Oh how we all scoffed at talk of a 90's revival in menswear. Big, flashy branding? No chance. Oversized tailoring? Not on this side of Don Draper. Bumbags? Bumbags, mate?
A few years later, of course, all of these things have come to pass, refreshed by fashion’s spin cycle just like eighties styles (acid wash jeans, pinstripes, pastel colours) were before them. Today, puffer jackets and tracksuits may be the toast of menswear, but just a few years ago, it was unthinkable.
All of which raises the ugly question of what might be around the corner for men’s wardrobes. Do you remember the turn of the 21st century? Do you remember what was trending, who the trendsetters were?
We do, and what we recall is the faux hawk, beads worn without irony, deep-V T-shirts and Justin Timberlake in matching double denim with Britney Spears. Less Y2K, more why 2K, why?
If menswear really is about to get the Millennium bug, these are the trends that could be making a comeback, ranked from the most likely to the please-god-no.
The skinny fit’s stranglehold on menswear (and, by extension, your genitals) came later in the noughties. At the turn of the century, loose-fit trousers gave a man freedom. Perhaps a bit too much, in fact. Formal or casual, styles billowed shapelessly and puddled around the ankles. No-one seemed to care. This was a time before you could Instagram your sneakers.
But if you think slouchy styles are a thing of the past, then you haven’t been paying attention. Relaxed trouser are already back. Skate styles, generous tailoring and loose-fit denim are calling time on ubiquitous slim fits, with Mark Ronson and designer Patrick Grant two of the most prominent wide receivers.
If you want to follow suit, follow the new rules: stick to tailored silhouettes and straight- (not wide-) leg cuts, with hems finishing at the ankles, not two inches under your heel.
In the noughties, Welsh rugby player Gavin Henson and assorted other perma-tanned frat boys paved the way for today’s muscle-fit horror show by stuffing their cuboid physiques into slim, deep-V T-shirts that sliced through their bulbous he-vage like cheese wire through Wensleydale.
Never forget. But never again? Don’t count on it. While we’d agree that the chance of a navel-kissing V-neck is vanishingly slim, that doesn’t mean V-neck tees are gone for good. Nor should they be.
V-Neck Sweaters have already made an unlikely comeback in this season’s knitwear. And if you do flick the V as a tee, keep them in neutral shades of grey, white, navy and black; always in casual outfits; never let the V point lower than two inches below your collarbone; and if you look like Tom Selleck without a top on, do us all a favour and consider some manscaping first.
Before Mad Men came along to nip and tuck our tailoring game, every man’s two-piece looked like a politician’s suit. Boxy around the shoulders, too roomy in the chest, with the hem of the jacket creeping halfway down your thigh. There’s a good chance it had three buttons, not two.
The big trend in tailoring in recent years has, in many ways, been the opposite of that. Casual styles in an array of fits, textures and colours have loosened the way men think about formalwear. We even wear sneakers with suits now.
But fashion likes nothing more than reacting to the norms of the day, which might explain some of the silhouettes we’ve seen from Balenciaga, Tiger of Sweden and others in recent seasons. If you don’t want to go that far with it, look for wider lapels and roomier legs at the more directional end of the high street, in places like Topman.
We have no market data to back this up, but we firmly believe that firm-hold, wet-look gel was a pillar of the global economy around the early nineties. Mens hair at the time came spiked like a Medieval mace weapon. And if it wasn’t spiked, it was slicked back, or fringes were pushed up like freeze-frame tidal waves.
Boybands from N*Sync to Green Day all pushed statement hairstyles to the masses, with more than a few opting for highlights or primary colour dyes to boot.
It’ll take a lot for the pompadour to flop out of favour right now, but men are starting to experiment with riskier styles again. Undercuts and curtains have both made unlikely comebacks, and earlier this year Zayn Malik dyed his hair green in what could be a sign of things to come. Are you ready to frost your tips?