Neil Barrett, Spring/Summer ’14

The athletic aesthetic in menswear goes far beyond New Year’s resolutions, says Lee Holmes

Although it’s still officially the middle of winter, designer and high-street stores alike are now in the process of filling their rails with clothes for the forthcoming spring. What’s clear to see is the athletic aesthetic that runs through next season.

Call it the ripple effect of the 2012 Olympics, if you like, but the spring/summer ’14 runway shows had a real preoccupation with all things sporty. Decorative vest tops at Lanvin, indulgent polo shirts at Emporio Armani and posh sweatshirts at Neil Barrett offered luxury sportswear at its grandest. Clearly, this isn’t about throwing on any old rugby shirt and popping the collar. If you’re left in any doubt about this, take a look at the humble baseball jacket, which, over the past 12 months, has been given a healthy dose of utilitarian elegance. No designer or high-street collection is now complete without one.

Of course, a designer’s preoccupation with sporting brands is nothing new – Kim Jones of Louis Vuitton has, in the past, worked with sports brand Umbro, while Raf Simons continues his successful collaboration with Adidas. This spring will also see the creative director at Givenchy, Riccardo Tisci, develop a fashion line with the sportswear giant Nike.

But what if you’re one of those chaps who have tailoring written into their DNA? Could you ever ditch your three-piece suit for a sportier ensemble? Don’t sweat it if not, as a compromise is at hand – a hooded top can be worn with a pair of grey flannel trousers, while that new purchase of a designer sweatshirt can easily be worn with your favourite bespoke suit.

It’ll take time to perfect your slam dunk, but in the meantime, such snazzy dressing will help to keep you ahead of the game.