The Code

Because style is always personal.

5 min

The Superhero Sweater

A black cat you’ll want to cross paths with

If you’ve ever suffered the indignity of the ugly Christmas sweater (whether wearing one or having to look at one), Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele feels your pain. Well, either that or he’s mining it for fashion. Michele’s wool V-neck sweater looks like that classic holiday staple, down to its cheery red shade, striped hems, and animal motif. Only where the insipid reindeer would be, there’s a panther, midpounce, incisors flashing. This isn’t some twee, twitty jumper you’d imagine on Colin Firth; it’s the sweater Idris Elba would wear while rubbing out his enemies.
—Jason Chen

Peak Performance

A new breed of ski wear looks as sharp in urban canyons as it does on the slopes.

You probably recall that era—was it three or four years ago?—when urbanites in cold-clime cities like New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia went wild for Moncler down parkas. The jackets suggested a pampered approach to the snow, more après-ski than black diamond. These days, though, there’s a new type of ski- inspired clothing that’s built as much for technical performance as it is for standing out in the city.

Try Aztech Mountain, a three-year-old brand from Aspen that’s already earned fanfare for its city-friendly parkas, joggers, and performance fleeces. (Olympic gold medalist Bode Miller recently signed on as chief innovation officer.) Or check out Dsquared2’s debut ski collection, or Canada Goose’s reinvigorated line, whose down parka you may recognize as a status symbol among celebrities at Sundance and students at the Horace Mann School. This fall, the label collaborated with Vetements (its head designer, Demna Gvasalia, uncannily made us all covet DHL tees) on a capsule collection that includes camo and cropped parkas more runway-ready than anything you’d expect in Gstaad.

There’s a growing sense in men’s wear that clothes should be made to suit our multi­dimensional lives. They should perform under certain circumstances (like barreling down the slopes Hermanator-style) but should also fit seamlessly into the rest of your day. A parka you’d wear in Aspen shouldn’t be something you’d be ashamed to wear along the Boulevard St.-Germain. By the same token, the fleece you’d zip up for a stroll to the San Francisco Ferry Building should be toasty enough for a weekend in Vail. No, the conditions aren’t exactly the same, but that doesn’t mean your clothes can’t be.
—Jason Chen

Time Crunch

Panerai compresses a classic.

You can’t miss a Panerai. When the Italian company relaunched in 1993, it did so with three watches inspired by the designs it had once made for Italian Navy divers. And it was their sheer size that caught the attention of watch fans. The Luminor Marina was bigger and thicker than anything else out there. Early devotees had their shirt cuffs tailored to accommodate the beefy new behemoth. Many more did not, content to show off a wristwatch that became a talisman of corporate success. If you’ve ever wondered why modern watches are so big, thank Panerai.

So, in an industry whose monumental shifts can be measured in a handful of millimeters, it’s something of a sea change that Panerai’s major news this year is the Luminor’s drastic slimdown to a not-exactly-svelte 10.5mm, which represents a 40 percent decrease in the thickness of the iconic Luminor 1950 case design. It speaks volumes about where watchmaking is going next.
—N. S.

Living on the Edge

Banana Republic and Greg Lauren team up for a made-in-L. A. capsule collection

Greg Lauren, son of Jerry and nephew of Ralph, is a painter-turned-designer who cuts, dyes, rips, stitches, and patches clothes in his Melrose Avenue studio. His namesake collections—which he began selling quietly in 2011—have been partly inspired by Baja surf nomads and underground fighter poets, with many of his pieces washed and destroyed in a manner that can only be described as scarecrow chic. They’re handmade and painstaking works of art, with a price tag to match. Not exactly what you’d expect to find on the racks at your local mall, right? Well, think again. Thanks to a recently announced collaboration with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Lauren and Banana Republic produced a limited-edition collection of subtler versions of his own statement-making clothes—a stonewashed twill tuxedo and flight jacket, and a Donegal tweed blazer that’s rumpled to professorial perfection—all aimed at the fashion-curious Everyman (and his wallet, too).

“Banana Republic and I chose staple pieces from my collection that we felt would suit both of our customers,” Lauren says. “Then we set to work on finding a factory that could reproduce the handmade details of the clothes.” They didn’t have to go far: The entire capsule was cut and sewn in Lauren’s adopted city of Los Angeles. “We worked with the makers to reproduce these pieces for a wider audience,” he says. “Guys will feel like they can wear the jackets or pants to work, or to an event that requires a bit more formality. It’s easy versatility.”

