It’s cold outside and it’s tempting to hide away under the duvet for as long as possible, till you grudgingly throw on as many clothes as possible, regardless of what they are, and head outside. But no! Don’t surrender. It’s a new year and a good new look will help to inspire a good new feel. So put on your best coat, perhaps some sensible shoes, and get yourself to the shops. The bank balance can worry about itself. Besides, we’re not going anywhere that’ll break the bank.
The first the thing you notice in the men’s department of New Look is the sense of calm. Do you know why? It’s the palette? I’ve tired of going into the big high street stores only to get a neon slap across the eyeballs, as if the entire collections are meant to be high-vis, keeping everyone safe on that long, 3am walk home. Colour does not need to be bright to have impact and dialling down the saturation doesn’t mean hanging up on cool. The creams, light denims and washed-out burgundies evoke the image of early evening summer photos, where the bright, white sunlight beautifully bleaches out some of the colour. Imagine a California skater’s Instagram account, yeah, that’s it.
In fact, that’s not the only touch of California in here. Some of the prints here to have a feel of 60s psychedelia here, some stylised skulls here- a la Grateful Dead or the tail-end of rockabilly. The t-shirts mostly have a softer feel, being made of a slightly lighter weight cotton that makes them hang better form the shoulders and, over time, will wear slightly thin to become the best kind of summer t-shirts, the kind of ones you have to trawl through over-priced vintage stores to find. It’s doubly painful when you realise that if your dad had just kept a couple of the better ones from the 80s, you’d be laughing all the way to the bank.
The American influence continues in some of the shirts. There are a choice of a few denims and a few cowboy checks, one even having a clever cord patch across the shoulder that reminded me of riding chaps. The sharper side is catered for too though, especially with some slim fitting contrast collared shirts, smart enough for work (or whatever else you fancy dressing up for). I spotted 4 or 5 polka dots too, some speckled neatly on navy like a well ordered galaxy and a cheeky short-sleeved white on red, tiny star print, probably my favourite thing in the store.
The colour variety of the trousers is almost distracting. Not so long ago you could pretty much flip a coin to decide; blue or black. Not anymore. Now we have camel and sunset (which are colours now, not the highlights of a holiday to Egypt). There are probably more varied shades of grey than I would know how to name. The choice of fit is pretty good too. Granted styles have narrowed and tightened over the past 5 years but skinny jeans are mixed in with plenty of straight cuts and some looser fitting chinos.
Coats and Jumpers
How about coats? Beef up your winter wardrobe or maybe get something for the in-between time just before spring, like a knit panel hooded gilet. Have a look at the handful of Bench coats available exclusively online too. For under the coat, I spied a quality range of knitwear. There were cardigans with both the high, thick collars and the more traditional geeky kind. The cable knit jumpers make you want to smoke a pipe on the deck of a fishing boat as your breathe in the crisp sea air.
There are shoes in abundance and they cater to a whole range of styles. Here’s a pair of brown brogues you could slide on for a classy night, a swish bar or maybe a big date; we all know girls love the look of shiny leather. For the other end of the spectrum, funky students and scruffy, cool kids, there are some bright print plimsolls and even some brilliant ethnic looking stripy slippers. It’s the new vogue in shoe wear that you go with the seasons. Prices have shifted to a much more affordable level so you don’t have to um and ah over which colour to buy, just get both, hell, get three. The days of men having just 3 pairs of shoes; 1 for work, 1 for sport and 1 for home, are long gone.
Socks, that’s right, socks
Now let’s talk about the socks. Socks are the forgotten part of many men’s wardrobes. Shoes get all the glory and socks have to hide away, often unseen. But, that’s the whole point of them; they are there just for you, a flash of fun to get you through the day. Fortunately, in New Look mens, there are a whole host of pairs that would put a smile on even the glummest of faces. There are checkerboards and camouflage, aliens and zig zags, even multi –coloured cassettes which will have you dancing all the way to the office. Finally, for the everyday heroes, you can make your feet feel a little bit super. Spiderman, Ironman and The Hulk make up a marvellous trilogy, aided by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Heroes.
Belts and laces and two-tone peak caps, hang around temptingly, pushing you to finish a look, rather than try to muddle through with just the basics. You have a huge amount of permutations available as there is a coherence across the range, allowing most items to be mixed and matched, without any obvious, simplistic thing you could pick out and say was the similar.
I also found a pack of plastic moustaches. Everyone loves moustaches, they’re the manliest thing a man can have and having seen some of the pitiful attempts my mates made over a full month of November, I think it’s a good idea if some of you stock up. It’s either that or buy a chest wig and nobody wants to see that.