Neoprene isn’t a fabric you’d consider for everyday wear. In fact, most would think of it as a material exclusively reserved for scuba diving and water sports. But in recent seasons, we’ve seen menswear designers inventively use neoprene on their runways and look books. What used to be a low-cost synthetic rubber materials is now prized for its flexibility and ability to keep shape in hot and cold weather. Fashion designers are also realising neoprene is very practical fabric – it’s perfect for colder seasons as it keeps you insulated, and it’s also easy to care for.
But what exactly is neoprene and how did it end up on the runways of high-end designers like as Gareth Pugh and Lanvin? And more importantly, how do you match neoprene without looking like you’re just another a trend-chaser? This post will answer all your questions about the use of neoprene in mens fashion.
What is Neoprene?
Neoprene, also known by its technical name, polychloroprene, is a synthetic rubber and was originally used for industrial purposes, such as electrical insulation and automotive fan belts. As time went by, neoprene’s unique properties – namely, resistance to heat and insulation against cold – were recognized by different garment manufacturers and it become a go-to material for sportswear. By the 1960s, neoprene production became low-cost and saw the fabric widely used in scuba diving and wet suits. In recent years, neoprene has been adapted by high-end designers who use the garment in their menswear and womenswear runways.
How to wear Neoprene
Neoprene is a rubber, so it doesn’t breathe very well, meaning the first thing to note is that you should avoiding sweating in it. Most neoprene garments found in menswear are usually outerwear (sweaters, jackets and coats), footwear or accessories. Occasionally you’ll find neoprene shorts which can double up as swimming trunks. Neoprene t-shirts and sweatshirts are also increasingly popular, with designers like Juun.J making a name for themselves using the fabric. See this and this as an example.
But how should men use neoprene in their everyday street styles? Here are some tips:
- Go monochrome
When wearing neoprene, try going monochrome as the similar colours in your outfit will naturally accentuate the texture of neoprene. Take the below examples – both men have chosen to go monochrome and as a result, the neoprene stands out.
Mix up the textures
Another way to wear neoprene is to pair it with various textured fabrics. In the above image, the distressed denim and the neoprene create an interesting outfit because there’s a clash of textures. Aside from wearing denim, try pairing neoprene with lightweight cotton (and cashmere) or wool, as shown below.
- Choose a statement neoprene piece
For both men and women, the key to wearing neoprene is to choose a statement piece and work your outfit around it. Whether it’s a neoprene sweater or coat, the key is to pair it with other simple pieces.
- When men should avoid neoprene
Whilst neoprene is easy to take care of – often a simple wipe with a damn cloth will get rid of dirty and spills – it doesn’t mean it works for everyone. As neoprene has great insulation qualities, most men should wear it in colder weather. In summer, the fabric traps heat and will make you feel stuffy and sweaty.
Also, men with large frames should avoid neoprene clothing because it will make you look even larger. Instead, you can try carrying neoprene accessories, like a bag or have neoprene featured in your footwear.
Our favourite Neoprene items in Mens Fashion this Season
Lanvin Navy Neoprene Biker Jacket
We love the simple and minimalist design of this biker jacket from Lanvin. The neoprene drapes perfectly and straight hem gives this jacket a modern touch. BUY.
Lanvin Neoprene Blazer
Black blazers never go out of style and this neoprene blazer is great all year around. The fabric gives a classic menswear piece a new spin and a futuristic feel.. BUY.
Neil Barrett Neoprene Sleeve Blazer
This blazer is a modern take on a classic menswear piece and we love its unique combination of soft grey wool and neoprene. The neoprene sleeves give a twist and the detail on the shoulder is also a great touch. BUY
Neil Barrett Lighting Bolt Sweater in Neoprene
Statement sweaters don’t get much better than this. The loud graphics work very well here and this piece can be work alone or under a jacket for a bold touch. BUY.
Kenzo Sweat Shorts
Seen on the runway of Kenzo is this bold graphic sweat shorts which go well from the beach to the streets. BUY.
Phillip Lim Black Cracked Paint Lambskin Trousers
Sometimes a touch of neoprene is all you need. Take for example, this cracked paint effect trousers from 3.1 Phillip Lim. The contrasting paneling is a nice detail and adds zest to any man’s outfit. BUY.
Marc by Marc Jacobs Neoprene Computer Case
Neoprene is often used in mens fashion accessories and this laptop case from Marc by Marc Jacobs is the perfect example. Not only will it keep your computer safe, it’s also easy to take care of – a simple damp cloth will get rid of all dirt and grim. BUY.