11 Out-of-Style Trends You Should Phase Out of Your Wardrobe

Trends come and go — time to clean out these 11 items from your closet.

For folks not interested in style, clothes can be frustrating. “What? My pants are too tight? Ok, I’ll buy baggy ones.” 10 years later… “What? My pants are too baggy? But…but…”

There are a lot of style fundamentals that stay relatively consistent over time, and that’s the kind of thing we try to discuss in length on Primer. There are, however, trends that come and go, and then come again, then go down in a whirlwind of hate, and then pop back up in 30 years as being cool. (Skinny ties, I’m looking at you.)

Why, just a few years ago I remember having a hard time finding the “in” trend in jeans at an affordable price: bootleg. Now, up until a season or two ago, it was impossible to find anything other than a bootleg in a flattering non-Dad fit.

Yes, trends come and go, and it can be horribly, horribly annoying.  I’ve often been frustrated and thought, “who makes these decisions?” The fashion elite, most likely, which it then trickles down from the runway, to eventually Gap and J.Crew.  Sometimes I welcome them, I love the sleek, mod inspired suiting options that became trendy a few years ago. I find the slimmer cuts and thinner lapels to complement modern styling in shirts, ties and atmosphere.

Sometimes it’s infuriating – as I feel now with double-breasted suits that are being pushed down our throats all over runways and style magazines. I may be putting my foot in my mouth later, but I can’t imagine me, or any other everyday gent sporting a double-breasted jacket in a normal, non-high fashion environment. It’s just too formal for anyone other than folks with street-style blogs.

That’s why I don’t want you to read the following list of out-of-style items and think, “Oh yeah? Says one idiot on one stupid website.” I get it–not wearing a shirt that is in good condition, or a pair of shoes that still have years of wear left in them just because it’s “not popular” is a pretty shitty reason. I get bogged down in existential thoughts on the function clothing performs and wonder if we’re all just suckers buying into advertising. Nonetheless, the following items are out of style, and if you’re concerned with such things, you should consider phasing them out of your wardrobe for more timeless alternatives.

1. Square-toe Shoes

If you’re only going to ditch one of the items on the list, make it this. Nothing screams late 90’s more than chunky-soled, squared-toe dress shoes. A combination of a boot and a dress shoe, these shoes are prevalent among guys who are still wearing the first pair of dress shoes they bought in college.  Kenneth Cole made a bajillion dollars off of all of us, but it’s time we retire these bad boys.

When the time comes that you can replace ‘em, opt for a shoe shaped more like a typical oxford like these wingtips by Johnston & Murphy. Even if other styles pop up along the way, this shape of shoe has been a standard for generations.

2. Jeans That You’ve Been Walking On

I remember in college several years ago, it was pretty stylish to have the back side of your jean leg be all ripped up because they were long and baggy enough that you would walk on them. Since then, we’ve come to our senses a bit, and the uniformly accepted style is one that is slim and fits more like a pair of suit pants than skater jeans.

This problem is actually caused two ways. One, your pants are too long. Or two, the profile of your shoes is slim enough that the jeans slide right over them. For example, if you’re into stacking your jeans, you’re probably wearing thicker shoes that hold the jean legs up, preventing you from walking on them. But if you’re donning slim white canvas sneakers or boat shoes, you need your jeans to be shorter.

As you phase out your shredded jeans, look for a straighter fit, with legs that end at an appropriate length based on a majority of the shoes you wear. This is one of those mistakes that cause people to think you’re younger or more immature than you are.

3. Really Wide Clown Ties

I’m expecting to get roasted on this one, but I’m going to stand my ground. For most guys, with most body types, your tie should be 3 inches wide or less at its widest point. And even then, that’s pretty freakin wide.

Conventional business attire for the last, I don’t know, 40 years, has included wide, 3″ to 3.5″ ties. That’s so big! I’m an average build 170 lb guy, and if I wore a 3.5″ tie, it would be 25% to 30% of my midsection. Way out of proportion.

Most of my ties are right around 2.5″. It’s a nice balance for my body type, and appears in proportion with the rest of what I’m wearing. That should be your go-to in my opinion. Now, if you’re a bigger guy, you can go for a bigger tie, absolutely. Remember, tie width should be proportional to your suit jacket’s lapel width. So unless you’re wearing some wicked John Travolta collars, 3.5 inches is just gigantic.

The skinnier your tie, the less formal it becomes, so if you’re trying to rock the casual tie, pick one that’s on the slim side. I have a wool 2″ tie that I love to wear casually.

