The Best Sneaker Brands In The World Right Now

There was a time not so very long ago when attending a special event in a pair of sneakers was a surefire way to flag yourself to your shiny-shoed peers as a sartorial pariah. However, attitudes have shifted in unforeseen ways and what was once the scruffy outlier is now the footwear gold standard.The transition from running track to runway has been a slow and gradual one, but in recent years it has reached a crescendo. A crescendo that looks set to blare on indefinitely.This is thanks in no small part to a number of key designers and sneaker brands who have been pushing the footwear to its limits in every conceivable direction.Some have created white leather kicks that look right at home with tailoring. Others are inventing technology that might as well have come straight out of a lab at Area 51 (or just Back to the Future). Meanwhile, there are those who have elevated the sneaker from its utilitarian roots to the absolute pinnacle of high fashion it is today.Here we take a look at the most influential sneaker brands in the world right now and what they’re doing to help make the world’s favourite footwear.NikeThe Undisputed Masters Of HypeYeah, in 2016 Nike really did go back to the future and produced Marty McFly’s self-lacing sneakers. But this is just one instance when the brand seemingly reached through a tear in spacetime and brought us something directly from the future, making it the biggest trendsetter in sneakers and a reliable barometer for what’s around the corner.The brand has a long track record of world-beating performance footwear as well as technological innovation (Flyknit uppers and NikeID personalisation in the last decade). More than that, Nike knows how to create products that live up to their considerable hype. It has more icons in its back catalog than any other sneaker brand. Air Max, Air Force 1 and Air Jordan are all sneaker dynasties in their own right, and go back further and you’ll find even more classic retro sneakers like the Cortez and the Blazer.Still the most recognisable. Still the most wanted. Still the ones to beat.AdidasThe Brand That Turned Sneakers Into A ScienceThe ongoing technological arms race between the world’s sportswear big hitters has produced some of the boldest innovations in footwear. Luckily for us, it doesn’t show any sign of letting up.Ask any sneakerhead on the street who’s in pole position, and they’ll tell you it’s Nike. However, with featherlight materials and mind-bending sole technology, it could be easily argued that good old three-stripes is maneuvering for an overtake.Yes, there are beloved classics — the Superstar, Stan Smith and Gazelle all come to mind — and they’re not going away, but in recent years the brand’s R&D lab has become the sneaker world’s Q branch. Forget the Yeezy collab, it was the Ultra Boost that changed the game, and most recently, the German sports giant has been experimenting with 3D printing as a production method for groundbreaking webbed sole units. Don’t take your eyes off them for a second.ConverseThe 100-Year-Old Design IconIt’s incredible (and slightly terrifying) to think about how much the world has evolved in the last 100 years. Commercial flight, television, mobile phones and the internet are just a few of the inventions that have revolutionised the way we live.With that in mind, it’s a real triumph of design when something introduced a century ago is still being used globally today.Converse’s famous high-top, the Chuck Taylor All Star, is one such item. Born in 1917, the iconic basketball shoe has remained 99.9 percent unchanged and is now the best selling shoe in the US, UK and far beyond. Yes, the brand has other excellent shoes, but this is arguably the most iconic sneaker ever made. And what’s more, it’s for everyone.Common ProjectsThe Luxe Trendsetter That Made Minimalism CoolWhen luxury New York sneaker brand Common Projects first introduced its Achilles Low model in 2004, the menswear world went mad for it. But why? Was it innovative? No. Was next-level comfortable? Hardly. Did it come in at bargain prices? Quite the opposite.This shoe was nothing more than a plain, leather sneaker. However, the thing that had the fash pack fawning over this minimalist trainer was that every little detail was meticulously executed to the nth degree. This was a sneaker created like an Oxford shoe handcrafted in Northamptonshire.Buttery Italian leather, exquisite streamlined shapeliness and a timeless wearability that made each pair the perfect accompaniment to anything from a suit to shorts. It arguably started today’s thriving luxury sneaker market, and all of this, in a world now dominated by Balenciaga beetle-crushers, is not to be taken for granted.BalenciagaMaking Ugly Trainers Must-HaveBalenciaga’s output under the guidance of Georgian fashion maverick Demna Gvasalia may be the sartorial equivalent of Marmite or Björk, but whatever you think of his work, there’s no denying he’s changing the face of fashion, one broken ankle at a time.The sleek, minimalist speed sock was the label’s first standout sneaker with Gvasalia at the helm, but it was the now-inescapable Triple S that really took things in a new direction.This beast of a shoe single-handedly remodelled the fashion footwear landscape and made big, chunky silhouettes the new gold standard. Minimalism is giving way to maximalism, and this Spanish fashion house is at the centre of it all.New BalanceStill The Purist’s ChoiceAs time marches on, there are fewer and fewer brands willing to take a financial bullet in the name of quality craftsmanship and have products manufactured on home turf. When talking about sneaker companies, the numbers are lower still.That’s what makes New Balance one of the best in the game. Not only is the Bostonian firm responsible for some of the comfiest and most iconic running shoes ever made, but it also produces its premium range half in the US and half in the UK’s Lake District, in factories staffed with highly trained craftspeople.It’s because of this approach to manufacturing that New Balance has a glowing reputation among athletes, sneakerheads and just everyday folks, thus earning itself a spot in the FashionBeans hall of fame.PumaThe Veteran Quietly Breaking New GroundIt may not make as much noise as some of its contemporaries, but while they’re all battling it out trying to come up with the next big thing, Puma is quietly working away in the background, perfecting the classics. And inventing a few new ones, too.A prime example of this is the brand’s take on the chunky sneaker trend. Puma has taken the look, put its own stamp on it and made it accessible to those whose wallets might not be able to stand up to the strain posed by a pair of Balenciagas that cost as much as a month’s rent.Turn to the Thunder Electric model for a bulky-but-athletic shape and bold nineties-esque color pops, or the covetable Tsugi line for a more striped-back melding of mesh and neoprene atop a thick cushioned midsole.VansThe Old Reliable Of FootwearFrom riding empty pools in suburban LA to jumping around on stage at the Warped Tour. Over the years, Vans has earned itself a deserved reputation as the shoe brand of choice for alternative lifestyles.Its appeal is due in no small part to the simple styling, timeless appearance, modest pricing and, of course, plentiful colour options offered by its designs. The Old Skool, Classic and Authentic are all instantly recognisable designs that haven’t changed in decades, mainly because they don’t need to.What has changed is how people wear them. Once a shoe for kids and skaters only, it’s now equally comfortable on rock stars and hip-hop icons, with jeans or casual suiting. From the mid-1960s right up to now, Vans has always offered people a way to add a dash of colour and charisma to an outfit without breaking the bank. Something, which has seen its products remain relevant throughout the years, regardless of passing sneaker trends.Air JordanThe Strongest Collab Game In The BusinessCan you confidently call yourself a sneakerhead if your wardrobe isn’t filled with Jordans? Perhaps not.Technically, a Nike creation but also a brand in its own right, the story is one of the most successful examples of sports marketing in history. After designing the first Air Jordans exclusively for the basketball legend himself, it wasn’t long before Nike opened up production and brought its new creation to the masses in 1984. People went crazy for it, leading to a wave of crime in the US whereby people were being robbed of their sneakers.One of the main draws to the shoes for some is the collectable element, with many special releases and collabs being issued in seriously limited runs. Some recent partnerships have included Supreme, Off-White, Levi’s and Kaws to name only a handful, making this one instance in which you definitely should believe the hype.ReebokBringing Retro BackOkay, so it’s not exactly shaping the future with its footwear offerings, but when you do the classics (and the Classics) this well, why would you need to?The British-born company, now a subsidiary of Adidas, is one of the oldest UK sneaker brands. Something which is evident when you look at its retro silhouettes.Its best sneakers, like the Club, the Classic and the Workout are nothing short of iconic and all ooze plenty of that throwback charm we all love so much. They may not be made of knitted mesh and be 3D printed, but they look great, are undeniably comfortable, and are never going to go out of style.GucciSetting The Luxury Sneaker BenchmarkGucci’s sneaker game has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years, thanks in no small part to a bit of TLC from creative director Alessandro Michele.In fact, it could be argued that the Italian house’s offerings have set a new standard for luxury sneakers, with the clean lines and eye-catching embroidery of the Ace making it the new favourite white sneaker of the fashion elite.And it’s not just classic styles that Gucci has been turning its hand to. The brand has also combined two of the moment’s most significant trends with its chunky Rhyton trainer, featuring oversized Gucci branding to the side.



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Every Moustache Style It’s Acceptable To Have In 2020 (And A Few That Aren’t)

