If, like me, you are an avid podcast listener, you may have noticed that your weekly political punditry has stopped short of lending predictions for 2017. Largely because last year threw so many curve balls that there is so little confidence in what was hitherto considered a safe bet. Not so much in the menswear vicinity, especially the sartorial side.
Trends and predictions with regards to suits needn’t be complicated. Much like haute horlogerie trends also, what is currently out of favour, will come back in and what is in will go out – with the exception of shell-suits – and nothing demonstrates this more than the fact that 2017 will be the year of that most antediluvian style, the double-breasted suit.
Last year, Spectator Life ran a piece by Harry Mount on the three-button suit and how scarce it was. For a long time, the same could be said for the double-breasted suit. It languished in the wilderness, only to be found on the terrible ‘box suits’ of the nineties and White’s Club. So it was associated with dreadful fit and the younger generations felt it too stuffy; so short, slim fitting jackets with matchstick-thin lapels ruled the roost.
After the rise of Tom Ford, designers wised up to the importance of shape and silhouette, certainly after 2008, with a more discerning and spendthrift consumer, double-breasted faced an uphill struggle to be relevant to anyone.
Then along came relative newcomer Thom Sweeney, who injected some much-needed life into the cut. Dunhill, Ralph Lauren, Brunello Cucinelli and other such leading menswear brands are making plenty of room in their collections for absolutely superb double-breasted jackets from a comforting looking flannel or cashmere to a sporty and travel-friendly fresco wool. Those slim fit jackets lapels are, from the catwalk perspective, becoming increasingly sidelined, and heading into this year, the streets of London are replete with the style of Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Le Corbusier and Peter O’Toole on notably young wearers.
Further to double-breasted – there will be a larger focus on drape. This does not mean that clothes are loose and ill fitting, but, for example, there will be wider trouser legs (the sooner the better frankly). These will not be flares; they will more closely resemble the Oxford bags that Edward VIII used to wear. E Tautz took these to the runway and has flipped received wisdom on its head by making baggy, chic, and plenty of designers are doing the same.
So too will there be a continuing emergence of denim as a luxury material. Work-wear is dapper these days (see the costumes in Peaky Blinders for a perfect example) and previous incarnations of the denim suit are achingly horrible (viz Justin Timberlake and his then beau Britney). People have been very sniffy about denim but more and more scrumptious weaves are being produced that turn into very smart garments when properly made. Even Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label produced an excellent and sharp three-piece denim suit with a double-breasted waistcoat.
Ready-to-wear brands are pouring so much effort into the shape and design of their blocks, that 2017 is destined to be a year where men will begin to feel good again in fabrics and cuts that not many years ago, would have been pushed aside in a heartbeat.
Tom Chamberlin is editor of The Rake magazine