The capsule (available soon) features 17 pieces (a $178 thermal all the way up to a $3,000 cashmere overcoat) in neutral, predominantly dark hues; Lauren says these are the essentials any man would want to take with him on a short trip. And yes, that includes the washed-to-hell tuxedo cut from black twill—a nod to Banana Republic’s heritage and reliance on this rugged fabric in its early collections. “Everyone wants to break the mold a little, to feel a little more confident, more heroic,” Lauren says. “To feel a bit more like what they really want to be instead of what they think they’re allowed to be.”
—Sean Hotchkiss

Skins Game

Some leathers are like Keith Richards’s face—they get better with age

If you like your jeans stiff and inky when you buy them so that you can gradually imprint your own personality through general wear and tear, you’ll like what’s happening in leather goods right now. Small artisanal makers and savvy big brands are using leather that hasn’t been anywhere near a dye bath for everything from wallets to footballs, allowing the natural wrinkles—or in some cases even the brand marks from the hide’s original owner—to come to the fore. Every piece will age differently. And just like your jeans, they improve with scuffs, spills, stains, and exposure to your skin’s natural oils. Should you wish to accelerate the process, try rubbing in a good extra-virgin olive oil and leaving the leather out in the sun.
—N. S.

the perfect new york block

Something is afoot on Prince Street. Last year, Slowear (an Esquire fave) set up a boutique, and now storied British label Drake’s has opened a pop-up two doors down to sell its ties, tweed coats, and insanely great printed scarves. According to creative director Michael Hill, it’s more of a pop-up-and-see store, meaning it could be around for just a few months or a good deal longer. We hope it’s the latter, and we’d love to see a few more like-minded men’s stores follow in the brand’s footsteps by opening pop-ups in the area.
—N. S.

Dressed to Chill

Call this a robe and someone’s likely to put your lights out

You don’t slip into a fuchsia-and-turquoise peacock-print silk dressing gown by accident. Even in the comfort of your own home, it takes an iron sense of self to put on several meters of exotic silk to answer the door for the postman. Or to chop firewood. What you choose to wear in private is the great divider.

For ease I should refer to a dressing gown as a robe, but I can’t bring myself to do so. A bathrobe is the Dude poolside in The Big Lebowski. The dressing gown is something else altogether.

A hundred years ago, the silk dressing gown was a cover-up in the indeterminate stretch of time—if you were rich enough to have such a thing as free time—between being too dressed to go back to bed and being too undressed to go out. Think Downton Abbey and Bertie Wooster.

Yet for all its associations with cognac-swilling upper-class twits with time on their hands, the silk dressing gown actually has its merits: It’s the in- betweeny nature of the garment that has made it, naturally enough, the uniform of the lothario—decorous enough to wear in the company of others, loose enough to whip off at the drop of a panty. In a word, it has attitude. A bit of that “I was just on my way to my bedroom—care to join me?” rakishness.

Head in the clouds or mind in the gutter, there’s no mistaking a certain loucheness in the silk dressing gown. There are few items in the male wardrobe so rich in dark significance. You definitely don’t get that sense of menace from a Snuggie.

The biggest boost to the dressing-gown industry came this year in the form of Hugh Laurie’s slightly charming, infinitely sinister arms dealer Richard Roper in the BBC TV adaptation of John le Carré’s The Night Manager. Roper, when he’s not having people discreetly disposed of, likes to swan about his epic Mallorcan estate in a peacock- printed silk gown from Jermyn Street veteran New & Lingwood.

The series has, unsurprisingly, been compared—in its multi-location lavishness—to the James Bond franchise and has led to speculation that its leading man, Tom Hiddleston, might be next in line for the 007 role. But it’s Laurie’s dark character who has stepped straight out of an Ian Fleming novel. In his writing, Fleming delighted in the excesses of his arch villains, expending far more descriptive prose on their wardrobes than on the spareness of Bond’s taste in clothes. His roster of assorted megalomaniacs, sadists, and perverts—Blofeld, Largo, Goldfinger—bedecked their bodies as they bedecked their lairs: deliberately, expensively, and, obviously, in nothing but the very best.

The subtext, of course, is that they are vain and vanity will likely be their undoing. But you can tell that Fleming—like us, perhaps—is happily envious of all that decadence. As Frank Lloyd Wright is widely believed to have said, “Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities.”
—Nick Sullivan

360° Vision

The big news in glasses next year? What’s round comes ’round.

Stop me if this sounds familiar. Though you’ll still find plenty of men in the chunky square-eyeglass frames popularized post-recession by Warby Parker, these days more and more of the earliest adopters (see: Justin Bieber, Zayn Malik) have been moving on to pared-down round frames. Designers from Garrett Leight to Mykita to, yes, Warby are churning them out as quickly as we can scoop them up, though, of course, those of us who remember John Lennon—or, hey, Johnny Depp—know the silhouette’s been around since long before its current moment. We’re calling it now: The Samuel Beckett look will be huge in 2017.
—J. C.

holiday giving: One Size Fits All

When I was growing up, my family followed the Chinese tradition of gifting red envelopes to children on the holidays—crisp twenties (fresh from the bank) wrapped in waxy crimson paper.