An unlikely bit-player in one of summer’s cinematic dramas has been the humble moustache. Or, to be more precise, the face-furniture attached to actor Henry Cavill. This became an issue because extensive reshoots for Justice League overlapped with the filming of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, for which Cavill had been required to grow a moustache (which he was then contractually prohibited from shaving). The realities of stunt-work meant that Cavill couldn’t wear a falsie for M:I, so Warner Bros took the hit and removed the offending ‘tache from his reshoot scenes using CGI (the results of this have not entirely impressed fans).But with such a high profile role celebrating the elaborate nose-warmer, are we due to see a renaissance in top-lip grooming this season? With the hipster beard possibly reaching the end of its lifecycle, this could be the next follicular frontier. But if we’re going to reclaim the muzzy from 1980s footballers, Latin American dictators and retired Northern Irish paramilitaries, which moustache style should you be going for? Well, in descending order…The ChevronThe closest to a naturally grown-out shape, the Chevron is a deceptively tricky style to pull off unless your name is Tom Selleck or Ron Swanson. It can balance out big facial features and conveys a certain old-school, ‘eighties dad’, anti-fashion power, but you need a decent thickness of hair and growth to avoid looking like a schoolboy who’s trying to buy a pint.It works best as part of a generally macho look, so try and put some gym-bulk on before growing this, and perhaps pair it with a heavy, unreconstructed scent for maximum alpha-male impact.Key StylesThe BeardstacheThe least showy, but the most easily executed of these styles – a classic workmanlike moustache, paired with a lightly developing beard. A look that suggests you did have a well kept Chevron, but a week or so of fighting crime, defending your property and generally being rugged has let it slip a little. Less eye-catching than a clean-shaven face as there’s a reduced contrast in the skin-and-hair tones, but you do need a decently even stubble growth to make this work.This moustache style suits dark colouring better as lighter hair can make you look a just scruffy rather than ‘relaxed.’ This is Henry Cavill’s moustache in Mission: Impossible, so expect to see it appearing on your high street imminently (albeit on men who don’t look quite as heroic as Cavill).Key StylesThe PencilThe pencil was originally conceived as an elegant, minimalist reaction to the overbearing facial hair of the Victorians. Popularised by Hollywood idols, it only later became shorthand for the more furtive gentleman – and to this day, it does conjure up images of chaps conning lonely widows out of their savings or selling hooky nylons to London’s women during World War II.This isn’t to say it can’t be revived in a modern context though (take a bow, Jamie Foxx), but be warned that it will require almost daily shaving to maintain its clean lines. If you’ve got small features, it can work well. However, if paired with a scruffier look or long hair, there’s a real risk of getting into ‘amateur sorcerer’ territory (Jack White is a prime offender).Key StylesThe HorseshoeAn extremely strong personal statement. Associated with Hulk Hogan, Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, 80s leather ‘clones’ like the guy from the Village People, and amphetamine-addled bass-wielding metal god Lemmy from Motorhead, this is an absolutely no-half-measures moustache style.Not advised for anyone with a long narrow face as it will give you a certain equine aspect, and it needs to be considered as part of a complete outfit: it will go perfectly with head-to-toe biker leathers or broken-in double denim. Not such a good fit with something you picked up in TK Maxx to wear to the football.Key StylesThe HandlebarA tricky case to call: on its own merits, a fine moustache style that demonstrates real commitment to growth, grooming and upkeep. But it has unquestionably suffered from association with retro-bores who have tainted it with the whiff of ‘Keep Calm And Carry On’ posters, ear-bleeding, irony-laden electro-swing music and Blitz-revival club nights.It’s adaptable to most face shapes, so if you are going to try out the Handlebar, either contrast it with a simple workwear-inspired outfit, or go for something smart, preppy and Ivy League (or, like it’s most famous exponent, Rollie Fingers, a baseball kit). In short, if your moustache is shouting for attention, then your outfit shouldn’t be.Key StylesThe WalrusThe absolute big daddy of facefuzz, best exemplified by actor Sam Elliott. A shaggy, grown out, big-beast, perfect for the larger gentleman, anyone with a huge nose or a wide face. It can make you look prematurely old, so think carefully about committing to this style. Be prepared for some gentle ribbing from your less fashion-forward peers, along the lines of ‘Careful you don’t get harpooned, you big fat bastard.’Also, check that your significant other isn’t going to dump you rather than be seen with someone who looks like they spend a lot of their free time playing Magic: The Gathering and watching The Discovery Channel.Key StylesThe Anchor BeardPerhaps the worst facial hair style ever devised — and one that even the patron saint of male grooming, David Beckham, has fallen victim to — a combination of a pointed beard that traces the jawline and peaks in a sort of below-lip soul-patch, sitting below a disembodied moustache.A statement which hints at long hours arguing on Youtube comment threads about Pick-Up Artistry, in-depth re-watchings of The Matrix, and ownership of at least one sword (or ‘mastery of the blade’ as this kind of helmet would doubtless term it).Key Styles



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How To Choose The Right Haircut For Your Face Shape

Like your clothes, haircuts aren’t one-size-fits-all. But unlike your clothes, you can’t take a crap haircut off after a day of fielding abuse from your colleagues.Which is why – before going under the barber’s scissors – it’s worth knowing which styles best suit your face shape. After all, an extra inch here or a smattering of facial hair there can make all the difference.What Face Shape Am I?But how can you actually determine what shape your face is? It’s simple. First, arm yourself with a flexible tape measure. Then, take the following measurements, recording each as you go.Forehead: Measure across your face from the peak of one eyebrow arch to the peak of the opposite arch.Cheekbones: Measure across your cheekbones, starting and ending at the pointiest part below the outer corner of each eye.Jawline: Measure from the tip of your chin to below your ear at the point at which your jaw angles upwards. Multiply that number by two to get your jawline measurement.Face Length: Measure from the centre of your hairline to the tip of your chin.Once you’ve taken these measurements, note which is the largest of the four, and then compare this to the seven main profiles to find out where your face falls.Oval: Face length is greater than the width of the cheekbones, and forehead is greater than the jawline. The angle of the jaw is rounded rather than sharp.Rectangle: Face length is the greatest measurement. Forehead, cheekbones, and jawline are similar in size.Triangular: Jawline measures greater than cheekbones, which measure larger than the forehead.Round: Cheekbones and face length have a similar measurement. They are larger than the forehead and jawline, which also have a similar measurement. The angle of the jaw is soft and much less defined.Heart: Forehead measures greater than the cheekbones and jawline. The chin is pointed.Square: All measurements are fairly similar. The angle of the jaw is sharp rather than rounded.Diamond: Face length measures largest. Then, in descending order: cheekbones, forehead, and smallest is jawline. The chin is pointed.How To Choose The Right Haircut For Your Face ShapeQuick Jump: Oval | Square | Rectangle | Round | Diamond | Heart | TriangleHaircuts For Oval FacesSeen as the genetic jackpot for women, an oval may not be the most alpha of face shapes for men, but it’s a good canvas for experimentation. Symmetrical and well-proportioned, an oval face shape does pretty much any hairstyle justice, so – you lucky boy – the choice is very much yours.That said, there are a couple of minor caveats to ensure you optimise your ovalness. “The trick with an oval face shape is to wear your hair off the forehead to create some volume and angles on top,” says Aveda master barber Stelios Nicolaou. “The most suitable style is a classic short back and sides and slightly longer on the top, with a side-swept parting.”You’ll also want to avoid a forward fringe. “Too much heaviness on the forehead softens features and increases roundness of the face,” says celebrity hairstylist Jamie Stevens.And feel free to ditch the beard, says Ruffians creative director Denis Robinson. “You don’t need facial hair to fill out any disproportionate gaps in this case, so feel free to go clean-shaven.”Haircuts For Square FacesConsidered the masculine ideal, a square face shape is characterised by a razor sharp jawline, even proportions and an overall chiselled appearance. Grrr.Like the oval, it’s a great foundation for most styles and is versatile enough to work with both extremely short and longer hairstyles – from buzz cuts to French crops to quiffs. Just bear in mind that the shorter you go, the more you look like you’ve just been conscripted. Not that that won’t serve you well.“Classic, neat haircuts complement a square shape best – think close fades, side partings and short layers,” says Stevens. Some light stubble also gives the sharpness of your jawline a little welcome texture without blurring its line.Haircuts For Rectangle FacesThe longest of the face shapes, a rectangular face falls somewhere between an oval and a square, but requires a subtly tweaked hairstyle to ensure the face doesn’t appear even longer than it is.“Because a rectangular face looks longer, it’s important to avoid taking the sides too short if keeping length on the top, as this would only accentuate the length of the face,” explains Nicolaou. “Try a well-proportioned style that doesn’t take the sides too short or leave too much length on top.”Taking that advice, try a style that lets the hair fall to the sides and/or across the forehead to add width and ensure your face doesn’t appear narrower than it is.Finally, never pair with a Duck Dynasty beard, says Robinson. “A full beard only elongates the face, so instead try facial hair that ranges in length from stubble to a short beard to fill out any gaps.”Haircuts For Round FacesCircular with a rounded chin and no obvious lines or angles, a round face shape benefits from a haircut that lends it some definition.“If you’ve got a round face shape, think square,” says Stevens. “Since round faces have little in the way of natural angles, you need to create the illusion of structure with your hair. A style with height on the top that’s taken tight at the sides such as a pompadour or a flat top works well to add structure, as do front fringes.”“Square corners in the high recession area of your hair will sharpen up any soft edges,” adds Robinson. “A full square beard will also help thin the chin area, giving the appearance of a more chiselled jaw.”Haircuts For Diamond FacesNarrow in the chin and brow, with width in the cheeks, the diamond is one of the rarer face shapes. Because of that, it has some specialist requirements to ensure it looks its namesake.“Hairstyles that add width at the forehead and chin area are your best bet,” says Stevens. “Fringes work well to add texture to the forehead, while longer styles that can be tucked behind the ears are great for accentuating a diamond shape’s bone structure.”Don’t, however, take the sides too short – given the width of the cheekbones, a hairstyle that’s particularly short at the sides will only make your ears look bigger.Softer lines and layers are better for this face shape, working to soften its natural angles. Try a side sweep or deep side-parting, and consider growing a 5 o’clock shadow if you want to add some size to a narrower chin.Haircuts For Heart-Shaped FacesWide at the temples and hairline, gradually narrowing to a point at the chin, the (fairly rare) heart face shape benefits from a few optical illusions to make it appear better proportioned.“Avoid cuts that are very tight, as these will accentuate the narrowness of the chin and the width of the forehead,” says Stevens. “A medium-length swept look is the safest bet.” Mid-length and long hairstyles that are kept reasonably thin and light soften the heart shape’s strong forehead.Facial hair is also key in this case, adding some much-needed bulk to a narrow chin and jawline, says Robinson. “As with the diamond face shape, a beard helps a heart shape gain fullness in the lower, narrower half of the head.”Haircuts For Triangle FacesDue to its narrow forehead and wide jawline, a triangular face requires the opposite treatment of a heart shape.“A style with volume is king with this one,” says Stevens. “Opt for longer, nose-length haircuts with fuller sides, which work to add depth.”As for the beard, the most you’ll look good with is some light stubble. But really, given the prominence of the jawline in this case, it’s best to steer clean-shaven. Grab the razor, fellas.



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6 Cool Sunglasses Styles For Summer 2020

