The Easy Fix - The Seasons New Jacket Styles -
There may be one shortcut into men’s fashion this autumn: the sport coat. Sure, men could take the trouble to get familiar with the season’s head-to-toe checklist of fashions, form the right dress shirt (stores are pushing spread collars) to shoes (brogues, wingtips and lots of brown). But compared with women’s styles tend to stick around longer in the men’s department, which is on surprise to all the guys still wondering in their guts and go back to pleated pants. (Most designers still favor flat pant fronts.)
The result is that it can take just a few new threads for a man to bring himself up to date. This autumn, the easiest way to update a wardrobe is to add a modern sport coat.
Sale of these coats are already one a tear in the U.S., prompting retailers from luxury department store Neiman Marcus to mass-market chain Jos. A. Bank to push them again for autumn. Last year, sales rose 22.7% in the U.S. to $1.5 billion, while sales of suits roes less than half a percent to $2.9 billion, according to market researcher NPD Group.
We asked fashion directors to recommend the season’s latest styles, hunting for jacket that could transform an outfit from in conspicuous to Hollywood producer but that would still fit an average sized executive. But we discovered the industry is throwing in few curves. For men who have finally accepted the fact that there’s no agreement on whether coats should have two or three buttons, there are new challenges. And while slim fits in coats coats continue to gain ground, Brioni, Canali and others are offering a more forgiving cut in the waist. In their case it’s the details that update the look.
Below are three key coat styles for the season.
WHAT IT SAYS: Music and fashion player!
Earlier this summer, at a press conference in Namibia to announce the birth of his first child with Angelina Jolie, one thing rescued Brad Pitt’s T-shirt and jeans from banality : a one-button sport coat.
After years of pushing suits and sport coats with three button and even flirting with an almost Mao-like four some designers are going with the most minimal closure yet. The one-button coat has recently made several notable Hollywood appearances. In addition to Mr. Pitt, actor Jared Leto has been photographed in a J. Lindeberg trim-fitting wool version with peaked lapels. Movie director, producer and writer M. Night Shyamalan wore a wool one-but-ton Z Zegna jacket, from Ermenegildo Zegna, while promoting his most recent film, “Lady in the Water.”
The material makes a difference. Z Zegna’s trim-cut coat, in a camelhair fabric, could transform a nerdy guy into a cool one without making him look like he is trying too hard, says Michael Macko, vice president and men’s fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue. The camel hair makes the $795 coat accessible to a broader audience. “It’s for the guy who is probably a little older, a little more classic, who still wants to be perceived as hip,” Mr. Macko says.
Slim, with a rollover lapel
WHAT IT SAYS: Downtown ad exec!
For trim and fit men, slimmed down coats are on an upswing especially those in preppy styles. Several three-button designs feature a lapel that folds over the top button, giving a two-button look. Designer Michael Bastian’s midnight navy English wool hopsack sport coat is anything but traditional, with higher armholes, narrower lapels and a slightly shorter length. The Italian-made jacket also has a center vent, nickel buttons and only a smidgen of padding at the shoulders.
The extreme version: super-short, tailored sport coats. Jeffery Kalinsky, founder and chief executive of the Jeffery boutiques in New York and Georgia, suggests a navy wool sport coat and a black and white herringbone-patterned tweed version, both from Thom Browne. The caution, Mr. Kalinsky says: They work best for very lean guys.
The forgiving waist.
WHAT IT SAYS: Executive who lunches!
For the guy who may have already surrendered his washboard stomach, a worsted cashmere sport coat by Brioni nods at today’s style but offers a more forgiving fit. It has narrow lapels with a higher notch, side vents and soft shoulders. The lapel is also rolled over the third button. “It’s a sexy jacket that makes a conservative person feel like they are part of what’s going on, says Tom Kalenderian, general merchandise manager for menswear at Barneys. “It’s very L.A. chic.”
Then there’s tweed. Not the heavy old-fashioned tweed, but smoother and sportier versions, like the Italian fabric used vented jacket. A more affordable version is J. Crew’s coat, with three buttons and slightly tailored fit.
By Ray A. Smith
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