It’s part of the love of menswear to discover the subtle shifts, embrace the fresh ideas and revive the old. It may not change much, but those changes are all the more intriguing because they are subtle. It’s all in those little twists in silhouette and detail, in the way it’s worn. And yet…
There are those garments that had to be cleared before they saw the light of day, where they have become only a blot on the sartorial landscape, unsightly for anyone to see – such as parakeet smugglers, charity bands and rented dinner suits. We could continue. But below are the looks you should definitely avoid, no questions asked. Just don’t go there. And if you have already done that, then repent.
Or maybe just really long shorts. You can see how the creator of this awful style has thought about how it allows air to circulate without being as casual as a pair of shorts. The problem, however, is that it doesn’t know what it is. The proportions on three-quarter trousers, popular with hikers and women over 65, are not at all right. Shorts or pants – decide, damn it.
Fortunately, these seem to be declining. But as a general rule in life, pants that are so tight that they show every contour are commonly known as leggings and are only allowed when completing a marathon. Anything that clings to your calves the same way while affecting the look of denim will make you look like you’ve been dipped in ink.
Deep V-neck T-shirts
Women’s clothing plays with necklines because women have a plunging neckline — what’s considered that seductive space between chin and plunging neckline. Men don’t have cleavage, even if there’s one type who thinks their time in the gym requires everyone to get their full pecs. Probably worn by the kind who also like spray-on jeans. See Love Island (but, you know, don’t).
If you ever wonder why a clothing brand should smother everything it makes with a logo, consider these options: a) the design and/or quality alone isn’t strong enough to justify the price; or b) it plays into your deep insecurities and has to scream about a big brand to make up for your obvious lack of personality. There was a time when logo mania was an expression of wealth – which is its own psychological problem – but in the age of perfect fakes only a moron believes that.
Muscle Fit shirts
If the elastane content of your shirt can barely contain your throbbing biceps and the buttons on the translucent perimeter of your upper body are tense, then we have news for you: your shirt won’t fit. Take it back. Yes, we know you can bank an Opel Corsa and this could be the year Love Island finally lets you in, but we don’t want to hear (or see) it off your shirt. Please, for all of us, stop wearing clothes designed as sausage casings.
The distressed trend
We’re not talking about vintage leather jackets here, but rather new items designed to look like they’ve been worn hard for 10 years. Pre-ripped jeans, ragtag knitwear, raw-hem jackets, and sneakers designed to look like the leather has been scuffed and faded are all on the dock. High-street and high-end designers are equally to blame, and while it’s all extravagant and pubescent, the examples with the highest price tags are particularly offensive.
The accessory equivalent of a tribal tattoo, this category includes chunky wooden beads, shark tooth necklaces, and anything with iconography of a religion or culture you have nothing to do with. What made you look civilized, spiritual, or well-traveled feels fake and tried-and-true instead. At its worst, it is cultural appropriation. At best, it’s just a little tacky.
On the one hand, your underwear is generally a private space seen only by a few – so maybe it’s the ideal place for a little crazy fun. On the other hand, why lower your standards just because your boxers or briefs are tucked away? Why expose yourself by wearing the kind of pants you usually wore when you were five? And trust us on this one, no man or woman — like, none at all — finds your ‘Warning: Dangerous Animal Inside’ Y-fronts remotely enticing.
Let’s make one thing clear. Flip flops were designed as an inexpensive, semi-disposable way to walk across hot sand to the cool sea. They’re not designed to be paired with jeans for walking around town, all the better for showing off the kind of feet that haven’t seen a pedicure since 1994. The same goes for pool slides, especially when worn with socks. Okay, we get it’s comfortable. But you are not a beach bum in Bali. You’re a grown man in Birmingham, or in Balham. Look around you. Do you see a beach?
Square Toe Shoes
Admittedly, this one defies rationality, as feet don’t tend to have the pretty smooth ‘almond-shaped’ shape of classic shoes either. Honestly, the shape of the human foot is, well, a little square. Check out Hans Holbein’s full portrait of Henry VIII and there he is, in square-toe shoes. And if they’re good enough for the king… But that’s exactly what’s wrong with them: they look archaic, just as untenable as they would be if your shoes had a pointed toe with a bell on the end.
The leather blazer
You wear tailor-made clothes to work or a wedding or wherever some other formality is required. Said clothes don’t have to keep you warm at height, or protect you if you fall off your seat quickly – so what’s the logic in making a leather blazer? Of course, no one said fashion had to make sense. Think of this style that was loved by the drug lords of the 1970s. Think The Matrix. And then never think about wearing a leather blazer again.