuming from afar.
The quiet decadence of the material revealed itself only upon a more intimate inspection. What all these options offer is an effortlessly refined alternative to the usual evening standards, one that makes a case for dressing up, no matter the occasion.
Shoes: John Lobb
It’s noteworthy when any 156-year-old manages to look modern — and especially impressive when they’re fresher than up-and-comers one-fifth their age. Such is the case with John Lobb, which has quietly been tweaking the classics of men’s footwear and turning out some of the best-looking shoes on the market: derbies and chukkas with soles dyed to match their uppers for an especially clean, sleek look; oxfords and loafers fitted with flexible, remarkably comfortable Goodyear-welted soles; elegant double-monks and casual top-siders crafted with equal refinement.
Last year also saw the debut of a new Beverly Hills flagship — the first dedicated US outpost of a bespoke service that is typically available only in Paris or at trunk shows — making the pinnacle of technical shoemaking know-how accessible further afield than ever before. By all accounts, this centenarian-and-a-half is just hitting its stride.
Eyewear: E.B. Meyrowitz
We’ve all been starved of a bit of glamour, and E. B. Meyrowitz knows that few accoutrements deliver silver-screen swagger as effectively as a stellar pair of specs. With that in mind, the 147-year-old eyewear specialist released a range of frames channeling Old Hollywood with bold contours, luxe triple-pinned hinges and a general sense of gravitas. Like the bespoke glasses for which the brand is known, every pair in the Gala line is made by hand at EBM’s UK workshops, giving the finely sculpted Italian acetate especially sinuous curves. From classic D-frames to strong-browed aviators, it’s a collection of refined shades befitting any leading man.
Tailoring: Edward Sexton
These days, wearing a suit is less of a given and more a matter of individual style. As such, when one chooses to suit up, it had better be in something with personality — precisely what Edward Sexton has specialised in since the
’70s. “There is this sense of play,” says Dominic Sebag-Montefiore, Sexton’s creative director, of the commissions he has received over the past year. “It feels like the suit can be reborn and reimagined because it’s been dying as a symbol of the corporate uniform. The suit is dead; long live the suit.”
Sexton’s signature swaggering lapels and full-cut trousers give structured English tailoring a dash of sex appeal. And at the other end of the spectrum, the brand recently introduced its softest jacket ever: an uncanvased design that wears like a cardigan but retains the drama of the brand’s house silhouette. Whether you want to embrace the formality of tailoring or wear it lightly, Sexton does both impeccably. These are suits that say something.
Bespoke Shirts: Budd
Budd Shirtmakers has more than a century of heritage behind it and continues to maintain its premises in London’s Piccadilly Arcade, where the brand began in 1910 as a bespoke shirtmaker. And indeed, the cramped cutting room, where three cutters do their fine work, is still above the shop, while downstairs the shelves are stacked with a dizzying array of shirts in myriad colours and fabrics. And while Budd’s ready- to-wear collection has much to commend it — its Pyjama shirt has become a summer favourite, while the linen Safari overshirts work wonderfully as contemporary alternatives to casual jackets — it’s still as a bespoke shirtmaker that Budd most excels.
With over 1,000 different shirtings available and classic and contemporary collar styles a plenty, choice is not the problem, but deciding may be. A hint: for those with rarified tastes, enquire about matte silk, which makes up beautifully and feels as sumptuous as a bespoke shirt should.
Casual Shirts: Sébline
Having gotten his start in the tailoring workshop of Yves Saint Laurent’s couture atelier and later working under Tom Ford, Charles Sébline is well-versed in fashion’s more dramatic statements. But when he launched his own brand three years ago, he chose to strip back all the flourishes and focus solely on perfecting the humble shirt. Sébline’s signature silhouette — a band- collared button-up in especially smooth two-ply cotton poplin — may be derived from formal bib-front numbers, but it’s designed to suit any and all occasions, tucked or not.
“I wear my shirts to the beach just like I wear them to go to a meeting,” he says, noting that they look best after getting a bit roughed up. “I don’t like the idea of things being too precious.” Paired with tailoring or jeans, Sébline’s shirts are a shortcut to fuss-free chic.
Boutique: Beige Habilleur
Menswear is more diverse than ever, yet most of the venues for discovering what’s out there tend to fit into one of a handful of fairly rigid formulas. Paris’s Beige Habilleur opened in 2015 to bring those concurrent voices into harmony under the same roof. “At that time in Paris,” says cofounder Basile Khadiry, “you would have to get a flight to Tokyo, New York or London in order to have access to this.” The result is a hearty stew of varying aesthetics, from classic J. M. Weston derbies and Mackintosh coats to Harpo’s Navajo belts and Doek’s Japanese trainers, unified in their timelessness.
