Spring weather in the Northeast this year acted just like many of the people I’ve dated in my life: frigid for months, before shifting into an unpredictable cycle of hot and cold that left me feeling unprepared and inadequate each morning. Extended depressing personal metaphors aside, the shift from winter to summer happened so quickly that I barely had time to think about my warm weather attire before I was desperately pulling shorts and linen shirts out of storage. Luckily for me, the editors at some of the most respected and fashionable publications — like GQ, Gilt and Style.com — pulled together their annual spring trend round-ups with typical aplomb, telling us what designers are making, what they’re wearing and in turn, what we should wear as well. But, I wondered aloud one morning while frowning at my espadrille-and-colored-chino-clad-self in the mirror, is taking the word of menswear editors enough to keep me looking fresh this season, particularly when it comes to impressing potential dates? There’s only one way to find out.
I sat down with my friend Hana May to hear her take on some of the most prevalent menswear trends for spring/summer, as dictated by the sites mentioned above. In addition to her role as founder and editor of the awesome lady site Hearty Magazine, Hana has contributed to Elle.com, Interview and Blackbook, and her thoughts on menswear have graced the likes of Antenna and AOL. Below, Hana gives her input on whether or not she thinks rocking this stuff will get you enough female attention to make this the Summer of Love and not the Summer of Crying in the Fetal Position in the Shower. You can thank her later.
LEATHER STRAP SANDALS
SWIPELIFE: Let’s start with one of GQ’s top trends for spring/summer, the so-called “leather strap sandal.” It was spotted in a number of high-end spring collections, from Bottega Veneta to Louis Vuitton. What do you think?
HANA: Honestly, I don’t care if they’re leather, they look like Tevas. I never want to see that much of a man’s foot. The other thing that’s weird is that they call it a “bohemian” look, like that’s a good thing. I don’t know if there are any male bohemian looks that I’m into. When designers show their collections on the runway, even if the clothing is over the top, there are usually ways that you can interpret it into an everyday look that’s a little more accessible. I really don’t think you can do anything with a strappy sandal. Even if you pay a lot of money for it, like the $1,700 Louis Vuitton ones, they don’t translate. Like, where do you wear these?
SWIPELIFE: Maybe if you’re performing in a living nativity in St. Tropez.
HANA: Yeah, I guess these would work in St. Tropez.
SWIPELIFE: I think this is one of those “Good European vs. Bad European” things.
HANA: Right. Europeans do fancy dress well, and boat attire well, and some beach life well. That whole, “I’m a rich Russian billionaire who owns a boat and stops off for a thousand dollar lunch” look. They do that well. But then they have things that are sequin-y, way too distressed, too tight or too v-necky.
SWIPELIFE: I feel like they just don’t do casual in a way that appeals to American guys. Whenever I think of “casual European,” I think of Replay.
HANA: Yeah. And those cargo capri things.
SWIPELIFE: Terrifying. It’s just a whole different aesthetic.
SWIPELIFE: Moving on: colored chinos are another one of GQ’s top trends.
HANA: I’m a huge fan of the colored chino on guys. I think it makes the outfit perfectly spring/summery. I guess some people could say the colors are on the feminine side, but I think it looks good. It’s something different to break up your wardrobe, but it’s not too far out there. I’m into it.
SWIPELIFE: How do you like to see guys wear colored chinos?
HANA: Really, any way. You can wear them with a blazer or with a simple t-shirt. Dress them up or down. I like clothes that really speak to the season. Fall always has great sweaters, winter of course has big jackets. These speak to the spring/summer perfectly. I keep picturing an Easter egg hunt, and it’s an Easter egg hunt that I want to participate in: find the guys with the best colored chinos.
SWIPELIFE: What about pattern mixing? I fully cosign. I hope people find this appealing, because I do it all the time.
HANA: I love when guys pair florals with stripes, or polka dots with stripes, florals with plaids. This whole trend lets you take a piece and turn it into something different, giving it a second life. It’s a recession, or whatever. This is a way to maximize your wardrobe, too.
BLAZER AND A TEE
SWIPELIFE: Another trend GQ talked about for spring was the blazer with just a t-shirt underneath, which I guess could also be recession-friendly since you’re not buying a shirt. Are we even in a recession anymore? I never read the Money section of USA Today these days.
HANA: I feel like this is a sort of slick, rock star look. Didn’t Mick Jagger wear this? Keith Richards? Just a v-neck under a blazer.
SWIPELIFE: To me, it’s a little “Jonas Brothers Go Clubbing.”
HANA: Yes! Again, where would you wear this?
SWIPELIFE: To Lavo. Or anywhere in Las Vegas. Or Lavo in Las Vegas.
HANA: It’s an LA Look.
SWIPELIFE: Yeah! Where do people go in LA? Les Deux? I know that from The Hills. If they didn’t go there on The Hills or Season 1 of Entourage, then I don’t know it.
HANA: I think they go to Teddy’s.
SWIPELIFE: I don’t know what Teddy’s is. Does that make me not cool?
SWIPELIFE: I guess I’m okay with that. Moving on: the tennis short. What do you think about a short short situation?
HANA: I’m into the tennis short. I feel like it’s kind of a “bougie sport” look. Like, he’s going to polo practice. Or tennis, obviously. Or what’s another one?
HANA: Yes, squash. The cousin of tennis.
SWIPELIFE: I’m okay with a tennis short because I’m super pale, so I feel like my thigh needs to be exposed to as much sun as possible to bring it to a socially acceptable skin tone.
