Men’s fashion seems to have gotten increasingly and pointlessly complicated over the past year, yet this year marks a return to simple, classic items such as men’s Ralph Lauren polo shirts. Trench coats, cleanly designed walking shoes in quality leather, simple bags, sturdy belts, and iconic sunglasses is what menswear for the fall/winter 2012 season is all about. In what follows, we’ve lined up the ten essential men’s fashion items and accessories for the season that’s about to begin. They are all available in a wide array of prices, ranging from the high-end to the fully accessible, and they’re all about uncomplicated comfort and well-deserved simplicity.
1. Oxford Shoes
Oxfords have been around for as long as men could walk and felt the need to wear shoes while doing so. However, while past seasons added complex punctured patterns and fringe trims to your favorite shoe design, the fall of 2012 is bringing the essential walking shoe back to what it’s supposed to be: a simple, elongated shape with no holes, mesh, or fringe. Try out a rich brown model in suede for more casual days and outfits (they work great with denim) or spring for original black leather, if yours is a more dressy, professional style.
2. The Bold(er) Shirt-Tie Combos
When it comes to the shirt, the staple of the male wardrobe, not much has changed in terms of cuts for this fall. The true change in this respect comes from patterning and combinations. Expect to see lots of plaid, checkers, and squares this fall season. If you’re into wearing ties or are thinking of giving this style a shot, without ending up looking like your good old grandpa, try something out of the ordinary – but very in this fall! – such as a shirt in oversized checkers with a boldly striped tie.
3. The Jackets and Coats
Things in this department are still as retro as they were last season, heavily under the influence of a 1960s and 50s revivalist trend. As such, expect to see tweed jackets galore, seasoned with suede elbow patches for the active set. White-collar professionals should look no further for their choice in overcoat this season than the already famous trench coat. In gabardine or other waterproof fabrics, men’s trenches this fall will be double-breasted, as stylish as they get, and substantially shorter than we’ve gotten used to seeing them.
4. The Aviators
Aviator sunglasses, which have been around for roughly six decades, are perfectly ascribed to the season’s underplayed look for men. There are some great designer examples out there, from Ray Ban to Miuccia Prada. The Aviator look was patented by professionals with no time or energy to focus on the unnecessary frills in life. They like to keep their embellishments to an absolute minimum, and this certainly applies to the latest style in Aviators, as patented by Miuccia Prada, who adorns her sunglasses with only half a gilded frame.
5. The Sports Coat
Reneged for many years by the fashionable set as too ‘street,’ it seems that 2012 marks the definitive acceptance of sports coats into the trendy guy’s wardrobe, as a definite must-have item. If you don’t already own one, with which you are completely taken, we recommend a boldly patterned coat, yet one which will also seem timeless in your closet. Coordinate the colors in the patterning with the other items you own, and you’ll be good in your sports coat for seasons to come, guaranteed. After all, if one thing is true about trendy men is that they think in patterns, not colors.
6. The Polo Shirt
A favorite with tennis players and the middle-aged generation, the polo shirt has made an incredible comeback during the spring/summer season of this year. Only this time, the iconic items have been updated to fit the styles and interests of a significantly younger demographic, who enjoys pops of color in their wardrobe and is not afraid of experimenting with new patterns and/or different types of cuts. The polo shirt is definitely here to stay for the fall-winter season, too, paired up with a cardigan and a warm blazer on top.
7. The Cardigan
What would fall be without a good, snuggly cardi to keep you warm underneath that coat or jacket? Not much of a fall in the 2010s, the fashion experts seem to be agreeing. According to them, cardigans will allow lots of experimentation with color this season – go a brash as you want with them. Vests and sweaters too are following the footsteps of the cardigan and taking a deep plunge into V-neck territory.
8. The Trousers Step Back in Time
The more astute of the male fashionista set may have noticed something out of the ordinary going on in the world of trouser cuts. That is to say that we’ve been seeing lots of flat-front pants in the street and on the catwalks lately, in a nod to the same retro, fifties-inspired trends sweeping the scene. What is more, it seems we’ll be going further back in time, even, as pleated pants are scheduled to make a comeback this fall, according to most of the a/w 2012 runways we saw earlier on in the year.
9. The Bomber Jacket
It’s been a couple of seasons since the Bomber jacket came back into style – possibly because of the plethora of retro-themed movies Hollywood has been churning out lately (The Aviator, Gangs of New York and the forthcoming remake of The Great Gatsby, to name but a few). The 2012 bomber jacket gets rid of pointless straps, buckles and faux fur trims, in order to stand on its own, in unabashed vintage-tinged glory. Perhaps the best thing about this fashion must-have for the contemporary man is that it works great with just about anything, from shirts and cardigans to more casual t-shirts or sweaters.
10. The Colors
If the Pantone palettes we’ve been seeing late this fall for men’s fashions, then it’s safe to say that the color trends for male and female fashions won’t be too different this season. Expect a bolder departure from the classics with a muted hue of orange—but, otherwise, nothing you haven’t seen before. Teal is turning deep and dark, grey and black are ever-present, as are tan, cedar-wood and coffee colors. Experiment a little with bolder colors for the accessories (reds, greens, and even brash neons are very much in style), but, overall abide by the KISS principle—and, most importantly, remember to feel comfortable in whatever it is you’ll be spotted wearing this fall.