A quick Q&A with Rex Massey-Molloy, Working Style’s director, on the trends in menswear for winter 2014
How do you master cocktail and black tie attire and how do they differ?
I’m yet to see a precise definition of men’s cocktail dress but when done well the look is generally semi-formal. It tends to imply blazer-and-trousers (with no tie) rather than a suit, but personally I would equally recommend a suit, with or without a tie. Certainly it’s acceptable to be a little more flamboyant than how you usually dress, perhaps with a pocket square or some snazzy socks. I would describe the cocktail look as slightly more preppy.
The important thing to understand is that cocktail dress is in no way related to black tie and that the point of it is to ensure that the men appear dressed similarly while the women provide the colour.
Black tie is formalwear (or eveningwear), which, if followed correctly, is quite complicated. To simplify, if the invitation stipulates black tie then we are talking about a dinner jacket (meaning dinner suit) with a white dress shirt (studded, no buttons) and a black bow tie. Any other colour bow tie besides white is considered daywear. If the invitation states white tie then we are talking about the ultimate in men’s eveningwear: dress tails. This is very rare nowadays though.
What are the seasonal essentials every man should have?
Being winter, it’s all about warmth. If you wear a suit, then a woollen overcoat is a sound investment. They last a long time so the cost shouldn’t be a deterrent and staying warm is key for keeping well during the cooler months. Wool coats aren’t particularly waterproof so an umbrella is essential for rainy weather. Here in Wellington, umbrellas don’t last long, but if wind isn’t an issue where you are it might be worth getting a good one, particularly if you’re not hopelessly forgetful.
If you don’t usually wear a suit then I would suggest the pea coat. Naval in origin and often navy in colour, this classic dates back to the 1720s. Our Working Style version features a cashmere blend, so it is something to treasure.
The other item is, of course, the scarf. The scarf is simple yet amazingly effective. It provides another layer of colour and texture while adding a certain savoir-faire. How you wear it depends on how cold you are really: there is the simple drape, the Ascot (an overhand knot) or if it’s really chilly, the Parisian. Simply fold the scarf at the middle, drape around the neck and slip the ends through the loop. Tighten as preferred.
Are there any new trends sweeping through the menswear world at the moment?
Plaids and checks continue to grow and are being seen more in suiting as well as shirting. More prominent “roped” suit jacket shoulders are gaining popularity. The smart-casual look continues to grow and mature with the understanding that too casual a look, such as jeans and T-shirts, are best left for the weekend and that chinos, jackets and collared shirts are a better bet.
The ‘hipster’ look is everywhere now, so much so that lumberjacks have had to reassess their æsthetic in order to not be mistaken for one.
What are the key colour ways coming through this season?
Natural earthy tones take precedence over brights. Burgundies, blue shades from navy to air force, and brown accents particularly in shirting are showing in Europe as well as here. •