2013 July 27

Jerzees_Schoolgear_Boys_Blazer_29_126In the USA the earliest ever back-to-school shopping binge has already begun! Yes, just as our schools break up, the USA is shopping for the return to desks and detentions.  What’s interesting about this is that around 60% of shoppers for back-to-school items start their shopping online.

The biggest search trends are for: One Direction stationery, Messenger bags, North Face school backpacks, and personalised school kit and supplies. The One Direction craze is huge, with white T-shirts a la Harry Styles look and blue short sleeves shirts as worn by Louis topping polls, although Zayn’s trademark lumberjack shirt and quiff are the biggest sales leaders.

Messenger bag sales are explicable by the fact that tablets are the most searched item online for high school and college students – and a tablet needs a bag to transport it. Around 39% of consumers in the USA will do some of their school shopping online with 17% saying it’s how they do the majority of their purchasing of school uniform and supplies.

One way that many people prepare for the return to school is by viewing videos uploaded by those who’d already made their purchases, to hear candid reports of the items they bought, from underwear to school shirts to stationery. It’s turning out to be one of the biggest drivers for teenage buyers – and students are planning their shopping around the real time reports of others who are out comparing prices and trying on clothing, so that they can be as efficient as possible and still find stylish bargains.


2013 July 13

Fruit_Of_The_Loom_Slim_Fit_TShirt_25_3312013 may, or may not, be the 100 year anniversary of the T-shirt. Nobody knows exactly when this classic casual garment was ‘invented’ although in 1913 the US Navy ordered ‘light undershirts’ for every sailor to wear under their bell-bottomed uniforms and the T-shirt, as a name, arrived.

However, as is so often the case, it seems the USA may have been importing, and renaming, an older European invention. Many European soldiers, particularly British army recruits stationed in India and Burma, wore ‘undershirts’ when they were off duty, and these undershirts were virtually identical to the plain white T-shirt that is ubiquitous today.

One reason the plain white T-shirt has been back in the news is the effect of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo di Caprio. The film is based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was the first writer to coin the term ‘T shirt’ in his 1920s novel, This Side of Paradise. At the same time, Rene Lacoste, the French tennis player, brought the polo shirt to high prominence with his many wins, and his chosen tennis apparel. Casual was king.

The craze for tanning, the increased casualness in clothing generally, and the arrival of Hollywood stars like James Dean who was the icon of the new cool casual fashions, all brought T-shirts into public prominence.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that printed T-shirts really got off the ground, and then they took the T-shirt world completely. Today it is predicted that every person in the world has at least two T-shirts, and that the average developed world consumer has a dozen.

And the average developed world consumer may be about to buy one more, especially if he is male and a bit chunky – Andrew Dunn of Nottingham University has discovered that a large black T on the front of a white T-shirt gives the impression you are slimmer than you are! The degree of attraction corresponds to the width of the T and whilst a wide T in the classic position can increase a man’s health and physical appeal in a photo by around 12% over the same man wearing a blank shirt, an upside down T of the same size decreases health and physical appeal by … 12%!


2013 July 1

Gildan_Childrens_Premium_Tshirt_25_205_300_300It’s the last day of Glasto and yet the festival season feels like it’s only just starting. So what’s hot and what’s not, for this year’s festivalgoers to be wearing?

In:

  • Shorts – high waisted shorts and even skorts (skirt shorts) for women but low slung knee length shorts for guys.  Tanned legs are a big deal this year.
  • African prints – a sudden late arrival, based quite possibly on respect for Mandiba in his last days, tribal prints have become an instant hit on the muddy fields this year.
  • Blazers – it’s a Gatsby thing. Worn over T-shirts with those long shorts by guys, and worn with dresses or polo-shirts and tennis shoes by gals (who are also putting daisies in their hair, natch!)
  • Stripes – some of those blazers are striped, some of the shorts are striped, pretty well everything is striped, especially T-shirts!
  • Plaits – seen more in the USA than here, but plaited hair (with daisies) is a big deal. If you can’t hack that look, try a white or yellow top, worn with a daisy chain hairband (either make it from real daisies or buy cheap silk flowers from a pound shop and staple them to a hairband).

Out:

  • Wings – unless they actually work and can lift you off the ground. Fairy wings are naff. End of.
  • Boots – legs are in evidence, including ankles and they need to be tanned, that means the ugg boot and cowboy boot of previous years are not working with this year’s looks.
  • Leggings – as above – you can’t display tanned pins if they’re wrapped in lycra!
  • Jeans – just not popular this year. Aim for chinos or shorts for guys, women are wearing high waisted shorts with vintage belt and African print long dresses.

 


2013 June 26

SG_Ladies_PolyCotton_Polo_Shirt_51_336Laura Robson was a shock winner, beating 12th seeded Maria Kirilenko in straight sets – proving that the ‘Olympic effect’ isn’t over yet. Her clothing choice were straight down the line British too, as she’s wearing the Barricade range by Stella McCartney for Adidas. As so often happens with the top seeds, her opponent Kirilenko was also wearing Barricade, so the clothing itself can’t be said to have given Robson her edge.

