Eye-catching updates with a classic twist take menswear from totally casual to coastal cool during the winter season.
By Somer Tejwani | Photos by Jody Tiongco
It’s no secret that Laguna Beach winters aren’t nearly as challenging as those in other parts of the world, demanding very little wardrobe preparation. While a harsher climate on the East Coast requires clothing to be able to withstand months of frigid temperatures, wind and snow, Laguna residents are lucky enough to need just a few accouterments—such as a lightweight trench or scarf—that are really more a fashion accessory than a weather necessity.
We don’t require much in the way of winter wear in Laguna, but as modern men become more aware of trends, they are more comfortable adding these stylistic touches to their wardrobes.
“Menswear has really evolved,” explains Joey Rodolfo, vice president of men’s design at Tommy Bahama. “Social media has allowed for a lot more access to trends and what’s happening worldwide. … Men are updating their wardrobe a lot more often than they used to.”
In order to assist with such wardrobe updates, some of the top names in local fashion are relaying their advice on how to easily create a winter-appropriate look without leaving town.
From downtown casual to more refined and elegant looks, menswear is taking a new approach to color, pattern and accessories that help enhance any look.
“Scarves are the new tie,” Joey says. “Scarves have just become so important for the season. We [at Tommy Bahama] do them in a reversible color so you get a pop of color on one side—like a bright orange—and then a nice neutral, like a beautiful heather gray, on the other.”
And, despite the tradition of muted hues during winter, the bright hues of Tommy Bahama scarves are also translating to woven shirts and other accessories. “Khaki is corporate,” Joey says. “If you want to be fashion forward, add color.”
For those who prefer to keep a more muted wardrobe, there are other options that will add interest to outfits. “Besides color, updating your wardrobe for the season can easily be done by investing in a few key pieces—like a modern, check sport coat—as opposed to the traditional solid one every man owns,” says local fashion stylist Lori Gladstone. She also advises to invest in a thinner tie in a solid knit to immediately look stylish, as well as flat-fronted pants in a slim cut for “a chic, updated look.”
Pete Surprenant, the founder and owner of local shop North Menswear, says the easiest way to update your closet is to find staple pieces that fit properly. “Think a good pair of jeans, a button-down, a clean white tee and a pair of brown boots,” he says, adding that boots are the must-have accessory of the season. “I know that sounds silly in Laguna Beach, but a good pair of boots—like the Heritage Red Wings we carry—can take your look to the next level. They give you a bit of rugged edge but with the ability to dress casual or more formal.”
While Pete says he tries to curate a collection of staples that are timeless and understated yet fashion conscious, he does consider shirt jackets to be among the season’s highlights. “The Tellason Clampdown shirt jacket is perfect,” he says. “It comes in an 8-ounce canvas or 10.5-ounce raw denim, and the [Noble Ike Over Shirt with an off-white hickory stripe] is another great option.” For Laguna’s mild weather, they are an easy trend to latch onto this winter, and look fashionable over a white tee. “Whether it be wool, canvas or denim, it’s a great item to have,” Pete adds.
Since Laguna is known for its California-surfer-laid-back vibe, it’s rare to see a full three-piece suit and tie; however, you can dress up your usual jeans and tee in several ways for those special holiday events, according to Lori. Explore your casual side by going tieless and celebrating with a classic white tee under a sumptuous evening jacket. Or, keep the tie and wear the jacket with jeans and a pocket square.
Simple is one Laguna shop that offers these basics. “Simple is a lifestyle shop for men and women that offers a step up from the basic beach attire with a casual-chic selection of clothing,” Lori says. “Featuring brands like Mason, Vince and Velvet, it is easy to update your wardrobe and touch on the … styles that suit our beach lifestyle. I particularly love their selection of cashmeres as well as Italian-designer sport coats that can be paired with slim cargo Mason pants, offering an alternative to the generic jean-and-graphic-tee wardrobe that is endemic to this region. Trendy sport coats range from $225-$700 and [are offered in plaids and grays], and fabrics that are relevant to the season.
“Aside from Simple, I would also suggest North as an option for classic, clean, timeless clothing for men,” Lori adds. “This is your store for casual-chic in Laguna beyond the surfwear. … They keep it local with brands like [Freenote Cloth] from San Juan Capistrano and Almond from Newport Beach.”
For staple pieces like lightweight button-downs, sleek and comfortable hoodies, and classic tees, Latitude Supply Co. is another destination that has men covered in Laguna. Founder Jonathan Riff began designing and silk-screening his own line of basics in high school, then launched his full line of menswear, which he has described as “gentlemen’s leisure wear,” in January 2012.
Another way to update a classic wardrobe is to invest in a convertible cuff shirt, Lori explains. A second buttonhole on the cuff remains unseen when worn traditionally buttoned, but can be opened and worn with cuff links, allowing the look to be dressed up and reflect personal style without being too stuffy. Lori says a relaxed outfit also can be elevated by replacing jeans with a more modern slim-cut pant and adding a sport coat.
For those who just can’t give up their beloved denim, however, Pete’s advice is to go all-in with the easygoing look by pairing a crew neck sweatshirt with a favorite, well-worn pair of jeans.
Unless you’re heading to a charity gala or wedding, formalwear isn’t a requirement in Laguna. Pete says you can even rely on a pair of jeans when dressing up for holiday parties—if done right. “Make sure they are crisp, dark and clean,” he says. In winter, Pete likes to pair denim with a blue or white oxford that’s tucked in for a more put-together look.
“Get a nice leather belt and, please, make sure it matches your shoes or boots,” Pete says. “If it’s a cool night, you can put on an understated navy blazer, sweater or a shirt jacket. A nice tie can really dress up this look—just don’t go too crazy with the holiday-themed colors.”
Similarly, Joey suggests the simplest way to upgrade everyday clothing is with a structured outerwear piece such as a trenchcoat or quilted blouson jacket. Lori agrees, noting that this season there’s a trend toward the car coat, which became popular in the 1950s and is now experiencing a resurgence thanks to its tailored, above-the-knee fit.
However you choose to update your wardrobe, remember to stay true to your personal style—whether that’s more denim or more debonair. In Laguna Beach, even holiday dress can be comfortable, so no matter which way you choose to outfit yourself, you can’t go wrong if you feel good.
SHOP THE LOOK
Check out these other local retailers for a great selection of menswear.
Hobie Surf Shop: Sport the quintessential Laguna look with attire that has a beach-meets-chic flair. Hobie offers sweatshirts, tees, denim and shoes from brands like Sperry, Sanuk and Vans. (hobiesurfshop.com)
Robin’s Jean: Nothing looks better than denim jeans that fit just right. Find your perfect pair in an array of styles such as straight, slim or cargo. (robinsjean.com)
The Vault Men: Whether you need one item or an entire wardrobe revamp, find all the essentials here. The Vault Men boasts everything from stylish button-down shirts to blazers and boots.
Troy Lee Designs: Not just for motorheads, Troy Lee Designs carries versatile apparel, such as premium graphic tees, edgy jackets and well-structured jeans and pants. (troyleedesigns.com)
Quiksilver: More than just board shorts and beachy flip-flops, Quiksilver offers long-sleeve flannel shirts, hoodies, denim jackets, polos and more. (quiksilver.com)