Following on from the first article in this mini series, we are now covering the boat shoe and the quilted jacket; two items that are undeniably popular and definitely over worn. The difference here however is that both these items are, it could be argued, perfectly and sartorially acceptable. To wear them is not to niche yourself but to wear them is risk looking the same as everyone else.
With both items playing such a big role in the trends of the moment, it is imperative that we ask ourselves – how do we go about wearing them?
A confusing item the quilted jacket, for it certainly isn’t sartorially incorrect in itself. The mix of practicality, clean, simple lines and ease of use makes it an exceedingly viable option for this autumn/winter season; invest in a heritage brand like Barbour or Lavenham and already you are already steps ahead of the game.
What I think has the biggest influence on this particular item is bad association and uninviting stereotypes. A vast majority of quilted jackets are worn in exactly the same way – often with boat shoes, cuffed trousers and scoop neck t-shirts (are you seeing a pattern?). It also appears that they are worn by particular undesirables, whom one would rather not be seen imitating in any way.
The answer as always is to try and wear your quilted jacket in way that others may not have thought of; adding that extra flair to make you stand out from the crowd.
Incorporating a quilted jacket into a more formal outfit can be quite a tricky affair. The first issue is the heritage and purpose of the coat; coincidently, one of the reasons so many people like them. These jackets are first and foremost for practical use – traditional Barbour jackets for example were meant for use in hunting, shooting or horse riding. They weren’t made for the city or city types and whilst fashion and style has developed enough to be able to incorporate such an item in casual looks, the more formal outfits tend to be a bit too far out of their reach. Personally I would avoid wearing your quilted jacket over a suit or truly formal attire; it would look out of place no matter how hard you tried.
This does not however mean that we shouldn’t try and make them smarter and more refined, even in a small way. By mixing an inanely practical jacket with a tailored approach to the rest of an outfit would certainly add that individual and modern edge that might just set you apart from all those other purveyors of the quilted jacket cause. Of course, in this instance the colour and shape of the jacket is very important, a simple black affair with minimal detailing and simple lines will do the job perfectly, but you could of course switch that with a navy example should colours dictate. I imagine this as being something worn by the guys from Hurts (grand ambitions I know).
I would avoid wearing a blazer or jacket underneath as this would more than likely upset the entire outfit; a buttoned up blazer would almost certainly look at odds with a quilted jacket. This jacket-less approach does leave you rather exposed and devoid of layers however, so we will need to pay close attention to the inner part of our layering technique. With this in mind try something different with the roll neck trend, wear a deep burgundy or perhaps a yellow fine knit example under a sharp white shirt; this will give you warmth and show off your love of sartorially appropriate experimentation and dashing elegance.
For your lower half continue the tailored theme with some tweed or herringbone trousers that complement the colour of your roll neck jumper; a grey pair will allow you room for a great deal more experimentation with colours up top. Run down to a pair of classic black penny loafers, empty your pockets into a simple black tote and your outfit is done. Don’t forget your MAN sized umbrella in the rain.
Whilst there are fewer brightly coloured examples of quilted jackets floating around the market than earlier in the year, we can still make use of the more muted shades available, particularly the reds and greens. As winter rears its ugly head, colour palettes darken and whilst we haven’t completely lost the heady rainbow of summer hues, bright colours are not quite as suitable when the temperature drops to quite frankly inconsiderate levels. I am fully aware of the slowly rising trend of more vivid outerwear but I would predict that mainstream acceptance of it is a way off – feel free to become a trend setter though!
The red jacket from Burberry Brit used in this look is a good way to mix some subtle colour into an outfit; by using a fairly versatile shade such as a dark red or burgundy you give yourself more options elsewhere in the outfit. Unless you have your heart set on that bright blue one, you are better off being a bit more subdued; remember that we’re aiming to create a capsule wardrobe after all.
As an alternative to what I have suggested above you could very easily switch to a simpler, cleaner and more refined top half under the jacket, but In this instance I am sticking to a blue flannel shirt and a very on trend Fair Isle knit. One point to mention on the shirt front is we should always consider alternative fabrics such as flannel, corduroy and brushed cotton – they all add a new dimension to an outfit through a mixing of texture. There isn’t anything wrong with chambray or denim shirt as a staple for these kind of looks but just bear in mind that there are quite a few other fabric options; after all change is good in fashion and we are all looking to inject individuality at some level.