HANA: That makes sense. I never thought of that. Shorter shorts make guys look like little boys. But not in a perverted way. “Youthful” maybe is a better word.
HANA: Yes, a carefree and entitled summer vibe.
SWIPELIFE: Even if shorts are a bit longer, I cuff ‘em up a little. If you’re afraid of public displays of man-thigh, this will never work out.
HANA: For some reason, I think this trend looks really good paired with like navy blue or grey crew neck sweaters.
SWIPELIFE: Let’s talk espadrilles, one of Gilt MANual’s top trends for spring/summer. Do you like them on the mens? If I wore them, would I be able to call them sexpadrilles or would they be masturbation-makers? Sexpadrilles! I just made that up.
HANA: I’m torn. And not about your sexpedrilles reference, roll with that, but about the trend. The first time I saw this kind of espadrille sole for men this season was on the infamous Prada shoes, the ones with the thick sole. I thought, “What IS that?” At first I wasn’t into it, but it’s growing on me. I guess espadrilles are cheap and easy and they’re better than flip flops. Plus, you can wear them to the same sort of places where you would want to wear flip flops. You can throw them on and go to the beach. You can wear them with your shorts suit, too.
SWIPELIFE: Ugh, my shorts suit. I know. That’s actually my major struggle with my shorts suit: what to wear on my feet with it? I mean, ankle up, I’m feeling pretty good. Ankle down, it’s a crapshoot.
HANA: The wrong shoes can ruin any look.
SWIPELIFE: So what would you like to see guys wearing with espadrilles?
HANA: I’d probably recommend they stick with shorts. Nothing too luxe.
SWIPELIFE: We touched on this a little bit earlier when we talked about pattern mixing, but what do you think about guys wearing floral prints, specifically? Man florals are another of Gilt MANual’s top trends.
HANA: I like this. A lot. I feel like it might be more feminine traditionally, but I don’t think guys look feminine in it. They take it over in a way that’s sexy.
SWIPELIFE: Yeah and there are different florals, too. The Japanese-y, Engineered Garments type and there is also the more subtle kind, like a smaller floral print. You know, just like Europeans, there’s good floral, and bad floral.
SWIPELIFE: So, we’re in agreement. Men should wear florals.
HANA: Yes, definitely.
SWIPELIFE: Gilt also loves a Panama Hat. Would you buy one for someone you were dating?
HANA: This is a personal thing and I don’t think anyone should take my judgment on this as an unbreakable rule, but I just don’t really like hats. A baseball hat here and there or the odd beanie because it’s cold is fine, but I just don’t like hats on guys in general. I don’t like fedoras –
SWIPELIFE: Oh man, you know who wears a fedora? The guy who wears a tee under his blazer. That guy.
HANA: Yes, that guy. And that guy is Justin Timberlake. It’s so LA. This is a generalization, but I feel like LA gets these styles and butchers them. Not all of them – some stuff they do well — but some stuff they run in the wrong direction with, i.e. the slouchy hat.
SWIPELIFE: UGH, the droopy winter hat??!?! The worst.
HANA: Yes, the droopy winter hat worn in the California heat. Ugh. That’s what these styles remind me of. I mean, on a real gangster, kinda like Johnny Depp in Blow, it works. But you need to actually be pushing cocaine, or pretending to in a movie, for this to be successful.
SWIPELIFE: I’m sure on some guys it works. I’m sure in Panama it works.
HANA: Right. Time and place or a very specific type of guy.
SWIPELIFE: Speaking of, what do you think of the Nehru collar? The editors at Gilt said they would be rocking those this summer.
HANA: I dunno. I immediately think “priest” or “the Dalai Lama,” but I don’t really want to have a guy who dresses like either.
SWIPELIFE: But if you had to chose?
HANA: Definitely the Dalai Lama. Come on, I’m Jewish.
SWIPELIFE: At least the Dalai Lama dresses for comfort. He’s basically the Tibetan Andre Leon Talley. From a sartorial perspective, not a spiritual one.
HANA: Are we really discussing the Dalai Lama’s fashion sense? Anyway, Nehru collars remind me of a guy in the 70’s with long hair who runs the beach town and hooks everybody up but doesn’t really have a job.
SWIPELIFE: There are a lot of allusions to drug use in your points of reference for men’s fashion.
HANA: This is not an accurate representation of me. Someone wearing this collar is trying to find themselves in one way or another.
SWIPELIFE: Well, if you ever needed to find someone, you certainly could if they were wearing neon, one of Style.com’s top trends for spring. What do you think? You want your dude in neon? And P.S., how great was that transition?
HANA: I read something recently with Christopher Kane saying how great neons are because they’re such man-made colors. Yeahhh…ok. I think this is one of those trends that if it does hit, it won’t be around next season or next year.
SWIPELIFE: I like Jil Sander neons.
HANA: Bright colors are one thing, neon is another.
SWIPELIFE: What would your reaction be if you went on a first date and homeboy showed up wearing head to toe neon? Like, neon color blocking? Oh, and you aren’t on your way to a rave.
HANA: I would think that he was insane. I would probably stay for the dinner just to hear all the crazy things that come out of his mouth, but that would be about it.
SWIPELIFE: He would probably have easy access to drugs. Anyway, in summation: colored chinos, mixing prints, tennis shorts, and florals are dead sexy; leather sandals, neon, Nehru collars, and v-necks under blazers are a no-go for guys who want to holler at you from the passenger side of their best friend’s ride; Panama hats and espadrilles you might find appealing on the right guy, but you should proceed with caution.
There you have it, guys. Now go get ‘em.