Everything, Khadiry says, is chosen “with the idea that, from a cashmere double-breasted overcoat to a simple T-shirt, the level of beauty and craftsmanship should be exactly the same.” Many of the goods on offer are exclusive, including collaborations with Edward Green and a range of unconstructed Teba jackets by Spain’s Justo Gimeno that can be made to measure. But, more than just the products, Beige’s elegant boutique near the Bois de Boulogne is the rare store where men of any stylistic sensibility can gleefully chance upon something they never knew they needed.
Leather Outerwear: Stefano Ricci
The M-65 field jacket may have been born to meet the practical needs of combat, but these days its sporty-yet-smart form makes it a particularly handy piece of outerwear for style-minded laymen, the epitome of a go-anywhere staple. And in the hands of Stefano Ricci — the Florentine tie-maker turned all-encompassing lifestyle label that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year — the many-pocketed model has become a thing of refined sumptuousness. Rendered
in shearling-lined suede and finished with galvanised-palladium hardware, Ricci’s iteration strikes a winning combination of utility and high luxury.
The journey from single-item manufacturer to “lifestyle” brand is rarely electric: it takes years — decades — to go from selling ties to being Ralph Lauren. But in the five years since launching Métier in 2017, founder and designer Melissa Morris has expanded what began as a luxury luggage business into a label offering chess and backgammon boards, cashmere throws, notebooks, wallets, high-end packing cubes — even a mobile desk.
But the bags remain the star attraction. Métier’s latest creation is the Vagabond Messenger, a hybrid of the popular Vagabond all- dayer and the more compact Messenger. Maintaining the former’s aesthetic, influenced by a much-loved biker jacket, it’s been adapted to the scale of a vintage flight bag, still providing ample space for the day’s essentials including laptop. And whether in leather, suede or canvas twill, it’ll just get better-looking the more you use (and abuse) it.
To commemorate the house of Dior’s 75th birthday, men’s artistic director Kim Jones mounted a blockbuster show complete with a life-size replica of the Pont Alexandre III. But it was what came down that bridge-cum-runway that made the strongest impression: a medley of classic menswear staples mixed with humble sportswear, all executed with exceptional finesse. Sharply cut double-breasted blazers, riffing on Dior’s signature nipped-waist Bar jacket, came in both traditional checks and garment-dyed cotton, paired with tailored trackie bottoms and knockabout cargos.
The hushed palette of grey, tan and banker blue was punctuated by the occasional leopard print or floral jacquard — winks of eccentricity amidst all those nods to tradition. From balmacaans to Birkenstocks, the entire lineup touches on everything happening in menswear right now and, moreover, proves that elegance and irreverence make a handsome couple.
Denim Shirt: Ralph Lauren
With no disrespect to apple pie, few things are as all-American as blue jeans — or Ralph Lauren. So whenever the two converge, a star-spangled home run is all but assured. But even more so than dungarees, it’s the designer’s take on the quintessential Western pearl-snap shirt that stands apart. Released with Lauren’s spring Purple Label collection, it has rugged good looks that belie its sophistication — namely, a cotton-linen blend woven in Japan, washed to be as soft as something that has put in years on the ranch, with trim Italian tailoring to give any guy the illusion of the Marlboro Man’s physique.
No longer a novelty reserved for the weekends, Western shirts — and this one in particular — deserve a top spot in every man’s shirting arsenal.
Sportswear: Ron Dorff
Despite the omnipresence of athletic attire in fashion, finding good-looking performance gear is still surprisingly challenging. Or it was until Ron Dorff. Combining functionality with minimalist chic, the Swedish-French brand’s latest collection takes its cues from stylish sportsmen of the past — re-creating, say, Björn Borg’s tennis shorts or Steve McQueen’s jogging trousers.
Fabrics, from cotton piqué to recycled polyester, are chosen as much for their hand feel as for their competitive edge, and the flattering designs are rendered without any of the garish colours or overt branding that plagues most athletic apparel. Whether you’re hitting the gym, Sunday lunch or both, Ron Dorff ensures you’ll do it all in style.
Plane provided by Jet Edge, photographed at Van Nuys Airport; flyjetedge.com.
Photographed at 9322 Hazen Drive in Beverly Hills, currently listed for $11.9 million with Don Heller at Compass; donhellergroup.com.
MODEL: David Enrico
STYLE EDITOR: Kareem Rashed CASTING DIRECTOR: Luis Campuzano SENIOR MARKET EDITOR:
GROOMER: Valery Gherman
PHOTO ASSISTANT: Hunter Zieske FASHION ASSISTANT: Darryl Anderson