4. The Velcro Wallet

Hey man, I get it: It’s functional. I had a Quicksilver velcro wallet for years, and I loved the hell out of it. There was a time when the sound of undoing a diaper at the cash register was acceptable. The present is not included. Find a sale on a conservative leather tri-fold or a flat card case wallet like the one I have from Tagsmith. Saddleback Leather also makes some nice wallets, and they’re pretty affordable.

Outside a watch or tie, men have very few accessories to class up and show their personality. A wallet is a nice, functional item you can get years of wear of. When the table pulls out their wallets to split the bill, make sure you’re pulling out your best.

5. Wrap Around Sunglasses

The year: 1998. I was on a field trip to Washington, DC and I couldn’t have cared less about the monuments or the White House. I was on a mission–a mission to obtain a pair of knockoff Oakley sunglasses from a street vendor. They were all the rage, and I was just a kid, who would never be able to afford the full price at the mall.

The key words in that paragraph are “1998” and “kid.” Some sunglasses are timeless, or come and go frequently, like the aviator, Wayfarer, or Clubmaster. Sometimes skinny frames are trendy, sometimes big fat goggles are the trend. The one trend that has not returned since it left (awhile ago) is the wraparound style made popular by Oakley in the 90’s.

I’m sure I’ll hear some excuse about them being functional for sports, or snowboarding, or what have you. Hey man, that’s cool, you do your thing. But if you’re out for a nice Saturday with your girlfriend try swapping them with a square-framed aviator or Wayfarer. They’re classic and they look good whether you’ve got a pencil head or big ol’ blob face.

6. Steve Madden Style Shoes

Like square-toe shoes, these half sneaks, half casual dress shoes, became de rigueur of the 20-something guy stuck in that period where he couldn’t dress up too much because his friends would make fun of him. Well, even if you’re still in that position, there are some alternatives that are a little more stylish but equally casual.

Try a Desert Boot. The look of a low profile put-together chukka boot, with the comfort of a sneaker. The Desert Boot has been a sartorial staple for decades, and if you opt for a pair in a darker color, they may well last you for decades to come.

You can wear them with anything from jeans, chinos, or corduroys. And if you follow The Getups you’ll recognize how versatile they are.

7. Billowy Dress Shirts

It used to be hard getting a trim fit dressed shirt for less than the cost of a Playstation. Luckily more budget friendly stores like H&M have expanded into a lot of areas, and traditional go-to’s like Gap and mall department stores now offer slimmer fits for reasonable prices.

The problem with mass-produced clothing lines is sizing has to be universal enough to fit a wide range of body types. So, a few years ago when stores only offered one cut it had to fit big and small alike. Now that we have options it’s time to take advantage of them. Nothing looks worse than a muffin top and blousy pirate sleeves.

The new cuts go by many names, slim cut, tailored fit, modern fit, and athletic fit.

8. Velcro Sandals

Sandals, no matter what style they are, can be hard to pull off. Flip flops are common, but they’re very “Hollister” and should be kept to places near water.

Velcro sandals like Teva should only be worn by two types of people: free-toeing hiker types and Berkeley professors.  And of course, no socks with any sandals ever, ever, ever.

9. Wide Leg / Bootcut /  Flared Jeans

Pants have been getting trimmer and trimmer since the 90’s. Remember when everyone wore baggy jeans and sagged them? Then wide leg jeans became popular, which are essentially more tailored baggy pants that are slimmer through the thighs. Then straight leg became standard, and now they’re pushing tapered skinny jeans on us.

I’d stick with straight leg jeans. They’ll accommodate the most amount looks, fit great with a pair of bluchers or Red Wings alike and you won’t have to do the girlfriend shimmy when trying to pull them on. My current favorites are a pair I picked up from H&M for $20 (not even on sale) and a pair of Levis Shrink to Fit 501’s.

Bootcut jeans are still widely available at retailers but don’t let that fool you: it’s definitely past their time.

10. Baggy Cargo Shorts

I can still remember being excited about wearing cargo shorts in the 90’s. Before them, the only thing that existed for young guys were carpenter jean shorts, and there’s a reason those aren’t around anymore. Baggy cargo shorts, made infamous by the likes of American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch had their time, but like many things these days, the look is trimmer and more fitted.

Pick up some flat front shorts from Old Navy or Target in a few colors. You’ll instantly step up your summer game.

11. Long Sideburns

Long sideburns started becoming stylish in the mid to late 90’s right around the time every guy had a goatee.  Hair was longer and styles were different, it’s time to trim those chops. The longest your sideburns should be with most haircuts is 3/4th the way down your ear. Shorter is good too, just don’t do a straight-across. Unless you’re going for a specific look, this is a good rule to go by.

