Style / November 2017

Pump up the Volume: The Return of Elegance in Men's Clothing

Skinny-fit fashion is dead; long live voluminous vim. Here’s how to embrace wide-legged trousers and elegant, full silhouettes.

Camel oversized robe coat, Cerruti 1881; navy wool suit, Louis Vuitton; striped shirt, Brunello Cucinelli; silk tie, Drakes. Photograph by Simon Lipman. Styling by Jo Grzeszczuk.

An attentive extra-terrestrial visiting the western world’s major metropolises around the turn of the millennium might have been forgiven for thinking there was a global shortage of fabric, as brutal in its effects on fashion as the Great Avocado Shortage of 2016 was to the hipster café scene. This was a time when men, slavishly trying to emulate the cigarette-cut svelteness of then mega-trendy bands such as The Strokes, would, were it an option, have aerosol-sprayed their jeans onto their legs each morning. Clones mingling outside churches during the nuptials season would all be in slim-cut two-pieces that adhered to their burly, heat-moistened frames like shrink-wrap around camembert, each and every one harbouring the frankly quite touching belief that they’d nailed Sting’s Brighton dancehall look in Quadrophenia. Ankles began peeping from beneath trouser hems, vertebrae from beneath jacket material, when men reached up towards overhead luggage racks.

Even if you had a torso like a piece of toast and the overall athletic bearing of a Pepsi commercial’s leading man, it wasn’t – and this is more brutally apparent in retrospect, of course – a good look. It looked like forced femininity, and was thus as emotionally uncomfortable as it was physically constricting. So it’s a blessing that this lamentable leaning towards tight-fit, skimpy menswear has slipped gently into the void of the past and volume has once again taken centre stage. 

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