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And Now For Something Completely Different

The MR PORTER team take a walk on the wildest side with their new-season choices

Autumn is peak trend time. But this season things are a little different. Rather than a slew of all things new, we are welcoming back former trends like old friends, some of whom we’ve lost contact with over the decades. Most notably, there’s corduroy, the textile of choice for university professors and Pulp frontman Mr Jarvis Cocker; speaking of the 1990s, there are tracksuits aplenty; and the colour of the season, following on from the divisive millennial pink, is the much maligned brown, to be seen in town in every hue from tobacco to caramel. Here at MR PORTER, with the autumn delivery vans in overdrive and new-season samples swamping our nerve centres, it’s our chance to get in early and dip a toe or, indeed, try something new before everything flies off our imaginary shelves. So here we go…

The 1990s

I spent the best part of the 1990s glued to the TV watching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  I’ve seen every episode of every season (probably twice) and Mr Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s opening rap is my go-to karaoke number. On dress-down Fridays at school (it was that sort of place), I’d wear acid-wash jeanshigh-top sneakers and fluro shell jackets – normally my sister’s – in emulation of West Philadelphia’s finest. So it took me right back to my youth when streetwear and 1990s-nostalgia dominated the runways from London to Paris this season. I’ve got my eye on this cotton-flannel shirt by Sacai. It’s bright enough to make a statement in an office full of navy and beige. I’d throw it on with these light-wash jeans by Stella McCartney and this neon-bright hat by Gucci in homage to my childhood hero. After all, why do things in moderation?

Retro sportswear

I am not usually one to follow trends. In fact, despite working for MR PORTER, I tend to actively avoid them. But as we move inexorably towards the autumn months, that’s set to change. By wearing this Prada track jacket I will be investing in this season’s retro sportswear trend. Apparently. Tenatively, so, anyway, if the sober black jeans and white T-shirt are anything to by. Let’s see how it goes. Whatever happens, it’s at least healthy to learn I’ve moved on from the Manchester United-crest adorned track suit top I wore in my youth.

Wide-legged trousers

Trends, by definition, are supposed to come and go, but few trends stuck around as long slim-fit trousers. Skinny ruled the last decade – ever since Mr Hedi Slimane, true to his name, narrowed the focus during his reign at Dior and then Saint Laurent. But now, finally, it’s time to pump up the volume. True, designers have been showcasing wide-leg trousers on runways for the past few seasons, but it’s taken me a wee while to come around to the idea. But now that I have, it’s sparked the biggest gear shift in my wardrobe for years. Suddenly all my many pairs of slim-fit jeans and chinos look wrong and feel uncomfortable. The thing about wider leg trousers though, especially pleated ones, is they can make a man look fuller of figure if he’s not careful. So it pays to cut the carb-loading and stay slim and fitted up top. A form-flattering knitted polo, for example, such as this one from Todd Snyder. Or a bomber jacket that nips in at the waist. While down below, a wider-leg trouser – whether full-length or cropped above the ankle – demands a chunkier, sturdier shoe so that the proportions agree.

A briefcase

I have always secretly wanted to carry a briefcase. But as with a liking for opera or those adult colouring books, I thought it was something you ought to keep to yourself. At least in one’s youth. But alas, the summers keep sliding by, and my 30th birthday approaches like a panther. So perhaps it is time to ditch the backpack, which, in various forms, has been a lifelong companion, and smarten up. At least some of the time anyway. If there is a better way of doing it than with Berluti’s Un Jour Mini briefcase, I’d like to know about it. Its hand-polished leather acquires its own patina over time, so the bag becomes almost an extension of you. And then to finish off the look, I’ll invest in a slim-fit double-breasted herringbone wool coat from Saint Laurent and this crisp white slim-fit Canali cotton shirt.

Corduroy

This autumn, I am going to try corduroy for the first time since university. Back in 2001, The Strokes were the coolest band in the world, Mr Tony Blair was in Mr George Bush’s backpocket, and Hedi Slimane was on his way to reinventing jeans forever. But in this pre-skinny world, we were all wearing cords. They were cut like jeans, but but softer and comfier, so the likes of Mr Julian Casablancas would sport them on stage and us lesser mortals could wear them to the the student union, the clubs and to play football in the park. So I’ll be investing in this Aspesi bomber, these Barena drawstring trousers and a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors for old times’ sake. It’s not a total look, mind. Double cord outside of tailoring is not on trend (not yet, anyway).

A topcoat

One of the first memories I have of my grandad, Nonno Michele, is of a cold wintery day. He was a massive car aficionado, so everyday he would come and pick me up from school with a little toy car as a present, wearing his favourite navy-blue long coat and a huge grey cashmere scarf. I have always wanted to emulate this look, but unfortunately I didn’t inherit height from my dad’s side of the family. Being not-at-all tall, I have been questioning the idea of wearing a long coat, but with it being a big trend this year, I decided to invest in this beautiful wool and cashmere blend blue one from Prada. The material and the details are incredible: it is cut from remarkably soft wool- and cashmere-blend felt and is finished with notch lapels and flap pockets. I would pair it – in a total Prada style – with this incredibly soft checked cashmere scarf and this pair of Oxford brogues. Like grandfather, like grandson.

Dad chic

It’s a strange time, your early thirties. Too old to play the kid but too young to play the grown-up, it’s easy to get stuck in style limbo. And working in fashion doesn’t make you immune. If anything, it makes things worse. My MR PORTER Wish List speaks of a man in the grip of a quarter-life crisis: Nike Air Max 97s, Raf Simons bomber jackets, Vetements T-shirts… who even am I? There’s only one way out of this existential hole, and that’s to grasp with both hands, the very thing I fear the most. That’s why, this autumn, I’m embracing getting a bit older. I’m buying a pair of proper shoes from Tricker’s, some hard-wearing denim from the new Kingsman collection and a corduroy blazer from Officine Generale. I call it “dad chic”. Here’s hoping that one day I’ll possess the courage to wear it with conviction.

try something new

  • Junya Watanabe Faux Leather-Trimmed Jersey Track Jacket

  • CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC Two-Tone Birdseye Wool-Blend Sweater

  • Alexander McQueen Velvet-Trimmed Crepe-Jersey Drawstring Trousers

  • Valentino Embellished Leather-Trimmed Camouflage-Print Canvas Backpack

  • Thom Browne Panelled Pebble-Grain Leather Brogue Boots

  • Maison Kitsuné Embroidered Cotton-Blend Twill Baseball Cap