Many people talk about timeless style like it's the holy grail of menswear. Style immortality. Immunity from the whims of fashion. But is it really possible?
The answer is yes and no. Whilst it is wholly possible to buy clothing that will look great for years to come, eventually some parts of your wardrobe are going to require an update. This is most obvious with suits and tailoring. Just look back over the past decades; lapels alone have changed significantly.
For a 'timeless' suit, don't buy into any of the extremes. Lapels shouldn't be pencil thin or wide enough to give you lift on a windy day. The height of the notch in the lapel, known as the gorge, should also be moderate; not somewhere around mid-chest like the 80's or so high it looks like it's making a break for freedom over your shoulder.
The main fastening button of the jacket should be below your sternum and above your belly button. Shoulders shouldn't be too padded. The jacket should also be long enough to cover your seat. Whilst this sounds like a style that will always be in, trends will come and go and eventually your eye may learn to appreciate a different style. But it's as close as you're going to get to a timeless suit.
Moderation applies to more than just suiting. Shirt collars shouldn't be heavily cut away and ties should be kept at a moderate width. Overall fit for all clothing should also be kept moderate; very fitted and very relaxed styles are all trend related.
Away from tailoring, true timeless style is more achievable. Waxed jackets from brands such as Barbour and Belstaff are going to look fantastic 30 years from now as long as your go for traditional models in colours such as olive.
The same applied with footwear. The Converse trainer will probably still be a staple for teenagers twenty year from now. The Hunter Wellington boot is still going to be a festival goers go to footwear. Country boots such as those from Tricker's will still look great; they may not be such a hot trend as they are now but they won't look dated or old fashioned.
Accessories can also be timeless. That handmade walking umbrella or those peccary gloves are going to add the same flourish to your outfits in ten years time as they do today. A great watch will still be a great watch when you pass it on to the next generation.
So how do you really know what's still going to look good in a couple of decades?
Timelessly stylish pieces are those that have more to them than just beauty. They have function. They were designed for a practical purpose and their beauty comes from this functionality. With items that are just about their aesthetics such as that beautifully cut Italian suit you've been eyeing, timeless appeal isn't a guarantee. But if you avoid the extremes previously discussed, its fashionable lifespan will be much longer than if you don't.
James Wilson is the founder of JW STYLIST LTD.
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