The fashion highlights at Wimbledon this year will not include one of the centre court’s favourite: Kate Middleton, due to the imminence of her delivery date, but it is rumoured that she may be back with a bang next year – as President of the All England Club.

However, there are still some glamour pusses to watch out for, on and off court. Robson apart, the players to watch are Maria Sharapova, as always, who can’t look bad whatever she wears, and the Williams sisters for the hit and miss nature of their togs – sometimes amazingly well put together outfits and sometimes looking like they ran through the T-shirt section of a pound store with their eyes closed.

Off court, Kim Sears, girlfriend of Andy Murray, is likely to turn heads. She’s an aficionado of some of the more upscale high street brands, and she’s a big fan of Mulberry, so she may have a big influence on the glamour quotient.

Mirka Federer is her husband’s PR consultant and the statuesque brunette wears Federer’s own casual clothing range, as does he, and looks fantastic in it. No surprise as she’s a former player herself and fully understands what it takes to look good on and off court – she’s notable for her strong colour sense matching soft casuals like a drape skirt with a crisp white polo shirt.

Maria Perello is Rafa Nadal’s love interest and as Rafa is out, we won’t be seeing her understated Spanish style, which includes tailored trousers with subtly coloured casual tops – a real loss to the glamour circuit for this year at least.


2013 June 15

Gamegear_Track_Pique_Polo_104_446The 2012 Summer Olympics led to a massive injection of sports clothing culture into everyday life. While recent Olympics have led to groundbreaking developments in technology and athletic performance, the London Games did something else, they changed the way we think about casual clothing.

So, it’s no longer good enough for us to pull on a ratty old white T-shirt – especially one with a beer logo or Homer Simpson on the front – match to a pair of sagging track trousers and head for the weight rack.

Oddly, in the week that Sport England report a drop in athletic activity in the UK, our interest in sports clothing or what is starting to be called ‘sports casual’ has never been stronger.

What still works? Well those track trousers are still a classic garment, although saggy, grey and stained jogging bottoms are out. Solid colours like grey, navy and black are popular, slim fitting is essential and track trousers should be worn with a bright polo or T-shirt, rather than a matching hoodie or sweatshirt – the days of the monochrome sporting look are long gone.

Function is vital – dressing for the actual activity you’re taking part in is key to looking (and feeling) the part and fitting it, it turns out, can improve athletic performance. The state of mind in which you approach the gym is largely determined by how quickly you integrate with the workout, the team or the event, so taking a clue from those more established than you is key to success.

Garments with wicking capacity remove sweat so you can train for longer without discomfort and without chafing. Layering your gym clothing ensures you get a good warm up and cool down. A vest, a T-shirt, and a zip up hoodie work really well to keep your big muscles like abs and pecs warm until you’ve worked them enough to remove a layer.


2013 June 13

Fruit_Of_The_Loom_LadyFit_6535_Polo_51_248Play may have been suspended today through floods and predicted electrical storms, but not all of the electricity has been in the air. There’s been a massive fashion injection into golf, partly as a result of the arrival of new players, which has created a whole new casual clothing look, which is no longer just for dads and granddads.

Golf clothing is also one of the few areas where men outshop women. Ralph Lauren, doyen of upmarket sportswear, is at the forefront of the new wave, pairing navy base colours with neon – of particular note are the Lauren wicking polo shirts which are proving to be more popular as smart casual evening wear than coursewear.

Professional golf has some strict clothing rules to consider. Male professionals aren’t allowed to wear shorts or collarless shirts. Women can wear shorts, but they must be no more than four inches above the knee and they can wear T-shirts without collars as log as they have sleeves.

Getting the look is pretty easy – ice cream coloured polo shirts are a traditional starting point, with chinos or cargo trousers, while for women, a pair of tailored shorts in navy, black or tan can be paired with a striped T-shirt and visor or baseball cap to create a sporty but elegant look. To dress either look up further, wear a good leather belt and loafers, or, for women, this year’s big fashion hit, rope-soled canvas wedges in fruit shades like raspberry or lime.


2013 May 31

New_Performance_T_104_721Start again

Most of what guys learn about fashion they learned really young, from other guys – and that’s all based on dominance and testosterone, not on the basics of appearance, style and fit. So let go of the ideas that your mates gave you about what works, and start again with the basics of fit and function.

Fit

Clothing has to fit, but many men don’t know where it should fit (T-shirts fit shoulders and arms, not bellies, jeans fit waists, or builder’s crack occurs etc) – ask somebody else to confirm the fit of a chosen new garment, as you might not really know what fits you

Function

Garments should have a purpose. This comes as a surprise to a lot of men who just wear what feels easy and comfortable. If you’re dressing for work, your clothing should reflect well on your employer and allow you to do your job, whatever it is.

Buy the basics first

A simple white T-shirt, a good pair of jeans, a smart jacket and a really good shirt will get you through most situations. Invest in those basics first and you’ll find the rest of your wardrobe falls into place around these basics, which are called the staples. Our .99 pence T-shirt deal will help!

Keep it simple

Simplicity is valuable and practical. Treat your wardrobe like a car, give it at least an annual MOT and throw out anything that looks dodgy or too worn.

