Fashion 2011: What to Wear Now

It’s always fun to see what the designers will come up with one year to the next, but what does it mean for you? Certainly you’re not going to spend thousands of dollars replicating something that walked down a runway. We asked two of the most fashionable men in Germany to interpret this year’s trends for three different scenarios: business, business casual and casual/weekend. Staying in fashion has never been easier.


“Style inspirations in 2011 are Wallstreet 2 and the Minister of Defence, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg -- especially for younger guys,” says Bernhard Roetzel, author of the definitive men’s fashion guidebook The Gentleman. In other words, the brown suits of last year are out, and classic blue suits are in. Klaus Stockhausen, fashion director at German GQ, concurs. “No question, blue is the colour of 2011. But medium tones, not the dark ones. Many designers showed the bright ‘Yves-Klein blue’ on catwalks.”

As for cut, the consensus is that young men should go for slim fits, narrow collars and tight trousers.

But this is key, no matter what current trends are: Don’t blow your budget on a suit. Instead, upgrade your outfit with a fine pair of shoes. “Hand-sewn shoes make the difference, and important managers recognize this difference,” says Roetzel. “You can wear them with a suit from H&M for 90 Euro or a P&C shirt for 19.90.” Roetzel maintains that nobody can really differentiate between basic and good middle-class suits and shirts. “Below the barrier of 1300 to 1500 Euro, all suits are more or less of the same quality”, he says. And the same goes for ties. You can find a good silk one (avoid polyester -- that actually does look cheap) for about 10 Euro at Anson’s or Karstadt.

Ideally, you’ll spend no more than 250 or 300 Euro on an outfit -- allowing you to spend at least that much again on shoes. Look for special offers in first-class shops like Berlin-based Budapester Schuhe or Munich’s Ed Meier. If you don’t find a deal, you’ll pay upwards of 380 Euro, but it’s worth it. Taken care of, a good pair of hand-sewn shoes will stay with you for life.

Business Casual
If you don’t work as a financial consultant but still need to look sophisticated, a solid option is a narrow blue blazer with jeans and a cardigan. “Two-thousand eleven is the year of traditional U.S. collegiate style”, Roetzel says. He recommends interpreting this style with a touch of irony. “Try combinations with extra narrow ties, coloured socks or nerd glasses. If you consciously look like a nerd, it shows an easy wink.”

Sometimes the trickiest part of business casual is finding that perfect balance between business and casual. In accordance with this season’s classic revival, says Roetzel, it’s best to err on the side of business. “Youngsters are wearing suits during leisure time, too,” he says. “And they don’t feel funny about it.” Erring on the side of casual, on the other hand, can be a real fashion faux pas. As Karl Lagerfeld said in a recent issue of Die Welt, “Everybody in the cities is wearing pink and grey-green anoraks. It looks like huge mountaineering associations on sight-seeing trips!”

Cargo pants and cardigans are in -- though not with diamond patterns. “This former trend has been pushed aside by horizontal stripes”, says Stockhausen. On your feet, you can wear loafers, white sneakers, or, for a more sophisticated look, boat shoes. Do not, whatever you do, pull out the flip flops when the weather turns warm; they are a definite no-no this season. “The new flip flops,” says Stockhausen, “are Espadrilles”. You can buy them at Prada or Gucci but since you’ll wear them out in one season, you’re better off grabbing a pair for five Euro at H&M.