When it comes to picking cool sunglasses, there are two ways you can go. You can opt for the classics – models like Ray-Ban’s Wayfarer that have been shielding retinas since your grandfather’s day — or you can look at what’s trending in terms of shapes, colours and eras. Either way, it’s important to be able to sort the blinders from the blindingly ugly.Get it right, though, and you’ll be gifted a face-based upgrade like no other: a seemingly simple piece of moulded plastic or metal capable of blocking harmful UV rays, preventing crow’s feet and instantly erasing hangover face, all while giving 100 per cent extra added swag.With that in mind, here are the six styles trending hard, and the essential tips from leading brands to ensure you eye up the right ones for your face shape.How To Pick A Sunglasses StyleBefore delving into this season’s slickest shades, you’ll need a grasp of which frames your mug will show off well. For this, we tapped the expert knowledge of Bhavisha Parmar from eyewear retailer Sunglass Hut who knows everything worth knowing about matching your sunglasses to what mother nature gave you.Sunglasses For A Round Face“The key features of a circular face are similar length and width, soft features and a rounded jaw-line. Angular sunglasses will add definition to this face shape, while deep colours will minimise fullness and gradient lenses will help to elongate the face. Tortoiseshell and warm caramels are good colours. Thicker frames with wide temples also suit round faces because they add width, but this face shape should always stay clear of round sunglasses.”Sunglasses For A Heart-Shaped Face“Heart-shaped faces have a broad forehead and cheekbones with a tapered chin. To counteract this, look for thin, light metal or clear plastic sunglasses that have broader bottom halves such as angular or aviator shapes to balance the width of the chin. Avoid dark colours like black, as they tend to cut up the line of the face.”Sunglasses For An Oval-Shaped Face“Though an oval face shape is well balanced overall, it’s longer than it is wide which should be kept in mind. Slightly square, teardrop lenses look great on this type of face along with oversized lenses such as aviators. Avoid angular styles such as rectangular sunglasses though, as they may narrow the face.”Sunglasses For A Square-Shaped Face“The defining features of a square-shaped face are a strong jaw-line with an equally broad forehead. The aim here is to soften the defined lines: this can be achieved by selecting circular styles and teardrop-shaped lenses. Metal frames will make the face appear softer; black or single-colour frames are flattering too. Avoid square or rectangular shapes as they draw attention to the angles and may give the appearance of a shorter head.”The Sunglasses Trends You Need To Know Right NowRound SunglassesIt’s blindingly obvious that a large part of the reason round sunglasses worked so well on John Lennon was the fact that he was John Lennon, a style icon. Don’t let relative anonymity (and absolute lack of rock ’n’ roll credentials) put you off though, because these vintage sunglasses can also be carried off by mere mortals.“Round sunglasses are a must for this season, with the best examples combining acetate arms and metal fronts,” says Marie Wilkinson, design director at Cutler and Gross. “Those with square- and diamond-shaped faces would best suit these frames, as circular designs work best on those with natural angles.”If your head is lacking lines, these sunnies aren’t entirely off limits. Round lenses that have a horizontal brow-bar offer a less unforgiving way to go round in circles this season.Geometric SunglassesGuys with round profiles who thought they’d drawn the short straw in the face shape lottery can take solace in that fact that this year’s geometric sunglasses are practically designed specifically for them. Alongside an ability to add structure to orbicular bonces, these overtly angular shades are far from standard-issue, so there’s little chance of seeing every other Tom, Dick and Harry wearing them when the sun’s out.“Geometric-shape shades – whether they are square or hexagonal – offer an easy way to differentiate yourself from the crowd,” says Reiss brand stylist Paul Higgins. “Because of their shape, subtlety is key, so be sure to choose thin frames and classic colours.”You’ll need to keep the size of your geometric sunglasses in check: erring on the smaller side is always a safer bet unless looking like an Elton John impersonator is your ultimate aim.Colourful SunglassesAs a rule of thumb when buying sunglasses, being consistently wearable should be one of your most important buying considerations. But, for those who have already got themselves a few pairs of well-behaved classics, colourful and even sports sunglasses can make for a welcome addition to your anti-UV arsenal.“The colours of current styles are bright and popping, and the best examples use the same colour on the entire design,” says Lauren van der Kolk, head of product design at Ace & Tate. “With lenses tinted in the same colours as the frames, they’re perfect for seeing life in yellow, red and blue.”Okay, colourful sunglasses may not be the kind of thing you want to throw on with a suit at a summer wedding, but if you’re wedded to simple shorts and T-shirts combinations, they offer an easy way to instantly level-up your look.Aviator SunglassesAviator sunglasses aren’t so much a trend as a staple which waxes and wanes in popularity. One year they’re the toast of the town (think vintage Robert Redford), the next they’re an optical pariah worn exclusively at fancy dress parties in the spirit of Top Gun. Right now aviators are having one of their frequent moments in the sun.“Popular for decades and known as the original pilot’s sunglasses, aviators are making a big comeback,” says Wilkinson. “This time, the main update is that they are predominantly made in acetate, with a single brow bridge for extra fashion nous.”Key to avoiding the pitfall of rocking average aviators is seeking out plot twist design details. Look for gold frames, coloured lenses or patterned acetate designs to ensure you’re not accidentally twinning with your dad.Nineties SunglassesIn a crushing blow to anyone who qualifies as millennial, the Britpop era is already back. Along with parka jackets and fringe haircuts, sunglasses are the latest instalment of the decade’s triumphant return to menswear. Often minuscule and invariably wacky, it goes without saying that the period that gave the world odious wraparounds should be approached with extreme caution.“Men are harking back to the sunglasses designs of the early nineties, to the styles that people wore when luxury brands and London street style collided and were all worn together for the first time,” says Gordon Richie, managing director of Kirk Originals.Nailing this look relies on being able to separate the sunnies to save from the ones that should never be resurrected. “Those looking to channel the best of the decade should seek out colourful lenses in orange and blue mixed with titanium frames which will riff on the era when Hunter S. Thompson was re-discovered by the new nineties generation. There are also some seriously cool oversized acetate styles that bring to mind Liam Gallagher’s iconic 1994 Glastonbury performance,” adds Richie.Top Bar SunglassesLet’s get one thing out of the way: top bar sunglasses aren’t subtle or pared-back, they’re sunglasses designed to be seen. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Essentially a bolder version of the very first aviator design, top (or ‘brow’) bar sunglasses have taken on a flight path of their own and now come in an array of guises, so it’s hard not to find a pair you like.For those wary of going OTT with their eyewear, there’s good news because this season has ushered in a new crop of designs which take down the frame width for a look that’s more polarised than polarising. “Top bar sunglasses are still a wise choice, but chunky designs have given way to thinner profile designs, typically utilising metal rather than acetate,” says Higgins.That’s not to say that acetate frames are complete no-nos: when combined with a thin metal top bar, acetate frames land bang in the middle of the sensible/statement-making divide.



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Curtains Hairstyles: Why They Work And Which Style Will Suit You

Every decade has a signature haircut. The fifties had a neat short, back and sides, the seventies had long hair and sideburns, the eighties had mullets. In the nineties, it was all about curtains. Worn by everyone from David Beckham and Brad Pitt to countless boyband members and that guy from Dawson’s Creek, it was the style for would-be heartthrobs and a generation of men getting more and more comfortable with the idea of grooming.The curtains hairstyle — should you have missed it or forgotten — is a style where hair on the top of the head is grown into a fringe and defined by a strong middle parting along the centre. It’s floppy, it’s quite high maintenance, and it’s very much back.A quick glance at the spring collections from any number of brands will confirm the nineties fashion revival is still going strong, and with it is the haircut that defined the decade. But it wouldn’t be the first comeback, because the history of curtains goes back a lot further than the turn of this century.“It was a hugely popular haircut with men at the end of the 19th century,” explains Josh Gibson, principal at the Sassoon Academy, “with famous icons like the writer Oscar Wilde and artist Aubrey Beardsley sporting the look. The trend continues among working-class men until the end of the 1920s, and then returns briefly when hippie culture spreads from America in the 1960s.”The 1990s revival came with the rise of grunge and home-grown indie bands. Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder, Placebo singer Brian Molko and Blur bassist Alex James were notable champions of curtains. Then the boy bands took over; Take That wore them (apart from Gary, who was still in his awkward phase) and Westlife, along with every teen TV star (see Jared Leto, straight out of the test tube, in My So-Called Life) and the look subsequently filtered down to the teenagers and beyond.How To Wear Curtains TodayBack in the nineties, this cut looked best on people with poker straight fine hair. This type of hair emphasises the strong parting that defined the look, but not everyone had the right kind of hair or cut (see Olly Murs). It didn’t stop them, and neither should it stop you, because modern curtains have evolved. In fact, that floppy look with a rigid parting didn’t really do anyone any favours, and now, a bit of texture is your friend.“The look can be updated by making it more personalised to you,” says Gibson. “It tends to suit narrower, boyish face shapes but can be undercut to make it look slimmer on the face. Essentially, this haircut works best on someone with a natural middle or offset parting.” The hidden bonus of our recent love affair with quiff haircuts means that some of us probably have some length left at the top. Simply stop slicking it back and let it flop apart and voilà — you’ve got the foundations for curtains.What To Ask ForFirst, identify your favourite curtains role model (see below) and ask yourself if you have similar hair types. There’s not much point adopting a style if it doesn’t work for your hair. It just means more hassle and time spent styling it (unless you want to embrace a more radical option like an undercut or permanent relaxing treatment, which can make hitherto impossible looks achievable)“If your hair is curly or wavy, it might be better to go for a slightly longer version to avoid getting a really thatched look,” advises Gibson. The thatch he refers to happens when very thick hair is given a wedge shape underneath or isn’t styled properly on top. There’s a case here for an undercut if you want the look but your hair is super thick.“With straighter hair, it’s probably best to ask your stylist to keep the length at the cheekbones, as this will frame the face,” says Gibson. You can leave it long and layered at the back, or take the lengths to just above the ears and keep it tight at the sides for a classic look.How To Style ItFor anyone currently shuddering at the memory of frizzy thatch-like curtains, take heart from the fact that today’s styling products are about million times better than they were back then, when salt sprays, matt wax, hair oils and straightening irons didn’t exist. In fact, in the nineties there wasn’t much apart from wet look gel, crunchy mousse and hair spray on the go.Men with curly hair especially had it rough, says Gibson, who recommends “leaving curly and wavy hair to dry naturally and using a generous amount of Illuminating Oil by Sassoon Professional, or Sassoon Curl Form to get that grungy lived-in look.” We’ve talked about co-washing before (forgoing the shampoo every other day to wash with conditioner instead), and it can help dial down the frizz and give curls definition.For straight hair, it’s easiest to take it polished: “Use less product and dry downwards and forwards using a vent brush to keep the follicles flat and to stop flyaway hairs,” says Gibson. Visit your barber as often as you normally would, even if you’re growing it out. And never, ever use gel — or risk looking like Peter Andre.The Best Celebrity Curtains HairstylesAlex JamesIt’s hard to believe, but before he discovered cheese, the Cotswolds and the Conservative Party, Alex James from Blur was cool. Damon Albarn might have had more stage presence, but as bassist for one of the biggest bands of the nineties — and with enviably pliable hair that drew attention to his good looks — it’s not surprising he had as many fans.Kurt CobainThe godfather of grunge is also the king of the bed head. Nirvana frontman Cobain sported long, bleached curtains that hovered around his collar with dirty looking roots at the top. More like a West Coast surf bum than a true curtains devotee, he made unwashed, skanky hair the epitome of cool.Shaun RyderHe might babble incoherently at times, but Shaun Ryder made genius music with the Happy Mondays and Black Grape. During the peak Happy Mondays Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches moment, Ryder sported a rounded mod bowl with a strong centre parting.River PhoenixThe world lost an incredible acting talent when River Phoenix died prematurely in 1993; it also lost a fine head of hair. During his short but dazzling time in the spotlight, Phoenix never put a follicle wrong in a variety of looks including a perfect example of long dishevelled curtains.Keanu ReevesReeves has dabbled with different lengths over the years, but his ultimate curtains moment came as Ted in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. His hair has the optimum thickness and texture to make a perfect example of nineties curtains.Charles MeltonBringing it back to the present, Charles Melton, American Riverdale actor, (no, we’ve never seen it either) recently got caught out by some gossip website for ‘fat-shaming’ (never good) or something. We can learn to forgive that on account of the excellent short curly curtains he’s wearing.Timothée ChalametThe best example of modern curtains is also our haircut of the year. Timothée Chalamet’s hair is now the stuff of legend, all the proof you need that this once-controversial style is right for the times. TC prefers an offset parting with his natural texture.



