For many of us entering the new year, January is a forlorn month strewn as it is with the shedding of Christmas excess yet still having to deal with the same dark mornings, cold evenings and wind ravaged streets.
It is however the dawn of a new fashion season with the bright lights of London, Milan, New York and Paris a buzz with the fashion elite. Added to this mix is Pitti Uomo, the famous trade show where the good and the great get to decide what is hot and what is not for the foreseeable future or as foreseeable as fashion is of course.
Thanks to the avalanche of style blogs and photographers who are clicking away at every event, the shows also give us style mortals an opportunity to see not only what the designers have conjured for the forthcoming season but to actually see what the fashion demi-gods – editors, photographers, bloggers et al – are wearing as they dash from show to show.
From the images appearing on such blogs, one trend that immediately jumps out at us here at MFM is the amalgamation of the traditional suit with the contemporary trainer.
In principle, never should these two juxtaposing fashion items mix and yet somehow, almost from nowhere, they find themselves the closest of wardrobe allies.
Trainers with suits have become an integral part of the male wardrobe and while traditionalists, such as those who occupy the suit haven of Savile Row, may argue this goes against the whole grain of the suits principles, if fashion cannot be about taking elements from the past and moulding them in to part of the contemporary fashion fabric, then surely fashion itself ceases to exist.
Fashion for men has seen such an upward trajectory in the past decade it is impossible for all styles and trends to move at the same speed and while the traditional form of the suit and smart shoe is perfect for city gents, wedding attire and board meetings, I see nothing wrong with breaking down style boundaries and in the process creating entire new looks through a blend of the classic and contemporary.
Clothing, like everything else in life has a time and a place – you wouldn’t walk in to a job interview for a maths teacher wearing ripped jeans and t-shirt – while much the same can be said for the suit and trainers combination. Here’s a few do’s and don’ts for this latest trend:
Do: Put as much effort in to your suit as you do your trainers. There’s absolutely no point in wearing a pair of sneaks that set you back a £100 if you’re then going to pull on a suit borrowed from a long lost uncle. The suit can be plain, it can be patterned, that all comes down to personal preference, but one thing that isn’t negotiable is the cut. Keep it sharp. Your jacket should sit perfectly on your shoulder and your trousers should be trim to fit your leg. Even if you buy yourself a suit off the peg you will be amazed how cheap it is to have it altered by a professional tailor. Plus the extra cost will be offset by how dapper you look.
Don’t: Wear with a tie. This is a contemporary look and you want to keep your suit looking sharp. A tie just a makes you look part of the old guard and fails to fit in to the modern look. Shirts should always be done up to the top-button but better still, wear a print t-shirt underneath; not only does this compliment your trainers, it will give you a youthful verve a shirt and tie can never portray.
Do: Stand out. If you are going to break the rules of fashion, do it properly. What’s the point of wearing a black suit and then teaming it up with black trainers? Be bold, be brave, be fashion. Pull on a pair of Nike fly knit’s, rock a pair of vintage Diadora’s or roll those suit trouser hems up to show off your Converse X Comme Des Garcon collab hi-tops.
Don’t: Wear to a job interview unless you work in the media / creative industry. No secondary school headmaster wants to see a prospective teacher sauntering into an interview wearing a pair of the latest New Balance trainers. Certain jobs may allow some creative freedom once the job has been obtained but if you have to ask yourself before the interview ‘could I wear trainers’ then the answer is a resounding no. The same goes for formal engagements – weddings, funerals, christenings etc etc. there are however some great ‘formal’ trainers you can wear once the job is in the bag.
CONCLUSION: The likelihood is, as with so many trends, those of us who don a suit and pull on a pair of trainers rather than brogues or black lace-ups shall look back at photographs of our former selves and laugh with mild embarrassment but surely it’s better to do that rather than look at the same old image of your past year after year after year. I am all for tradition, and formal wear still has an essential part to play in our daily wardrobe but as the old adage goes: variety is the spice of life.
The trainer / suit combination may not be to everyone’s liking but then that is the beauty of fashion, no one is forcing you to wear it. I for one see nothing wrong with donning my slim fitting navy blue suit from Topman and pulling on a pair of Nike Waffle’s in the brightest hues of yellow and royal blue.