By MYRA ORENSTEIN
We’ve learned a lot during this pandemic year. Washing hands and maintaining social distance enhances our chances of staying healthy. Working from home may not only be acceptable, it may be preferable. And, wait for it…Men don’t need to wear ties in order to be productive in white collar jobs.
Now before you jump to conclusions or burn every thin, mid-width or wide tie in the closet, consider this. We aren’t advocating never wearing ties. In fact, the fashion experts with whom we spoke believe there will always be a place for ties at weddings, special events and perhaps even in the boardroom. Nor are we by any means fast-forwarding to the totally opposite end of the spectrum and promoting wearing sweats 24/7.
What the fashion experts are envisioning is a transition to a more relaxed trend in men’s fashion.
When you think about it, the transition has been taking place for over the past year. Newscasters are sporting open-collar shirts or jerseys with relaxed jackets or sweaters. Politicians and corporate spokesmen are straying away from suits and ties when speaking at the podium.
Gordon Geiger, owner of Geiger’s, put the sans tie movement succinctly saying “Guys still want to look good, but business casual is what’s in.”
But what exactly is business casual? Surely casual Friday has become casual every day of the week.
“There’s a desire to shed the sweats. Guys are tired of moping around the house. It’s kind of cool and nice to see guys elevating their game,” says Wally Naymon, owner of Kilgore Trout.
Naymon is seeing a movement toward open collared or knit shirts with sport coats or five-pocket jeans paired with a cool sweater or sport shirt. He’s also witnessing a return of the short-sleeve sport shirt, but one that is more sophisticated than in the past.
“Adding a third piece makes outfits work. Throw on a shirt jacket, a knit jacket or something with sleeves and then the entire outfit works better,” he says.
JB Dunn, partner in J3 Clothing Company agrees. “There’s a new category today: smart casual. Guys are dressing for Zoom, going into the office and meeting with clients. They have to look put together.”
Dunn suggests pairing khakis with a buttoned-down shirt, a soft jacket with jeans or shorts or cotton casual pants for meetings.
His golf-enthusiast clients like RLX Ralph Lauren’s short-sleeved, collared shirts made from technologically advanced fabrics. “They’re comfortable and have a sunscreen application.”
Brian O’Neill, owner of Clothing Brigade in Beachwood Place, says that since the onset of the pandemic, he’s seen a huge uptick in casualwear. “Our store shifted completely to casual. We don’t offer any tailored shirts now.”
In fact, O’Neill has witnessed a total change in the definition of appropriate attire. “Even the perception of a banker is different. As times change and fashion moves on, there will be increasingly more casual dressing, simply because we’re allowed to dress that way. Because of that going back to the office may change although sweats definitely won’t be considered acceptable.”
For his clientele, O’Neill suggest t-shirts, hoodies and denim for the upcoming season with sweatshirts in colors ranging from orange to red, greens and yellow. Blues and greens continue to be popular. “Our clients always ask if something comes in black.”
Both Naymon and Dunn are in agreement that when it comes to color, men simply are not adventurous. “Grays and blues are always the foundation colors but now we’re introducing some shades of rose, pastel red and variations of green like moss or soft pastels. Even though there are variations of blue, men are creatures of habit,” Dunn says.
Whatever the choice, casual is definitely in vogue this season. “Coming out of the pandemic, choose something with a fresh feel to it. That may even be in a sneaker,” O’Neill says.
Gift ideas for Dad
So your usual Father’s Day tie gifting is not an option. Start a new trend this year! Be creative! Our men’s fashion experts offer some gifts guaranteed to make any dad smile.
Kilgore Trout-So many options! Dad will love Soap Distillery small batch Coffee and Whiskey Lip Balm ($8); Sophisticate, Bon Vivant or Confidante 55-hour burn Whiskey and Woof candles ($65) or a Peter Millar soft cotton/silk/cashmere quarter zip sweater in oh, so trendy pink!
Geiger’s-The Barbour Bottle Opener Keyring ($25) will quicky become is dad’s favorite keepsake. For the dad who loves a signature, go-to piece, the Southern Tide Men’s Cas Abo Vest ($125) fits the bill. While the Red Paddle Co. Paddle Board ($1,299) may ultimately become the family’s favorite, let dad have first dibs on Father’s Day. Perfect for outings on the shores of Lake Erie, home pools or deflate it and bring on the next vacation.
J3 Clothing-Dad will earn fashion bragging rights on the golf course when he wears a great golf shirt from Ralph Lauren RLX Golf ($98.50). After all, it is the choice of some pros on the PGA Tour.