Bank statements, police statements, damage limitation statements; the consensus on statements is that they’re no good thing. However, statement looks – when approached with the right amount of chutzpah – can fast-track you from middle of the road to menswear maestro.
We know, we know, ‘statement pieces’ often create the kind of outfits that lead to well-meaning celebrities ending up being mercilessly mocked in the web’s comment sections or immortalised via memes.
But fear not, because we’ve tapped the advice of some of the style industry’s most clued-up so you can reap the rewards of dressing daringly with minimal chance of online annihilation. Wardrobe crisis averted.
Stating the obvious: white trousers may as well be physically moulded from Marmite because of their ability to polarise opinion. Everyone has something to say about white legwear, and more often than not they aren’t fans. But there are ways to keep the haters at bay.
“Ensure your white trousers are cut slim and not too long at the hem, so showing a bit of ankle,” says Reiss head of menswear design, Alex Field. If those ankles are as white as the trousers, it’s advisable to slap a small amount of tan on them, or you risk looking like you’re wearing sports socks.
While tonal outfits in shades of black, navy and even beige are a solid choice, when it comes to white Field suggests breaking up the look to avoid any sailor jibes. “Style the trousers with something that isn’t white. Preferably a knit in a neutral colour or navy for a classic, nautical look.”
We love the minimal, painfully tasteful Nordic menswear movement as much as the next pseudo-Scandinavian dresser, but (dare we say it) sometimes it gets a bit, well, boring. What’s the antithesis to boring? A floral shirt, of course.
“Remember, this look is more Bloomsbury boffin than it is Honolulu hottie, so if a floral shirt screams Hawaiian luau, step away slowly,” says style writer Miriam Bouteba. “Go for micro or painted florals while also making sure that the shirt’s base colour is dark and short sleeves are rolled slightly to minimise any whiff of novelty.”
Styling-wise, opt for smart chinos or tailored trousers and wear the shirt buttoned up or open over a plain T-shirt. For a next-level move, try tucking the shirt in for a sleek finish.
Despite what many think, your surname doesn’t have to be Gatsby for you to be able to pull off a pastel blazer. Already one of the season’s key fashion trends, frankly they’re a no-brainer.
“A pastel blazer may seem a daring choice, but it’s a versatile and easy way to dress for spring/summer,” says stylist Ozzy Shah, who has dressed the likes of Olly Murs and Jim Chapman.
As softly stylish as they are, pastel blazers tend to scream try-hard, so keep things simple. Shah’s go-to combinations include “a crisp white shirt for the day and a black roll neck in the evening”. But they can also be deployed as part of a smart separates look (either contrasting or tonal); casually over a T-shirt, or used to soften a more rugged denim or chambray button-down. No matter which option you choose, swerve the cliché boat shoes in favour of loafers or clean sneakers. Pastel perfected.
Relaxed, Cropped Jeans
We’ve lost count of the number of times the nineties have made a comeback (for better or worse). This season the decade is returning (yet again), and there’s nothing more nostalgic than a pair of cropped jeans.
Whereas the first time around cropped jeans got the full-on grunge treatment, for a more wearable look tone down your inner Kurt Cobain and smarten things up. “Cropped jeans should be cut with a relaxed fit and worn with half cab shoes or desert boots,” says Johan Lindstedt, a denim designer at Nudie Jeans.
To reclaim looser fits from the skate world, try dressing them up with Derbies and an Oxford shirt, or hit the middle ground with athleisure pieces that give off sportswear vibes without the need to drop into a half pipe.
Neckerchiefs are near peak wardrobe statement, and unfortunately, the line between cabin crew and cool is alarmingly thin. But while this bandana-style accessory serves little-to-no functional purpose, when worn correctly, it can look damn good.
“The best way to pull off the summer neck scarf is to make sure it’s not interfering with or being covered by any high collars,” says stylist Nas Abraham, who has worked with the likes of Adidas, River Island and Hackett.
By this suggestion, look to grandad collar shirts, lightweight knitwear and T-shirts in block colours to let the neck scarf speak for itself.
Wide Brim Hat
With the exception of the baseball cap, which seems to be having another season in the spotlight, few modern men are willing to doff to the art of wearing a hat. That sound you hear? It’s our ancestors turning in their graves.
They may never again be everyday staples, but for summer holidays, a wide brim hat like a Panama or fedora offers an easy way to send your style stock skyrocketing.
“The best way to pull off a wide brim hat is to feel comfortable wearing it,” says Noel Stewart, creative director of historic London milliner Christys’. “Play with the hat on your head in the mirror (preferably two mirrors), so you can see how the shape affects your silhouette.”
In short, confidence is vital. Once you’ve scored that, the hat (depending on its colour and material) can be put to work in a range of outfits both smart and casual.
Coloured Lens Sunglasses
The return of the nineties isn’t just bringing with it old-school denim trends; coloured lens sunglasses are also back in the game.
Fortunately, we’re not talking those wraparound ski goggle types that were essentially more popular than eyes at the time, but something a little more stylish.
“Choosing the right colour lenses boils down to two main factors: where you are wearing them and your individual look,” says David Lochhead, co-founder of British eyewear brand Finlay & Co. “Dark grey or deep blue lenses are perfect if you prefer a minimal look and wear predominantly neutral colours.”
To signpost that you’re more menswear maverick and less Croc-wearing tourist, always seek out a pair that suits your face shape. Classic Clubmaster styles are a good catch-all for most people.
In the world of menswear there’s bold, and then there’s patterned suit bold. On a scale of one to statement, it’s right there at the top. But don’t let that put you off; donning patterned tailoring doesn’t have to end in disaster and regret.
“Think of where you’ll be wearing it,” says menswear writer Tom Courcey. “If it’s for a formal occasion then avoid, unless you’re certain it won’t break the dress code. If going to dinner at a restaurant or a summer wedding, a bold windowpane check suit will work perfectly in a grey or blue hue.”
If a full patterned two-piece feels a little too statement, try toning it down by using separates, such as a patterned grey windowpane check blazer anchored with simple black trousers.