The Big Idea: A Tale of Two Wardrobes
Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times is debatable; what’s certain is things are confusing on many levels right now. The past year was set to the tempo of the pandemic’s fits and starts: celebratory re-emergences followed by cautious retreats, promising news tempered with sobering reality checks. For many of us, this two-step extended to how we dressed, with our wardrobes toggling between WFH casual and back-at-it polish—often several times in the span of one week.
In fashion, the topsy-turvy-ness of it all has largely manifested in two contrasting schools—essentially, dual visions of what post-Covid life has in store. Will we come back swinging, ready to inaugurate the roaring 2020s a few years late? Or is it time to dial back the excesses, opting for restraint and a certain seriousness? Judging by the runways, both scenarios are possible.
The tug-of-war between minimalism and maximalism is nothing new, but this year that age-old dichotomy has taken on greater nuance. It’s less loud versus quiet and more reverence versus irreverence. Some have taken the Great Upheaval as an opportunity to walk on the wilder side, imbuing traditional styles with a frisson of subversion (see: Edward Sexton’s decidedly louche suits and Brioni’s opulent alternatives to staid black tie). Even Brunello Cucinelli, whose collections are typically a master class in tonal dressing, laced his latest designs with flashes of tangerine and fire-engine red. It may be a subtle statement, but that’s the point: You can buck convention in any number of ways.
Others have answered with a return to the classic pillars of menswear, pivoting from the laid-back sensibility that has dominated the past several years. Whether it’s John Lobb’s whole-cut oxfords or Finamore’s dress shirts, this camp makes a case for the enduring relevance—and elegance—of formal clothing, finely rendered without bells or whistles. While such understatement may sound underwhelming, simplicity can be striking; just look to Ralph Lauren’s mostly monochromatic fall lineup for proof.
These two outlooks emerged as the overarching trends, but if the past two years have taught us anything style-wise, it’s that anything goes. Consider the recent Oscars red carpet—there were still penguin suits aplenty (looking as smart as ever) but also guys in sequins, combat boots and, in Timothée Chalamet’s case, no shirt. The point is that finally you needn’t pick one lane or the other; today men have the luxury of playing to both sides of the sartorial spectrum (and Dior’s fall collection, combining sharp tailoring with luxed-up sweats and Birkenstocks, is a prime example of how the two can coexist in one ensemble). Whether you want to color outside the lines, hew to the tried-and-true or do both, style in 2022, ultimately, is about choosing your own adventure.
Evening Wear: Brioni
Brioni has long been known for eye-catching dinner jackets, but the brand’s latest collection made a more subtly sumptuous proposition for after-dark attire. Satin shirts and trousers in shades of bark brown and pearl gray were teamed with classic black or white tuxedo jackets, giving the impression that one just tossed the latter over their PJs before heading out. In one instance, creative director Norbert Stumpfl forewent a jacket altogether, combining a matching shirt and trousers cut from fine white silk faille. Worn with the sleeves rolled up and shirt untucked, the ensemble appeared unassuming from afar. The quiet decadence of the material revealed itself only upon a more intimate inspection. What all these options offer is an effortlessly refined alternative to the usual evening standards, one that makes a case for dressing up, no matter the occasion.
Brioni wool jacket, $6,650, cashmere-and-silk sweater, $1,350, and silk-and-wool trousers, $3,100; Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer watch in yellow gold and alligator, $33,500.
Tailoring: Edward Sexton
These days, wearing a suit is less of a given and more a matter of individual style. As such, when one chooses to suit up, it had better be in something with personality—precisely what Edward Sexton has specialized in since the ’70s. “There is this sense of play,” says Dominic Sebag-Montefiore, Sexton’s creative director, of the commissions he has received over the past year. “It feels like the suit can be reborn and reimagined because it’s been dying as a symbol of the corporate uniform. The suit is dead; long live the suit.”
Sexton’s signature swaggering lapels and full-cut trousers give structured English tailoring a dash of sex appeal. And at the other end of the spectrum, the brand recently introduced its softest jacket ever: an uncanvased design that wears like a cardigan but retains the drama of the brand’s house silhouette. Whether you want to embrace the formality of tailoring or wear it lightly, Sexton does both impeccably. These are suits that say something.
Edward Sexton linen jacket, $1,400, and trousers, $465; Gabriela Hearst cashmere-and-silk sweater, $1,290; E. B. Meyrowitz acetate sunglasses, $830; Louis Vuitton coated canvas and leather duffel bag, $3,400; Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer watch in yellow gold and alligator, $33,500.
