Along with death and taxes, it’s a certainty in life that 90 per cent of what’s cool right now will be an embarrassment in 20 years’ time (is anyone willing to admit to owning a Female Body Inspector T-shirt?).
In the same way that you can look back at old photos of yourself in bootcut jeans, deep V-necks and over-gelled hair and laugh with the benefit of hindsight, there’s a strong chance that in years to come, we’ll all be wondering what was going through our brains at the turn of the 2020s.
AW19 menswear trends – if you follow the catwalks, at least – include bold colours, radical silhouettes and long-forgotten statement pieces. They’re not for everyone.
And so to help your future self avoid any further sartorial embarrassment, we’ve consulted the menswear crystal ball to work out which current autumn/winter trends will stand the test of time, and which should be taken with a massive pinch of pre-emptive salt.
Leather Trench Coats
Did we foresee Keanu Reeves becoming a style icon 20 years after The Matrix? No. Are we here for it? Of course – but let’s stick to modern end of the Keanussaince rather than full-blown Neo cosplay, please. When it comes to long leather trench coats, it’s probably best to take the blue pill and let this story end here.
What To Wear Instead: Oversized Outerwear
This season you can take almost any style of outerwear and supersize it – duffle coats, puffers, even trenches (just not in leather) all lend themselves to overblown proportions.
“With outerwear you can afford yourself some leeway with regards to the precision of the fit,” says stylist Sarah Ann Murray, who has dressed the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and David Gandy. “The effortless drape of a raglan-sleeved check overcoat or a lightweight wool trench for example works with almost any outfit.”
As with any oversized fit, try to maintain a balance with slimmer pieces elsewhere – a neatly-fitting jumper or a slim pair of trousers – and ensure you buy items that are purposely oversized, not just a few sizes too big.
“To avoid looking like you’ve picked up the wrong jacket from the cloakroom, ensure the sleeves are the correct length which will balance out the proportions,” says Sarah Gillifan, stylist and personal shopper at Sartoria Lab.
Split Hem Trousers
The nineties revival was going so well. Retro sneakers, Saved By The Bell denim, even bucket hats managed to shake off their old rap and reclaim their rightful places in our wardrobes. But sadly, trousers that split at the hem like your old Kappa trackies might have to be where we draw the line.
What To Wear Instead: Wide-Leg Trousers
The trick to doing the 90s without looking like a Renford Reject is to keep things sleek, simple and not too direct an homage. In terms of trousers, this means a looser cut that most of us are used to, whether skater-inspired cropped chinos or a more formal wide leg style.
As with oversized outerwear, the key to wearing wide leg trousers is proportion. Wear anything too slim up top and you’ll look like an MC Hammer back-up dancer, too loose and you’ll find yourself drowning in fabric.
“To balance out wide-leg trousers, try a piece of fine gauge knitwear, a shorter jacket like a bomber or a boxy shirt tucked in,” suggests Gillifan.
Suits Sans Shirt
Here’s a classic case of a trend which doesn’t translate well to real life. A suit with a bare chest on the runway looks cool and carefree, like Donald Glover on the Met Gala red carpet. But for an ordinary man, wearing a suit with a bare chest means you’ll be hugging your kebab for warmth in the taxi rank come 3am.
What To Wear Instead: Double-Breasted Done Differently
There’s a simple solution to this one: forget the shirtless styling but keep the louche double-breasted jackets that are fast becoming a menswear staple.
“After an age of skinny suits, it’s refreshing to see a new silhouette coming through which is a lot bigger and baggier than we’re used to,” says Gillifan. “A wearable take is to go for a strong shouldered, simply styled double breasted jacket – preferably in grey, with some pleated trousers. These can still have a tapered leg, just not too slim and definitely not skinny.”
In terms of layering, a plain T-shirt or a roll-neck jumper gives a similar laid-back look, but won’t leave you with frostbite at the end of the night.
“Finally, an autumn/winter trend that’s as practical as it is capital-F fashionable.” Which is something you might say if you’re reading this from Russia, Antarctica or Fargo, North Dakota. For those of us whose idea of a cold-weather outing is less fishing in the ice ponds, more Saturday morning kickabout, a fur-lined trapper is stone-cold fashion overkill.
What To Wear Instead: A Weatherproof Cap
Baseball caps have always been a summertime essential, but this season a host of designers have made a serious case for wearing them in the colder months too. “A leather cap gives a welcome contrast to wool overcoats and jackets, and as a bonus is more weatherproof than cotton and wool,” says Gillifan.
Of course, the idea of a winter snap-back is old hat for those who are well-acquainted with the great outdoors. Waxed cotton styles, like those from Barbour, work just as well for trips across town as they do long country walks, while corduroy holds up surprisingly well against the elements.
All Acid Everything
Psychedelia is fine in moderation – a tie dye T-shirt here, a neon sweatshirt there – but head-to-toe acid hues? It might fly at a fashion week after party, but try it anywhere else and there’s a good chance you’ll wake up the next morning filled with fear and loathing.
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What To Wear Instead: Earthy Tones
Instead of head-splitting day-glo, take inspiration from nature with wholesome autumnal tones of brown, beige, green and orange.
“If you have darker or olive toned skin the deeper rich tones of olive, mustard and tobacco will look great,” says Gillifan. “For lighter skin tones with blue or green eyes, choose the washed in versions of these like a sea green, sand and mid brown for a softer look which will suit you better.”
“Earth tones are easy to style as they naturally work well together,” adds Murray. “Try a camel coat with a forest green sweater or a burgundy roll neck under a suit.”
The nano-scale bags felt fun when they first reared their head earlier for spring/summer – the sort of thing you might actually get some use out at an Ibiza pool party, albeit absolutely nowhere else. But for everyday life, especially in autumn/winter? Where do you put your phone? Your spare socks? Your electronic handwarmer?
What To Wear Instead: Big Cross-Body Bags
The perfect antidote to a pointlessly small bag? A big, bolshy cross body. Also known as the bum bag (or, to our American readers, the fanny pack) the cross-body bag has been the sensible man’s holdall of choice for some time. For AW19 bigger is certainly better, but it’s important to keep proportions in mind.
“Find a bag that’s in keeping with your shape and build,” explains Murray “You can definitely go oversized, but don’t let it swamp you.” Those who favour streetwear might consider a chest rig or holster, which amps up the utilitarian feel.