I caught up with GQ’s style editor Robert Johnston at GQ’s Style Night, held at London’s famously fashion focused Carnaby Street. Held in the final, dwindling days of summer the event truly kickstarted the Autumn/Winter season. Here, Johnston pinpoints the key menswear trends of the season, highlights investment pieces which are sure to make an appearance time and again and advises how it’s possible to dress well while keeping within your budget.
1. The Pea Coat
The classic coat is a go-to item for many men and it’s easy to see why. Whether it’s dressed up or down, it keeps the wearer looking smart (and warm!) Johnson said: ‘Here at GQ, we think every man should have the perfect pea coat. It’s been around for hundreds of years and is now the classic casual men’s overcoat. What we’ve seen a lot in menswear recently is looking at the past to go forward. People have been taking heritage items and reinventing them.’ Check out High Street stores such as Topman and Asos for your perfect pea coat.
2. The Bomber Jacket
Johnston picked the bomber jacket as a key garment because it can be worn in a variety of different ways: ‘There’s the classic military inspired black bomber jacket – a brilliant winter piece. We’re talking about getting bang for your buck. Wear when it’s warmer with a simple tshirt and with a jumper in winter.’ You can also opt for a more casual look with a preppy varsity style jacket. Check out vintage shops for a unique and authentic item.
The GQ Style Advisor also encouraged the audience to try something new when it comes to wearing prints.’Often it’s just learning how to wear a piece that suits you. Let’s take paisley trousers. Some people feel nervous about wearing pattern, but the secret is to wear it right. With [a]statement pair of trousers, wear a white shirt, [or]a black tshirt. Keep it simple.’ If you’re ready to pick patterned garments, head to Topman and Jack Wills for a wide selection of paisley, checks and floral prints.
4. Heritage Trend
The revival and reworking of vintage items into modern classics has grown considerably in the last few years. Johnson used accessories to highlight the rise of the trend.
‘A key item is the classic schoolboy satchel. It’s been reinvented and is relevant today. It’s a simple, instantly recognisable piece. Shoes are also getting back to the heritage trend. Take your classic tasselled loafer -[they’re] really cool, smart, look great with jeans. They’re one of great those pieces you can have forever. You might put them away and think ‘no, not right now’ and later on you’ll pick them out and give them a go again. Fashion today is easy in the respect that anything goes. Pieces can be worn in different ways, so you’re getting value from your investment.’
5. The Parka
The ultimate casual coat, the 60s inspired parka was also highlighted as a wardrobe essential. ‘You have the pieces which were once associated with a trend but have survived the test of time and become staples. Take the classic Mod parka. It’s as modern now as it was then. You don’t have to wear it and look like a mod – you dress it up! What we’re seeing now is mixing things up. Look at people like Kanye West, who have that sports luxe feel. Take an expensive piece and dress it down. You can mix things up and wear them in a casual or smart way.’
6. The Chinos
The ever – popular trousers can be notoriously tricky to find. Johnson offered tips for scouting out the perfect pair. ‘What could be more classic than a pair of chinos? It’s really difficult to get the ones you love first off because we’re all different. There are as many cuts and styles of chino as there are stars in the sky! It’s just trial and error and once you’ve found what you want, and know where to look, you’re set. Fashion may change, but what suits you doesn’t.’
Do you have any tips for dressing on a budget?
After the style talk, I asked Johnson the ultimate question: is it possible to dress well while on a student budget? Fortunately, the answer is yes!
‘The secret with budget is to make every purchase count. You could go to a vintage shop and grab a patterned scarf which you can dress up and down with a white t-shirt, a denim jacket or a smarter jacket and it changes, so you’ve got one piece which can be worn in many different ways. Always look for quality; quality and price aren’t the same thing. You can get expensive things which aren’t great quality and reasonably priced things which are!’
He also offered some tips about finding the right items and how to make shopping easier in general. ‘It’s just about going out and feeling the garments. Sometimes you’ll see something you love and then not love the fabric! It’s nothing to do with the cost, it’s what it feels like to you and whether you’re going to get the wear out of it. If you don’t like it, you’re not going to wear it. If you’re on a limited budget, you don’t want to waste your money. But it doesn’t mean you have to be boring. Take the paisley trousers – they’re not the most outrageous things ever, but there will be a certain number of men who will love them but don’t know how to wear them. If you don’t feel comfortable, it won’t be an investment.’
GQ’s Autumn/Winter Style Night was held at London’s Carnaby Street. For more style advice from Robert Johnston, visit his Style Shrink page.