Letter from the Creative Director: Timeless Style’s Best Before Date

We bandy about the idea of timeless style all the time. Have done for years. The idea being, of course, that certain pieces form the foundation of a properly curated sartorial opus. A wardrobe collection of greatest hits that you will go back to time and time again until you’re the most stylish guy at the retirement home.

Only problem: It’s a lie.

To prepare for this column introducing the state of men’s style in Fall 2015, I asked for a debrief from the most qualified man in Canada on the subject: Sharp’s own fashion editor, Matthew Biehl. As I reviewed his notes on layering, pattern, texture and colour, I was also assaulted with the poignant realization that I’m middle-aged. This happens when a new trend is something that happened to also be in style when you were twelve…in the eighties. The oversized overcoat is back, again.

Now if you’re thinking “That’s great!” because you never really warmed up to the painted-on, trim-fitting cuts of the last few years, or because you happen to have one feeding moths in a closet under the front steps I’m afraid I need to be the bearer of even more bad news. You can’t wear it.

Reinterpreting styles of trends past almost always makes the older iterations look, well, old.

Staple though it may have been, sold to you by the charming sales person and your trusted men’s magazine as an investment piece, you can’t wear it. Why? Because time marches on, and though oversized overcoats, wider legs, bomber jackets and cargo pants have all been around before, they haven’t been resurrected so much as reincarnated. True to their progenitors in concept, the latest trends are the product of a new generation of designers, and are formed by the wants and needs of a different era. They are reboots, not re-issues. But that’s OK.

In fact, it’s better than OK. I’ve confessed before to not being an early adopter, but I do like to look forward. Reinterpreting styles of trends past almost always makes the older iterations look, well, old. Modern fabrics, contemporary colours and patterns and tweaks to the cut and fit all conspire to render those cherished staples out of style. The reinterpretation of past trends builds on familiarity and nostalgia, but infuses it with innovation. That’s what timelessness really means: it’s not about staying the same, ignoring time, but rather evolving and growing with it. Building on it.

If it didn’t, what would be the point?

– Michael La Fave

Editorial and Creative Director