Paul Galvin: Gilet, the best a man can get
Sometimes, fashion is about what you don't wear rather than what you do, so leave those sleeves behind, says Paul Galvin
That thing is happening again. That thing where I start to obsess about a piece of clothing. Last time, it was red trousers. This time, it's a print. Leopard print. Hear me out. I can explain. I'm only thinking about it. Not actively wearing it. I think it's because I've seen it so much on women. I tend to look at womenswear for trends.
They often transfer to menswear in time. Prints will be a big trend in menswear soon. So says my fashion intuition anyway. And so say the LMFAO electro hop lads, Redfoo and Sky Blu. I'm already seeing subtle little nods to it in menswear.
Well, okay, maybe Kanye's Givenchy bomber jacket wasn't that subtle. And then I see the Benny Benassi video and the guy on the scooter is wearing a leopard-print tracksuit. I'd consider wearing the top, although the print is very bold.
I prefer more subtle prints, like Redfoo's leopard-print, leather-panelled, zip-sleeved tracksuit in the 'Party Rock Anthem' video. That's a bit more like it. Again, I'd only wear the top. It can be worn sleeveless as a gilet, thanks to the removable sleeves, or as a regular trackie top.
Redfoo and his nephew are unlikely style icons, but style icons they are. The video for the song is one of the coolest I've seen. Merely for the irreverent, fun, devil-may-care style of clothing everyone wears. Not only did their song go to number one worldwide, but they also have their own clothing line. All the clothes in the video are from the line.
It's full of fun, fashionable pieces, with an emphasis on 1980s' kitsch. From the tracksuits, to unisex Tees, accessories and mismatched shoes (I love that), they're bringing the party rock attitude to fashion.
Quirky shades, blinged-up chains, loud prints for guys and girls and lots of gilets and jewellery are features of their line.
Which brings us to today's topic -- gilets. My favourite gilet in the video is GoonRock's. He's the dude dancing with the LMFAO lads and Lauren Bennett.
He wears a cool leopard-print gilet with lots of zip detail and a baseball hat in one scene that looks great. He also wears another one similar to the one I'm wearing here in another scene.
I've got a few gilets that I wear now and then, though I'm sure never to call them gilets, of course. No, let's call them sleeveless jackets to be safe.
I've been telling a few of my very close friends about my quest for just the right leopard-print gilet. I explain how it's just like the one GoonRock wears in the LMFAO video. Not too loud a print, I explain. Nice and subtle, I explain. Toughen it up with zip detail, I explain. Wear it over leather or denim, I explain. The silence in response speaks volumes.
I went through a phase of wearing gilets layered over open denim shirts and T-shirts. This is a great summer look, as it's versatile and allows you to easily add or take off layers, according to the weather. I'm really getting into outdoor wear recently. I've been surprised how fashionable the gear is.
Outdoor shops are my new haunt for one-off buys. Though expensive, as each item is so functional and well made, there are still pieces that won't look out of place in the town or the country.
One of the gilets I'm wearing is from Patagonia and I've become a big fan of the shop. The colour and texture of the gilet makes it wearable any time of year. These are made for the ultimate outdoor adventure that is the music festival.
Summer is the season for accessories. I rarely wear them. Irishmen rarely do. But we'll wear chains, sweatbands, watches, shades, etc. Shades are the most I'll wear in summer. It's an age thing. For younger guys, the high street is full of great accessories. I used to love wearing sweatbands and beads in the summer.
For girls, naturally, no outfit is complete without the right accessories. I'm all for it. It's very important that a woman can accessorise properly. I'm very wary of women who can't. And what a choice the girls have today.
Jewellery design for women has reached an incredible level of detail, imagination and creativity. Nobody exemplifies this more than the brilliant young Irish jewellery designer Merle O'Grady.
She is based in London and the level of craftsmanship (or should that be craftwomanship?) that goes into her pieces is testament to a woman of talent and vision. Her A/W11 collection Armourama is rooted in medieval battle armour with just a touch of outer space, making each piece awesome to even look at.
You've got chain-mail drapes, necklaces, bibs, earrings, bombshell necklaces, studded cuffs, tube rings, columns rings and spike rings.
That each piece is handmade makes this girl even more talented. What a pity we can't nurture talent like this at home.
And what a pity she doesn't turn her considerable talents to men's jewellery. After all, what man wouldn't like to wear chain-mail and battle armour?
A visit to her website, www.merleo grady.com, is recommended for all you girls with a little magpie in you, if only to look at what young Irish creatives are capable of. Merle's work can also be bought at Rebecca Davis in the Westbury Mall.
For men, it's a much simpler affair. Less is more. Less is probably safer too.
Girls get contrary enough about jewellery at the best of times without slipping into chain-mail and the like.
We need to tread very carefully when questioned on jewellery. Especially jewellery that's potentially dangerous on, or in, the hands of an angry girlfriend.
I can see it now: "Darling, how does this spike ring look on me?"
Just say lovely, lads. Do not say dangerous. Just say lovely to everything and admire them from a safe distance as they adorn themselves for battle, before you have a full-scale haka on your hands.
So that's it. We'll leave the jewellery to the ladies and continue our quest to find the right gilet. After all, it's the best a man can get.