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The 8 Best Shoulder Exercises – As Recommended By Ryan Terry

There’s one thing every action star has in common, aside from a hefty paycheque, and that’s a set of boulder shoulders. Those Hollywood PTs bulking-up the likes of Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson understand that shoulder muscle is what bookends the V-shape of any all-action testosterone physique.When it comes to your designs on a summer body, you’d do well to emulate them. Bigger shoulders give the appearance of bigger arms and a smaller waist. It’s a grossly unattended area for most men in the gym, but one man who wants to rectify that fact is physique competitor Ryan Terry – a fitness icon with with such adonis-like proportions that he looks hewn from Hellenic rock.Terry, who is famous for his shoulders, has cleaned up at prestigious physique competitions including the IFBB Pro and the Olympia, racking up over a million Instagram followers along the way. Here, he reveals the secrets to his elite shoulder workouts and how they can work for the everyman.Ryan Terry’s Shoulder Workout“Always look at your deltoids as three different muscles,” Terry says. “You’ve got anterior [front], posterior [back] and medial [side]. A lot of people just do pressing motions, which won’t hit every part of the delt. You need compound moves to start with, like a barbell press. But then you need to split things up.”As for how much and how often, Terry keeps things old school. “I work on a six day bodybuilding-style split. Five days for each individual muscle part, then the sixth day for a certain muscle group I’m trying to improve. If your shoulders need work, hit them twice a week, with three-four days in between to recover.”Image Credit: SNHFOTOExercise 1: Barbell Overhead PressThis is your big compound move to get things going. Start with a warm-up set that focuses on time under tension (i.e., the amount of time you spend moving the weight), aiming for four seconds lowering with a two second blast upward, to strengthen your shoulders for the workout ahead.Sets2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps, slow4 working sets of 10-12 repsExecutionStand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your core set tight and a barbell held at your shoulders, palms facing forwards. From here, tense and drive the bar upward, really squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. Lower with control.Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 minute in between. Finish with a triple drop-set – the max weight you can do for 10 reps, then immediately drop 10 per cent weight and do another 10 reps without resting, then repeat once more.Alternate Exercise 1: Dumbbell PressThis is an alternative to move one, if you aren’t comfortable with a barbell or are simply limited to dumbbells at home. As above, start with a warm-up set to prime your muscles and get the blood flowing to the right areas.Sets2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps, slow4 working sets of 10-12 repsExecutionSet yourself up with a shoulder-width stance and grab two dumbbells you’ll be able to lift with good control for 10 reps. Lift the weights and bring them to rest on your shoulders with your palms facing each other. Steady your breathing and drive the weights up, rotating your arms so your palms face forwards at the top.Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 minute in between. Finish with a triple drop-set – the max weight you can do for 10 reps, then immediately drop 10 percent weight and do another 10 reps without resting, then repeat once more.Exercise 2: Dumbbell/Cable Machine Lateral RaiseLateral raises hit the middle of your deltoid, an area often missed and therefore underdeveloped for a lot of people. Don’t get hung up on form here. Keep your back and body in the right position but if you can really push yourself, creating a little swing for the final three is fine. Obviously if there’s pressure on the lower back, stop.Sets2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps4 sets of 10-12 repsExecutionEither stand with a pair of dumbbells at your sides or set up a cable machine so the handles are at the lowest points, grabbing the left handle with your right hand and vice versa. Set your feet at shoulder width, pivot forward slightly at the hips, engage your core and pull your shoulder blades together to lift the weights out to your sides. Lower with control.Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 min in between. Finish with a drop set or partials: double the weight and go for 10 partial reps, which increases blood flow and expands the fascia (the connective tissue) around the muscle.Alternate Exercise 2: Assisted Bench Lateral RaiseIf you find there’s too much swing, or that other muscles are picking up the work, you can properly isolate the delts using a bench. It’s all about muscle contraction, not just a-b movement, so don’t be ashamed to lower the weight if needed. You’re here to train your shoulders, not your ego.Sets2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps4 sets of 10-12 repsExecutionSet a bench to a 45-degree angle. With your chest down, lie on the bench with your head just over the top, with two dumbbells on the floor at shoulder level. Make sure you’re set securely on the bench and grab the weights. Tense your core, squeeze your shoulders and raise the weights out to the side. Lower slowly.Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 min in between. Finish with a drop set or partials: double the weight and go for 10 partial reps.Exercise 3: Pec Deck Rear FlyThis really isolates the rear of your deltoids, so you won’t need to go too heavy here. Using the pec dec machine ensures there’s constant resistance during both the eccentric and concentric part of the movement, which equals more muscle building bang for your buck.Sets2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps, slow4 working sets of 10-12 repsExecutionSet the seat so the handles are at shoulder level, which in turn should be sat fully to the rear of the machine’s settings. Hold the handles with your palms facing inwards. From here, set your torso tight and draw your arms out to the side and back through the dec’s semicircular plane. Return with control.Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 minute in between. Finish with a triple drop-set – the max weight you can do for 10 reps, then immediately drop 10 per cent weight and do another 10 reps without resting, then repeat once more.Exercise 4: Reverse Cable CrossoverTime to hit the front of the deltoids with some serious time under tension. The focus here is steady, sweat-inducing control. Don’t use a weight that you can’t move slowly for 10 reps. And resist the urge to let the cables swing back with speed. You want tension the whole time.Sets2 warm-up sets 18-20 reps, slow4 working sets of 10-12 repsExecutionStand in between the cable machines, with the handles set at the highest points. As with the cable lateral raise, grab the handles in the opposite hands, but this time draw them to your chest so your arms are crossed a bit like Wolverine. Lean forward slightly and draw your arms out and down. Again, a bit like Wolverine but in his full, claws-out extension. An alpha male growl at the mirror is optional.Increase the weight each set and rest for 1 minute in between. Finish with a drop set or partials: double the weight and go for 10 partial reps.Exercise 5: Front RaiseThis pretty painful move targets the front delts and doesn’t let up. It’s imperative you pick a reasonable weight here, because overdoing it will put all the onus on your lower back and very little of it on your delts. You want big shoulders, not a month off work due to muscle spasms.SetsExecutionHolding either a weight plate or barbell, set your hands at hip height. With your feet at shoulder width and your core tensed, draw your shoulder blades back and raise the weight with straight arms up to shoulder level. Keep breathing. Lower with control.Stick with the same weight throughout unless you feel like it’s too hard or too easy, in which case adjust accordingly. Rest for 1 minute in between sets. Each rep should be 4 seconds up, 4 down.Exercise 6: Dumbbell ShrugsNow for the finishing move: shrugging metal upwards to build a set of Tom Hardy-esque traps. You can go quite heavy here, as you’re not moving the dumbbells through a particularly challenging range of motion. But be sure to reduce the weight if you end up compensating with your arms or calves.SetsExecutionStanding with your feet planted shoulder-width apart, bend your knees to pick up the two dumbbells, letting them come to rest on your quads. It’s all about mind-muscle connection here. Really think of your traps squeezing as you draw your shoulders together to raise the weights. Keep your arms loose and as inactive as possible. Lower with control.Stick with the same weight throughout unless you feel like it’s too hard or too easy, in which case adjust accordingly. Rest for 1 min in between sets. Each rep should be 2 seconds up, 4 down.Ryan Terry is an ambassador for leading sports nutrition brand USN who have just launched their brand new Blue Lab Whey protein. To find out more visit www.usn.co.uk



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The Peaky Blinders Hairstyle: What To Ask For And How To Style It

With binge-watch performances from the likes of Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, razor-sharp suits and bloody good haircuts across the board, BBC drama Peaky Blinders had us gripped from the very start. It follows the story of a gangster family running a crime racket in Birmingham just after the First World War. It’s been one of the most stylish things on TV since 2013 but apparently, not everyone was on board with the look that hair and makeup designer, Laura Schiavo, had in mind.It took about a week to convince the cast to chop off their hair for the now-iconic, period-style haircut. Iddo Goldberg (who plays Freddie Thorne) claims he went under the razor first – which encouraged the ‘Peakies’ to copy him. One of the main points of reference for the look came from the book Crooks Like Us by Peter Doyle: a compilation of portraits of criminals by the Sydney police from the 1920s, but the style is also partly inspired by military haircuts and nods to earlier historical eras.Whereas the Peaky Blinders outfits – all herringbone coats and baker boy hats – have understandably become popular off-screen, Schiavo is still baffled by the popularity of the hairstyle: “It’s strange, when I first did it, the boys wanted to wear hats to hide it, but now they don’t need to as everyone is wearing it.”Off-screen, the appeal lies in the fact that the harsh back and sides shows off your bone structure (or beard) and the high contrast between the style on top of your head is a guaranteed head-turner. Plus, undercut hairstyles and fade cuts of various kinds have been a barbershop favourite since before Peaky Blinders started.What Is The Peaky Blinders Haircut?When we first meet mob boss, Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy), he’s returned to Birmingham from the hell of the trenches. His hair is worn in a “disconnected, unblended style that is very short and sharp” says Schiavo. It also draws on the styles worn by the ‘sloggers’ or hooligans from the late 1890s.While most of the characters have harshly shaved backs and sides, the style on top varies. Some wear the Peaky Blinders haircut with a simple side parting, some with a textured French crop, some with a quiff and some with slicked-back hair. This versatility is probably the other reason in became popular IRL.The gang mentality was important to get across too, as Schiavo, explains: “In the post-war era when ‘Peaky world’ is set, they used to shave their heads because of lice.” Yes, this hipster-friendly haircut had a very practical, rather grim function of helping prevent the spread of lice between troops and within the poverty-stricken population at home.“But the look I was after when I designed the cut for the series, was so you only saw skin when the boys were wearing hats,” she says. “This is so you only really see the individual character when he removes his hat.” This effect presumably would also have made it harder for witnesses to identify a gangster if he got caught in the act.What To Ask ForObserving the cast members should give you an indication of which look will work best for your own hair type. The series is so popular, your barber will probably be familiar with the look, but in essence, you need to ask for a disconnected undercut with no fade.“You need to be confident about going really short on the back and sides,” says Joshua Gibson, principal at the Sassoon Academy in London. “Decide whether you want to wear the hair away from the face or closer to the head in length and worn forwards.”Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson), often the most violent character, has the most extreme undercut to match. Ideally you need straight, fine hair to do this, with a long section left at the top that he wears slicked back. Trying to be the respectable face of a ‘legitimate’ enterprise, Tommy himself wears it in a slightly softer crop pushed forward over his face and swept to one side. Younger brother John Shelby (Joe Cole) wears his parted straight into short, slick curtains.Styling TipsAssuming you won’t be hiding it under a flat cap, Gibson says the best way to style it for your hair type: “If you have a straighter hair texture you might be better to dress the hair away from the face using a pomade or wax and use a Tangle Teezer to avoid comb marks for extra sleekness.” Frizzy hair types will benefit from a light oil such as Illuminating Oil by Sassoon Professional to keep it sleek.Gibson also recommends a textured product like a paste to bulk up blonde, fine or receding hair. With a styled look such as this, he also recommends using Nioxin Cleanser 2 to prevent build-up from using heavier product. The ‘Arthur’ and the ‘John’ require a styling pomade that adds both high sheen and hold and the ‘Tommy’ requires texture with a matt finish.Key ProductsTancho Tique StickWant to style your hair using the official Peaky Blinders kit? Schiavo used Tancho High Grade Tique, an obscure hair styling wax that smells of lavender, for most of the series. Presumably the mellow scent is more in keeping with the early 1920s than modern hair potions (method actors take note of such detail). It comes in a push-up stick and helps deal with flyaway hairs without adding too much sheen.Buy Now: £26.99Sachajuan Shine SerumOn set, Schiavo mixed the Tancho with a hair serum to get the wet look sported by Arthur and John. We like Sachajuan’s Shine Serum which gives the hair a high sheen and protects it at the same time.Buy Now: £22.00Reuzel PomadeFor series five, Schiavo has shaken it up by switching to Reuzel pomade which comes in a handful of formulas that cover heavy hold and high shine to a matt finish, depending on your preference.Buy Now: £16.79Kent CombTo get a really sharp parting as per John, you need to style the hair when wet, with a precise comb such as this handmade example from Kent.Buy Now: £5.89Tangle TeezerOnce you’ve got the parting, use a Tangle Teezer to smooth out any comb marks, as suggested by Joshua Gibson.Buy Now: £12.00



