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July 22, 2012

Men’s Runway Report: Footloose and Sleeve Free

By Chris Boyle

Krisvan Assche / Dior HommeNeil Barrett / Juun.JParis, France – Reported by Jessica Michault for Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine

The concept of a jacket sans sleeves is not as ridiculous as it sounds. Indeed, this stylish summer piece has all the important elements a jacket needs: A tailored shape, lapels, buttons and even the optional shoulder pads. And when the weather heats up, you’ll quickly come around to the idea that sleeves are simply superfluous.

For designer Kris Van Assche, the style was an important aspect of both his signature line and his collection for Dior Homme. In the former, he played with the idea of loosening up a classic power suit. A traditional pinstripe suit came down the catwalk without its sleeves, blending almost seamlessly into a sporty horizontal striped t-shirt. The Dior Homme show, meanwhile, featured long and short monochrome jackets—clean of any embellishment— that wrap the body at the collar to create a clerical chicness. The pieces feel like they may have a longer shelf life than just the season.

Although designers paired their sleeveless jackets with both short-sleeved tops and dress shirts, the best accessory for this style are bare arms. Models showed off their guns at the Neil Barrett and Juun.J shows in sleeveless twists on the trench coat. At Walter Van Beirendonck the sleeveless styles were colorful interpretations of business jackets and came with an optional pair of totem pole-themed, upper arm-length leather gloves. Thom Browne’s version of the trend was a bit of a hybrid between a waistcoat and a dinner jacket. He softened his designs by rounding the hems of the jackets in a way that subtly echoed the roll of the model’s shoulders. The resulting pieces looked both refined and relevant to a modern man’s wardrobe.

Sold on this cutting-edge trend? Be sure not to mistake a straightforward suit vest or waistcoat for a sleeveless jacket. These eye-catching jackets are cut long and tend to be blockier than a vest, and are not to be layered over. Quite the opposite, they are a final piece intended to put that finishing touch on your summer ensemble.

It takes a certain amount of courage to take this trend out for a spin (not to mention a few bicep curls). But by ripping off the sleeves of sartorial staples like trench coats and suit jackets, designers have turned these conventional looks into audacious statement pieces—clothing that rebels just enough to turn the wearer into a risk taker.

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