Trends


There’s an old adage that says that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.  Usually in Texas, that lion sticks around through April.  Any my current umbrella is broken.  As a commuter in Texas, it behooves me to keep an umbrella in my bag.  So we’ll start with those.

Compact umbrellas are useful if you need to carry an umbrella without actually having it in your hand.  The upside is that it’s easily stowed away when the forecast is wrong.  The downside is that they are usually pretty flimsy and they are usually pretty cheap in quality.  These often have an automatic push button thing that open the umbrella.  Useful.  If you know how to use it.   These umbrellas are also really easy to flip inside out at the faintest breeze.

A full-size umbrella is usually made from better materials, since it doesn’t have to collapse small enough to fit in a commuter bag.  You can also look stylish with one of these, holding it jauntily while catching the train to the office.  The upside is that you’ll look like a posh gentleman.  The downside?  You can easily leave this behind somewhere without realizing it until you’re caught in a downpour.  These umbrellas also close into a more drip-friendly shape.

My opinion?  If you aren’t going to be commuting, go ahead and buy the nice upright one.  It’ll look a lot classier.  If you are a commuter, there are still higher quality compact umbrellas out there.  GAP has some for less than $30.  You can find either style at any price point really.  Some even have hard plastic sleeves that retract when you open the umbrella and keep your pants from getting wet when it’s closed.

For color – stick with black/gray.  It’ll go with everything and it won’t look stupid.  Stay away from rainbow colors, unless you are at the pride parade.  Nothing looks so weird as a person in a nice outfit, carrying a rainbow umbrella.

A final tip on umbrellas:  Don’t be afraid to open it in the store to make sure it opens and closes correctly.   If a shop assistant tries to stop you, leave.  You shouldn’t spend money on a product you aren’t sure will work once you get it home.   Especially something like an umbrella.  If it fails/breaks, you are screwed.  And wet.

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I know that it’s January and that for most people, spring and summer are but distant dreams and the last thing you want to think about right now is shorts and Sperry Top-siders and madras.  Well, you might be thinking about how tasty a madras cocktail would be over mulled wine or hot-buttered rum.  Anyway, there are quite a few new trends that are coming up for Spring and Summer for men.

– Florals.  Now, some men will probably shy away from this one.  I have 2 floral shirts.  And I probably won’t wear either of them.  Because they are both extremely thin and spring around here is not thin fabric weather.  But florals look good on almost anyone and most of the ones I’ve seen for men are subtle or small enough that you could wear them outside of Spring and Summer.

-Suit Separates.  I noticed this on the runway and it’s not that bad a look.  Everyone from Tommy and Ralph to Zegna is doing this.  Pair a dark blazer with lighter trousers (staying in the same fabric family, natch) and you’ve got a fashion-forward look.  Also, it means you have about 5 extra outfits off the basics.

-Backpacks.  Messenger bags are out and backpacks are in.  It’s about bloody time.  I carry a messenger bag, but come March, I’ll be trading in the grey tweed messenger bag for a trendy backpack.  It’s just good sense and better for my back.

-Cuffed shorts.  I cannot endorse this one.  Every guy I see wearing these looks like they are just getting back from playing the back nine at the country club.  Also, they wear loafers with no socks and a shimmery golf shirt and goes to happy hour dressed like that.  In a word: ew.

– And lastly, beach sweaters.  NOT a hoodie.  A tropical lightweight wool sweater perfect for a cool summer night.  Now, I live in Dallas, so I might have to actually purchase this one.  It’d be nice to have on a night out in April when the weather is still cool at night but hot in the evening.  And we’ll be in full-on Daylight Savings Time so it’ll cool down later in the evening, which means I’ll look dumb wearing a heavier jacket.

And so there you have a few trends for the spring and probably the summer.  I’m ok with these.  There are others that I am not.  Actually, I lied.  I’m not okay with cuffed shorts.  Or pleats.  But to each his own.  Just don’t get mad at me if you show up in a Fashion Faux Pas Post.

So, since Spring officially began the other day, heralding a new season full of promise.  And ragweed.  And new fashion trends.  I think trendiness is a bit overrated (despite my name).  Classics don’t go out of style and if you follow trends exclusively, you’re setting yourself to always be outdated.

Now, for the spring trends:

COLOR:  There are tons of bright colors this season to choose from and I don’t even feel like there’s only 1 IT COLOR this year like there usually are.  All of the colors are in (just not in the same outfit; the only person that works for is Rainbow Brite).  I say keep whatever bright colors you have and don’t worry about following this trend.

TRIBAL: Ok, this one kind of threw me for a loop.  I have nothing against being inspired by a specific culture, if in fact, it has inspired you.  Somehow, I think the use of kente cloth patterns actually makes it seem less like an homage to Africa than it does anything else.  Of course, we’re the same culture who basically went through all of Africa and “colonized” it, thus starting a metaphorical apocalypse over there that’s still going on.  That said, kente patterns are in.  I’d say get one shirt and work it out that way.  Maybe a skirt.  But definitely keep it to one item for the whole season.  Because I don’t think this look is coming back soon.

FLOWERS: Yeah, you heard that right.  Floral prints are back and in a big way.  This one I’m totally behind as more than a trend.  A great floral print can really turn around a dull black pant.  And also, it’s a classic.  IF it’s a good print.  Avoid small prints and loud ones, too.  For florals, check out the Milla Jovovich line at Target, which is AWESOME.  It’s part of their  GO International rotation and it’s a limited time.  The pieces are pretty well put together and totally cute.

To wrap up: go for the color (you shouldn’t have to buy any, really, unless you just love black); go for the African-inspired look (if you think you can pull it off); and for sure, go for the florals (in bright colors!).

And since my tax refund came in, I’ll be doing a bit of shopping (a very bit as I’m trying to save money, not spend it).