Indigo or dark wash jeans are the easiest way to anchor the look, and a good pair of worker or hiking boots will give your paws the warmth they need to avoid frostbite and create just a touch of the rough and ready; perfect, when all the elements of the outfit are considered.
Like with the checked shirt and cuffed jeans before it, you can provide yourself with separation from the stereotypical wearer by picking a quilted jacket that is different to your generic high street versions. The selection below offer something different – whether that be through quality, choice of fabric, silhouette/cut, colour or additional detailing:
The boat shoe is another one of those items that is undeniably over worn but still remains exceedingly fashionably relevant. They are most definitely a timeless classic; a style that will be just as suitable in 10 years time as they are today. Once again, I think we can all agree that boat shoes suffer from a great deal of misuse, and their popularity has resulted in a certain degree of market saturation – we now see them everywhere, worn by everyone, and while we can tolerate a certain amount of style avoidance, abandoning such a versatile and wearable item as the boat shoe is not an option.
As we are looking to pull all of these over worn items away from the stereotypes and towards something more individual, we should always look at trying to wear them in a way that others may not have thought of. Mixing two different trends that have similar base elements is a good way to keep your outfit fashionable whilst still making it unique to you, even in the subtlest of ways.
It is also worth remembering that boat shoes suffer from a two sided association ailment; on one hand we have the everyman, style of the masses look and on the other we have the slightly stuffy, ancient jumper, yacht club set. Either consideration is understandably to be avoided but unless you do something substantially different, you might find yourself being drawn to one side or the other, even unintentionally.
With this look I am aiming for a mixture of the Preppy, Americana and Work Wear trends; something that wouldn’t look out of place in the university quad or wandering around somewhere a little more rough and tumble. Starting from the ground up, keep your shoes simple and classic – brighter two tone or mixed material examples are better in a purely preppy focused look. A brown, navy, black or deep red will fit the bill perfectly and help to keep the entire outfit simple and stylish.
The wool mix trousers could just as easily be replaced with chinos for those of you who prefer the Ivy League look but with this outfit we want to mix in a bit more work wear style items. A chambray or denim shirt will help to continue this theme, but add a little quirkiness with braces rather than a belt. A good piece of college inspired knitwear will finish off the top half and a flat cap will bring out more of the worker side; simple, sharp, elegant and comfortable.
As we have already focussed on quilted jackets today, we will be integrating some heritage into this look. The shoes remain simple and clean; a muted colour that suits a more mature and timeless style, but you could of course begin to mix in more colour and texture. Some smart trousers help to keep a sharp, defined and tailored line leading up to a crisp gingham shirt – left with one or two buttons undone at the top (no buttoned up nonsense here, it’s not the done thing).
Finished off with a Barbour international jacket you have yourself a very easy look that mixes a touch of the yacht club, with heritage brands and patterns – sure to give you quite the sartorial leg up.
This is most certainly an outfit that would be easy to mix and match; switch your trousers for chinos or jeans depending on weather or your preference; your shirt for a chambray, denim or alternative patterned example to add a bit of diversity and individuality; or change your jacket to a tasteful fully quilted one or even the good old fashioned peacoat. You might even be able to shoe horn in some shearling.
Despite their bad associations or stereotypes, boat shoes are still hugely important. They are versatile, practical and stylish, working well in a number of key trends. It would a great shame to ignore them just because too many other people are wearing them.
Give yourself some separation through limited editions, vibram or complimentary coloured soles and choice of material:
The first article in this series received some interesting opinions; a few maintained the view that cuffed jeans were socially unacceptable regardless of how you wore them, but the checked shirt was perfectly acceptable. Others were actually in favour of the cuffed jean and not of the checked shirt. The highly subjective nature of fashion is very clear in this instance, and once again I think that a great deal of fashion is HOW you wear not WHAT you wear.
Personally, I believe that both the quilted jacket and boat shoe have an important roll to play in men’s fashion both now and in the future. To ignore them just because other people wear them too much is arguably very foolish. Careful consideration will always set you apart from the masses and it would be a shame to lose such versatile and ultimately stylish items.
Now, it’s time for that all important feedback, what do you think?
Keep a look out for the final article in this mini series were I will be covering desert boots, the Harrington jacket and scoop neck t-shirts.
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