Though the humble chino has mutated into the sort cleverly coloured and cut options that seduce we lovers of stylish newness, the simple jean yet remains the manly go-to for most outfits. So we decided to thrust it back in the spotlight for a few days, styled with the sort of modern menswear that proves a simple blue-dyed hard-wearing cotton work trouser is -oddly, when you think about it - the single most versatile item in a man's arsenal.
Part of the reason for that versatility is that even though we just called it the simple jean, there is a genuine complexity in its construction. From the stiff and raw versions created on Japanese hand looms (your guarantor of ultimate fabric strength and authenticity) to the carefully and cleverly distressed, there is an art to creating the finest denims. The above looks have been compiled to show you how to update them and integrate them into your own visual vocabulary.
- It is amazing how one familiar item can pull together a raft of more disparate and adventurous ones, and of course they really don't come much more familiar than jeans. In this case, we've kept the outrage to a minimum but with newly forged patternings - courtesy of D&G - and the pared down elegance of Acne's Fibbia sandals, these are not necessarily the sort of items that every man would feel instantly at ease wearing. Let the denim take the strain sir, and you'll see how you can up the ante everywhere else. Here, the matte black of the sandals and Wayfarers book-end the look superbly as the jeans offset the subtle newness of the component parts.
- Time to relax, but you still want to look the part, right? Well, here's a new way to do it. The simple crew neck T-shirt has a familiar ring to it, but the stripes form a Sixties-meets-Breton styling that helps tie the denim in with the soft suede loafers and the lightweight cotton of the YMC beach jacket - a piece with all the silhouette of a fisherman's jacket and none of the weight. The effect is that this looks creates a summery vibe, perfect for beach or city. And note how it is constructed entirely out of tonal blues, with only the traditional chocolate contrast of the slip on loafers.
- Denim doesn't have to mean jeans. You know that by now, what with the profusion of chambray and denim shirt styles that have blossomed on planet menswear in the last three years. But that's always been about casual or - at a stretch -preppy combinations. Here it goes full on smart and again it looks, dark, serious and stylish, bringing a Modernist panache to the very traditional mix of leather, wool and cotton. With B-Store's inventively cut-out shoes and the newly slimmed silhouette of Wolsey's take on double breasted suave, this is a look not just to turn heads but to open doors, swivel chairs, and take notes. Executive denim.
- At the other end of the scale we have this: breezy lightweight beachwear that you would expect to see best suited to wearing with shorts or even swimwear. But when summer comes (or at least when you go to meet it; we're writing this in the midst of an urban downpour and feeling pretty wistful about linen) then jeans will be the perfect foil for this combo of lightweight shirt, Riviera's shoes and our favourite Paul Smith messenger. While the rest of your body is subject to sea-edge breezes, your legs will balance out the temperature and keep you just smart enough for any bar. Roll your hem to flash some ankle.
- An impressively considered round up of retro, this is all about updating the collegiate, nautical and preppy looks to conjure up something that looks vintage and new at once. (And if you care about catwalks, then rejoice that it also tunes in to the on-trend Fifties leisurewear style of Prada's Spring 12 show.) In truth it's just a pared down blouson in a primary bright plus a Breton striped knit, while the kielty fringe of the loafers adds a very subtle touch of the fancy-Dan to the whole look. But still, the best way for such a cocktail of looks to be made wearable and tweaked for a real man's lifestyle, is to do it with jeans and Denham's carrot fit pair add a sweet silhouette tweak to the proceedings.
- Though you could accurately call this a layered weekend look, that sounds a bit too casual, a bit too mainstream. Because while this is undoubtedly an easy-to-wear look, it remains subtly and cleverly directional. The desert boots, for instance, are a very current readmission to the menswear pantheon, likewise the hiker's backpack and plaid shirt, while the shawl collared cardigan adds a touch more shape to the silhouette. But it is the PRPS mid-wash denim that makes the whole look feel relaxed and absolutely not try-hard at all; and isn't that just the magic of jeans? They manage to expertly straddle the on-trend and the eternal with no effort at all. Of course it helps when they're this good.
- For denim with a pretty serious heft then raw selvedge is the way to go - it takes some getting used to if you have never worn it before but the look is distinctive and hard to improve on. And how ever you wear it, you can expect admiring glances from jealous and in-the-know menswear connoisseurs. For once, we've kept this truly simple and teamed it with a sleek polo, courtesy of Fred Perry's 6876 collab, and the D&G double zipped leather jacket. Finished off with those white nubucks (surprisingly a product of old school biker brand Belstaff - what have they been doing at HQ? Whatever it is, let's hope they keep it up...) and admit it, it's the underplayed luxury of an A-lister. That's what we like, and it just wouldn't be the same without the raw denim.
Levi's Vintage Clothing
1967 505 Bob Vintage Contrast Wash Selvedge Slim Jeans
Black Folding 4105 Wayfarers
Yellow Bandana Print Slim T-shirt
Black Cotton Removable Collar Blouson
Black Leather Fibbia Sandals
Hank Rey Dry Straight Jeans
White Blue Stripe Slub T-shirt
Royal Blue Linen Cotton Beach Jacket
Chocolate Leather Gold Rope Woven Belt
Chocolate Suede Maians Soul Boy Loafers
Dark Indigo Denim Tacked Collar Slim Shirt
Brown Resin Frame Sunglasses
Navy Fine Hopsack Double Breasted Quinn Blazer
Polo Ralph Lauren
Navy Cotton Chino Preston Shorts
Black Cutout Leather Eton 5 Shoes
Ed-55 Oiler Wash Quartz Denim Slim Jeans
Farhi by Nicole Farhi
Light Beige Linen Shirt
Paul Smith Accessories
Ecru Striped Canvas Washed Messenger
Navy Mesh Canvas Shoes
Ozone Contrast Wash Skin Slim Carrot Jeans
White Navy Breton Stripe Fine Merino Crew
Red Cotton Preppy Harrington
Brown Suede Davis Fringed Loafers
Light Vintage Wash Barracuda Straight Jeans
Polo Ralph Lauren
Royal Blue Madras Plaid Cotton Custom Shirt
Light Grey Slub Cotton Shawl Collar Sweat Cardigan
William Fox And Sons
Coffee Brown Tear Drop Backpack
Red Unlined Suede Davis Desert Boots