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How To Wear A Denim Jacket In 10 Modern Ways

You don’t have to be a haulier to get a lot of mileage out of a trucker. Or a cowboy. The jean jacket (as its founding fathers call it in US) has, like a lot of workwear staples, gone from being a beat-up old-reliable of menswear to a go-to for more dress codes than you’d imagine.“A denim jacket is a fantastic option to have at your disposal for its versatility, especially at this time of the year,” says Daniel Rhone, stylist and personal shopper for a squad of top, top Premier League footballers – emphasis on ‘ballers’. “I like to layer one as a middle tier between my choice of outerwear and an underlayer of a tee or shirt. Particularly if I’ve underestimated the temperature outside.”You don’t have to take his word for it, although you should, because he’s a very cool guy, even when he wraps up warm. But to drive the point home, here are 10 different ways to pardner a jean jacket so that you can keep on trucking down the road.With ChinosYou’re effectively wearing jeans on your top half, and you know that double denim is dangerous territory. But so is going out half-naked. Enter chinos. They can be smart, with formalising features such as pleats, creases and a tab closure, but they can also be casual.Their military history and typically utilitarian cotton-twill fabric nevertheless make them a dependable denim ally; the original khaki – technically a colour, not a style – is a classic pairing. Add a white T-shirt (see below) and you’re Don Draper at the weekend.With A White T-shirtThis is another classic pairing enshrined in Americana. A crisp but fuss-free look, it’s not quite as easy as you might think.Its success largely hinges on finding the perfect white tee, which can be a Goldilocks-ian quest: not too slim, not too baggy; not too translucent, not too bulletproof; not too “gunny”, not too modest; not too much like a dress, not too much like a crop-top; not so high on the neck so that it’s an undershirt-cum-garotte, not so low that it’s a clavicle-exposing deep-U.Whoever called the white tee a basic was wrong.With Black JeansDouble denim can be doubly good even if you flagrantly transgress the ‘distinct shades’ rule: see Martin Sheen in Badlands. It can also be very, very bad: see Justin Timberlake in your nightmares. But for a fail-safe way to splice jeans, black and blue is hard to beat.Other colours of jeans can do the same trick: grey, for one, and even white, although that presents its own pitfalls, not to mention impracticalities. But like Wesley Snipes having a cheeky flutter on the Rugby World Cup, always bet on black.With Indigo JeansA shade more difficult than black jeans, but still not that hard, unwashed indigo denim will stand much less of a chance of optically bleeding into a lighter and/or distressed denim jacket than lighter and/or distressed jeans, for reasons that should hopefully be apparent from reading this sentence.It’s not like double, indistinguishably dark denim can’t ever be done, mind: we seem to recall Ryan Gosling looking fairly badass in Drive. But that said, he is Canadian, so may possess a home country advantage.With A Shirt And TieYes, you can mix business with workwear. Make the partnership less what-the-hell by dialling down the dressiness of the other elements to bring them more in line with your decidedly casual trucker: a button-down Oxford instead of a stiff-coloured poplin; a knitted tie instead of woven silk; chinos instead of tailored trousers (although they can work too – see below).N.B., even if your denim jacket isn’t overly faded, it’s still way more informal than any tailored equivalent, so may not be SFW at your place of employment.With Tailored TrousersSimilar to the shirt and tie, it helps if you can minimise the seeming discord between your casual jacket and smart trousers. That could be by jacking your jacket up in smartness with an unwashed dark denim, plus minimal bells and whistles such as contrast stitching or rivets.Likewise, you could pull your trousers down a notch in formality with a more substantial, nubby material that’s closer to denim on the spectrum. Or opt for a relaxed fit, a cropped length or turn-ups.With JoggersA denim jacket doesn’t exactly fall under the category of sportswear, unless you’re a rodeo rider. But it provides a degree of structure to offset the softness of your joggers, as well as more prosaically just not being another piece of jersey, thereby saving you from having to go full tracksuit or ‘Tesco tuxedo’.This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule (there aren’t many of those left in menswear) but you’re probably best to steer clear of cowboy details on your denim jacket. Style historians don’t record athleisure as having been a key trend in the Old West.With A Roll NeckAnywhere you can wear a shirt, you can rock a roll neck. Well, pretty much. But before you knit up, consider your denim jacket’s finish, whether pristine indigo or battered stonewash, and how that metaphorically stitches together with your jumper.If the latter’s too sheer and sheeny, there might be a dissonance with the rough, tough denim; too chunky and your jacket might appear insubstantial by comparison. (Generally speaking, layers should get thicker the further away they get from your body, and vice versa.)With A HoodieThis combo is a fallback for any menswear blogger attempting to look vaguely urban. Don’t let that put you off. A hoodie is a natural sparring partner for a denim jacket because they’re both low-key, chuck-on weekend staples.In that vein, don’t overdo it. Keep the colours neutral and don’t go too boxy with the fit of the hoodie. Avoid the brash logos of streetwear’s latest drops and stick to a navy or grey marl under a blue denim jacket.With An Overcoat Or TopcoatAs with a tailored blazer, your denim jacket should be slim fitting if you want to wear it under an overcoat. You should just about be able to get two fingers down it when done up and it should be narrow-necked so it doesn’t compete with your coat’s lapels.By its nature, even the smartest tailored outerwear has a degree of ruggedness so this is not as incongruous as you might think. Don’t be afraid to juxtapose, either: camel, which normally skews formal, can be a really nice combo. Bonus points if your jacket’s stitching matches the colour.



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The Right Beard Length For You

The best thing about beards, foamy-moustache funtimes aside, is their impermanence. Maybe you’ll grow one and forever shall it remain. Perhaps you’ll sample stubble and then go running for the razor. Either way, it’s a switch-up to your style that’s intrinsically transient. No two days of bearding are ever the same. It’s perpetually changing. And if you don’t like it today, yours is the power to remove it.So for those feeling in need of an image change, facial hair is a sound investment. It’s cheaper than overhauling your wardrobe, for starters. Plus, safer than cutting your own hair and infinitely less risky than trying something ‘new’ on your head. Patchy stubble is simple to hide. A failed rockabilly pompadour, less so.Before you start your bearded journey, however, learning to lay down the right length is essential. So to that end, whether you grow robust wire like a human Brillo pad or struggle to sprout a mere few strands, this is how long your beard should be.StubbleWhat Is It?Self-explanatory – this is a lack of shaving more than anything else, though there are ways to keep stubble looking fresh as a way of accentuating certain features.What’s The Commitment?How long stubble takes to show depends on the individual’s personal growth pattern, but generally two-to-five days for proper coverage all over.Will It Work For Me?If you do the 9-5 in an environment where this is possible, stubble is a good option if you have a larger, rounder face. By sharpening up certain lines around your cheeks, you can give more angles to your face – think of it as make-up for men. But, y’ know, not.How Do I Groom It?Use a trimmer on anything from 1-3mm (make sure you check which guard does this as it can differ brand to brand) and trim your beard twice a week, rather than daily, so you don’t damage your skin. Always use a light exfoliator before, or a face wash depending on your skin type, and moisturise afterwards so that your skin can handle the abrasions of an electric razor.Short BeardWhat Is It?This is your holiday beard. It only really works if you have full facial coverage, but stay patient at the early stages if not; it might look better after committing to some growth, then trimming evenly.What’s The Commitment?Given that facial hair grows at a rate of around half an inch per month, growing a short beard usually takes around five to 10 days.Will It Work For Me?A short beard works best for those with a good, even facial hair growth. If you have patchy facial hair, this will just further highlight the gaps.How Do I Groom It?Use a trimmer set at 3-5mm. If you have thicker growth in some areas (the moustache, usually) go a grade shorter on that area so it looks even. Also, remember to get rid of any hairs hanging over your top lip by using the trimmers guardless. As with short stubble, you need to take care of your face here, so use an exfoliator and a moisturiser to keep it in good condition.Tailored BeardWhat Is It?The follicular equivalent of a well-fitting suit, a tailored beard is defined by neat, full-facial coverage, but is kept trim (no longer than a centimetre at any point).What’s The Commitment?Around two-to-four weeks for the growth, but that’s where the upkeep kicks in.Will It Work For Me?A tailored beard is a good option if you work in a smarter environment. It’s a neat look, which aims to remain consistent and even all over. As such, it’s great for those looking to emphasise cheekbones or a strong jawline; inversely, ideal if you’re looking to make a small chin look fuller, or slim down a rounder face.How Do I Groom It?Use your trimmers every three or four days to achieve your desired length; taking hair slightly shorter on the areas which have fuller growth. Rinse your beard with water and dry off with a towel, then smooth down with your hands using a small amount of styling paste or a beard balm to keep it looking neat. Facial hair scissors will also help get rid of strays in between trims.Longer BeardWhat Is It?For guys with testosterone by the fist load (or just good genes) being about to grow a long beard in one of the perks. This is when the hair begins to properly move away from the face, looking more 3D.What’s The Commitment?Roughly two to three months. It’s a commitment, and there’s work to be done along the way.Will It Work For Me?Longer beards work for those with good, solid facial hair growth. You can use the longer hairs to create or retain good facial proportions. For instance, if you have a small chin, growing hair there helps to elongate the face; if you have a thin face, growing more hair on the sides can fill out the silhouette. Providing you don’t work with food (because beard hair nets look good on no one) this is about as long as most can get away with at work.How Do I Groom It?Once your beard gets to this length, you should shampoo and condition it every few days, otherwise it runs the risk of drying out and taking moisture from the skin beneath with it. Apply a beard oil to the roots and run through with your hands. This will keep it nourished and help the hair to retain its natural moisture. Use the residue of a styling paste to keep in shape, and give a glossy finish. Visit your barber every two weeks to tidy up the strays, and so they can clean up your cheek line.Full GandalfWhat Is It?The hipster beard AKA the full Gandalf is the kind of beard you can twizzle and plait, should you so desire.What’s The Commitment?To grow a beard of this length takes around six-to-eight months, but be prepared for plenty of awkward in between phases and time spent in front of the mirror keeping it neat(ish).Will It Work For Me?If you can grow sizeable facial furniture it’s something you should try at least once, but there are a few things to keep in mind. It works for those with swag (and without a job working around heavy machinery.) It’s a bold statement of facial hair, so make sure you have the confidence to match.How Do I Groom It?Visit your barber every two or three weeks for tidy-ups and trims, and look after your beard in the same way as a long beard – shampoo, condition and use a beard oil every day. A wooden pipe will complete the look.