Dress Shirts: Finamore
A great dress shirt doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel. Rather, it’s the sum of many small, barely perceptible details—the stuff that Finamore has been obsessing over for almost 100 years. Every shirt, whether bespoke or made-to-measure, is entirely sewn by hand at its headquarters in Naples, a process that averages about 16 hours a pop. Much like the soft-shouldered suits for which Neapolitan tailors are best known, Finamore’s wares are distinguished by their pick-stitched armholes with the smallest of pleats, which make for an especially comfortable fit that moves with you. While the company has introduced several informal washed and garment-dyed fabrics in recent years to accommodate casual dress codes, Andrea Finamore happily reports that orders for the brand’s spread-collared bread and butter haven’t waned: “Our focus is always dress shirts made with the best fabrics. That’s what people want from us.”
Finamore cotton-poplin shirt, $450; Giuliva Heritage wool drill trousers, $930.
Given that Hermès bag collectors include several dudes—Drake and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are two notable fans—it was only a matter of time until the guys got a Birkin of their own. Though perhaps the ultimate status accessory for women, the design actually originated as the genderless Haut à Courroies, meant for schlepping riding gear, almost a century before Jane Birkin slung one over her arm. And while the brand has offered HAC variations for men over the years, the model that debuted on its fall runway is the most compelling case for ditching a briefcase that we’ve seen yet. Dubbed the Rock, the biker-jacket-inspired design combines supple black calfskin with utilitarian pockets, slightly punk-y hardware and bulked-up proportions. We’re generally wary of the “It” version of anything, but this is Hermès, meaning it’s a style flex for the ages.
Hermès Haut à Courroies Rock calfskin bag, $26,000
Collection: Dior Fall/Winter 2022
To commemorate the house of Dior’s 75th birthday, men’s artistic director Kim Jones mounted a blockbuster show complete with a life-size replica of the Pont Alexandre III. But it was what came down that bridge-cum-runway that made the strongest impression: a medley of classic menswear staples mixed with humble sportswear, all executed with exceptional finesse. Sharply cut double-breasted blazers, riffing on Dior’s signature nipped-waist Bar jacket, came in both trad plaids and garment-dyed cotton, paired with tailored track pants and knockabout cargos. The hushed palette of gray, tan and banker blue was punctuated by the occasional leopard print or floral jacquard—winks of eccentricity amidst all those nods to tradition. From balmacaans to Birkenstocks, the entire lineup touches on everything happening in menswear right now and, moreover, proves that elegance and irreverence make a handsome couple.
Dior Men cotton jacket, shirt and cotton-and-wool sweatpants, all price upon request
Chinos: The Armoury
Despite being a fixture in most men’s closets, chinos are rarely worth getting excited about. Perhaps because of their ease and versatility, the pants have become synonymous with a certain kind of mid-level office drone—a garment devoid of style. But the Armoury has rescued chinos from mediocrity, returning them to their rugged, military origins. The Hong Kong– and New York–based menswear purveyor tapped the Japanese tailors of Ring Jacket to produce a wider-legged, higher-rise iteration that hearkens back to old-school army uniforms. The form has also been improved with such details as an integrated waistband and lapped side seams for a more polished look. Oh, and did we mention that they’re machine washable?
Brunello Cucinelli double-faced suede shirt jacket, $5,495, and calfskin belt, $995; the Armoury by Ring Jacket cotton chinos, $350.
Sweaters: Massimo Alba
In line with the casualization of menswear over the past several years, knitwear, typically a bit player in a man’s wardrobe, has moved into the limelight. Accordingly, designs have gone beyond basic neutrals meant for layering, yielding sweaters that can hold their own as the main event. Massimo Alba spent years in the knits biz before launching his eponymous brand in 2006 and consistently uses that expertise to innovate, as he says, “through combining different yarns, weights and textures or dyeing.” Nuts and bolts, sure, but toying with these basic elements results in sweaters of subtle distinction. This year, there’s an array of artfully hand-painted crewnecks in shades from pale sage green to deep ruby red, featherweight cashmere for summer and richly textured mohair blends for this coming winter. But ultimately, Alba says, a great sweater is all about “the attitude of the person wearing it.”
Massimo Alba mohair-and-silk sweater, $975; Giuliva Heritage wool drill trousers, $930.
Leather Outerwear: Stefano Ricci
The M-65 field jacket may have been born to meet the practical needs of combat, but these days its sporty-yet-smart form makes it a particularly handy piece of outerwear for style-minded laymen, the epitome of a go-anywhere staple. And in the hands of Stefano Ricci—the Florentine tie-maker turned all-encompassing lifestyle label that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year—the many-pocketed model has become a thing of refined sumptuousness. Rendered in shearling-lined suede and finished with galvanized-palladium hardware, Ricci’s iteration strikes a winning combination of utility and high luxury.
