The runway does not lead straight to your cubicle. Fashion can often feel inaccessible to men with a desk job and average DNA. The key is to not think of what you see as complete outfits you have to wear as-is, but rather as collections of bits and pieces you can mix into your current wardrobe. Here, we take five easy-to-wear trends from New York Fashion Week's Fall/Winter 2012 menswear shows, and show you how to work them into your office wardrobe. (Tune in later this week for tips on translating women's haute couture to the world of pearls and pantsuits.)
You've got to wear a suit to work, and while you eventually want that corner office you don't want to dress like the guy in it quite yet. Problem solved: Joseph Abboud, Simon Spurr, Marlon Gobel and others showed checked suits in cuts that are slim but not skinny. These might be a little full-on depending on where you work, but a more muted check is a great alternative to predictable pinstripes Held down with a solid shirt and discretely patterned tie, a checked suit will have you on the fast track to the executive suite in no time.
For The Executive - The Double-Breasted Overcoat
Sure this winter has been surprisingly mild, but the designers showing at Fashion Week don't seem bullish on global warming. The double breasted overcoat is back in a big way, and there is really nothing better than wearing what amounts to a beautifully sculpted wool blanket when the winter wind is whipping around the city. You get the best of both form and function, which is really what menswear is all about. With one of these in your closet you'll hope for a little more chill next year.
For The Creative - The Cardigan Jacket-Replacement
Just because you don't have to wear a coat and tie to the office doesn't mean you don't need to look pulled together. Whether you lose the neckwear or not, a hefty cardigan is a great way to make your whole look a little cleaner. A thick shawl collar mimics a sport coat's lapels and feels great to wear, while military pockets can up the casual factor a few notches. If you really want to shake things up, a double breasted cardigan like the Michael Bastian sweater above marks the perfect balance between sporty and dressy.
For Bad Weather - Boots with Suits
You can wear boots with a suit, we promise. Steven Alan, N. Hoolywood, and Tommy Hilfiger all showed their suits this season with calf-high lace-up dress boots in rich black and burgundy leathers. The trick is to make sure they look more like your usual oxfords than what you hike in on the weekend. As long as they have a leather or discreet rubber sole, are not too chunky, and you keep them well-polished, you'll look great and won't show up to the morning meeting with cold, wet feet.
For The Weekend - The Luxe Bomber Jacket
You do change out of sweats on your days off, right? Even if you don't, this new crop of bomber jackets will look great. Any option in leather with fur trim is good, but the Ovadia & Sons wool flannel jacket with mink collar is better. We can't remember the last casual jacket we saw that looked this good. If you style it with a shirt and tie like they have, you might even be able to get away with it at the office; if not, at least you know what you'll be throwing on the moment you clock off.
For the Young Professional - The Below-the-Knee Skirt
By Stephen Pulvirent
Men have it easier dressing for the office. Any guy can throw on a suit and tie or a sport coat and slacks and no one will think twice about what he's wearing. Fortunately, designers at this New York Fashion Week have presented a lot of exciting clothes that are also office-safe.
The old saw that hemlines fluctuate with the economy is being tested. Even as the DOW flirts with 13,000, hemlines are slowing their upward rise of the last few seasons. Luckily this season designers across the board seemed to favor office-appropriate skirts that fall just below the knee. Trousers on the other hand were ankle-skimming at their longest. By keeping silhouettes narrow, they avoid looking antiquated. A solid color is always safe, and you certainly don't have to style it as austerely as the runway shots above, but Billy Reid's black skirt with electric blue floral-paisley pattern is a knockout.
For the Executive - The Suit Actually Designed for Women
The idea that a woman has to wear the same suit as her male counterpart in the boardroom is a depressing one. The garment we think of as the classic suit was designed for a male body shape, but a number of suits this season have been engineered with women in mind. Forget blue pinstripes and the typical lapels - these are more Jackie O than Jackie Kennedy. Tory Burch's suits are classic, reminiscent of the 1920s and 60s, while Rodarte went bold with bright colors and big, sweeping lapels. Either way you'll look top of the mark.
For the Creative - The Patterned Knit
Fair Isle sweaters made a big comeback in menswear last year; this season, womenswear designers have put their own spin on the British classic. American brands like J. Crew are doing them in bright, preppy colors and a chunkier knit, and Lela Rose has simplified the busy pattern and woven it in a finer-gauge yarn. The result is an abundance of sweaters in almost any color and weight you could want, all with the same classic inspiration.
For Bad Weather - The Statement Coat
While you might have to keep your outfit fairly sober for days spent at the desk, no one is going to give you a hard time for sporting a coat that makes a statement on your way in and out. Sure, you can always find basic trenches and wool car coats, but why not up the ante a little. Instead of that plain taupe trench, spring for BCBG Max Azria's patchwork model. Similarly, Billy Reid's blue wrap coat will look fresh this winter but also see you through winters to come without looking dated.
For the Weekend - The Red Dress
Everyone knows about the Little Black Dress, but this Fashion Week it was the Red Shift Dress that ruled the runways. Bold colors, a hallmark of last year's styles, continued to feature prominently; but something about a whole block of scarlet catches the eye like nothing else. Maybe a little bit too much for the office - unless you work on the set of Mad Men of course - but perfect for a relaxing night out. Sometimes runway styling can be garish, but designers like Diane von Furstenberg and St. John nailed it, sticking with muted leather and fur to accompany the main attraction.