Cape Town - If you’re a man, making a statement with your clothes can be a tricky thing. Women have accessories, bags, a multitude of shoe styles and make-up to aid us. For the average man, options seem limited.
Paul van der Spuy, half of the fashion duo bluecollarwhitecollar, says most men are restricted and reserved in their masculine expression. “They are very concerned about the image they’re putting out there,” says Van der Spuy.
His label specialises in shirts, which are often used to make a statement about what the wearer stands for and hints at his personality.
For the ordinary man, Van der Spuy says prints and colours are very basic when it comes to shirts. Black has taken a back seat and given way to navy. The harlequin check remains popular and men have responded well to darker greens. Collars are smaller and long sleeves are rolled up a notch.
Some men are starting to revert to plain shirts, with detail on the cuffs.
“It’s the small details doing the talking,” says Van der Spuy.
But he says the beauty of Cape Town is that you can get away with much more here. Clothing has become more eclectic and today the more adventurous man can combine nearly anything, as long as the framework stays intact.
The framework is a tighter fitting garment and the rest is designed around it, says Van der Spuy.
Acclaimed designer David Tlale says there is a new breed of man who is ready to embrace colour and print.
The hottest item men need to invest in this year is a pair of African-print pants. He says it’s been slowly creeping over the past two seasons, but this year it’s set to explode. Recently, the pants have been paired with a crisp white shirt and navy jacket.
“What we’re going to see is a clash of prints: the shirt and pants. The clash is going to be amazing,” says Tlale.
It has taken a while for men to be brave enough to take on prints, but they’re getting there quickly. Taking off in a big way is the floral print pants.
“There’s a new movement. It says we are men who embrace colour and print. We’re men of the 21st century and it’s okay to rock colour pants to the office,” says Tlale.
However, rocking colour pants is not quite the same as colour blocking. Tlale says men really took to the trend, but it’s over now.
“If your pants are red, turquoise or mustard, they must go. It’s time to let go. Colour blocking has been dead for three seasons!”
He says that when wearing red pants, men must pair them with a crisp white or black shirt.
What is acceptable is the return of metallic and pastel colours. For both men and women, red and beige, along with red and black are the hot colours this coming winter.
Award-winning young designer Ruald Rheeder says that when shopping for your winter wardrobe step out of the comfort zone and try on that item you thought you could never wear. These items are a great way to update your wardrobe and change your style.
He advises men to always take a girlfriend or friend along for an honest opinion. Many shop assistants work on commission and cannot be trusted when it comes to an opinion on your appearance.
Rheeder reminds men to take note of their facial hair. Experiment with various styles of shaves, but always ensure your facial hair is under control and well maintained.
Van der Spuy, Tlale and Rheeder warn against fad items and all agree that fashion is not necessarily married to style.
“Be cautious when rushing out to buy that ‘it’ item. Make sure the silhouette suits your body and style. Sometimes it’s safer and much more visually appealing to buy a classic item,” says Rheeder. He describes style as making an effort without trying too hard, and combining timeless classics with fashion trends.
Tlale says men should avoid fad items, because they never last. “Style is something that develops over time. Style is a man who’s comfortable in his own skin. It’s a man who understands who he is, the environment he works in, and his goals. And they dress accordingly,” he says.
Men are known to hang on to their clothing far longer than necessary. David Tlale says there are some essential items that must be replenished regularly.
* The white shirt. Each man needs five. And as soon as it starts looking like a cream-coloured shirt, it must go.
* When jeans start fading they look cool. But as soon as black pants fade it’s time to toss them.
* Socks must be replaced every two to three months, or as soon as the tiniest hole appears.
* Underpants must be replenished every two months. If they are black and losing colour, or white turning cream, they must be thrown out. Tlale says they are a foundation garment, therefore, very important.
According to young designer Ruald Rheeder, there are five items every man must have in his wardrobe:
* Black tuxedo jacket and trousers.
* A pair of good, well fitted jeans.
* A crisp and fitted white or black shirt.
* A pair of classic sunglasses.
* A pair of good quality black formal shoes.
At times, it seems as if anything goes when it comes to men’s fashion. But as with anything, there are some cardinal rules that must never be broken.
Topping Rheeder’s list is socks with sandals. Socks are only to be worn with closed shoes. Novelty ties, shirts, and boxer shorts may seem a good idea at the time. But they’re not. Resist the urge to buy anything with smiley faces, hearts or animal prints.
Among Rheeder’s pet hates is the glaring designer label. He says just because you’re wearing a designer’s name on your chest, doesn’t make you stylish. Keep it understated and simple, he advises.
For men who carry paperwork, a laptop, or anything to the office, avoid using a backpack. “It’s surprising how many professional men walk around the office in their formal attire with a backpack.” A better option is a leather messenger or a laptop bag.
Shoes are an important part of your outfit. Ensure they’re clean and in mint condition. Men are encouraged to pass on the chunky square toes, and choose a classic instead, as this will stand the test of time.
Very shiny satin shirts and blazers are prohibited, as “these are just tacky”. Fit is always important, and men must ensure their outfit is fitted or preferably tailored.
“There is nothing worse than an ill-fitting garment as it makes you look sloppy and is very unflattering,” says Rheeder.
Esther Lewis, Cape Argus