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Men’s fashion: signs you’re stuck in a style rut (and how to get out)

The only thing worse than misjudging an outfit is holding on to a trend too long. What was once an on-point ensemble now looks like a horrific retread; a dated mess that can border on sad if you’re not careful. Have you seen any of those guys who desperately try to cling to their old Mod trappings? Divorcees with sideburns slung over their Weller-beaten earholes wearing Ben Sherman and nothing else? Yeah, them. You don’t want to end up like that, do you? Here are 10 signs you’re stuck with a re-run look:

You still wear a plaid shirt

Plaid shirts are a no-no this year. Photograph: Angela Cappetta/Angela Cappetta/Corbis
Beams Plus shirts – an alternative to the hipster check. Photograph: Beams plus

In a shallow grave alongside big beards and pale ale lies the last smoldering remnants of the plaid shirt. Once a wardrobe essential, it’s now the out-of-touch-stone for many a man, spurred on by the Americana re-revival of Gitman Vintage and the like, but now it’s probably best to stuff them back in the drawer.

Instead: The key is to go understated and oversized: Beams Plus has a really nice range of banded-collar shirts made from 100% cotton, with a half-button set-up meaning that you just whack it straight over your head, smock-style. Perfect for spring.

You cant let your Nike Roshe Runs go

Nike Roshe – time to go? Photograph: Nike

An endearing favourite for its lightweight construction, comfort and versatility, this shoes suffered from the classic problem of being worn by almost everyone on the planet. It’s not the shoe’s fault, no, but its status as an acceptable shoe for the style-conscious man is certifiably played out.

Instead: If you want some summer-ready runners, you’d be hard-pushed to find better than Puma’s Blaze Swift Tech: lightweight and leather with Kris Van Assche-style lacing and Raf Simons-influenced heel-moulds.

Youre stuck in Red Wings-with-selvedge-denim combo

It pains us to say it but it’s true: the expensive pin-rolled Samurai jeans and clompy Red Wing boots look needs to take a detour. The uniform of every man currently working in the creative industry has become such a stock image that it’s bordering on parody.

Instead: Stick with the jeans but switch up the boots, reverting to the desert variety. Clark’s has just launched some futuristic versions that are 10 times more wearable than your mega-expensive stomper and infinitely more comfortable.

Clark’s souped-up desert boots. Photograph: Clark’s

Youre wearing a bow-tie

The bow-tie’s resurgence was swift and devastating: a modern take on a British classic for a world finally emerging from a skinny-tie dark age. It was a bold look, but goodwill and Doctor Who couldn’t keep it afloat for very long, with MS’ little-loved Oliver Cheshire-fronted Best Of British AW14 collection the final nail in the coffin.

A model in knitted tie on the Marni catwalk Photograph: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Instead: No tie is a nice bet (the boys from Hurts have been styling it to stellar effect for years) but if you are forced, a knitted tie will serve you well – its change of texture offering a contrast that will liven up your suit, as anyone at this year’s Pitti Uomo show can attest.

Youre still into oversized check

A model in oversized checks on the Corneliani AW14 catwalk show in Milan Photograph: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Men’s sweater with leather patches, Asos. Photograph: asos

When it comes to statement prints, you can bet that they’ll be out again just as quick as they came sprinting in. The oversized-check look was big in AW14 with Italian designers such Corneliani but let’s just let this one lie. Now you look like you’re wearing a picnic blanket.

Instead: Patches are the new big check and when it comes to patches, you want to look to Japan. Keizo Shimizu’s label Needles has a great take on the coach jacket made of “reworked” military surplus, which gives you that hot “rogue Vietnam veteran” look we’ll all be clamouring for this year. If that feels a bit out of reach, try Asos for something a little cheaper and, frankly, more office-friendly.

You think lilac can still save you

Admittedly it was THE alternative colour for a solid chunk of the past 18 months but alas, the light purple – or Radiant Orchid, if we’re talking Pantone – look has gone. Still relying on the kind of tones that Haider Ackermann was sending down the catwalk last year makes it seem a bit like you’ve been living in a hole for 12 months.

Acne sweatshirt in Marsala – very 2015. Photograph: Acne

Instead: 2015 is the year of Marsala: a darker, burgundy hue that exudes class and versatility. Acne Studio’s cotton sweatshirt in this shade is an easy option with its cool, classic styling and premium construction.

Youve not yet realised that tweed is dead (again)

Tinie Tempah models a tweed suit before the Men’s Collections Photograph: Ant Upton/Photograph: Ant Upton

Casual tweed-wear is dead in the water, floating lifeless at the surface while memories of what a fun twist on smart-casual attire it once was sink to the river floor. Think of an increasingly desperate Tinie Tempah’s LCM collaboration with London Tweed as the lead boots here.

Instead: Linen, basically. Linen tailoring always gets big notices at Pitti Uomo and a nice linen, box-cut jacket can prove a welcome addition to any wardrobe. A Robert Gellar work jacket, for instance, is made of Japanese linen weave and would nicely compliment some everyday jeans or even trousers if you were attending a decidedly more dress-down wedding.

You think wearing a fedora looks smart

I think it’s safe to say that this one is a no-brainer. You watched Mad Men and you thought they looked cool – sure, we get it. It’s fine. But chances are you are not Roger Sterling and you are not Don Draper and in that hat you just look like you’re still yearning for ethics in games journalism.

A model at the Piaglle menswear AW15 show Photograph: Victor Boyko/Getty Images

Instead: Despite its admittedly strong showing on streetwear giants Pigalle’s debut catwalk show last month, you must shun the fedora in favour of the panama hat: a bold, brave alternative, especially if you want to hide your hair. It will work brilliantly with a tan, but, as with all hats, all it takes is confidence.

Youre wearing activewear with a long black topcoat

Hood by Air, the masters of health goth. Photograph: Hood by Air

This one must sting the most, because all of the signs were pointing to you having any absolute grade A, 10 out of 10 outfit, but someone decided to call it “Health Goth” and it … vanished, just like that. There’s no bringing it back – pour out a cold one for mix-and-match black jumpers and sporty man-leggings.

Instead: Turn your back on high/low style, and follow Nick Wooster’s lead with the throwback wave of the cropped straight-legged pant: trousers and jeans that don’t taper off at the ankle let way more air flow through, plus it opens up your choice of footwear like you wouldn’t believe.

Nick Wooster in Brooks Brothers’ cropped trousers earlier this year. Photograph: Melodie Jeng/Getty Images

You own a slogan T-shirt (any of them)

Sorry, but no. Not even those cool ones with nice graphics that you bought online. Not even a Game of Thrones one. Nope. Nuh-uh. The day of the slogan T-shirt has thankfully long since passed (if it was ever here at all) and there’s just no excuse for it any more, unless you fancy looking like you’re on your way to a half-hearted stag-do in Benidorm.

Nirvana sweatshirt (worn by someone too young to remember them). Photograph: Topman

Instead: A quality, cool T-shirt with solid build and subtle styling is a surefire investment: Danish label NN07 has a nice line in stand-out tees that won’t leave you looking like you live in your mum’s basement.

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