Men’s fashion has never been more exciting as it has been in the last decade. The classics and experimental have made space for themselves comfortably in modern man’s wardrobe in India. Gone are the days when the choices were limited and colour palette restricted. Millennial men use clothing actually as a tool to express their personality. Think of Ranveer Singh’s gregarious persona expressed through his unconventional dandy choices or Ranbir Kapoor’s reticent personality through his choice of stylish classic wear or your neighbour uncle next door’s reserved image who wears only blue and black. Channel your inner James Dean’s casual ruggedness with equal flamboyance as David Bowie’s expressionist style. Indian style icons like Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bacchan and Hrithik Roshan have raised the bar for average man’s daily wardrobe as they set their own distinctive style cult.
What was once perceived as the sign of rebellion, is now a second nature to men’s dressing. Tee-shirt, considered as an undergarment back in 1950’s, was popularised by Marlon Brando and James Dean as they wore it nonchalantly with denims and loafers or boots as an act of defiance against the suited Hollywood then. Fast forward it to 2020; gender fluid garments are akin to Tee-shirt of fifties. The bold and the handsome of India are taking rein of their style quotient as seriously as their counterparts. Asymmetrical hemlines in kurta, draped slouchy pants, paisley prints and colours galore are the new custodians of style villa.
Meanwhile resurgence of Indian textiles has made way through men’s wear, not just for occasion wear but also for daily wear. Khadi shirts and kurtas, washed brocade day jackets, art deco inspired block printed shirts and ikat jackets have taken the fancy of gentlemen. Some designers are surfing on the new wave of fashion for men while others are following the change.
In the current times, gender fluid fashion is on the up-rise. The men’s-wear shows recently have witnessed fashion brands clamouring for the co-ed badges. High street brands like Zara have capitalised on the market for clothes that can be worn by men or women, offering a gender-neutral fashion range. Historically, Indian men and women shared kurtas, lungis and dhotis with ease. They were comfortable in bright, draped shawls even wore embroidered mojaris. Men wearing pearls and jewels for weddings was a common sight. The western influence of donning pants and shirts came after the colonialization of India. But once again, fashion is coming to a full circle in India with the resurgence of draped dhotis, septum rings, long skirts and jackets for men.
Talking about lack of experiments in men’s fashion in India, Subhashish Mandal, Interior design Architect and Fashion & Lifestyle Influencer, The Bald Eagle, comments “Lot of men don’t understand textiles, forget patterns. Indian textiles are rich in patterns and colours. Indigo, Indian blue is witnessing its rise. There is no longer one blue and one pink. I feel however, things are changing but it is slow progress. Media, magazines and style gurus are not talking about Indian wear as becoming part of their daily wear. It’s still being spoken as occasion wear or brunch wear. Since they don’t see it around, men do not feel comfortable wearing Indian textiles to work citing its too in-the-eye or its not formal enough. A beautiful Chinese collar shirt in white cotton teamed with indigo jacket would be my idea of modern day menswear.”
Between the classic and the experimental, between trends and staples, what should a style conscious man invest in to build a capsule wardrobe in 2020?
White Oxford Shirt
Team it with formal pants for a business meeting or style it with classic blue denims for an evening out. Bring in Indian textiles to add some verve to this classic style. Cotton, linen or khadi, play with fabric texture for versatility.
Black Formal Trousers
It’s the building block of capsule wardrobe for men. Pare it down with striped and chequered shirts for meetings or dress it up with 70’s vintage print shirts for party vibes. If you want to go the handloom way, opt for block-printed shirts. Select from flat front, pleated, straight fit or slim fit; let your comfort be the deciding factor.
Classic Blue Denim
While the acid wash and ripped denim trend will come and go, what will stay timeless is 501 original Levis vintage jeans. Do yourself a favour and get it in classic blue and dark shade. Build up with trendy styles like tapered, cropped, ripped and jogger denims for added chutzpah.
If white was your companion for day, black will see you through the dark. Invest in high quality fabric for black shirt and team with it dressy blazer for an evening party. Take a dig at Chinese collared mul shirt in black. Team it with slouchy pants or dhoti if that’s your jazz.
Available in a range of colours, chinos make the perfect alternative for formal pants in working culture today. Dress it up with button down dress shirts in checks, plaids, gingham and style it with coloured blazers for a suave look. Start with navy, black, khaki and proceed to new age colours like forest green, brown, camel, burgundy, powder blue, white, pink and mustard.
One suit that looks good on all is a classic navy suit that commands power. Tailor it to perfection and style it with black derbies or loafers for the impact. Bespoke tailoring is big for 2020.
Beyond the suit, invest in blazers separately to mix and match the style. A blazer is less formal than a suit, usually worn open or with only the top button buttoned. 90’s are back and so are the plaids and checks. Start with grey, khaki and ivory blazer to build a timeless wardrobe and later add plaid blazers for the verve. Do not forget to add an ajrakh block printed blazer for the sass.
There is a blazer and then there is sports jacket. The difference between the two is the hardiness of the fabric. While blazer is delicate and meant for special events, sports jacket are more sturdy and worn anywhere. A gentleman can wear a sports jacket teamed with polo neck jumper and chinos to create a modern and casual look. For the rugged ones, get yourself a black leather biker jacket for the street-cool vibe. And if you are the experimental one, get yourself a tangaliya jacket in ivory.
If you are the one who loves a touch of Indian textiles with modern wear, add either Modi jacket or Nehru jacket in different colours to your wardrobe. It instantly lends desi-chic aura to the whole look. Go solid with colour palette or add chevron or stripes to the pattern.
Ivory, black, brown, maroon, blue and mustard coloured kurtas in long and short sleeves are must-haves for the festive season. Amp up the style quotient by adding asymmetrical cuts, pleats and style to the modern kurta. Go floral or go bold with layering the kurta with jacket.
These ten essentials form basic foundation for men’s wardrobe that can be elevated with other essentials like black derby shoes, tan loafers, white sneakers, classic black and brown belt, black wayfarer and elegant watch. Don’t forget to add white, black and grey tee-shirts. Let your socks be vocal in style.
For the ones who are experimental and fashion forward, go ahead and embrace block printed shirts and slouchy pants with kolhapuri chappals for the evening out. If you like the 70’s hunt for vintage printed shirts and team them with cropped pants and loafers for the edgy effect. Wear washed benarasi brocade suit to raise the stylo-meter for a resort party or team jogger pants and leather jacket with white sneakers for a casual cool brunch wear. Texturing and layering will be the two pillars for advanced styling once you have nailed the basics right.
Men- Go ahead and explore your creative canvas in 2020. Afterall, 2020 is all about changes we never thought we would have to do right ?