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How To Dress Well: The 15 Rules All Men Should Learn

There are enough rules in life as it is. Some, however, are there to help. Like the rules that govern how to dress well. Of course, every man or woman that has an opinion on such things speaks from personal experience – and no doubt what works for one doesn’t always work for another; or what works for one is considered too pedestrian or too avant-garde by another. So, when it comes to dressing, they always have to be taken at face value. They’re solid suggestions rather than the last word on style.But good advice is never to be sniffed at, and, as menswear becomes ever more rich and varied, ever more experimental and abundant, ever more trend-aware, in moments of confusion and self-doubt, it can help to have a valuable fall-back position that cuts through the clutter.These ‘rules’ tend to be founded in history – they’ve worked for generations, so might well be assumed to work well today too. And they tend to be founded in the obvious, so obvious they’re often overlooked: a preference for good fit, high quality, versatility, good value, lack of extremes and keeping it sober.There are certainly many other rules out there than are presented here. Some of these you may have already discovered for yourself. That, after all, is part of the pleasure of clothing, which no rule should hamper: trying new kit out, seeing if it suits you, seeing how it makes you feel. But, these rules have stood the test of time and, when used in conjunction, act as a failsafe guide on how to dress well today.1. Wear A Suit WellThe key to a suit looking good is fit. If you’re buying off-the-peg, focus on the fit across the shoulders because getting the chest and waist altered is a relatively easy job according to Davide Taub, head of bespoke suits at Savile Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes. “Be cautious about wearing a period suit unless you’re pursuing a total period look because in isolation the suit starts to look like a novelty,” he adds. Classic is best and most useful – dark, two-button, single-breasted, moderate in details. “It’s not boring. A suit is a uniform. The idea is to think of this suit as a canvas to build different ideas of individuality around. It’s the way you wear it, not the label inside, that impresses.”Gieves & Hawkes2. Invest Wisely In A Watch“A watch is like a piece of art,” argues Don Cochrane, managing director of British watch brand Vertex. “Choose it because you love it, not because you think it might make money. Watches are personal, it marks your passage through time. But you also have to be practical.” Aesthetic, functional, rugged sports models go with anything and can take the hard knocks of everyday wear. Yet, a watch still has to fit you. It should feel comfortable and be right in terms of size and depth relative to your wrist as well – 40mm is considered the ‘Goldilocks’ size.Vertex3. Don’t Shy Away From ColourWhether it’s on casualwear or formalwear, indulge in a bit of colour. “Most men are unjustly scared of it – they’re intimidated by anything that isn’t navy or grey,” says menswear designer Oliver Spencer. “But colour can be timeless too.” A green suit, for example, can look particularly rakish, while Spencer also recommends pinks, greens, mustard and brighter shades of blue as especially versatile year-round shades that will lift your entire outfit. But he adds that, when it comes to colour, less is still more: “You just need a bit of it, in one garment.”4. Wear In Your Jeans Until They Are YoursThe all-time most useful cut of the world’s most popular garment, according to Alex Mir, co-owner of Sheffield-based label Forge Denim, is ‘slim-tapered’. “It’s wider in the thigh, so it’s comfortable, but narrows, so it works with either smart shoes or sneakers,” he advises. “It’s the best year-round, wear-with-anything, dress up or down style.” The wise will wear dark, raw denim too and give the pre-distressed a wide berth. “The whole pleasure of denim is that it ages with the way you wear it. Why miss out on that?”A.P.C5. Look After Your AppearanceIt’s the kind of advice your mother might offer, but if you’ve invested money and thought in your clothing, look after it. Use wooden hangers for shirts and shoe trees for your best shoes; have your suit dry-cleaned and pressed; wash your clothes regularly and, ideally, don’t tumble dry them (it can degrade the fabric); and polish your shoes. Equally, it’s not just the skin of your leather jacket that you need to care for, the same goes for the one you wear every day. Establish a simple, but no less solid, grooming regime, brush your hair and cut your nails. After all, the devil resides in the details.House 99 by David Beckham6. Keep Your Underwear SimpleStyle isn’t only what everyone else can see. When it comes to men’s underwear, there are two rules to follow. One, novelty prints are not for grown men – “your underwear is not the place to express your ‘personality’,” as shirt and underwear-maker Emma Willis notes. And, two, heavily-branded underwear lacks sophistication. “Of all places where you might have the confidence not to have branding, your underwear should be it,” adds Willis. The style that has best stood the test of time, of course, is the cotton boxer short, likely because (as is the case with linen) they take repeated washing, breathe well and are comfortable against your skin.7. Spend Money On Shoes“Timelessness is about simple design and all the more so with shoes,” argues Tim Little, owner of heritage shoe brand Grenson. “The colour, the pattern, the sole – you don’t want it fussy. Anything fussy may look good now but will look strange very quickly.” Quality shoes — the gold standard being re-soleable Goodyear welted examples — are the kind of investment that should last 15 years or more. Opt for classic styles such as brogues, loafers, or a plain, dark, five-eyelet Derby on a round-toe last. “It’s the shape of the toe that really counts – and round never goes out of fashion,” says Little. “It’s pointy toes or square toes that look obviously impractical. Nobody has feet shaped like that.”Grenson8. Keep Accessorising To A MinimumAccessories like ties and pocket squares bring individuality to classic clothing, but be careful how you use them. “It’s best to harmonise them with what you’re wearing by picking out a colour or two. Or even to juxtapose them entirely,” says Michael Hill, creative director of men’s accessories brand Drake’s. “What you don’t want is to match them up.” When it comes to curating shirt and tie combinations, wear your tie or pocket square in a darker shade than your jacket. And don’t overdo the accessories either – if in doubt, think less is more and take one element away. “You’re aiming for an air of nonchalance,” adds Hill. “You just need one point of interest.”Drake’s9. Know ThyselfThere’s are few things less stylish than a man dressed as he thinks he should dress rather than in what he genuinely feels suits who he is. There are caveats to that, of course: there are no prizes for dressing like a rodeo clown unless indeed you are one. But whatever you’re wearing, you have to own it. Genuine style icons are those who go their own way with a self-confidence that comes from their clothes being a second skin, not a costume.10. Dress For The SettingStyle is not merely about self-expression; it’s also about being dressed appropriately for your environment. Think of clothes as being codes: you need the right combination to work with the setting you’re in – and that’s whether it’s a formal dinner or a lazy Sunday in the pub. The worst style is one which is out of place. Is this a kind of conformity? No, as one of Tom Ford’s oft trotted out fashion quotes explains, it’s a mark of respect for others. And about feeling comfortable in yourself. When in doubt, overdress.Mr Porter x Vive La France11. Don’t Skimp On GlassesInvest time into finding the right spectacles for you. “People spend an average of seven minutes picking a pair that will define them for the next three or more years,” notes eyewear designer Tom Davies. “Poor choice and poor fit are why so many people learn to hate their glasses.” Buy what you feel good in, taking into account your face shape but considering the top line of the frames’ relation to your eyebrow shape – team straight with straight, curved with curved – and your hairstyle. Buy wisely too, says Davies: there’s no point buying cheap frames and being up-sold on expensive lenses because the frames will look tatty soon enough anyway.Cubitts12. Choose Versatile OuterwearThe temptation may be to wear a classic style, but modern technical fabrics in darker shades and easy cuts are making coats what they should be – lightweight and breathable but also properly protective. “Changes in seasonality, the climate and buying habits are making heavy wool coats seem out of keeping now,” suggests Adam Cameron, owner of outerwear specialist The Workers’ Club. “Think of a coat instead as being your final layer – one you can wear as much or as little under as required.” A field or bomber jacket jacket is a good all-rounder but if you need to dress up, go for a short mac.13. Buy A Dinner Suit, Never HireOccasions for the height of formal dressing may be rare, but they’re all the more exacting for that. So, while it feels like an extravagance, owning a dinner suit that fits you rather than hiring one makes more sense after years of use. “With hiring, there’s always the risk of the wearer looking almost childlike while dressed in some oversized, boxy ensemble,” warns Toby Lamb, design director of contemporary tailoring label Richard James. Own as classic a dinner suit as possible: in midnight blue, single-breasted, with satin lapels and trousers seams. And it goes without saying you should learn how to tie a bow-tie yourself.Burton14. With Shirts, Stick To The Classics“It sounds silly,” says James Cook, head of bespoke shirtmaking for Turnbull & Asser, “but any men’s shirt can be made to look expensive if it’s well-pressed.” All the same, Cook is particular about the details. Strike a middle line, he recommends: avoid bold styles unless you think you can carry it off, and, for a collar that works with or without a tie, and that always sits properly under a jacket, opt for a semi-cutaway.Turnbull & Asser15. Know When To Break The RulesKnow when to adhere to dress codes such as black tie and know when to break them. Some are there for a good reason, typically because the occasion demands it or some higher authority – your boss, perhaps – expects it. But, likewise, as Drakes’ Hill notes, “we can get too hung up about rules as well, and there’s always a case for ripping them up”. That, after all, is how style advances, little by little. “Enjoy the freedom there is now to make mistakes.”



