From James Bond to Topman, guys get holiday heat
Ah, the holidays—the magical, indeterminate period that, according to retailers, begins ever earlier each year. (Last week, Christmas trees went up at the Bay. Seriously.) A few stores may be jumping the gun on the “most wonderful time of the year”, but as you pack away your Halloween costume, it might be wise for you guys out there to start planning what you’ll be wearing for the whirlwind of parties and events on the horizon. If you’re a gala-going sophisticate, the holidays are a time to indulge your penchant with additional flair. For more laissez-faire louts, the Yuletide season often demands some marginal effort in choosing appropriate attire. Whether you’re off to an opera fundraiser, the office Christmas party, or turkey and gifts at Grandma’s, here are a few tips and trends to help you on your way.
Budget Black Tie
Thanks to its appearance in Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film opening next week, the talk of the Town Car set is 007’s Tom Ford O’Connor tuxedo in midnight blue, featuring a black satin shawl collar. Don’t have the dosh to kit yourself out in the super spy’s signature designer look? Vancouver-based online suit maker Indochino’s Essential Midnight Blue tuxedo (indochino.com/ ) will swing in to save the day and your bank account. Simply swap out the original notched lapels for the shawl collar (you can customize online) and you’ll be channelling Bond badness far into 2013. But order now, because most suits require six weeks for delivery.
Working WeekendThe annual office party is a hotbed of potential pitfalls that can adversely affect your career path, including inappropriate office hook-ups, drunken stupidity, and more embarrassing situations than you can shake a pink slip at. Don’t let an underwhelming outfit limit your employment options even further.
Christine Baracos, owner of West Vancouver custom menswear boutique Baracos + Brand (1411 Bellevue Avenue) says that in more formal offices, a man’s workaday suit can get gussied up for a party by accessorizing. “An office party is a chance to let a little more of your personality show,” says the 25-year veteran of the industry. “So a bit of colour in a pair of socks, a tie, a pocket square, or all three can make a great impression.” Baracos suggests men choose one unifying colour that pulls all three accessories together. “Find a dominant colour that runs through all of them and perhaps find a slightly different take on the same pattern. The goal,” she says, “is to stand out but still look polished.”
In less corporate environs, the look of the season, according to Gordon Richardson, design director for international fast-fashion label Topman, is the “country gentleman”. The British retailer, whose 33,000-square-foot Vancouver location (674 Granville Street) just opened, is awash in updated, streamlined suits and sports jackets constructed with plaids, herringbones, and tweeds that wouldn’t look out of place on the Duke of Windsor. (The same Duke of Windsor who, as the Prince of Wales, invented the midnight-blue tuxedo mentioned above, because he didn’t like the green undertones of the dyes used to make black fabric in the 1920s. The more you know…) While walking through the store’s collection last week, Richardson pointed out that a few garments were even made with Shetland wool carded and woven by hand on Orkney, one of the U.K.’s isolated North Isles, thus adding to their authenticity. While many of these are designed as three-piece suits (pieces sold separately), Richardson suggests breaking out of the mould and “pairing the jacket with another pair of trousers and a patterned shirt for a modern look”.
Then again, we’re talking about wool. One of the paradoxes of holiday dressing is that, while men are urged to layer garments for more formal occasions, women’s party-going outfits tend to be made of thinner, more delicate materials. Thus, the heat is turned up and guys can get a little hot under the (starched) collar. Another option, then, is to swap the wool jacket out for its matching vest. Add a bow tie or wear an open-collar shirt to look cool and keep even cooler.
Finally, there’s that iconic seasonal staple: the Christmas sweater. It’s often chunky, clunky, and festooned with snowflakes, reindeer, or other symbols of forced gaiety and was either knitted by a well-meaning-but-taste-challenged relative or purchased off a jumbled department-store display table. Unless you can muster the detached irony and knowing smirk of a young hipster all the way through the season, the traditional Christmas sweater is something to avoid at all costs. For a tasteful and luxurious option, Joe Fresh (540 Granville Street) has brought back its line of cashmere V-neck sweaters for a second year in an array of solid colours, just in time for those long nights spent by the fireside.