Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How To Test a New Trend

Menswear folk preach timeless style all the time, and you'll read on many blogs tons of advice and comments instructing you to avoid trends. In general, I tend to agree - to an extent. Yes, timeless pieces are just that - timeless - and as such, will probably be the more long-lasting versatile pieces in your wardrobe, and as such, are the ones worth investing in. However, trends shouldn't be ruled out entirely. For one thing, some of those trends do end up graduating to timeless status. If we never tried anything new, we'd still be wearing togas, or caveman skins. Even classic style evolves, and that can't happen without people trying new things. Also, timeless can get boring...sometimes you need to jump off a cliff and do something exciting, new, and fun.

So how do you go about testing a new trend? My recommendation is to dip your toes in the water before you dive in (although I did just make a reference to jumping off a cliff...). The trick is to find a way to try out a new style without investing yourself so heavily that if, as many trends do, yours falls to the wayside in a few months, you're out a chunk of change and stuck with some expensive and now useless crap.

With that in mind, you'll want to treat these trends exactly the opposite of how you treat timeless pieces. Instead of focusing on construction and quality, and saving your money to invest in a truly worthwhile piece, look instead for quick fixes - inexpensive options that embody the heart of the trend but don't require you to hand over a month's pay. Skip all the painstaking research, go with your gut, but go cheap.

For example, I've really been digging this microtrend lately of stark black and white outfits - especially in more casual terms. It's definitely a more street-wear friendly look, which isn't one I usually go for (tending instead to stick to a nice preppy/prepster balance). I'm thinking black jeans, some black leather trainers, a bright white tee, and a black bomber jacket. Something like one of these looks:

John Legend (photo via Créme de la Créme) | Anthony Urbano (photo via Closet Freaks)         
I've been so tempted to try it out, but I'm almost certain it's not going to be a strong player in my 'fit rotation, and might even just be relegated to a few wears. Therefore, I'm not even starting to look at premium denim, designer sneakers, or classic bomber jackets (I would spend some $$ on a tee, but only because everyone can use a white tee, and I'll rock that part for as long as it lasts). 

Instead, I'm going as cheap as possible. I just grabbed a pair of lightly used Levi's on eBay for around $12 (shipping included). If it weren't for those, I'd pick up this pair from H&M (a store I usually skip). I found a bomber jacket at Forever 21 (where I also wouldn't normally even consider shopping) in an especially fashion-forward mixed-media for only $30 . I actually already have a white tee that I copped from Bonobos, on sale for around $10, but you can score one for the same price at Uniqlo year-round. Even the trainers, I'm grabbing for just $45 at Vans. Voila, an entire (on trend) outfit for well under $100 (which wouldn't even cover the shoes for a 'timeless' ensemble):

This way, no matter the outcome of my little experiment, I'm only out a small amount of money. If I like the look, I can take some more time and spend some more money to get pieces really worth being proud of, and swap them out for my cheapskate options over time. If I'm not so fond of the look, like I said, little skin off my back (way less than if I went high-end on everything right off the bat). 

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