New York Fashion Week is nigh upon us here in the city, which means that it’s been about a year now since I first came face to face with the bizarre world of “capital F Fashion.” In that year, my style hasn’t changed much, (which I’m happy about for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is monetary), so with a few exceptions here and there, I plan to keep it pretty boring and just wear the same pieces this time around as I did twelve months ago. Although, there are two things that I wore heavily this past winter, but will remain in my closet this time around, and that’s my pair of down vests. It was around this time last year, as menswear was reaching it’s peak of Italian infatuation, that the down vest was thrust from the L.L. Bean back catalog, slimmed down and reinterpreted as winter’s layering pièce de résistance for much of the younger generation (myself included.)
Thanks to Brunello Cucinelli, and the bevy of Pitti Uomo street style shots showing Italian men layering their earth toned vests under their equally as earth toned blazers, I felt bold enough to give the look a try last year.On that given day, I’d like to think that I pulled it off, but I doubt I’d be able to replicate that magic a second time around. While the vest-under-a-jacket thing might work for some, for me I felt that I was coming awfully close to simply looking like an overstuffed Michelin Man in an unstructured blazer. Ask any menswear probably and they’ll probably tell you layering is one of their favorite things (along with free beer, and intentionally undoing the top buckle of their dub monks), but it’s my opinion that often times most of these combinations look much better looking in theory (or on a mannequin) than they do in real life. There are two layering options though that I have been favoring heavily this season in lieu of my past missteps, the first being the cardigan, and the second being the cable-knit crewneck.
The idea of a cardigan as a layering piece is far from novel, but it was two men, Alan See from the Armoury, and my friend Jeff who runs the blog JHilla, that made me reconsider the cardigan, a piece that until now has mainly been collecting dust in my drawer. Normally, a standard cardigan on it’s own always come off to me as a cross between try-hard and hipster, two words that I would not want hurled in my direction. But, worn under a jacket, or better yet, coupled with a suit, the cardigan steps in as an extra layer that is not only comfortable, but makes a nice informal allusion to the three-piece suit. George Peppard effortlessly pulled it off alongside Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys (although his may be a vest), and it’s a look that Ralph Lauren and Italian men alike have honed over the years, using the cardigan for some tonal and textural contrast as a way to personalize the suit.
I’ve written the cable-knit before, portraying it as the thick fisherman’s sweater that springs to mind when most people think cable-knit, but Club Monaco’s recent take on the old standby has got me rethinking how these sweaters should be worn. Upon seeing the Club Monaco version in their store, I was instantly reminded of the below shot of Steve McQueen. If Club was trying to replicate his Aran sweater, well they did a pretty damn good job, except on their take the knit itself is unexpectedly gauzy and open. The sweater also seems to have been washed several times over giving it this nice worn in quality that can be both seen and felt. Altogether it makes for a perfect middle layer worn under a jacket and over a shirt, for a look that reminds me of something Antonio posted this past week.