10 tips for the perfect vacation look from menswear designer Adam Brown.
British beachwear brand Orlebar Brown was born on holiday. “I was staying at a hotel and had to change out of my swim shorts for lunch. It got me thinking about the fact that I didn’t want a swim short, I wanted a short I could swim in,” says founder Adam Brown. And so began Brown’s resort-wear line for men, which now includes not only tailored swim shorts but also fitted tops, sunglasses and even shoes. Currently, the brand is making waves in Toronto with a pop-up shop at Holt Renfrew’s Bloor Street store. Editors Inc. sat down with Brown to discover his secrets to smart beach style.
Start with his height
“The first thing to think about is his height,” advises Brown. “If he is very tall, steer clear of something very short. If he is shorter, steer clear of something very long.” For a man who is more than six feet tall, choose a short with an inseam of six to nine inches. If he’s under six feet, a three- to six-inch inseam is likely best. “It’s about proportion,” says Brown. “If you put a vase on a table and it dwarfs the table it’s on, it won’t look right proportionally.”
Consider his colouring
“I have pale, English skin, so bright pinks and bright oranges do not suit my skin tone,” says Brown. “If you are fortunate enough to have darker skin tones, you can really celebrate colour,” he adds. According to Brown, black is always classic. “Navy blue, mid to dark greys and forest green are also easy starting points, regardless of his skin tone.”
Think about the where
“If you’re going to your parents’ or a really stuffy restaurant, do you really want him wearing the most outlandish prints?” asks Brown. “In such cases, a navy blue would be more appropriate.” Likewise, if you’re heading somewhere like Ibiza, “Why not go nuts?”
Pick and choose his prints
Colour and prints are a reflection of your personality, says Brown. “If the person you’re buying for is naturally slightly reserved, I would personally avoid the most extravagant, out-there prints,” he says.
Confidence is key
“If a man doesn’t feel comfortable, there’s no point,” says Brown. “We see a progression in how people buy our shorts: They’ll start off with solid shades, then move into geometric prints in navy and white. Once they feel braver, they might choose something brighter and more illustrative.” Be persuasive, but patient, and remember there’s no point in throwing him into a hot-pink print before he’s ready. “He’ll boil and jump straight out,” says Brown.
Even so, encourage him to experiment
“The great thing about being on holiday is that it allows you to perhaps not be the person you are at home,” says Brown. “Somehow, it’s perfectly valid to celebrate sunshine, happiness and good times.”
Top things off in casual-chic style
“A navy or denim-coloured t-shirt is super-smart and can be worn anywhere,” says Brown. The best vacation clothing can be dressed up or down, so look for effortlessly elegant fabrics such toweling, piqué cotton and linen.
Step up his shoe game
“I personally love flip-flops,” says Brown, who advocates wearing any shoe you want, so long as it’s a polished version of the style. “People often say flip-flops are horrible, but there are actually some really nice flip-flops out there now,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with a nice, navy-blue sandal. Now, if it’s pink and yellow and covered in suntan lotion, that’s not my idea of a nice shoe.”
Elevate his extras
“This is where men really have the opportunity to go to town,” says Brown. If he keeps his top, shorts and shoes simple, accessorizing with a great panama hat or watch is an easy way to look chic, he says. “It’s actually no different for a woman — a great bag, a nice watch and a good pair of shoes will take you quite a long way.” Speaking of bags, “I get that a lot of men don’t like walking around with a tote, but there’s more of an acceptance now that men can walk around with a bag — particularly if it’s a Tumi one,” he says, referring to his recent collaboration with the luxury travel bag brand. Just like footwear, “if it’s some grotty old thing you’ve been using to carry around your gym kit for years, that looks hideous. But if it’s a decent backpack that actually works on holiday, well, that works.”
Keep a style souvenir
Being on holiday gives men an opportunity to be versatile in the styles and silhouettes they wear, says Brown. Still, that doesn’t mean he should be sporting board shorts in the boardroom. “It depends of course on where you work, but definitely for lunch or shopping on the weekend, there’s a smart and relaxed way of dressing nowadays that means you can bring some of that holiday style home.”
Orlebar Brown ($65–$350) available at Holt Renfrew Yorkdale and Vancouver, and at the Cool Summer Pop-Up at Holt Renfrew Bloor Street (50 Bloor St. W.) until September 4, 2017.