Thursday, 5 January 2012

Everybody duck, the patterned shirt is back

Flickr: Smath
I've just been reading the as-always-excellent MSN men's pages and today it's all about fashion looks we're going to be sporting over the next 12 months. The first one was the one that made me shudder the most; the patterned shirt is going to be a big seller. MSN highlights this example from John Lewis. Usefully it's reduced - the picture on this page is from Flickr (I don't have the rights to lift John Lewis pictures).

On the right person these will of course look great. This blog, though, is called Life Over 35 and for that reason if none else I won't be buying a shirt with a particularly loud pattern. The reason is simple; I've pulled off the remarkable trick, at 47-later-this-year, of not drinking much beer but growing a beer gut nonetheless. Of course I'll be working on getting rid of it (and how often have I said that in the past) but for the moment anything that draws attention to it - like a really loud pattern - is out.

There are many myths about what clothes to wear when one's become a little bulbous. Most are based on the principle that vertical stripes are slimming. This is rubbish; first tests have proven it doesn't work (look at a square with vertical lines through it and another with horizontal lines and the majority of people will find the horizontal version looks thinner when the sizes are in fact identical - so vertical lines are fattening) and second a set of vertical lines over a belly actually ends up working like a contour map of your shape.

The jeans I highlighted from Wizard before Christmas are good in this respect in that they're well cut and very matt black - my wife tells me they're slimming on me. Blocks of colour are always good if you're less than confident about your shape. Combine with a casual top from Fat Face (the Henley top in that link works well on me with a white or off-white tee underneath it) or the one I highlighted from Sea Salt last year (I have bought one of these and it works well as very casual - although they seem to have sold out now) and you'll look fine.

I suspect the MSN site is aimed partly at a younger constituency. Early twentysomethings do indeed look great with a bit of a swagger and a loud shirt. Standup comics and TV presenters often get away with it because of the context; Paul Merton wears something with a fairly extreme pattern most weeks on "Have I Got News For You". If you've worked hard enough to have an athletic build then the chances are you'll look pretty damned good, too. For the rest of us I still recommend blocks of colour.

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