Did I miss anything? Leave your ideas in the comments!

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page.

  • Donna9000

    Where what you feel like wearing. Who says we have to follow someone else’s trend? I will wear bell bottoms until they put me in the grave. <3

  • http://dbakeca.com Dbakeca Italia

    very true….nice post

  • Horatio Postlethwaite

    You’d smear yourself with your own shit if someone told you it was fashionable.

  • anon

    #9. Have you ever tried wearing any sort of boot with non-bootcut jeans? Makes your calf muscles look out of proportion to the rest of your body in straight or skinny jeans.

  • kris

    It’s funny- you read an article like this and get all pissed off…and then you realize the guy is spot on. I really appreciate the reminder Andrew.

  • Matt

    Unfortunately, I went with a nice pair of Calvin Klein dress shoes that are “square-ish” at the tip. At a size 13 shoe, anything rounded tended to make the shoes look obnoxiously long like a clown shoe. It’s a little disheartening to hear that these are totally out of style because anything else looked ridiculous ;(

    • jk

      MATT DONT LISTEN TO THIS YEAR OLD ARTICLE! I know the shoes you are refering to and I love them! My husband has a pair and I think they look great on him,,,especially you men with long feet..You dont want clown shoes..Now as I told Andy above, who would you rather get advice from a pretty cute woman or a dude?!? =)

  • Chaps

    Reckon I’ll struggle moving on from a bunch of these.
    Being a fat guy in Australia (down to 144Kgs, having lost 10 in last month) means that most available clothing fits badly or is waaay too expensive…

    Some of these fads are going to have to last a little longer for me.

  • http://www.thesportsposse.com/ Fraser M. Damoff

    A loose fitting suit has to be on there. Nowadays the sleek fitted look most notably with the pants is key and in style.

  • andy

    But I really like Cargo Shorts Dammit!

    • jk

      Hey, my husband just got a bunch of nice RL cargo shorts ( no logo) They look good on him. He doesnt where them around town, he likes to walk and where do you put your iPhone ( to listen to music or to make a business call) ?Anyhow this article was written a year ago, so it might be outdated already. SO ANDY GO ON LIKING YOUR CARGO SHORTS !
      This is advise from a pretty cute woman and not some dude =) Who would you rather look good for?!? ;)

      • WHOOOOOooooo o o o o o

        Cargo shorts are as dead as disco. Even 5 years ago, when I was pledge master for my fraternity, we would haze the crap out of anyone in cargo shorts.

        Our favorite thing was to fill the cargo pockets with sand (and the cat poop in it) from our beach volleyball court and make the pledges wear them for the next week.

        After a week of walking around in heavy kitty poop cargo shorts, they usually never made the mistake of wearing them again.

        Dont let this “jk” person fool you. No man has been laid who wears cargo shorts since about 2002 (when I was still in high school.)

        • hello159

          I don’t care about cargo shorts but I bet no one gives a shit about your frat boy tales about whatever you did in your lame fraternity.

  • Wm. Br.

    I know we shouldn’t still be going over this, but pleated pants were missing from the list. It breaks my heart every time a customer comes in my shop and I have to dispossess them of that particular desire. Pleats don’t look good. Period. “But they look good on me, I need them.” No, you don’t, and you’re wrong, they’re awful.

  • chris

    In ref to ‘square toe shoes’— Yeah– For some reason square toe shoes are O U T !! But square toe cowboy boots are I N !! A nice pair of boot cut jeans , dark blue wash , and full quill ostrich boots (square toe) look freakin’ great !! Top with a nice dress type button down ( one pocket) shirt . ( Cinch is my choice ) . And last– dare you wear a cowboy hat ??? Well I know I would . (but thats me). And it better line up with your jaw line . You will kill this fantastic wardrobe style with a bad hat !!

  • R.

    Boot Cut jeans aren’t out of style. Some guys like to be able to have some room for their legs. And not look like they are wearing girl leggings.

  • Richard

    Heh, I started doing most of these a few years ago……thing is with the cargo shorts you can carry more things (and you don’t have to carry a bag with you)

  • Tschimmi

    know the rules — and break them! :)

  • kylemcguire

    I’m wondering when the Slim Fit trend comes to an end. Think fashion will move back to that 90s chunky look? Will we see a return to pleated pants??

  • Erik

    Yes, you did miss a couple of no-no’s. Get rid of pleated front dress pants. Flat front with no cuff is the way to go. Stop wearing flip flops unless you;re either on the beach or in a locker room!

