It may now be the Year of the Monkey but the era of the monkey suit is over. Guys no longer have to suffer in suits and ties that strangle and confine. That message came through loud and clear at New York Fashion Week: Men’s, held earlier this month, where designers revealed a preference for comfort, stretch and, most of all, versatility.
“A guy should be prepared for what’s ahead of him in his day,” says Michael Maccari, creative director at Perry Ellis (and a Massapequa Park native).
That means a wardrobe that flexes from office to off-duty. “It’s why we always try to reinvent what the suit is,” he says, noting the neat, sharp look of a suit also can be found in, say, a tailored wool tracksuit and overcoat, all in “Mad Men” gray — or a denim jacket, jeans and trim sweater.
For popular young designer David Hart, swapping out a suit is as easy as “throwing on a blazer and turtleneck, or the right knitwear — it’s where the market is moving,” he says. Hart’s dad is a jazz saxophonist, and his fall line is inspired by 1960s Blue Note Records album covers, with their images of dapper jazz men like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Art Blakey. Think jackets over knit polos, sleek cardigans and slim trousers (and, yeah, Hart’s are hiked up just enough to flash some sock).
Then there’s Donrad Duncan, a Jamaica native and rising star in menswear, whose EFM line — that’s Engineered For Motion — is just that, a sporty mix of clothes allowing for maximum range of motion. He’s got an affinity for outerwear (“Odd, I know, coming from the tropics,” he says, laughing), whether it’s a dark, translucent green stretch raincoat (ultrasonically welded, not stitched) or a thick-knit navy peacoat (which looks like the classic coat but is actually a sweater that can be worn indoors or out).
The beauty of all these options is that they work Monday through Sunday.
“The old confines of what you wear to work vs. what you wear on the weekend — that seems really dated to me,” Maccari says. A guy’s wardrobe should be “about preparedness.” he says. “It’s go-anywhere dressing.”
Nautica is upping the style factor for fall, giving the preppy nautical staple urban heft and, even better, some pieces are available now--no need to wait till fall for this empire gold wool fisherman jacket, $598 while supplies last at nautica.com.
Honduran-born, New York-based designer Carlos Campos has coffee on the brain. His fall line is inspired by the proud, provincial coffee growers of his homeland. He plays a lot with camel ("the color of lightly roasted coffee beans") on coats, capes, sweatshirts and this velveteen bomber and tux trouser.
Alabama-based designer Billy Reid has retrenched the trench, deleting all the needless extras (belt, epaulettes) in favor of this refined (and reversed) trench worn with a jacquard crew sweater, wool trouser and alligator slip-on.
The gray flannel suit ruled 50 years ago, but today there are alternatives that look just as sharp, like this wool melton topper, Lurex sweater and wool pleated tracksuit from Perry Ellis.
EFM (Donrad Duncan's Engineered for Motion)
Raingear may keep you dry but is usually stiff and bulky. Not this translucent coat (made from a type of polyurethane that stretches with you), worn atop a color-block wool sweater and knit tracker trouser from EFM (Donrad Duncan's Engineered for Motion line).
David Hart channels the '60s cool of hot jazz men like Miles Davis in his fall line, which includes this cardigan, shirt, tie and tailored trousers (worn a tad short with no break, so invest in some decent socks).
Power to the people--trendsetting designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow of the edgy, hip-hop-fueled Public School label sent models down the sidewalk first, past fans and tourists, then inside Milk Studios to the runway, here layering a quilted jacket atop a shirt, tunic, turtleneck and apron pant.
Max 'n Chester
Newcomer label Max 'n Chester, launched by designer Peter Trainor in 2012, rocked a retro Euro immigrant vibe (circa 1920), with an array of slim-fit, three-button suits and jackets, this one worn with a button-down shirt, French terry sweatshirt and lightweight pant.
Hilfiger Edition, a fall line of oh-so-Tommy signature pieces from Tommy Hilfiger, includes thick-cable fisherman sweaters, patchwork rugby shirts, slouchy trousers and this updated take on a leather shearling, with quilted wool sleeves.
Joseph Abboud, the powerhouse designer of the 1980s and '90s who lost his footing (then rights to his name), returned with his first runway show in 15 years. His line of jaunty suits is inspired by Savile Row, but made in Massachusetts, featuring his trademark earth tones. (Skip the feather lapel pin and fringed scarf--the suit's tailoring speaks for itself.)