Tailoring with terry cloth? Polos with pinstripes? Pocket squares with patchwork? Mansel Fletcher celebrates our sartorial emancipation.
It’s an absolute free-for-all out there. Men are wearing trainers with tuxedos, sweatpants with blazers, flight jackets with grey flannel trousers, denim shirts with business suits and World War II watch caps with absolutely everything. Some of them even look good while doing so. Despite this, much of the conversation about menswear remains preoccupied with ranking the formality of garments. Almost all that matters anymore is whether a man looks good.
This summer Drake’s is celebrating this sartorial emancipation with a collection inspired by the American south and which delights in mixing tailoring with terry cloth, pin-stripes with workwear and pocket squares with faded jeans and bare ankles. Reviewing the look-book I’m struck by how the designs seem driven as much by how the clothes feel, as how they look. After a winter swathed in heavy fabrics the promise held out by summer garments isn’t just about colours and patterns, it’s also about sensation and texture. There’s no substitute for the feel of linen against the skin, or the breeze that passes through it.
Alternatively, fully embrace the relaxed mood with a blue and white seersucker suit, which unavoidably brings to mind Gregory Peck’s character Atticus Finch in the film of To Kill A Mockingbird. Peck, playing a lawyer, was buttoned up in his three-piece suit while a modern interpretation might dispense with the shirt and tie in favour of a polo shirt. For an intriguing contrast in textures why not combine seersucker with a towelling polo?
Like seersucker suits, lightly-coloured linen tailoring works best when seen in strong sunlight. For summer Drake’s is offering suits in a selection of natural hues: tan ramie-cotton, olive linen and brown linen. You could wear any of them to the office with a white shirt and a blue knitted tie, but it’s more fun to imagine wearing them with a cotton polo shirt while sipping coffee in an Italian piazza, or cocktails on a warm evening in the city (ideally a martini in London’s legendary Duke’s Hotel bar).
In keeping with the American mood Drake’s is also offering a madras check cotton jacket, which would look great with loose-fitting chinos and a pair of simple canvas sneakers. Rather than set the jacket’s vibrant design in competition against another patterned garment I’d keep the shirt, or a cotton sweater, plain. Whether you’re spending the summer in South Carolina’s Charleston, where this look-book was shot, or South London’s Clapham, this collection offers a broad palette of fabrics, textures, colours and patterns. This spring there are few reasons to place any limits on the ways that you combine and explore that palette.