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The Best Smart Casual Dressing Guide You’ll Ever Read

Trying to find the true meaning of the phrase smart casual can quickly turn into a nightmare. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “neat, conventional, yet relatively informal in style, especially as worn to conform to a particular dress code”. But these days it’s quite common for smart casual to be the dress code.So you go online to search for smart casual style guides that variously counsel everything from shorts, which don’t strike us as especially smart, to Ascot ties, which don’t come over as particularly casual. And as the latter indicates, many of these guides feel like they were set in stone shortly after the ten commandments. Whatever smart casual means, it’s likely to be something different today than it was in the starch-collared 19th century.“Smart casual is destined to be one of those terms that history will not be kind to,” says Josh Sims, author of Men of Style. “Thankfully, the recent explosion in non-designer-y brands offering considered, very wearable clothing is making moot the second guessing of whatever the term means. Because actually, it’s all quite smart now – but in a comfy way.”The History Of Smart CasualThe precise origin of smart casual is as hard to track down as its meaning. Website The Phrase Finder – as definitive as that is – claims that the term is “thought to have originated around the 1980s” but was in “common use throughout the last century”. In fact, the first recorded usage of the terms dates back to a 1924 edition of Iowa newspaper The Davenport Democrat And Leader (although that was in relation to sleeveless dresses, which we certainly can’t advocate wearing).Whatever the truth, it’s a fair assumption that smart casual is related in some respect to business casual, and the two are often used interchangeably, even though they’re different: one is for at work, and one isn’t. But back in the day, you didn’t just dress smartly to go to the office, but everywhere else too. As the traditional standards of dress eroded, smart casual was the hastily erected bulwark against total sartorial chaos.“Smart casual suggests a transitional period between dressing up – that’s to say, more formally – and dressing down with the comfort and self-expression that more and more men are looking for,” says Sims. “The term also suggests a kind of panic among ‘authorities’ – restaurant managers, event organisers – as to how to handle the shift, so they’ve gone for some halfway house: dress casually but, you know, not too casually, please. The result? Endless confusion. Or men in blazers and open-neck business shirts.”Don’t be those guys.What Smart Casual Means TodaySmart casual means nothing, so it can mean anything. According to Mr Porter’s Style Advice page, the smart casual gamut comprises “pretty much anything smarter than a tracksuit, but less formal than a suit”. Thankfully, and rather more informatively, Mr P adds, “An ideal answer is a blazer, white shirt, neat jeans, and brown loafers.”There is no one answer, though. In a well-meaning attempt to clarify that ironically complicates matters further, Debrett’s Guide for the Modern Gentleman draws a distinction between “formal smart casual” and “informal smart casual”. Formal smart casual is “a jacket or blazer, flannels, needlecord trousers, or chinos (not jeans), a shirt with a collar (not a T-shirt) and smart shoes (not necessarily lace-ups, but not trainers or sandals)”.Informal smart casual remains vague, however, beyond consent for “smart, clean, dark-coloured jeans”, a pronouncement that “polo shirts are better than collarless T-shirts” and an instruction to “change from what you have been wearing at home”.But while it might sound obscure, this last point is perhaps as good as any to start from. Part of the reason that smart casual is so hard to define is that it can mean radically different things in different contexts. It’s a state of mind as much as dress.Smart Casual Style TipsChange Your Attitude“Smartness is more a matter of the appearance of your clothes rather than their style,” writes Sir Hardy Amies in A-Z of Style. “Shoes polished, trousers pressed, and tie properly tied are necessary factors in a smart appearance.”The operative words here aren’t ‘shoes’, ‘trousers’ or ‘tie’ (we’re talking about smart casual, after all), but ‘polished’, ‘pressed’ and ‘properly’. A pristine T-shirt, indigo jeans and box-fresh trainers can look dressier than a wrinkled shirt, stained trousers and scuffed shoes.A T-shirt, jeans and trainers won’t always be appropriate, mind. But smart casual is arguably more a mood or attitude than it is a set formula or combination of pieces. As Debrett’s says, “Just because an event is informal, it is not synonymous with making no effort.”Play A One-TwoAs we’ve established, smart casual is nigh-on impossible to define. So a more helpful and practical approach is to start with a casual outfit and then change one – or better, two – pieces for smarter alternatives.For example, take a bomber jacket, T-shirt, jeans and trainers. All very casual, right?Now swap in any one of blazer, shirt, trousers or chinos and shoes. You should be verging on smart casual territory. Swap in two and you should be bang on target. Swap in three and, depending on the circumstances, you might even be too smart. It’s a fine line.Throw Some ShadeYou don’t even have to change pieces to adjust the casualness of an outfit. Darker colours skew more formal, so smartening up can be as simple as turning down the lights.For example, take an olive green bomber jacket, white T-shirt, stonewashed jeans and white trainers.Now swap the olive bomber for a navy one, and the stonewashed jeans for indigo. Suddenly it feels dressier. Even more so if you swap the white T-shirt for, say, mid-grey or charcoal, and the trainers for navy or black.The constituent styles are exactly the same, but the overall effect is very different. And the reverse is true: lightening up is a dimmer switch for smartness.Take The Rough With The SmoothAnother (major) factor that affects the relative smartness or casualness of a piece is texture. If you think about the most formal items in menswear – worsted wool business suits, say, or barathea dinner jackets – they’re almost invariably smooth and shiny.Swap the worsted wool for a matte flannel or tweed, however, and you both literally and metaphorically change the feel of the piece. This will also often make the garment seem larger in size, which only adds to the more casual vibe, given that smarter looks are usually sleek and streamlined.This is a handy rule of thumb and forefinger that you can apply to casualise much any piece: shirts, knits, trousers, even shoes.Blazer TrailAs previously mentioned, throwing a blazer over T-shirt, jeans and trainers is as easy a move as any to nail smart casual. But not all blazers are created equal: gold buttons are, to borrow a delightful phrase from Debrett’s, a bit “gin and Jag” (AKA the sort of middle-class people who drive Jaguar cars and drink gin and tonics).As also previously mentioned, a blazer with some texture will rub up the right way with jeans. As will one cut a little shorter, perhaps also with slightly slimmer, more contemporary lapels. Patch pockets – which look like they’re stitched on – are similarly ‘cazh’.Finally, ripping out the padded shoulders and canvassed chest found in smart blazers will also make them feel more casual, not to mention comfortable. N.B. Don’t actually rip your blazer, just look for the word ‘unstructured’.Button UpA T-shirt can qualify as smart casual, provided that it’s plain, good quality, well-fitting and not washed to death.But upgrading to a polo shirt will instantly smarten a casual rig. The buttons and collar put it further along the spectrum towards a shirt, but it’s still sporty. Indeed, as the name suggests, it was originally worn for playing polo, as was the button-down collar so that it didn’t flap around.Which brings us neatly to the button-down shirt, which isn’t as stiff as one with a rigid collar and cuffs. It also commonly comes in fabrics such as Oxford cloth or chambray, which are less smooth and shiny.Then there’s the grandad shirt. Collarless equals more casual. Capiche?Put On Your FineryA jersey sweatshirt or hoodie wasn’t an element of our example outfit. But substituting a fine-gauge knit in merino, cashmere or even cotton for these thick, casual and sporty pieces can lend a soupcon of sophistication. Pull a plain jumper or cardigan over your T-shirt (and maybe swap the trainers for shoes) and you’re getting weaving.Clearly a chunky knit isn’t going to have quite the same effect, although a shawl-collar cardigan instead of a jacket can look smart if it doesn’t have toggles or a massive moose on it. A knitted blazer is somewhere between the two.A word or 23 on roll necks: too thick and they’re not smart, too fine and they’re about as casual as Hemingway’s drinking.Pocket The DifferenceLegwear is usually a smart casual sticking point. For the most part, jeans are perfectly acceptable – even in a business context – as long as they’re dark and undistressed. But there’s always a risk. Then there’s failsafe chinos – emphasis on ‘safe’.Your pins are an oft-missed opportunity to not formalise an outfit, but also flex. Going back to the bomber jacket, T-shirt, jeans and trainers example, swapping the jeans for tailored trousers can not only look smart, but also fashionable.A textured, not-too-shiny fabric like flannel or linen can help you pull the casual trouser off, but it’s not an entry-level swerve. Which is why most guys stick to jeans or chinos.Toe The LineAs with jeans, there are few casual settings nowadays where you can’t get away with trainers. But if you’re in any doubt, then play it safe. As Debrett’s puts it: “The right shoes can rescue even the worst fashion disaster – the reverse is hardly ever true.”What makes a smart shoe more casual? Colour: black is smartest, brown is more casual and tan more casual still. Silhouette: a round or almond toe is more casual than a pointy one, as is a chunky sole. And texture: nubby, matte suede is more casual than smooth, shiny leather.For those reasons, wingtips, Derbies, loafers, Chelsea boots and chukkas are better bets than office-y Oxfords. But some examples can be very smart, some very casual. So tread carefully.Get Your KicksMany smart casual guides rule trainers out completely, but that’s a little old-fashioned.Where trainers are permitted, the recommendation is typically a classic style such as Converse Jack Purcells, Adidas Stan Smiths or Common Projects in white, and that’s not wrong. But a more formal dark colour is smarter in more ways than one: they’ll be less likely to draw the eye, and therefore disapproving glances, or show dirt.In terms of fabrics, shiny, smooth leather is smarter than matte, coarse canvas, and suede is somewhere in the middle. Knitted trainers can also look smart if they’re dark, but they’re maybe a tad too modern for some circumstances – and a step too far from proper shoes.Leather sandals? Sometimes. Flip flops? Never.Common Smart Casual Dos & Don’tsDo: Cover Your BasesIf you wear shoes that aren’t trainers and trousers that aren’t jeans, you’ll sidestep most smart casual pitfalls. A blazer will make you practically bulletproof.Don’t: Uncover Your ArmsWhether they’re attached to a shirt, polo or T-shirt, short sleeves are casual (actual shorts even more so). Check that it’s safe before unholstering the guns.Do: Lose The TieOutside of work, smart casual almost never calls for wearing a tie. A grandad shirt, polo, or roll neck will remove any ambiguity, or the impression that you forgot your neckwear.Don’t: Forget The TieDisclaimer: if you’re not sure, and it’s a formal smart casual occasion, or a job interview at a casually dressed company, then you’ll never regret carrying a tie.Do: Get Your CoatPerforming the same elevating effect, a neatly cut overcoat can even take the place of a blazer for informal smart casual events where you’ll take it off anyway.Don’t: Stitch Yourself UpFor formal smart casual events, you might want to keep your blazer on, so wearing a removable overcoat over the top might be better than a knit underneath.Do: Pattern Up ProperlyWith the exception of corporate pinstripes, patterns make pieces such as blazers and shirts look more casual, and you look less like you came from the office.Don’t: Try And Be A LegendT-shirts are already casual, so avoid patterns, logos, slogans or (shudder) jokes. “Liquor in front, poker in rear” only advertises that you’ve got nothing upstairs.Do: Keep It TightAs outlined above, silhouette also determines formality. So ensuring that casual pieces fit correctly is one way to convey smartness. We said ‘casual’, not ‘sloppy’.Don’t: Cut Off The SupplyThere’s a difference between ‘fitted’ and ‘clingfilm’. Smart casual clothes that are too tight make you look like you’re gussied up for a night at some tacky nightclub.Do: Get A Sweat OnA hoodie? Irredeemably informal. A blazer in the same material? You got game. A plain sweatshirt can also substitute for a knit under a casual tailored jacket.Don’t: Jog OnTrousers or chinos with sporty drawstrings or cuffs are one thing, but jersey sweatpants are just barely permissible as casualwear. Remember: it’s smart casual.Do: Roll With ItSmart casual is also about how you wear it. Take the formal edge off by rolling up your sleeves and the hems of your chinos to expose a touch of mankle.Don’t: Let It All Hang OutIf your shirt is poking out from under a casual jacket like a bomber, that’s one (tolerable) thing. But if it’s protruding from under a blazer? Get tucking.Do: Give It A Little ExtraSwitch your leather dress watch for a sports one with metal bracelet or Nato strap, and your leather belt for a woven one, maybe in a colour other than brown.Don’t: Sock It To ‘EmMore than one online ‘style’ guide proposes expressing your personality through the medium of coloured or patterned hosiery. Don’t do this. Really, don’t.5 Key Smart Casual PiecesUnstructured BlazerHow many times can we advocate a blazer? At least one more. There’s no way around the fact that the quickest way to nail smart casual is by throwing on a tailored jacket, which is also a workhorse of business casual. So get you a blazer that can do both, ideally.For it to fly as smart casual, the blazer should be made from a more textured fabric than an average suit jacket, cut slightly shorter and constructed less rigidly. This also makes the process of throwing it on a whole lot easier.‘Blazer Bomber’Yes, a blazer is the alpha and omega of both business and formal smart casual. But what about the occasions when a tailored jacket, however unstructured, is too smart? Enter the ‘blazer bomber’.The style comes from the uniform-wearing armed forces, so packs a certain formality payload. But for it to pass inspection as smart casual, the bomber jacket should be slimmer than a military-issue MA-1, in a dark colour (such as navy or black) and made of a more luxurious and less lustrous fabric than the standard shiny nylon (preferably wool or cotton). For informal smart casual missions, this is your wingman.Chambray ShirtOxford button-down shirts are equally at home in business casual as they are smart. Except that they’d be at the office, of course – unless you work from home, in which case you probably won’t get dressed at all. So, in the interests of variety, our smart casual endorsement is the chambray shirt.Even though it’s not the same as denim (which is woven in a twill rather than alternating warp and weft), chambray looks similar and can come in a variety of weights and finishes. Generally, though, it’ll casualise a smart outfit or smarten a casual one – but not too much either way.Dark JeansLike the polo shirt, chinos or ‘khakis’ (technically a colour, not a style) are one of the building blocks of business casual, and can be extended into smart casual.Given that the latter is more casual than the former, and we don’t want to repeat ourselves any more than is strictly necessary, we’ll plump here for plain, dark selvedge jeans with minimal bells, whistles and western pocket detail.You don’t have to go indigo, though: black jeans can look just as smart, if not smarter.DerbiesYou don’t need us to nominate trainers, and you probably own a viable pair. A more useful addition to your smart casual arsenal is a pair of shoes that don’t make you feel like you’re going on a night out to a bad club.Brogues are a smart casual standby, if a trifle fogeyish; Chelsea boots can strike a more rock ‘n’ roll note. But we’re making a case for Derbies.They’re slightly more fashionable than wingtips, as evinced by hip brands like A.P.C. and Ami, which have started producing them, while the chunky soles imbue them with a hint of parade ground or even punk kick-assery.



