By Jessica Ghilani
Last February, the runways for fall 2011 showed flannels, tweeds, military details, and a lot of knits. Luxe fabrics including velvets, fine cashmeres, and buttery leathers abounded on the runways in Paris and Milan. Neutrals were mixed with pops of fall’s vibrant hues of orange, purple, and red. Pleated pants seemed to be making a comeback but snugly tailored suits with flattering flat front trousers were still plentiful.
For many Pittsburgh men, seasonal runways will not dictate fully their sartorial choices of day to day. Instead a lot of stylish Pittsburghers turn to classic, elegant staple pieces from their current closets. Mixing and matching new purchases from reliable and high-quality lines can outfit men with fresh sophistication. Some thoughtful maintenance and a carefully curated shopping list can prepare you for a stylish season. Consider these suggestions for men’s fall 2011 fashion.
Seasonal changes offer the perfect time to take stock of where you stand and what you already possess. Maximize the longevity of your current wardrobe with some necessary maintenance. Check the seams, linings, closures, and fabric finish of the fall-weight topcoat that has served you so well for the last decade. Do the same for your sport jackets, cardigans, and dress shirts. Some garments simply need a trip to the dry cleaners to look fresh. Some need a good lint-rolling. Others are too pilled to be restored. Has your weight changed? Have you held off on hemming those new slacks? Gather up some items and head to the tailor for estimates. While you’re at it, check the soles of your shoes and evaluate the status of your leather goods. Cobblers, shoe-shiners, and at-home polishing can work wonders in restoration. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, try on your current clothes. What do you still like? What can you use productively? What can you restore? What no longer fits? Remember that bodies can change, even when weights haven’t.
Once you have evaluated what you own, you can begin to make the list of what you want and need. Consider buying upgrades in categories where even thoughtful maintenance cannot restore or rejuvenate old pieces. Use the European-inspired approach to shopping that popularized in the US during the recession: “Buy less; buy better.” In other words, shop thoughtfully and with an eye for quality garments that compliment your current wardrobe. Sometimes this means spending more in the short term, but it can also result in longevity. The goal is to reduce the overall price per wear.
If you are on a tight budget, buy at the end of seasons with a focus on season-less pieces. Although spring and summer clothes are long-sold, stylishly frugal men keep their eyes open during end-of-season sales. A summery chambray shirt made for a useful “wear-now” buy at 65% off last August. Think of ways to pair that same shirt with layers to create new and very now fall looks. Lisa Slesinger, co-owner and buyer for Larrimor’s says that, “Many fabric weights are designed to be worn nine, if not twelve months of the year.” In addition to shopping with an eye for the season-less, select pieces that can carry you through the workweek and into the weekend.
Make strategic purchases that will offer your wardrobe the most versatility early in the season to maximize their use. Larrimor’s carries many accent pieces that will allow you to add creative pops to ensembles through neckwear, silk squares, or subtle deco patterns in dress shirts. For fall, Slesinger sees vibrant jewel-toned colors like merlot, pumpkin spice, deep greens, and blues. She adds that these colors finish darker and with more depth than those you see on the fall racks for women. If you feel timid about incorporating head-to-toe trends, consider incorporating an accent piece, thoughtfully. And don’t shy away from trendier items if you can find them for a good price. Consider trying out trends that resonate with your current style.
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Slesinger’s philosophy for fall fashion is sound. She encourages Pittsburghers to, “Dress as well as you can for what you’re doing. Fall is a wonderful time to find special items that you really love and that you can wear a lot.” This fall, be sure to dress your best. Restore and make use of old favorites. Upgrade. Buy for versatility, elegance, and season-less appeal. Incorporate trends with thoughtful accent pieces.