Men's fashion: One of a kind

Casual doesn't have to mean chinos. Don't run with the pack this autumn - chill out, loosen up and slip into something fleecy. Next week, we highlight the latest looks for the office

When it comes to getting dressed, men are like sheep. He knows if he is well-dressed if the fellow sitting next to him at the bar is wearing the identical kit. It's all very simple really - just three steps: blue shirt; chinos; deck shoes. For men up and down the country, these three items of clothing have become a uniform. It has something to do with safety in numbers. It doesn't take a great leap of the imagination, however, to stray from the pack. Menswear shops from Leeds to Leigh-on-Sea have been exploring other possibilities for some time now. Casual clothes does not have to mean Dockers (the American "Friday wear" company that is the biggest seller in the States is determined to win the battle of the chino).

So just what are the alternatives? Sophia Neophitou, who put together the clothes on these pages, did some investigation into men's "leisure wear" as they call it in the US. She came up with a wardrobe that is both hip and relaxed, both cool and casual.

"The best alternative to chinos is a pair of comfortable, wide trousers," Neophitou says. "I chose a pair from Phat Farm, but Jigsaw and Burro have good shapes too. Be careful if you have short legs, though." In that case, you should go for narrower legs and avoid pleats at all costs. Those flat- front trousers from your schooldays are just the thing. Combat trousers are another good alternative. Gap's "cargo pants" are somewhere between combats and chinos and are a good buy at pounds 38.

If you are a sweatpant addict, you might be coaxed into trying a pair of Burro's trousers made of fleece. At Marks & Spencer, fleece is big news. It is warm and comfortable - positively cosy. Once used solely for mountain-climbing gear and active sportswear, fleece has become an essential part of every designer's collection. M&S tracksuit bottoms are pounds 27. Once you've slipped into a pair you may find them so comfortable you never want to be de-fleeced, so the company has also produced fleece pyjamas and a matching dressing gown you can pop on at night.

At Burro, the fleece is boiled. "We call it intelligent fleece," says Judith Tolley, who works for the company. Boiling it apparently gives it an extra edge, which is what menswear is all about right now. Thinking men like to have an "edge". And to prove it, the Burro customer is buying the wide-leg fleece trousers with a matching zip jacket to wear as a winter suit. It's more formal than a tracksuit but nowhere near as stiff as the tailored variety.

Buying a new outfit is a bit like decorating your home. Once you've painted the walls, you find you need to change the curtains and put a new coat of varnish on the floorboards. A new pair of trousers invariably means a new pair of shoes. And you can chuck out those deck shoes right now. Instead, you can't go wrong with a pair of Clark's Cornish pasties (so traditional they are a modern classic); or take a look at the range by Mallorcan company, Camper. For the past couple of years, the Camper shop in Covent Garden has been a well-kept secret among the fashion know-alls. Now branches are popping up all over the place. There's one in Bond Street and another in Brompton Cross, as well as stockists up and down the country. Camper is quietly getting on with the job of revolutionising men's foot-wear with strange hybrids of highly technical walking boots, running shoes and old-fashioned football boots.

So loosen up, shake a leg and take a look in the mirror. If you look just like all your friends, plan a day of shopping. These pages should give you a few ideas.

TAMSIN BLANCHARD

Previous page: red hat, pounds 36, by Kangol, from House of Fraser stores nationwide (enq: 0171 487 4888); grey hooded top, pounds 75, grey body warmer, pounds 95, both by The Edge, from Jigsaw Menswear, 27-29 Brook Street, W1, 28- 32 Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow (enq: 0171 499 2521); T-shirt, pounds 95, Anglomania, Vivienne Westwood, from Worlds End, 430 King's Road, SW10 (enq: 0171 352 6551) and 2a St, Mary Street, Manchester (enq: 0161 835 2121)

Right and above: grey T-shirt with red sleeves, pounds 45, by YMC, from Liberty, Regent Street, W1 (enq: 0171 734 1234) and Brother 2 Brother, 202 West Street, Sheffield (enq: 01142 754 296); blue short-sleeved shirt, pounds 30, by Carhartt, 56 Neal Street, WC2 (enq: 0171 379 4165); denim trousers, pounds 75, by Burro, 19a Floral Street, WC2 (enq: 0171 240 5120) and John Anthony, Unit 4, Omega Centre, Upper Bristol Road, Bath

Right: navy hooded fleece jumper, pounds 149, by Helmut Lang, from Liberty, as before, and Harvey Nichols, 107-111 Briggate, Leeds (enq: 0113 204 8888); grey fleece trousers, pounds 70, by Burro, as before; brown leather Pelotas trainers, pounds 76, by Camper, 35 Brompton Road, SW3 (enq: 0171 584 5439)

Above: black nylon top, pounds 75, by Burro, as before; denim combat trousers, pounds 60, by G-Star (enq: 0171 371 9890), from American Classics, Endell Street, WC2 and A2, 9 Ethel Street, Birmingham

Denim trousers, pounds 75, by Burro, as before; cream suede shoes, pounds 55, by Clarks, Regent Street, W1 (enq: 0990 785 886)

Above: red hat, pounds 36, by Kangol, as before; grey hooded top, pounds 75, grey body warmer, pounds 95, both by The Edge, as before; grey fly T-shirt, pounds 40, by YMC, as before; grey trousers, pounds 75, by Phat Farm, from Browns Focus, 38-39 South Molton Street, W1 (enq: 0171 629 0666)

Left: black jacket, pounds 655, by Junya Watanbe, from Liberty, as before; black trousers, pounds 85, by Burro, as before; black hat, pounds 60, by YMC, as before

PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARC VAN LENGEN

STYLING BY SOPHIA NEOPHITOU

STYLING ASSISTANT: HOLLY WOOD; HAIR: TAKU AT PREMIER; MODEL: JO AT SELECT

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

music
Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

radio
Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

    How we met

    Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015