This summer’s pastels trend channels some aspects of an almost old-fashioned, formal manner of dressing reminiscent of the British upper classes in hot climes – think of White Mischief orthe characters of Brideshead in Venice. Gieves & Hawkes, under new creative director Jason Basmajian, took up this theme with an impressive display at London Collections: Men, based on the notion of a well-turned-out gentleman dressing for holidays in Amalfi, Nairobi, Barbados and Shanghai. The modern colonial air, which was largely played out in neutrals, had colourful forays into “pastel mischief”. A peachy-pink linen suit (£2,495), artfully styled with an orange linen/cashmere scarf (£195), was audacious without being over the top; vintage-esque pieces, such as a pink linen/silk herringbone jacket (£595), were teamed wonderfully with pink and white seersucker shorts (£125) and a pink cashmere/silk crew neck (£295). Even a jaunty cream and mango-tinted linen safari jacket (£595) and trousers (£200) made the cut without looking outlandish.
Hackett was also strong at London Collections: Men, with a 1960s take on its dapper Brit stance. An excellent cream cotton three-piece suit (£750) was offset beautifully by an orange linen shirt (£125), aqua tie (£75) and vivid-coral cap (£60), while a yellow seersucker tailored jacket (about £600) with sky-blue cotton-twill chinos (£100) looked surprisingly masculine. “Seersucker doesn’t crease and it’s light, which makes it perfect for travelling to hot countries,” says Jeremy Hackett. “When people think of seersucker, they often have an image of a southern gentleman in the steamy swamplands of Mississippi, but actually it was a British product worn when exploring the Empire.” Other standout Hackett pieces include a sky-blue windowpane jacket (£450), which works well with pink chinos (£100), and a pale-aqua cotton suit (£900), available through its tailoring service.
The colour pink is a dominant part of this trend, though it takes a sexually confident man to wear it head to toe. Berluti’s pink textured-cotton/linen waistcoat (£580) and matching trousers (£820) have a look of The Great Gatsby’s Nick Carraway, especially when worn with a raglan-sleeved red-and-white striped cotton jacket (£2,000). This combination is best teamed with neutral accessories, such as the brand’s cream lizard Derbys (£2,700) and straw canotier hat (£400).
At Rake, pastels were presented in a panoply of pleasing fabrics. A sky-blue herringbone Barberis-wool/cotton jacket (£1,065) was teamed with light plaid Glen‑check trousers in Solbiate-wool/ linen (£295) and a bleached-denim shirt (£185). Rake’s luxe casual knits, such as the raspberry long-sleeved polo in cotton/cashmere (£365), mix well with earthy tones. Elsewhere, peach washed-Solbiate-wool/cotton chinos (£185) look strong with the same Barberis-wool herringbone jacket in mid-terracotta, and a lemon sweatshirt in cotton/cashmere (£245) lifts a darker, grey kangaroo-skin jacket (£1,995).
Knits can look excellent in pastel hues. Alexander McQueen’s salmon-pink panelled cardigan (£615) makes a bold statement, while Zegna’s dusty-pink, honeycomb-jacquard silk/cashmere jumper (£645) looks refined with off-white chinos (£345). Ralph Lauren neatly demonstrates what brilliant foils navy and white are to dashes of pastel, pairing a lemon jersey V-neck (£345) with a navy sports jacket (£1,095) and white cotton trousers (£234). These pastel and white/navy combinations look less colonial and more Riviera-chic, as shown at Richard James, whose unstructured lemony cotton blazers (£675), pink Madras-check jacket (£575) and pale-orange and turquoise linen-blend jacket (£545) work well with white trousers (£245) and espadrilles (from £255).
Certain pastels bring to mind Miami Vice or The Breakfast Club from the mid-1980s and need a tweak to bring them up to date. Tom Ford has narrowed shoulders and lapels. The violet or blush‑pink silk/cotton basketweave O’Connor jackets (£2,450) are outright showstoppers, styled with lilac silk/viscose fluid canvas pants (£760) and cream-and-turquoise spotted jacquard slippers (£1,350). This look works as semi-formal eveningwear or exuberant daywear. Comparatively subdued and very chic is a silvery-lilac O’Connor jacket (£2,450) and matching trousers (£790).
Finally, something rather special emerged during Louis Vuitton’s catwalk show – enchanting Prom tuxedos in delicate pastel hues. There is the faintest hint of lemon in a silk shawl-collar tux (£2,300), a double-breasted version in duck-egg blue silk (£2,240) and a dusty-pink shawl-collared number (£2,150) styled with a darker pink cotton shirt (£370) and a bow tie. These amazing suits also separate wonderfully for a “fractured evening” look. They have a 1980s aesthetic, but without any of the brashness.