Man in Uniform

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A guy's guide to dressing in 2009. By Xiyin Tang

When it comes to fashion, you guys don't always have it so easy. Updating your favorite wardrobe staples could easily be a no-brainer, but somehow, the idea of adapting runway trends to real life always turns into a bit of a fiasco. That's why we've assembled a venerable man's manifesto for dressing in 2009. From your jeans to your sideburns, we've got your checklist of what to buy and how to wear it whether it's a new pair of blue suede shoes or a classic baseball jacket. As an added bonus, we've gathered some dressing dirt from industry insiders like the very dapper designers from Shipley & Halmos and Eddy Chai of the perennially chic boutique Odin. Read on for how to get your look exactly right in 2009.


1. Update Your Suit.

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What can a fella do after the craze of Hedi Slimane's revolutionary skinny suits? While the long and lean look isn't going away persay, the movement toward a roomier silhouette seems inevitable, and even desirable. "I've always found that baggier clothes or loose silhouettes can be really elegant on guys, combined with more fitted pieces," says Eddy Chai of the New York boutique Odin. Consider a pair of pleated pants slightly looser in the legs or a summer-light blazer with unstructured shoulders. Add to that, the recent favoring of double-breasted sports jackets—yes, a boxier cut is better than ever. (In the words of Archetype Showroom Menswear Director, Steve Rojas: "Will somebody please kill off the super skinny jean and start dressing like real men?")

Above, from left: Spring '09 looks from Acne, Burberry Prorsum, and 3.1 Phillip Lim.


2. Head Back to School.

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We've already proclaimed our love of varsity jackets and saddle shoes, both of which are staples of a sort of half-nerdy, half-stylized Ivy League look perfected by band-of-the-moment—and Columbia grads—Vampire Weekend. Band of Outsiders also worked a geek-chic look on the spring runways with a full-on madras ensemble, all finished off with a pair of preppy boat shoes that would look right at home on the Cambridge campus.

Above, from left: Spring '09 looks from Corpus, Band of Outsiders, and A.P.C.


3. Get Onboard with the Newest Denim.

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Continuing with the girls-borrowing-from-the-boys-and-vice-versa trend, it seemed only appropriate that Current/Elliott, who makes the perfect pair of boyfriend jeans, is finally launching a line just for the guys. And the slouchy cut is universally guy friendly—distressed, extra-soft, and vintage-washed, we can already seen them cuffed and rolled and paired with some old school loafers or tennis shoes.

Above, from left: A shot from The Sartorialist, Current/Elliot's new men's line; a spring '09 look from Gilded Age.


4. Get Groomed and Refined.

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Oh, the ongoing facial hair debate. Shorty Maniace, manager and head barber extraordinaire at FSC Barber, tells us: "With hair, we're definitely seeing the pompadour style getting more refined. Less of a DA (duck's ass) and more of the refined tapered out haircut. There's a growing trend toward clean cuts that are very Mad Men—a bit slicked back with a more defined part. It's a classic look that's more elegant. With facial hair, heavy beards are on their way out but moustaches are coming back. Not this thick Magnum P.I. thing, but more Errol Flynn. Overall, there's definitely more of the gentlemen look coming back altogether." Or as fashion consultant Wayne Gross puts it, "I'm seeing a sort of 'new elegance' emerging—a pulled together, refined look that reminds me of Alain Delon circa La Piscine."

Above, from left: Mad Men, a spring look '09 from 3.1 Phillip Lim, Erol Flynn.

5. Blue is the New Black.

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Black is always in, but designers are lightening up for spring with varying shades of cool blue. Ranging from a rich cornflower and cadet blue to a dusty pale shade, the color feels like a fresh take on navy and works well as a new neutral. We loved YSL and Jil Sander's takes for spring, as well Scott Sternberg's spin at Band of Outsiders who favored a powder-blue button-down with classic boat shoes.

Above, from left: Spring '09 looks from Jil Sander, Rachel Comey, and Adam Kimmel.

6. Be Daring With Prints. Play With Layering.

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From Moschino's peace-sign embossed cardigans to Robert Geller's hearty stripes to Dries van Noten's elaborate pattern play, the spring runways were inundated with fresh new ways to wear your prints. If you aren't feeling up to the task of matching your florals with checks, then take a tip from designers Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos: "We've been wearing lightweight leather jackets under our heavy wool outerwear coats. It's a different way of layering without having to rely on sweaters or blazers." And come spring (if that ever does happen…), we're loving the eclectic mix of mesh shirt and printed canvas shorts the duo showed on the runways. It's the perfect example of how layering and mixing textures and patterns can make the seemingly old new again.

Above, from left: Spring '09 looks from Shipley & Halmos, Dries van Noten, and Robert Geller.


7. Embrace Your American Roots.

Right now, and especially in this economy, guys should be getting back to their old-school American roots—think functional pieces with an eye for the details. "There's a nostalgia for 1940s and '50s blue-collar commuter wear, the characteristics of which were functionality and sustainability," says Jared Flint, the Men's Market Editor at Nylon. "In a post-gilded America those are pretty pertinent values in men's fashion. This may seem like a simplification, but it's the opposite—it's required a rigorous attention to detail from designers to create pieces that function as a garment. You see this in bags, most guys carry bags that fit their lifestyles or daily tasks, whether that be a canvas tote or leather duffel, its the modern day lunch pail or briefcase." Hence, look to heritage brands like Woolrich, LL Bean, and Land's End for quality pieces like anoraks, pea-coats, and trenches that won't break the bank.

A guy's guide to dressing in 2009.