  • Casey Anderson

    I really don’t care about the above stuff anyways just so you know, never did when i was a kid and i was born in 1991, April 24, 1991 at 8:13pm(EST) to be exact. and the problem is with style and fashion is just stupid rules. 1. it’s stupid to have fashion and style rules why because for example, what happens if a person wants to have a kid and wants say the currently in style choices, the so-called parent who buys ahead worries that the outfits he or she might have bought would be out of style when the child is old enough to wear them and stuff like that. 2. it’s a waste of money worrying about style and fashion, to me personally, i would prefer the 1990’s fashion for all generations and some of the 80’s and some of the 70’s and 60’s and maybe 50’s but that’s just me. the 90’s fashion might or might not make a comeback but that’s why rich people should think ahead before they plan to have kids first buy the 90’s then currents, then 80’s 70’s 60’s and then 50’s or the current, 90’s, 80’s, 70’s, 60’s, and then 50’s whatever you do you either start with the current or decade earlier or 20 yrs. earlier never go farther than that when you start buying stuff. because that’s what i’m planning on doing with my kids if my kids complain about not being in style or in fashion, I’d tell my kids to get a job and see how hard it is to save money. and hopefully they’ll get rid of the stupid child labor laws(because so kids will stop being spoiled rotten) but while the child labor laws are in effect of course, i’ll obey them

    • SMH

      Congratulations! You have made the absolutely dumbest post ever posted to the interwebs. . . EVER!

      What is wrong with it? Hmmmmmm, lets see:

      1. You suddenly decide to number what you find stupid in your post (and instead of making a list like my post, you decided to still write in paragraph form.)

      2. You apparently have no idea WhereTheSpaceBar, shift key, and [Enter] button are on your computer. If you did, maybe you would have some breaks, some spaces, and some capitalization!

      3. Yu ignoredz teh spelll checkker bekause yous iz kool.

      4. You suddenly went all Special Olympics and started blabbing about “the 90’s 80’s 70’s 60’s 50’s and stuff lawlz”

      5. You write the following statement which makes me think that maybe English is not your first language “stupid child labor laws(because so kids will stop being spoiled rotten)”/ but then you bust out a hyphen on the phrasial adjective “so-called” so the reader is just left scratching their head. ———-> hmmmmmm…… so since you obviously know English, and have had some education, are you just attempting to be dumb, or are you on drugs?

      6. Your entire post made me realize that our world really is doomed like the talking heads on Fox News way. For many years I have denied that those crazy right wing boomers were right and have believed that millennials were not just the “entitled” generation who wanted nothing more than to smoke pot and be stupid. Your post proved me wrong.

      All hope for humanity is truly lost, but congratz you WIN THE INTERNETS!

      • MarkRubicon

        You’re kinda a left wing, f*g*t deek….

      • hello159

        so much butthurt

  • facialHERE

    Your discrimination of side burns is absolutely repulsive.

  • Angela

    I’m a woman and have to say that EVERY SINGLE trend you mentioned is right on! Great tips for guys!! Unfortunately, some guys are just hard headed about changing trends! Get it together guys!! Stay in style, it’s very attractive! No woman wants a man who can’t dress!!! :)

  • Focus503

    “they may well last you for decades to come.”

    Which would be great except in 5 years you’ll be back to tell me me how hopelessly dorky they are.

    Certainly down with fitted shirts though.

  • Peaceoutgale

    I love my berkenstocks with socks. They are The best
    Peaceout. An old hippie

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  • Acer211

    Trends are unreliable as they do not take into account people body types and colors, etc…

    people with “long faces” will always look good in wrap arounds.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      I’m afraid no face shape looks good in wraparounds. Especially considering wraparounds are generally sleek and thin, that would emphasize the longness of a face, versus something tall like an aviator or wayfarer.

  • AssHat900

    Only skinny jeans and toe shoes for me thanks.

  • Denver

    Totally disagree with the “Bootcut jeans are still widely available at retailers but don’t let that fool you: it’s definitely past their time.” comment. I will wear boot cut jeans as they fit my style. My body is not cut like a 14 year old boy so straight leg jeans fit like skinny jeans on my and require a larger waist size.
    Each to their own. Popular fashion might be nice and all, but it rarely reflects reality and right now it looks like an overly flamboyant return to the 1980’s.

  • concretetundra

    Hey I have an idea. As long as you’re preaching to us about what’s in and what’s out, how ’bout getting rid of the HACK “distressed” lettering at the top of your article. How hack can you get? You lose all credibility by using “distressed” lettering. It’s one of the most over used things of all time. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, scroll back up to the top of this article and look at the word “TRENDS”. Look how edgy it’s trying to be. Case closed. Credibility gone.

