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Patterns are big in men’s fashion this year. (Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)
Patterns are big in men’s fashion this year. (Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)

RUSSELL SMITH

Can everyone wear a bold geometric pattern? Add to ...

The question

Am I really supposed to wear geometric patterns on my clothes?

The answer

Ah, you, unlike the vast majority of your countrymen, have been following the fashion shows in foreign capitals, those displays of arch or exuberant creativity that can look more like images from science fiction than an actual wardrobe. And yes, a number of designers, led by the Japanese, have recently shown jagged patterns all over coats, sweaters and bags. Some of it looks like the dazzle camouflage of World War I – the earliest Op Art – as if designed to help you hide among the smashed ruins of a city formerly built of grey plastic computer parts. Even Lacoste has boxy tennis clothes for spring that look a bit like a Mondrian painting.

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Can you wear it? Of course you can; you can wear anything you want. Will anyone else be wearing it? Well, outside a few clubs in downtown Montreal, not in this country. And furthermore, as with so much “concept” fashion, I personally don’t find it very sexy.

The gulf between runway fashion and the clothes that men wear is not, however, as vast and uncrossable as you might think. The large ideas trickle down to everyday clothes in diluted form. What you can take from this trend is not that you have to dress exactly like a shattered mirror but simply that busy patterns are popular. It shows you that more guys will be mixing daring textures such as plaid and stripes and herringbone. The one major development that I see in this trend is the patterning of overcoats: raincoats and winter coats have through long tradition been solid black, navy, grey or camel; the idea that we may wear multi-coloured topcoats is new and interesting; it adds a new and challenging venue for male expression.

Novelist Russell Smith’s memoir, Blindsided, is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a style question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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