Cropped trousers are frequently seen in men's fashion industry. So what do you think? Featured

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Men's style: it's time to flash a bit of ankle

The latest round of men's fashion shows for next autumn/winter drew to a halt in a rather snowy Paris on Sunday evening. But, despite the freezing temperatures, ankles were on display everywhere. Yes, if ever the skinny jean

faced a challenge for the most enduring menswear trend in recent years then short trousers, from rolled-up chinos to tailored and cropped slacks worn with a ritzy sock, is the one.

In Paris, Carven showed an extreme take on the trend with tailored suit trousers cut just below the knee, a look the label confirmed was not just for catwalk splash but will actually go into production.

Models at Valentino flashed a sliver of skin around their trouser hems. Similarly,Louis Vuitton cut their trousers just a fraction above shoes, while some styles featured buttons at the bottom of the trousers leg.

Acne's versions were more obviously cropped, worn with plain socks and deep turn-ups. Alexander Wang's sporty versions are wide through the thigh and tapered at the ankle, and feature convenient zips and a snap to make getting into them easier. Dries van Noten's shorter trousers also had zips, which were styled with thick socks and sandals or teamed with ankle boots. Note: you have to get the length of the trouser to land just so on the top of the ankle boot otherwise the boot pulls the hem and makes it bunch, and you can't have that.

One of the trickiest sells came from Balenciaga, which has cut its trousers both wide and short. These did not seem to work on the model in the studio, so what hope is there for most men?

Designers in Milan and London are also backing the short trouser look, from Alexander McQueen (worn with pinstripe socks and brogue-slippers), to Prada (no socks), Kenzo (worn with ski-boots) to Tom Ford (worn with socks and formal shoes).

Last Sunday in Paris, designer Thom Browne, a staunch advocate of the cropped trouser hemline ever since he set up his label in 2004, continued to hammer his point home in a typically Browne-like presentation.

Boys wearing the Browne grey flannel short-trouser uniform stood within the wooden framework of a house, which had been erected as an alternative catwalk. They repeatedly banged hammers, in what can only have been a repetitive-strain scenario waiting to happen. Once the show started, more variations on this cropped-length theme emerged, often with deep turn-ups.

"Unlike womenswear trends, menswear is reluctant to change," says Esquire's fashion director Catherine Hayward. "The emphasis for the past few seasons has been on men's socks and pocket squares – an acceptable and very wearable way to experiment with colour, pattern and texture without seeming to try too hard," she says.

Tom Ford referenced Cary Grant in his London presentation. "I like a short pant [so] you see sock," said the designer.

It's a look Hayward says is "a nod to the 1950s, an era of hope and experimentation – and an easy approach to dressing with flair in the workplace. Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief is a masterclass in how to pull off the look, she advises.

Prada Ready to Wear A/W 2013 at Milan. Photograph: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Adrian Clark, style director for Shortlist, has a different theory. "I put it all down to the statement shoe," he said last weekend, between shows. Men, he said, are finally waking up to what women have known for years, which is: what is the point of having a pair of fancy shoes if you can't actually see them?

"Obviously, the best way to frame your Prada Oxford's scattered in leather daisies, your alligator Ferragamo brogues or your Gucci loafers in baby blue suede is to expose the ankle," he says. "I think it's a way to show some skin and to add some femininity," pondered Acne's Jonny Johansson on the matter during his presentation at the Hotel Crillon, as his group of male models stood looking both elegant and very "fashion" with their furry bucket hats and patterned padded jackets. Dan May, style director at Mr Porter, says: "I think the beauty of the cropped trouser is you can push it as far as you are comfortable with, from showing a tiny bit of skin or a flash of colour with a sock, to really going all out and revealing a lot more of either. The silhouette is surprisingly refined."

Essentially, though, what the short trouser does, aside from advertise your shoes, is make you look immediately like you got and processed the fashion memo. Flashing ankle peps up a boring shirt/jumper/T-shirt/hoodie without that much effort. The ankle look works with rolled-up jeans. It can work in summer. It can work in winter. It even works with jogger-style trousers – huge for next season, btw – and fancy trainers.

Sometimes, fashion is far less complicated than it seems, eh?



Published in Men's Fashion
Last modified on Sunday, 09 August 2015 09:04

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