Much of fashion writing is centered around trends. In fact, it’s well nigh impossible to browse any style related magazine or website without hearing about the next big thing(s). Occasionally the fads drummed up by commentators strike it big in the style world, other times they never get off the ground, and sometimes they develop into micro trends.
If this term is new to you, micro trends are usually short-lived and narrowly-defined sensations which become modestly popular before fizzling out after a season or two. Typically they piggy-back onto larger trends which are expected to have more staying power, but their narrow scope often makes them less viable over the long haul. Once strictly a women’s fashion phenomenon, men’s fashion is now seeing quite a few of its own micro trends lately. Let’s take a look at some of the most recent mini-fads and give you some tips for navigating them.
Last spring, we told you about the return of work wear, which emphasized functionality and the no-frills chic of denim, plaid and gingham. Perhaps the harsh economic environment we’ve been living in over the past few years has something to do with this trend, which had urban men everywhere dressing like farm hands or characters from The Grapes of Wrath.
While the rough-and-tumble stylings of work wear are still going strong, they have spawned a more rod-and-reel inspired micro trend focused on looking stylish in the great outdoors. Basically this trend is attempting to capture the glamour of the lumberjack and the grizzly tracker for guys who’ve never held an axe or gone hunting in their lives. Buying into this craze means investing in canvas pants, slip on mocs, flannel-lined shirts, chunky cable sweaters and voila, you’re ready to hit the gun club in style.
No matter where you live, it’s a good idea to invest in clothing that’s practical and made to take some abuse. But, listen, you’re either like camping and fishing, or you don’t. One of the worst mistakes you can make for your wardrobe is to purchase clothing that’s oriented around some kind of lifestyle – especially one you’re not into.
Little Rascals Chic
Thanks in large part to the success of Mad Men, a lot of guys are turning away from the fashion-forward glam that drove men’s clothing a decade ago and looking at the classic style icons of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. While there’s nothing wrong with finding inspiration in classic looks and clothing of days gone by, there comes a time when vintage can go too far. Case in point: the Great Depression-era, tramp-inspired baggy ensembles that are currently consuming space on nearly every street fashion forum and “best dressed” list out there.
Drawing upon the fashions of Dickensian street urchins and hobos with lots of black, grey horizontal stripes, suspenders, pleats and houndstooth prints, we’re guessing this look is meant to be a masculine take on the dressed-down boho look which comes and goes every few years in women’s fashion. It’s not exactly the manliest micro trend out there, and we’re expecting the enthusiasm for male waifishness will go the way of Queer Eye in the not too distant future, but this fad is worth a gander if only to spark an interest in more versatile vintage clothing.
Big Man on Campus
Unfortunately for most college students, getting a higher education also means four years of eating ramen noodles and shopping at the Salvation Army. High-end threads are luxuries beyond the reach of most broke scholars, and it’s often only upon graduation that most guys build their wardrobes by investing in suits, button-downs and mature attire.
Yet, for the guy who feels like he missed out on the experience of being a stylish student, there’s a new niche within the preppy resurgence that may be just for you. Beginning a week or two ago, it’s suddenly popular for young guys, who are students or not, to dress like they’re going back to school. Slightly different from the nerd look that pops it’s head up every time Weezer releases a new album, this is new mini trend has guys sporting backpacks, suede loafers, argyle prints and knit cardigans with wooden buttons and embroidered patches (bonus points if you’re on a fixed gear bicycle).
Looking sophisticated never goes out of style, but there comes a time when every guy needs to grow up and face reality. Dressing like you’re pining for your alma mater and the carefree existence of a younger man wears out pretty quickly. To get the most out of your clothing, base your purchases not only on the realities of the present but also your aspirations for the future.