  • Real Man

    Why would a real man listen to a femiman about what he wears?

  • Tiemen Staal

    I think you’re pretty spot on with these.

  • Ekki

    Hi Andrew,

    My husband loves his cargo shorts and he will indefinitely pair them with a t-shirt. So far I have been able to convince him to wear collar t-shirts, which is great but I fail to get him to wear straight shorts with a linen shirt. Give me tips to convince him to wear the quintessential look to the beach.
    One thing to keep in mind here is, that he has a belly but he does not have fat anywhere else.


  • Sarah

    who doesnt like oakleys my brother loves em, and there stil in style . 2K15 and still rollin. and did i mention ALL his freinds have a pair??

  • trannyoakley

    Let people wear what they want and wipe your pussy.

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  • i knoooow

    This article is definition on MALE vs. GAY SISSY -style.

  • MattyD

    On the other hand, ditch that belt. It doesn’t look good on your gray wools at all.

  • Clem

    Fuck man, anyone who give this much of a crap about “fashion” can go screw themselves. I’m gonna wear everything this girl said she doesn’t like just so I can faze out people like her from my life.

  • Allen Palmer

    Well…there went the rest of my closet. It’s a good thing though.

  • TalonMech

    Guys who worry about fashion, and being trendy are what I like to call “faggots”. I wear what I wear and fuck anyone who doesn’t like it.

  • poop stain

    sitting on your boyfriend’s cock

  • Very annoyed kid

    My dad keeps on wearing plaid please make him STOP.

  • chandy lopez

    nice shoes ! i love seeing boys who wear descent shoes !

    Where can I Buy Real SoundCloud Likes

  • Peter

    Can’t wait till this cuffing jeans trend stops.

  • Brigita

    This post is getting me to thinking that all men’s style articles should include before and after images. Regards, wholesale fashion shoes

  • Ben

    Having worked for an opticians I have to disagree with your assertion when it comes to wrap-around sunnies. I was unfortunate enough to have already received my freebie pair of Aviators courtesy of the company prior to being involved in adding Oakley sunglasses to our inventory. I quickly learnt that, driving south in the late afternoon with the sun setting in the west (UK right side drive here), the sun would shine right through my window and into the peripheral. I couldn’t turn to face the sun with my eyes on the road. Every. Single. Day. I really, really wish I had the sense to pick up some Oakleys at list price while I was still there. Their catalogue is large enough and there’s plenty to choose from that don’t only suit Tour de France competitors.

  • Ashley Morgan

    I’d have to agree on everything except the flat front shorts & slim fitted dress shirt. You need to have a certain body type/shape to look good in those. My boyfriend is 195 lbs and somewhat muscular. He has large upper arms and large upper thighs. The few times I’ve gotten him to go shopping, he tried on the above mentioned styles – they looked hideous! The slimmer shorts don’t allow for any excess room in the thigh, so even after going up 1 size too big for his waist, the legs looked ridiculous. Then when we needed to find him a nice dress shirt for a wedding, the “slim fits” were super snug on his arms. If he went up a size, they were giant in the chest & stomach area. I guess he is hopelessly destined for a life of Cargo Shorts & baggy dress shirts!

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Haha no he’s not doomed! He just needs to have his items tailored, which is a drawback of being ripped!

  • DanaButlerAllDay

    While trends may change, style is forever and just because jeans get trimmer doesn’t mean they’re fit for every body type. The smallest I’ve ever gone is a slim fit. This chicken leg style of pants is not flattering to most male figures.

  • Will

    I’m retired now and live in the warm south. I will never never never give up my cargo shorts. I can carry car keys, wallet, tablet phone and pocket knife without having to sit on any of them.

  • Tina

    I usually hate these narrow-minded, hasty generalization-style fashion articles, but I happened to agree with most things, except the sideburns. Facial hair is back, thanks to hipsters.

  • eddie

    Here we are 2015, three years later and most of these looks are still in. cargo shorts never go out of style and everyone sells them.

    Steve Madden style shoes are still in for sure. As for those Desert Boot things… fail, they never caught on. Sunglasses are sunglasses and wrap-around style are everywhere. Still plenty of newly styled square-tip dress and casual shoes, especially the slip-on variety. I’ll kind of give you the slim/modern fit dress shirt, but that style/cut came out long before 2012 (no?) and has stuck with us. Skinny jeans are unfortunately still hanging on, but boot cut are back in. Not sure they are went out.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Hey Eddie, I’ll have to disagree with you! Just because items are available to buy and you see people wearing them, doesn’t mean they are or have remained in style.