Australian fashion industry expert David Bush answers readers’ fashion and style queries.
1. There are an awful lot of coat options for men these days, yet our climate means there’s only a few weeks a year when you really need one for utilitarian purposes. Which is the most “sensible” sort of coat for an Australian man to buy? – James R, via e-mail
I agree that choosing a coat can be challenging. However I think we Aussies tackle the coat purchase in a similar way to how we think of central heating. “It doesn’t get that cold here in winter!” and then we freeze our butts off and curse the day we said no to the central heating gods.
If you live in a warmer climate, perhaps a classic trench coat would suffice. Originally designed for use during WWII the trench is a timeless wardrobe staple. I would always go for a lighter colour such as taupe or camel, which will work with most anything in your wardrobe. For colder climates I have two favourites depending on your body shape.
For the taller amongst us I would suggest you can’t go past a Paletot (slim line and double breasted, generally at the knee) – as chic as you can get by any standard. The fabrications are of your own choice, but I would suggest navy or charcoal as the primary colour options to be considered.
For those who are of average height, I would suggest a traditional Chesterfield (single breasted, single back vest with a fly front). This style suits greys, browns or black.
Whichever style you choose, I urge you to ensure it fits. Think about what you’ll be wearing underneath and consider taking these items with you when you buy. The right fit in a style that suits will last you a lifetime.
Trench from Burberry’s January 2016 Collection.
2. I’m a young guy who wants to look fashionable but am exceedingly tall (6’6”), like many of my generation, and find it difficult to find longer fits in things like shirts and pants, particularly of ‘on trend’ clothing. Is it just me or do brands need to do more to adapt and service changing male body shapes? – James L, via Twitter
Being tall and being fashionable has long been a challenge. I too am tall (6’5”), Sadly I can no longer lay claim to being a “young guy”. I do agree brands need to seriously consider the changing shape of the Australian male consumer. It seems we are getting taller with every generation… and wider as we get older. OK, so maybe that’s just me. Smart brands will listen to their customers, so I urge you to keep asking for what it is you want.
In the meantime, we tall guys are lucky that short and cropped are the new black. Embrace the trend and use it to your advantage. Jackets can be worn shorter, just ensure the buttoning sits around your waist. Pants are being worn cropped so go with it. Be thankful we don’t have to roll the cuff up as many times as most.
My one other piece of advice for us tall dudes is to ensure we wear slim. Oversized or the size one bigger just make us look weak and fragile. Slim and straight is the way to go.
3. I can’t get into the informality of wearing trainers, even high-end luxe ones, though feel pressure to because all my “creative” friends wear them with everything, from suits to chinos. Should I just continue my resistance? – K. Chong, via e-mail
Fashion is about wearing what’s on trend; what’s “IN”. Style is about wearing what suits you and what makes you feel confident and relaxed. Personally, I head straight for style over fashion any day of the week.
Having said that I was someone who spent many years in a suit and I have to admit, like you, I was resistant of the global tidal wave that is the trainer phenomenon. I can only tell you that once I crossed to the dark side and slipped on my first pair of trainers I have never looked back. I found a way to make the trend my own. Now, as a fully-fledged member of the trainer cult, I feel like a new man, capable of taking on other trends as they come my way. As Nike say, “Just do it”.
HIGHSNOBIETY’s Campus 80s, $160, from sneakerboy.com
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David Bush has worked in the fashion industry for over 25 years [most as the GM of Fashion for David Jones] and now has his own retail consultancy business DBC Consulting, advising some of Australia’s best retail and fashion brands.