Mentouring: the sensible sartorialist's menswear guide to surviving spring

Simon Chilvers
Balenciaga SS17 at Paris Fashion Week: Rex Features

1. Lightweight coats

Two words: slouchy and fluid. These are the adjectives to ruminate over in the coat stakes for that bit between now and summer. Shapewise this is not complicated — just gravitate towards parkas, macs or a trench.

Zara has a rather marvellous swingy, oversized belted trench with a detachable hood in khaki for £69.99.

At last month’s Henry Moore-inspired Burberry show, the brand’s signature trench coat was given a suitably winning slouchy remix - throw it over hacked-off jeans and an oversized shirt to see in spring with ease.

Lemaire SS17 at Paris Fashion Week (Rex Features)

Meanwhile, Parisian label Lemaire - faultless clothes that hang like a dream - championed an easy lightweight parka (above) that can be worn with practically anything. The brand’s ongoing project with Uniqlo also offers up a shorter minimalist hooded anorak in off-white and olive. Usefulness rating: extremely.

2. The stripe mash-up

Everybody knows that the best outfits are ones that look a bit like an accident, maybe a dash of mis-match or an air of dishevelled clashing.

Lanvin’s lovely spring/summer catwalk collection was obviously styled but had this kind of fabulous wearable wonkiness when it came to stripes: two contrast-striped shirts worn on top of each other, a striped shirt in red over a beige striped T-shirt and so on. Whistles is also backing this look - think a horizontal-striped long-sleeve tee layered up with a loungey shirt-trouser combo in contrasting stripes.

Lemaire shirt (worn on top), Lanvin shirt (worn underneath), Tomorrowland t-shirt and Lanvin trousers, all available from (Clement Pascal)

If you’re feeling braver still, how about throwing in a check? New York label Orley has perfected this clash, with some satisfying half-tucking along the way. Note: oddball tucking is still very much a thing.

3. The laid-back shirt

The collarless grandad shirt is no headline-grabbing fashion item - this is a strength rather than a weakness. It’s a piece of clothing that takes the stiff formality out of a shirt and lets an outfit breathe a little. It’s also the perfect way to do an elegant but dressed-down suiting look. You can get them all over the high street but COS arguably has the best.

For an extremely chic French designer alternative, Google the label Helbers immediately - its striped linen versions (below) are thoroughly classy.

Don’t be afraid to channel a bit of arty tunic-style louche - see Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakech - which will make any wardrobe feel immediately a little more spring/summery. Plus, J .W.Anderson and Haider Ackermann have put the smocky into shirting this season - ideal for a breezy and/or forgiving ensemble.

4. Cropped trousers

Awkward-length slacks are still the kind of thing your dad looks at and wonders if the world has gone a bit mad. Well, mine does. But they seem to be going nowhere in fashion terms so you can basically ignore them until they go away or just sling yourself into a pair and jolly well make the most of them.

Topman has every possible trouser style in this cropped format: joggers, suit trousers, wide trousers. The dipping-your-toe-in option is a simple ankle-grazing chino, probably in navy.

For the more challenging cropped flare, see London based designer Martine Rose (above), or for something altogether looser and with bohemian slouch, investigate the label By Walid, which offers lovely versions in vintage linen. Styling advice: a classic pair of lace-up shoes and a decent ribbed sock (see Uniqlo).

5. Nylon backpacks

The classic black Prada nylon backpack hit the fashion scene in the mid-Eighties. Its functional minimal design was showcased this season in new multicoloured versions - think a bit Nineties rave, a bit kaleidoscope — as part of Mrs Prada’s tech-hiker collection. In the show, said backpacks swung down a metal walkway with various other accessories, including sandals, scuba shoes and torches attached.

The label Porter-Yoshida & Co, set up in 1935, is another great source of technical backpacks - its Tanker style is a classic.

Stella McCartney’s first menswear collection launched this season and, like her womenswear, features a range of vegetarian-friendly accessories, including a classic black eco-nylon backpack.

Tip: for everyone’s rush-hour sanity, take the bloody thing off on the Tube. Thanks. (Khaki backpack, £49.99,

6. Baseball caps

It’s time to shed the beanie. And unless you’re game for a bucket hat then the easiest next step is to cap up. Here’s a piece of kit that gives you a totally under-the-radar attitude - though do be aware that unless you’re David Hockney circa 1993 (and, let’s be honest, you’re not) then wearing glasses/sunglasses with a cap is a challenge.

Anyway, the most directional shout out for the baseball cap this season comes from Balenciaga (below) - the label of designer Demna Gvasalia, himself an avid

Balenciaga SS17 at Paris Fashion Week (Rex Features)

cap-wearer - while the Acne Studios spring/summer presentation in Paris the bulk of the looks were finished with a cap.

ASOS currently has 301 variations on the cap theme while Topman has versions in pink (an easy way to nod to a colour that’s having a mini moment) or in a bleached finish that has an air of the Sterling Ruby about it. FYI, Ruby is the brilliant American artist who regularly collaborates with Raf Simons - this is a good name-drop.

Simon Chilvers is men’s style director at