Now I look back fondly on those days when Christmas rolls around and I unwrap yet another artful coffee-table book (sup, Phaidon) or wireless Bluetooth speaker already marching toward obsolescence.

Call me a Scrooge, but there’s no gift more useful than cash. No one considers it a breach of etiquette to create a honeymoon fund for newly­weds, so why shouldn’t single guys ask for Xmas cash? This year, I’m taking contributions for my personal project, Let’s Galápago, which will surely bring me more happiness than an Apple Watch. (I’ll accept red envelopes, too.)
—J. C.

Take Summer into Winter

The unlined soft-shoulder jacket gets a new season.

We have become accustomed to the well-cut, unlined lightweight summer jacket, one without internal structure or any visible means of support (grazie, Italy), as a blessed fixture of the summer wardrobe. However, in autumn—which is, let’s face it, men’s wear’s spiritual home—when the temperature drops and wearing actual clothes once again becomes a pleasure, we look forward to more heft in our jackets and the opportunity to break out all those crunchy, earthy wools we stowed away in the spring. Now, counterintuitive as it sounds, the unlined winter jacket is on the rise, and it gives you the best of both worlds: Stripping out the lining enhances the cut while allowing the coat to be made of thicker, more authentic fabrics. For the style guy, it’s a win-win.
—N. S.

Master class with

Marc Piatek, a personal stylist for Barneys New York, shares his secrets

Remember when Ryan Gosling single-hand-edly transformed schlubby Steve Carell in Crazy, Stupid, Love? That’s what Marc Piatek does for his clients every day, except he’s much nicer about it. “A personal shopper is just a catapult to someone changing a part of their life. I’m there to coach and guide guys.”

Style starts with the right fit: “A lot of men don’t know what fits them, so we get sizes down pat. Then we ask questions like ‘Who are your style icons and what kind of success would you like to convey?’ ”

Think about color: “Men always have an answer, because they know what colors they feel good in.”

Blaze a new trail: “Start with one great basic blazer—and it doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. Then get a great pant, a great shirt, great shoes, and that’s it! Invest in it. A wardrobe doesn’t happen overnight—you want to take it in increments and get pieces that will help you in the future.”

Instant office-style upgrade: “Instead of a standard navy suit, get a lighter-blue suit with a subtle plaid pattern.”

The only office shoes you need: “Keep it simple: a black pair, a brown pair, and a cognac pair. One can be a slip-on for casual wear and the other two lace-up.”

Athleisure time: “The key to pulling off the sporty look is taking the pieces up a notch. Instead of  boring sweatpants, try a pair with cool zippers, or instead of a plain hoodie, swap in a cool jacket with a light wind-breaking shell.”

Avoid the winter blues: “The key to a nondreary winter look? Let your shoes and accessories give the look its flavor. You could wear a charcoal coat all winter, but if you buy four or five scarves and two pairs of great boots, you’ll look like a different person each time.”

The big move this season: “If you’re adventurous, try a velvet blazer. Velvet is really in this winter.”

What to watch for this spring: “Right now men are looking for softer suits; they aren’t wearing those heavy structured jackets anymore.”

Three up-and-coming lines to know:

  • Enfants Riches Déprimés: “Hyperbolizing the ennui of ‘depressed rich kids,’ it references the underside of ’80s and ’90s pop culture.”
  • Ganryu: “It’s designed by Fumito Ganryu and reinterprets uniforms of the working classes with a fashion-forward point of view.”
  • A Cold Wall: “Designed by Samuel Ross, it has conceptual lab-coat-inspired outerwear, clever hoodies, and thought-provoking slogan tees and sweats.”

Buy the book: For 93 years, Barneys has been at the forefront of inspired, beautiful visual work. This new book—titled, simply, Barneys New York (Rizzoli, $85) —captures the collaborations that range from David Bowie to Jay Z. —Ren McKnight

The Place Beyond the Pines

Breathe life into long gray winter days with one of these woodsy, earthy scents.

  • A newcomer to the olfactory world, Ex Nihilo’s Bois D’Hiver offers a powerful woody scent.
  • Francis Kurkdjian brings his years of experience to Grand Soir, mixing cistus labdanum, benzoin, and tonka bean.
  • Tom Ford’s Vert des Bois, from his private-blend line, is the perfect combo of greenery and expressive wood base.
  • Oud Royal, from Giorgio Armani’s Privé collection, showcases oud wood, considered a “second skin” in the Middle East.
  • Mugler’s Woodissime combines agarwood, cedar, saffron, and osmanthus for a scent that’s both soft and spicy.
  • Finally, the Art of Shaving has made its first foray into fragrance with five that are sure to turn heads. Sandalwood & Cypress is best worn during the coldest months. —Michael Stefanov