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The Best Chunky/’Ugly’ Sneakers You Can Buy In 2020

Like it or not, massive trainers are here and they aren’t going anywhere fast. Not that they could even if they wanted to, mind you.To the casual observer, it may have come as a bit of a shock when the fashion elite suddenly appeared to be taking their style cues from Sporty Spice in a pair of Sketchers circa 1995, but it’s actually a pretty natural progression. Think of it as footwear’s answer to the loosening and widening of silhouettes we’ve been seeing in fashion for some time now.After several years of clean, white minimalism and slim, sock-like fits in the world of trainers, it was only a matter of time before things swung around and began going in the opposite direction. The Raf Simons X Adidas Ozweego was one of the first ‘ugly trainers’ to really kick things up a gear, but it was with the release of Balenciaga’s much-hyped Triple S sneaker that this clumpy footwear craze really took flight.“In terms of fashion, footwear was about low profile, simple shoes, like Stan Smiths, Roshe Runs or Common Projects Achilles Lows,” explains Andrew Brines, buyer at renowned premium fashion e-tailer, Oki-Ni.“In 2015 the New York Times ran an article entitled ‘Forget barefoot: the new trendsetter in running shoes is cushioning’, focusing on a particular brand of relatively new running shoes that featured platform-esque soles. Naturally, it didn’t take long for designers to take notice of what the performance brands were producing.”The End Of The Minimalist Sneaker?So does the chunky trainer movement spell disaster for minimalist footwear? MatchesFashion’s Ben Carr doesn’t think so, but he’s not surprised that there has been a shift.“While I don’t think the clean sneaker is going anywhere, there is certainly a ubiquity to their presence in modern menswear. Think about it, if you are a teenager and your dad is wearing a minimal sneaker then you’re not going to want to adopt this style are you?“I think fashion in its purest form is always, and always has to be, a reaction to what has gone before.”How To Style Chunky SneakersChunky trainers are currently shattering paving slabs at fashion weeks across the globe, but incorporating them into a workable, everyday wardrobe can understandably present a little bit of a challenge.“My first tip is not to wear them with a minimal look,” says Carr. “They become the sole focus [no pun intended] of the outfit and that’s never good.” He also suggests wearing several layers on top to help balance out the look and to experiment with bright colours and pieces that will distort your silhouette. He adds: “cropped trousers, track pants and oversized sportswear work well… and the chunky sneaker can anchor this.”Oki-Ni’s Brines believes that going sockless with chunky trainers is never a good idea and stresses the importance of wearing the look with confidence. “Wear the shoes, don’t let the shoes wear you,” he explains. “If you’re just wearing them because they’re on trend, and you’re not that into them, the fashion cognoscenti will smell you out a mile away.”So, blame Raf Simons, blame Balenciaga, blame your dad – whoever is truly responsible for the rise of the beetle crushers is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that trainers are titanic now and you should probably join the party before it’s too late.The Best Chunky Sneakers You Can BuyReady to embrace one of the most divisive trends to emerge from the murky depths of Lake Fashion since the return of the bowl haircut? These are the best sneakers at every price point if you want to join the chunky trainer club.Balenciaga Triple SOkay, let’s get it out of the way. You can’t talk about chunky trainers without mentioning Balenciaga. Since the appointment of Vetements boss Demna Gvasalia as creative director back in late 2015, the luxury Spanish label has become one of the most forward-thinking names in fashion and the now-iconic Triple S sneaker is without doubt its crowning glory.Taking inspiration from orthotic footwear and the type of trainers favoured by tourists, the Triple S eclipsed its stripped-back predecessors and quickly became a regular sight at fashion weeks as well as a grail purchase for hypebeasts and high-fashion disciples alike.Buy Now: £595.00Reebok Insta Pump FuryA British sportswear brand with a background in chunky trainers. This latest trend has thrust the Bolton-born label back into the spotlight and many of the silhouettes from its archives are looking more relevant today than ever before.This innovative shoe featuring Reebok’s ground-breaking ‘Pump’ cushioning system was first launched in 1994 but in recent years has found a place on the shoe racks of fashionistos as well as Mr Motivators. The Insta Pump Fury has been reimagined by brands ranging from BAPE to Vetements and has earned a cult-like following in the process, making it one of the coolest chunky sneakers you can have in your rotation.Buy Now: £89.00Raf Simons X Adidas Ozweego IIIThe Balenciaga Triple S may have kick-started this whole thing but would it have even come into existence if it hadn’t been for the long-running collaborative effort between German sportswear giant Adidas and Belgian tastemaker Raf Simons? Well, perhaps not.The Ozweego III is the latest design in the ground-breaking Ozweego line. Maybe you love them, maybe you loathe them, but however you feel about this beautifully ugly piece of footwear, you can’t deny it’s fun to look at.Buy Now: £290.00New Balance 991Bostonian shoemaker New Balance has been doing its thing since the turn of the 20th century and has picked up a few tricks along the way. The brand produces the vast majority of its products either stateside in New England, or across the pond in, well, old England. The result is some of the most comfortable, highest quality sneakers available to buy – no wonder NB is such a hit with sneakerheads and athletes alike.Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was onto something when he picked these bad boys out as part of his signature look. A true classic and bang on trend.Buy Now: £160.00Nike Air Max 95You can’t think of sneakers without thinking of Nike. The sportswear heavyweight has been doing big trainers longer than most. In fact, some of its most iconic footwear designs – which could give the Triple S a run for its money in the chunkiness stakes – come from a time when Demna Gvasalia would still have been wearing nappies.The Air Max 95 is nothing short of a classic and offers the perfect way to dip your toes into the chunky trainer trend without losing any mates in the process.Buy Now: £129.95H&M Mesh TrainersSwedish fashion chain H&M is known for bringing a subtle touch of Scandinavian minimalism to the high street, but as the fashion landscape continues to evolve in unexpected ways, stripped-back is out and OTT is in.These highly detailed, chunky kicks from H&M are in keeping with the trend while still managing to look clean and crisp at the same time. If you want a pair of big sneaks that will go with 99 per cent of your wardrobe – quite an ask even for regular trainers – then these might be your best bet.Buy Now: £39.99Zara Maxi Sole TrainersIf there’s something new bubbling away in the world of fashion, you can bet it won’t be long before Zara starts churning out its own version of whatever that may be. The trend for dad-esque footwear is no different and the Spanish high-street stalwart has already put out a number of designs.With a thicker-than-thick sole and plenty of contrasting materials to the upper, it’s no mystery where this model took its inspiration from. However, with change left over from £50, this is one way to keep abreast of the trend while ensuring your wallet remains intact.Buy Now: £49.99A.P.C. Running Homme TrainerParisian label A.P.C. is famous for its high-quality, no-fuss wardrobe essentials. If we had to sum its output up in a word, it would probably be ‘understated’ – something which you probably wouldn’t have thought would gel very well with the current preference for sneakers that look like they’re on steroids.But despite this little discrepancy, A.P.C. has churned out some of the most inoffensive, versatile and ultimately wearable chunky trainers we’ve seen. Clock the signature, subtle branding and a look that manages somehow to be both showy and restrained simultaneously.Buy Now: £225.00ASOS Chunky Sole TrainerIf you’re keen to give a new look a go but aren’t so hot on the idea of signing up for any medical trials to finance it then ASOS should be your first port of call. The online fashion mecca is full of the latest styles, with bargain options from its in-house line sitting alongside designer pieces from your favourite names.With a thick, chunky sole and vibrant hits of green and blue, these eye-catching stompers from ASOS offer the perfect opportunity to get some heads turning for all the right reasons.Buy Now: £30.00



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