Stefano Ricci shearling jacket, $6,900; Tod’s wool sweater, $945; Paul & Shark nylon trousers, $355; Loro Piana ox-leather sneakers, $995.
Just when we thought the world didn’t need another white sneaker, Almini showed there was room for improvement. Since its founding in 1921, the Milanese shoemaker has specialized in reverse-stitched dress shoes; the construction, which entails hand-sewing a shoe’s upper to the sole from the inside out and is most often seen in Belgian slippers, yields particularly sleek, comfortable shoes that hug the foot like a glove. This year, Almini applied that method to its first sneaker and the result is a pair of kicks with both superlative comfort and good looks. The buttery calfskin upper is cut from a single piece with no visible stitching; even the outsole is sheathed in the same soft hide—an unexpectedly polished touch. While classic white is available to order online, a trip to the brand’s Milan store affords one the opportunity to customize the design with 576 different combinations of hand-painted leathers and suedes. In any variation, these sneakers are a step up.
Almini calfskin sneakers, $935; Brunello Cucinelli wool trousers, $1,195.
Eyewear: E.B. Meyrowitz
We’ve all been starved of a bit of glamour, and E. B. Meyrowitz knows that few accoutrements deliver silver-screen swagger as effectively as a stellar pair of specs. With that in mind, the 147-year-old eyewear specialist released a range of frames channeling Old Hollywood with bold contours, luxe triple-pinned hinges and a general sense of gravitas. Like the bespoke glasses for which the brand is known, every pair in the Gala line is made by hand at EBM’s UK workshops, giving the finely sculpted Italian acetate especially sinuous curves. From classic D-frames to strong-browed aviators, it’s a collection of refined shades befitting any leading man.
E. B. Meyrowitz acetate sunglasses, $1,090; Hermès polyester satin jacket, $4,400, and cotton poplin shirt, $860.
Denim Shirt: Ralph Lauren
With no disrespect to apple pie, few things are as all-American as blue jeans—or Ralph Lauren. So whenever the two converge, a star-spangled home run is all but assured. But even more so than dungarees, it’s the designer’s take on the quintessential Western pearl-snap shirt that stands apart. Released with Lauren’s spring Purple Label collection, it has rugged good looks that belie its sophistication—namely, a cotton-linen blend woven in Japan, washed to be as soft as something that has put in years on the ranch, with trim Italian tailoring to give any guy the illusion of the Marlboro Man’s physique. No longer a novelty reserved for the weekends, Western shirts—and this one in particular—deserve a top spot in every man’s shirting arsenal.
Ralph Lauren cotton, ramie and linen blend shirt, $595; Canali cotton chinos, $395; Brunello Cucinelli calfskin belt, $995; Chopard L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer watch in yellow gold and alligator, $33,500.
Casual Shirt: Sébline
Having gotten his start in the tailoring workshop of Yves Saint Laurent’s couture atelier and later working under Tom Ford, Charles Sébline is well-versed in fashion’s more dramatic statements. But when he launched his own brand three years ago, he chose to strip back all the flourishes and focus solely on perfecting the humble shirt. Sébline’s signature silhouette—a band-collared button-up in especially smooth two-ply cotton poplin—may be derived from formal bib-front numbers, but it’s designed to suit any and all occasions, tucked or not. “I wear
my shirts to the beach just like I wear them to go to a meeting,” he says, noting that they look best after getting a bit roughed up. “I don’t like the idea of things being too precious.” Paired with tailoring or jeans, Sébline’s shirts are a shortcut to fuss-free chic.
Sébline cotton-poplin shirt, $290; Hermès cotton serge trousers, $1,375; Breguet Classique 5177 watch in rose gold, enamel and alligator, $23,200.
Store: Beige Habilleur
Menswear is more diverse than ever, yet most of the venues for discovering what’s out there tend to fit into one of a handful of fairly rigid formulas. Paris’s Beige Habilleur opened in 2015 to bring those concurrent voices into harmony under the same roof. “At that time in Paris,” says cofounder Basile Khadiry, “you would have to get a flight to Tokyo, New York or London in order to have access to this.” The result is a hearty stew of varying aesthetics, from classic J. M. Weston derbies and Mackintosh coats to Harpo’s Navajo belts and Doek’s Japanese sneakers, unified in their timelessness. Everything, Khadiry says, is chosen “with the idea that, from a cashmere double-breasted overcoat to a simple T-shirt, the level of beauty and craftsmanship should be exactly the same.” Many of the goods on offer are exclusive, including collaborations with Edward Green and a range of unconstructed Teba jackets by Spain’s Justo Gimeno that can be made to measure. But, more than just the products, Beige’s elegant boutique near the Bois de Boulogne is the rare store where men of any stylistic sensibility can gleefully chance upon something they never knew they needed.
