I promised to create a SWAP wardrobe for my son Gus.
I have precious little experience of designing or making clothes for men. I love looking at menswear. And men! But I haven’t branched out into making clothes for the men in my life. Men are such a different shape, and making clothes for them seems scary; I confess I don’t really have a feel about how to fit the male frame. Men also have a different attitude to choosing and buying clothes, Men’s clothes have similar but different functions. Therefore I was keen to work with Gus to see what I could learn about designing and making clothes for men. And while I may not adopt Gus for my SWAP 2017 I want to create an ideal wardrobe I could theoretically make up. Like a virtual reality wardrobe. And if he gets a jumper or two, and perhaps a pair of jeans that fit, I am sure he will consider himself lucky.
I previously suggested that, when designing for an individual, – male or female – we should first try to understand their body, shape and personal style. Even though I might like the Duke of Windsor look, or Ozwald Boateng (both style icons) I would not suggest dressing my son in Plus Fours, a tweed jacket or a luminous purple suit. No. We all need to wear clothes that enhance us, make us feel good and help us create the impression we want on the outside world. So before I talk to Gus specifically about what sort of clothes he fancies, I thought I would elaborate how I analyse someone’s figure. I did this before for Ruth, if you are interested.
If we understand our own shape and proportion we can enhance our best features and camouflage any areas we perceive to be an issue. A good bodyline and style consultation means we can then feel better about ourselves, make better purchasing decisions and get better use from our wardrobe in that we will have a range of clothes that work well together. I can help Gus understand the power of the optical illusion to make the most of his natural features.
First things first. What is the overall silhouette like? At first glance you might say this young man has a straight body shape as he has small hips and waist. But look at his shoulders. He actually has an Angular body shape – the wide shoulders create a triangle shape that narrows down to his waist. But Gus also has quite sloping shoulders and a relatively long neck. If I were to make him a jacket or a jumper I could “correct” for these issues, making his neck look a little shorter and his shoulders a bit squarer. Although Gus likes a raglan sleeve, a set-in sleeve will be better on him as it emphasises the shoulder line.
The Angular body looks best in a jacket with some waist shaping. Gus should consider wide peaked lapels, double breasted jackets, and tops with a straight hemline. For more casual wear a jeans or bomber jacket, a belted coat or fitted jacket will look best.
In terms of trousers a slim fit pair, made from crisper fabrics is best. If he wishes Gus may try shorter lengths or turn ups, or even pleated trousers for a retro look.
Scale and proportion
Although Gus is rather thin he is also 6’2″ so he would be classified as a medium not a small (or large) man. His tall, slimness doesn’t produce too many challenges in terms of dressing as a long slim body is easy on the eye and tends to look good in clothes. Gus’s legs are longer than his torso (by about four cms) so again he has a figure that is relatively easy to flatter. The perception, looking at the photographs above, is that Gus has a longer body and shorter legs. But if he tucked his T shirt in, or wore jeans with a high waist, his legs would look longer. Certainly something we could fix with tailor made jeans or trousers.
When we look at what Gus wears for work we see that he matches a soft navy jacket with narrow cut navy trousers and a pair of black shoes. In the picture below Gus is wearing a zip front jacket with hand warmer pockets. It’s a version of a bomber jacket. This style suits him well in terms of an unstructured outline (he likes to look fairly casual, even for work), but also in that it finishes relatively high, compared to a formal jacket, and it makes his legs look longer.
Face shape is important, especially when we are looking at garments that are worn near the face eg necklines, ties, collars, and of course hair styles. Gus has an oval face which is rather longer than wide, and his features are straight rather than angular, or rounded. With this face shape hair styles that combine straight lines with some softness are best – Gus’s hair fits the bill and the sweeping fringe reduces the length of his face. The beard provides a nice horizontal line across his lower face that is flattering as well as (still, relatively) fashionable. In the photo below Gus has a more sporty, casual bomber jacket, this time with green in it. Nice colour.
Wardrobe personality is important. The two gents I mentioned at the top of this post – the Duke of Windsor and Ozwald Boateng – are both dramatic dressers. Gus is more of a classic dresser, but with a few flourishes and a hint of drama. He is open-minded about colour, pattern, and unusual fabrics. He is interested in history, stories and has a great sense of humour. He enjoys dressing up (I remember the zombie twins costume) and larking around. He doesn’t mind standing out in a crowd, but as the third child he mainly fits in. He goes with the flow, enjoys spontaneity and is good in a group or team. He can’t really be bothered with ironing or taking things to the cleaners, so his wardrobe needs to be easy care.
I am looking forward to determining his colours. Then we will come up with a wardrobe!