There are five elements I want to talk about in this outfit. Five.
And I’ll take them all separately - because you can easily change one, or only like one. There’s no need to lift an outfit (or, give it the thumbs up/down) as a whole.
In fact I’m often surprised when readers don’t automatically do this. Most outfits have several ideas in them, and it’s unlikely all of them will appeal. (Or that you’ll have the clothes to make use of them all.)
Most brand lookbooks or window displays are even done this way deliberately - containing a half dozen ideas in the hope that at least one will hit home.
I’d never wear a Ralph Lauren look head-to-toe. But every window display has something - usually how two items are combined together - that I’m interested to take and try.
First, the cap. Because to the PS reader it’s probably what stands out.
I’ve worn and shown my old Berkeley cap several times in the past, but perhaps never with remotely smart clothing. I increasingly like it for the way it casualises (if that’s a word) an outfit, adding a taste of American sportswear and subverting some expectations of classic clothing.
It’s not quite the contrast of high/low dressing - that would be wearing the cap with a suit and tie, and I wouldn’t do that personally. Rather, I like it with pieces that sit someway between casual and formal: a raglan coat rather than a tailored overcoat (smart) or a blouson (casual); and suede boots or loafers, rather than oxfords or trainers.
Of course, wearing a baseball cap with luxury casualwear is something Americans have done for a long time (though with mixed results) - and I like it with accompanying clothes that are simple and considered.
Interestingly, I find this old Berkeley cap looks a lot better than my other favourite - the RRL suede. I think it’s because the beaten-up cotton makes no pretensions to being smart, where the suede perhaps does. Beware ‘luxury’ baseball caps for similar reasons.
If you dislike the cap, it could easily be swapped for a watch cap/beanie - perhaps in grey.
Second, the yellow shetland.
I said pretty much everything there is to say on this colour here, when discussing strong colour in accessories.
For now, suffice it to say that the shetland fluff adds to a certain Ivy feel. And that it could easily be swapped for navy, grey or olive to achieve something subtler.
Third, the white jeans (or actually cream - much better).
I find this denim increasingly useful because, on the one hand, cream goes with everything. Every colour of jacket, every colour of coat. This comes up whenever we discuss trousers to go with odd jackets.
The downside of cream is that it can be showy and impractical. Unless you live somewhere very sunny, and don’t mind a large cleaning bill.
Denim mitigates both these dangers: because jeans are more everyday, and because they can take a little dirt without looking actually dirty. They’re also easy to scrub a little if needed.
Still, I wouldn’t wear white jeans in the rain. They’re impractical and they look it.
If white jeans will always be too eurotrash for you, they could be swapped for regular denim or grey flannels.
Fourth, brown-suede loafers. I mentioned that these were next on my wishlist when I covered my brown-calf Belgravias.
Here they are, and they are certainly the most versatile shoe I own. Nothing else could go with every jean and chino, with flannel and a lot worsted.
That’s all I have to say on the subject. Except you could swap them for suede boots or (if that’s your style) slim-line trainers.
Fifth and last, I think looks like this are inspired by writing about Ivy style - despite denim being anathema to the Ivy purist.
The spirit feels similar because of the combination of smart (shirt, loafer) with more casual (cap, jeans). The jeans would have been chinos originally, of course, but in this colour they do a similar job.
We covered Ivy a little with the Ivy Style Symposium last year, but I’ve also interviewed a few people from around the industry for an article on the subject for the Financial Times (which will be out in April).
One thing everyone emphasised was that Ivy was always about mixing styles, and doing so in a fun, irreverent way. It’s the look it makes least sense to be hardline about.
I think combinations like this do something similar, and it’s something I’ll mine myself further in the future, I think. As I mentioned during the Symposium, everyone today seems to want to combine sportswear with more formal clothing - but often with horrible results. Ivy has some much more attractive alternatives.
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