Shoes: John Lobb
It’s noteworthy when any 156-year-old manages to look modern—and especially impressive when they’re fresher than up-and-comers one-fifth their age. Such is the case with John Lobb, which has quietly been tweaking the classics of men’s footwear and turning out some of the best-looking shoes on the market: derbies and chukkas with soles dyed to match their uppers for an especially clean, sleek look; oxfords and loafers fitted with flexible, remarkably comfortable Goodyear-welted soles; elegant double-monks and casual top-siders crafted with equal refinement. Last year also saw the debut of a new Beverly Hills flagship that counts the first dedicated US outpost of its bespoke service—typically available only in Paris or at trunk shows—making the pinnacle of its technical know-how more accessible than ever. By all accounts, this centenarian is just hitting its stride.
John Lobb suede chukka boots, $1,660
Retail: Casa Cucinelli
It’s an understatement to say that the pandemic threw a wrench into retail. Even once the world began to reopen, there was little incentive to roam the same old shop floors. Brunello Cucinelli’s latest concept store, however, is more like a friend’s exquisitely appointed apartment. Located in a floor-through on a prime block of New York’s Fifth Avenue, Casa Cucinelli is a fully fashioned pied-à-terre that brings the designer’s cashmere-swathed world to life. Best of all, nearly everything is shoppable, from the horn-handled barware and Umbrian ceramics in the kitchen to the cushions and blankets adorning the sofas to, of course, the clothes lining the enviable walk-in closets. It’s an intimate, thoroughly luxurious space that feels worlds away from the boutiques nine floors below. Pop in, have a glass of Brunello and a bruschetta and peruse—this is what shopping should be: a pleasure.
Sportswear: Ron Dorff
Despite the omnipresence of athletic attire in fashion, finding good-looking performance gear is still surprisingly challenging. Or it was until Ron Dorff. Discerning Europeans have been getting their sweat on in the Swedish- French brand for a decade, and last year its streamlined workout wear landed stateside with the opening of a New York flagship. Combining functionality with minimalist chic, the collection takes its cues from stylish sportsmen of the past—re-creating, say, Björn Borg’s tennis shorts or Steve McQueen’s jogging trousers. Fabrics, from cotton piqué to recycled polyester, are chosen as much for their hand feel as for their competitive edge, and the flattering designs are rendered without any of the garish colors or overt branding that plagues most athletic apparel. Whether you’re hitting the gym or Sunday brunch, Ron Dorff ensures you’ll bring your style A game.
Celine wool-cotton serge coat, $3,250; Ron Dorff organic cotton hoodie, $290, T-shirt, $90, and polyester-and-cotton track pants, $245; Loro Piana ox-leather sneakers, $995
Plane provided by Jet Edge, photographed at Van Nuys Airport; flyjetedge.com.
Photographed at 9322 Hazen Drive in Beverly Hills, currently listed for $11.9 million with Don Heller at Compass; donhellergroup.com.
Model: David Enrico
Style Editor: Kareem Rashed
Casting Director: Luis Campuzano
Senior Market Editor: Luis Campuzano
Groomer: Valery Gherman
Photo Assistant: Hunter Zieske
Fashion Assistant: Darryl Anderson
Lifetime Achievement: Virgil Abloh
When news of Virgil Abloh’s death broke in November of last year, it came as a shock not only because so few knew he had cancer but also because the world had just begun catching up to his immense vision. Starting his career DJ’ing, designing streetwear and acting as creative director for Kanye West’s various projects, Abloh gained prominence with his brand, Off-White, before reaching luxury’s highest echelon when he was appointed artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear in 2018—repeatedly breaking boundaries and rewriting rules as he did so.
His omnivorous view of style, drawing on everything from skate culture to haute couture, defied categorization and was a leading force in bridging the gap between streetwear and luxury. In that sense, he may be the single largest influence on how men have dressed over the past decade. His collections for Vuitton, in particular, had the distinction of making heady statements but also displaying deeply covetable products. And thanks to prolific collaborations with everyone from Nike to Ikea to Mercedes-Maybach, Abloh’s reach went well beyond the insular world of high fashion.
After arriving on the scene as a gate-crashing outsider, Abloh worked his way to ultimate insider. (Last year, he was promoted to a new role at LVMH working across all 75 brands within the conglomerate’s portfolio, making him the most powerful Black executive in the industry and one of its most powerful execs, period.) In his life and work, Abloh set a bold new template for fashion—one that will continue to shape what we wear for years to come.