Plan around activity

The one thing most guys don’t do is choose clothing based on their lives. If you work out five days a week, gym wear should be a big priority. If you hit the clubs four nights in a row, your wardrobe should reflect that – basically you should spend your money so that you could do your chosen activities, whatever they are, for a week, without having to use a washing machine (and that doesn’t mean wearing the same thing over and over until it honks!) because otherwise you become ‘that guy’ who wears the same outfit all the time.

Try something new

When hoodies came out, back in the day, most men though they were a bit weird – like a sweatshirt with a hat, was how one famous footballer described them. And yet, today, there’s hardly a bloke alive who doesn’t have at least one, even your dad! So be prepared to try some new form of clothing and find out if it works for you.


2013 May 23

BC_Ladies_Milano_34_Sleeve_Stretch_Poplin_Shirt_27_704Jenny Bannister, one of Australia’s best established fashion designers, has been pointing out some home truths to her industry. Bannister, like Vivienne Westwood, successfully transcended a ‘70s fashion career to become a couturier of note, and she’s complained about the clothing choices available to larger, older women. Her focus is on the top end of the market, where billionaires and multinational entrepreneurs who just happen to be female, hang out. For them, designer clothing is a natch, but what about the women a little lower down the food chain, who are still powerful and need to be presentable, but don’t have a haute couture budget?

Bannister was direct, ‘You buyers out there, who think the fatter the customer, the less money she has to spend, look at [mining billionaire] Gina Rinehart and [socialite Eileen] Red Bond you lot’ she said and insisted that women over forty want clothing that is:

1.    Natural, quality fabrics in flattering colours
2.    Not based around neutral shades, because they can make large women look larger
3.    Vintage and classic styles, with accessories that are fashion forward
4.    Knee length or longer dresses with sleeves.

Even that set of criteria rarely works for women who have non-desk based careers. If you’re a pilot, a shipping magnate or a journalist, clothing has to be rugged yet smart, adaptable and crease resistant.

We recommend:
1.    Good tailored jackets
2.    Classic trousers with designer belts, teamed with quality shirtsstretch poplin, for example, works well for all shapes of body and has inbuilt ‘snap-back’ smartness
3.    Round-necked, long-sleeved T-shirts with bold scarves.


2013 May 15

Henbury_Ladies_Short_Sleeve_Classic_Oxford_Shirt_27_189Many of us, particularly interns and those getting their first job, are becoming stressed and confused by the demands of Friday clothing. Here are some key dos and don’ts to help manage the perplexities of the day before the weekend:

Do

•    Wear black or navy denim if denim is allowed, but don’t succumb to the desire to wear stone-washed, denim cutoffs (Daisy Dukes) or short skirts. Keep it classic with boot cut jeans and a semi-formal top like a short sleeved shirt with a vibrant necklace.
•    Stick to heels or bright flats – red ballerina pumps work, flip-flops don’t. The Friday rule is if you are showing heels (slingbacks) don’t show toes or vice versa.
•    Be bright – large florals or jungle prints look great, as to strong coloured polo-shirts with a pair of simple black trousers and a statement necklace or designer scarf or bracelet.

Don’t

•    Get sultry – it’s casual attire not clubbing attire. When in doubt wear the longer sleeve, the higher neckline or the more formal outfit.
•    Wear shorts, unless they are fully tailored and worn with a blazer and formal shoes. Think Audrey Hepburn.
•    Forget to accessorise your casual clothing – you can fool just about everybody that you’ve perfected the casual Friday style if you wear a good necklace or belt with a plain t-shirt.


2013 May 9

sir alexSo, the most successful British football manager of all time is retiring. For many it’s the end of an era, and all those other clichés. There are also a thousand theories about what made Ferguson so great and one of them is related to clothing.

Scientists at Portsmouth University discovered that a team’s belief in their manager’s competence is related to the way the manager dresses. So Ferguson’s habit of wearing tracksuits in training, and suits and shirts for match days, creates the perfect blend of competence. A tracksuit or leggings and sweatshirt on training days suggests the ability to transmit technical skills while formal clothing for match days inspires belief in strategic competence.

Surprisingly, the effect is greater on the opposition, than the team being managed, so part of Ferguson’s longevity may be his consistent approach to always dressing like a player when coaching and a businessman when in front of the opposition – over long years of media exposure, he’s created a persona that appears to have perfect mastery of both sets of skills, creating an air of omnipotence that threatens both players and managers on other teams.

Gamegear_Tracksuit_104_282One way that this has been proved true is that in February last year, when Sir Alex appeared on TV in a suit and white polo neck sweater rather than a shirt, social media networks and sports commentators alike were agog about his apparently insignificant change of attire – and all kinds of theories abounded. Several tweets went with the line ‘The name’s Ferguson, Alex Ferguson’ referencing the famous white polo neck of James Bond and linking the two great British icons.

Few other managers have such an impact and, apart from Jose Mourinho, none of them score anything other than own goals, clothing wise. So it seems that to dress like a boss, on and off the pitch, has been part of Sir Alex’s success story.