Why Taking a Style Risk Is Exactly What You Need

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Why Taking a Style Risk Is Exactly What You Need

Words by Mr Ralph Jones

21 August 2019

It is easy to understand why men choose to dress down and play it safe. By definition, playing it safe means that not a lot can go wrong. And there is a time and a place for plain white sneakers, a plain white T-shirt and denim jeans. To be clear: it is most of the time, and most any place. These staples have endured because of their flexibility, their versatility and their anonymity. But instead of being anonymous, maybe it’s time you started making a name for yourself. Why not try something new, throw your arms in the air and plunge down a style roller-coaster? If clothes maketh the man, it’s time for yours to get a little more adventurous. Here’s how to do it, without doing yourself a sartorial mischief.

The blazer

We love a traditional navy blazer and this single-breasted wool model by Mr P. is a fine fit for many occasions. Pairing a shirt or T-shirt with a staple like this is a cinch. Its versatility means you can look to it for reassurance in times of wardrobe crisis. If, however, you harbour a desire to see heads turn rapidly in your direction, there’s something undeniably “who’s that guy?” about this Gucci cotton blazer, woven as it is with the brand’s twin Gs. This is a statement. This is for a man fully on board with the idea that his blazer will be the talk of the party – no, let’s be honest, the street – and who wants to get giddy on the attention that comes with it. It’s out there. It’s a blazer that grabs you by the lapels and commands you to live, live, live, as if every day could be your last. Wear it unapologetically.

The T-shirt

A select few word pairings – “double date”, “Powerpoint presentation” – can strike fear into the heart of most adult men. Tie-dye used to belong to this collection, but don a tie-dyed T-shirt in 2019 and you will be met, not with a look of sympathy, but an expression of incredulous delight. Times have changed. The age of tie-dye is upon us. As well as being an explosion of blue and white that will stop people in their tracks, this organic cotton T-shirt by Story Mfg. lets you spin around and ask people to read your back. Written on the T-shirt’s reverse are five ways that you can do your bit for the environment, including “support regenerative agriculture projects”. The next time you’re shrugging on a T-shirt, ask yourself: Do I want to rock up in a sky-blue cotton number that gets four approving murmurs? Or do I want to mess with people’s actual minds? We’ve all seen a guy wearing a blue T-shirt, but how often have you seen someone wearing a T-shirt that included the words “regenerative agriculture projects”?

The chinos

The notion of out-there trousers has, unfortunately, come to be synonymous with chinos as red as the devil’s heart. But these camouflage-print cargo trousers by Carhartt WIP are walking proof that you can set tongues wagging without looking like you’ve fallen into a vat of merlot. They’re slim-fit, so will sit snug on your pins, and you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll improve the mood of everyone within a half-mile radius. It can be easy to forget that one of the many things clothing should do is inspire joy. And despite the numerous benefits of your Incotex four-season relaxed-fit cotton-blend chinos, there comes a time when you need to embrace your inner child. Surrender to the camo and pair them with something restrained – Converse sneakers and a camel-coloured jacket – so everyone’s gaze is drawn to the main event. Be warned: this tactic is likely to be so successful that you may be forced to say, “Erm, my eyes are up here.”

The sneakers

If the brief is “white sneaker”, why not absolutely smash it out of the park? Do not misunderstand: we love Common Projects sneakers. Nothing wrong with them in the slightest. But on the question of whether or not they are Balenciagas, the answer would be a resounding no. Where the former glide cooly through the city’s back streets, the latter screech into the town square and demand to know where the fun’s at. This Track model is the brand’s newest. Emitting retro and futuristic vibes at the same time, they might leave you unsure whether you should feel hopeful for a brighter future or nostalgic for a brighter past. But here’s the point: they make you feel something. These are sneakers whose charisma will latch onto yours and only enhance it. Team them with a dark pair of jeans to temper the excitement and get ready for the coos and oohs that always accompany a bold trainer choice.

The backpack

While the Patagonia backpack has a pleasing utilitarian minimalism to it, the Prada variation really runs away with the men-at-work theme, adding a Day-Glo yellow warning stripe that demands to be noticed. It’s not wholly impractical either, with a panoply of internal and external pockets, adjustable padded straps and, yes, liberal helpings of a certain P-word drizzled over its black nylon interior.

The socks

Over the years, the much-derided wacky sock has given stylish outliers such as these, from Paul Smith, a bad rap. But there is no reason why you shouldn’t cross one leg over the other and give any onlookers a multicoloured feet treat. Mix it up. Have some fun. Push the boat out. Sow the seeds of sock envy deep into the heart of your fellow commuters. You can’t go wrong with a traditional sock such as the Falke Airport mélange virgin wool-blend model, but socks, like life, should be about more than just playing it safe.