Proud to be an American: but let’s talk about Milan

Last month, Milan and Paris hosted designers showcasing their Spring 2012 collections. I loved and raised my eyebrow at some of the collections I researched. European and American fashion styles are vastly different in my opinion. The trends for Spring 2012 are not that different from European and American fashion, the difference is in the styling. The stylist side of me tends to focus on the details of the overall look. That being said, I was in love with many of the Milan collections.

There was just so much to look at in the majority of the collections. Pant length, Suit Coat stitching, pops of color, and accessories. I am realistic about the fact that Indianapolis won’t be sporting the majority of the trends from Milan, but I did pick out 3 trends that could take local style to that next level without being too “avant-garde”. I realize that the chances of an Indiana guy wearing a vibrant green Versace patterned shirt with a deep V neck is pretty slim, but I do know that there are guys in Indianapolis who could easily make the following three trends from Spring 2012 Milan collections their own.

#1 Trend: Color

This year a bit of color was added to the men’s fashion palette. I’ve been noticing more guys wearing sun-bleached colored shorts matched with a v-neck or a polo shirt. I was even more surprised to see some guys wearing vibrant colored cotton pants with a dress shirt and bow-tie. I thank the Hilfiger collection for the national commercials. I remember three years ago, a retailer I worked for introduced a Mathew Williamson guest collection for guys. Mathew Williamson has been known to play around with vibrant color in his collections. We sold out of everything except these vibrant pink and royal blue sun-bleached pants. With the failure of the Mathew Williamson pant here in Indianapolis, I knew it would be a while before guys accepted colored shorts, pants, and denim. It has definitely taken some time, but I think we might be getting there! So pay attention, you have a year to get ready to add some color in other areas.

Versace Band of Outsiders, and Roberto Cavalli all presented a vibrant color palette for men next year. Tropical to deep rich hues were all mashed together for an explosion of color on the runways. Versace presented a collection that introduced pattern into the color mix. Versace matched vibrant patterned pant to an equally vibrant solid shirt. The play with colors continues when Band of Outsiders presented their collection. Instead of the Vibrant electric colors seen with Versace, Band of Outsiders went with color blocking with standard Red, Yellow, Blue, and neutrals. The Band of Outsiders look is more realistic for the men of Indianapolis. There wasn’t a bold pattern in the collection, just chunks of color blocked together. An example outfit would be a red windbreaker, solid yellow v neck shirt, and a blue short. I have spotted a few guys out and about already sporting the color blocked look. If your style is a little more chill and relaxed, use Roberto Cavalli’s collection as inspiration for color. Roberto Cavalli is known for his use of pattern, normally in the animal print family. I was surprised to see the lack of pattern in his Milan Spring 2012 collection. Instead he used a rich and deep color palette. He presented a suit in a deep mustard color that he matched with chocolate brown accessories. Cavalli also presented a deep royal blue tuxedo jacket with royal blue detail. Cavalli gave some great looks that could be used on your next tropical vacation, or an after work dinner on a patio downtown Indianapolis.

To replicate the play with colors, imagine taking Crayola markers and throwing them in a box. Mix the electric colors, bold colors, and the standard elementary colors together. Then pick three different markers in the same color family. For example pick out three blue markers, and those are the colors for your outfit. Versace’s look might be a little extreme, but you can tone it down to your style. The lesson is not to be afraid of color!

#2 Trend: Details

The hardest things to find for guys is the right accessory. The standard go-to accessory is the watch or bracelet, but Spring 2012 is going to require guys to broaden their horizons. Versace highlighted the use of a bold pocket square and sunglasses with a suit. The major accessory trend in the detail of an outfit is the bag. Save the messenger bag for bike riding and the messengers. Many designers were styling their outfits with large bags full of detail. Gucci matched their men’s suit with a revamped version of a brief case. Men’s style is progressing enough that you don’t need to carry that canvas messenger bag, when you are wearing a well fitted suit.

I worked at a downtown accounting firm for a bit, and they were very conservative in their dress attire. Most companies in Indianapolis are the same way, but you can still add a bit of style to your work wear. You can still wear your black suit and white dress shirt, but go ahead and pick out a pink or blue silk pocket square. Finish the look off with a Gucci inspired bag. Not only will you look stylish with your hint of detail in your outfit, but you will also show off the perfect life accessory; Confidence.

#3 Trend: Pattern

Most men either like patterns or not. For those that do locally, that usually means wearing a pin-stripped shirt under a blazer. The Milan collections offer a wide range of pattern options for those men ready to expand their horizons. Men’s suits had two options at the shows, bold or pattern. If you don’t know where you would wear a plum colored Gucci suit, maybe a Gucci bold black and white pattern suit would work. As a part of the self proclaimed “Fashion Revolution”, men need to embrace pattern. Maybe pattern suits aren’t realistic for you career so there is another option. It seems that there is a throw back to vintage patterns for men’s casual wear. Jean Paul Gaultier presented a collection in Paris full of pattern. He paired vintage beach patterns with fitted blazers and shirts.  He wasn’t alone in this. Other collections from the Paris shows, paired patterned shirts as a base layering piece to a three piece suit. The pattern shirt is a great way to make a look a little more casual. The show presented styles that were layered pattern looks. In real life the looks are hard to pull off, so I recommend starting simple and increase the boldness of your patterns.

Take a look at the designers I highlighted, and get your game plan ready for next Spring. Educated shoppers will be able to go to the stores now and pick up some of those spring and summer sale pieces, that can be used next season. For example look at the Jean Paul Gaultier blazer highlighted here. If you are a regular shopper at H&M, or have worked there, you will identify a VERY similar jacket was sold at H&M last season. If you bought the jacket you are already on you way to this Spring 2012 look.  Guys remember this year we are making small steps to step up the fashion in Indianapolis.

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