Made In The USA
When it comes to British menswear, we’ve usually got our sights set on sharp, classic pieces. Clean silhouettes, choice fabrics and expert tailoring ? whatever you pick, there’s always something undeniably emblematic of our home shores. But what of more casual ensembles? As much as I’m a stickler for a good bit of tweed, I wouldn’t feel comfortable rocking up to my mate’s house in a three-piece suit.
That’s why this week at FashionBeans, we’re looking towards our transatlantic cousins for style inspiration – but don’t get it twisted. New York dandies, LA celebutantes and Washington politicians have been done to death and in the quest for real style, we’ve shifted our attention to the deep south. Our sartorial heroes lay with the blue collar workers and the forgotten wilderness relics; real style is born in the USA.
Channeling your inner redneck (when done correctly ? that’s where we come in) can be quite the sartorial victory. More Bruce Springsteen than Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, there’s something undeniably masculine about this look that doesn’t fit into the conventional suits/brogues/pocket square bracket. Channeling your inner hunter gatherer has never been easier.
All-American apparel has provided us with some classic pieces that have remained on the style radar for decades. First and foremost: the plain white tee. I believe that any sartorially-inclined man should have at least five in their wardrobe of varying fits. Whether you opt for oversized like my good self or a more classic fitted approach, the plain white tee is the bread and butter of contemporary menswear.
Rolled up sleeves and a semi-fitted shape screams Americana and gives reference to the unsung style heroes of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. Tucking it in and allowing yourself a little excess material is another successful approach that’s becoming increasingly popular as we move to autumn/winter and, once again, triggers a truly classic ensemble.
Simplicity is always a winner.
As we head towards colder months (let’s hope global warming prolongs this heatwave for now), flannels and checks are an excellent choice. Thick, warm and versatile, you can craft your own shirt jacket with vintage finds; plenty are quilted inside and you’ll probably snag a good deal for that extra fifteen minutes of clothing rail perseverance.
It’s a tried and tested method but exercise caution with sleeveless checks; whilst some of our kind can pull it off, you may end up looking a little 1980s porn star. Never good.
Aside from these, extra over layers can include rugged donkey, worker and contrasting denim jackets, which will help to keep things basic whilst still exuding a sense of timelessness.
Key Pieces: Flannel/Check Shirts
Key Pieces: Worker Jackets
The essential all-American piece. Make like James Dean and don your blue jeans for a quintessential US look. Slimline, well crafted and a regular fit on the waist, the opportunity for real sartorial investment has never been greater.
Trusted denim brands (there are plenty of frontrunners in the denim industry) are more likely to outlast cheaper alternatives, so try not to skimp. To make things even better, their design approach is usually quite clean and classic.
Avoid novelty trends and embellishments at all costs. Your All-American look should in no way incorporate elasticized ankles, straps or intentionally ‘distressed’ fabric? it’ll immediately cheapen your look and well-dressed gents should know better. For those wanting true authenticity, why not look to some of the prominent made-in-the-US brands, such as Levi’s, Lee, Lucky Brand, Jean Shop and J Brand.
For casual ensembles, my first choice could be the classic Converse trainer. Never before has there been a model of footwear that is so emblematic of Americana fashion through the ages. From baseball players to trailer park dwellers, Converse is a brand often associated with all things US.
Any form of sneaker is more than applicable though, but avoid bright neon colors or trend prints. A camouflage shoe will quickly detract from any stateside-inspired outfit and when making these purchases, it’s wise to predict the longevity of such trends. White, black or classic red? take your pick.
If the sneaker isn’t your thing, opt for shell toe pumps or durable workerwear boots; just make sure they’re not pristine though. Nobody kept a clean pair of shoes when they spend the best part of the day on an oilfield.
A single gold chain may well have been the reserve of early 2000s sartorially inept men, but minimal, classic jewellery is back on the radar – if YSL SS13 is anything to go by. Tying in nicely, the simple ballchain is a staple of American Midwesterners
. However, jewellery is always a tricky one in menswear; one side think any inclusion of gold or silver gilt is too flashy, whilst the other can ramp up to P Diddy levels with a gem on each and every knuckle. Look for the happy medium.
Stick to one statement piece or maybe a couple of rings (without falling into Dallas territory) and you should be onto a winner. A personal highlight comes in the form of a black onyx ring with gold accents? simple enough to remain rugged yet still a sharp finishing touch to a casual look.
Here at FashionBeans, we’re pioneers of unique and fresh takes on contemporary menswear, and now you can channel the stateside for some wardrobe revitalisation.
Masculine, casual and comfortable, it’s a sure-fire look that still borders on the classic. You might not be fumbling with Lana Del Rey on the back seat of your Corvette, but you can at least look the likely candidate.
As always, we want to hear your view: what do you think of an all-American look? Are there any other additions or key pieces you would like to add?
Let us know in the comments section…