Sometimes you just can’t be bothered. Sometimes you just want to be lazy and pull on something simple. Sometimes you really don’t want to spend your entire month’s wages on new trends and looks and then eat only baked beans. And for all those times, there’s this article.
I think we often forget that, within the realm of men’s style and fashion, all you really need is a few key pieces to get you through the colder months. With the right key pieces you can upgrade your style and not break the bank at the same time. It’s easy to get caught up in the big picture – like an entire new look or wardrobe that you want to introduce – when really a few select choices and interesting details is all you need.
Now what follows are what I believe to be the five easiest ways to boost your style this AW12. As always, I would like to emphasise that it’s only my own opinion so it may not be for everyone. But that’s the great thing about the menswear sphere that we all communicate in, it’s all based on personal taste and other people’s opinions. So, if I can paraphrase Hova, either love it or leave it alone.
I’ll also try to incorporate some suggestions at various price points, because I appreciate that not everyone will be working within the same budget, and split the list into a beginner’s five and an advanced five, because not everyone is at the same stage in their style journey.
So, without any more of this waxing sartorial, let’s get right amongst it…
The Beginner Five
1. Up Your Warmth Game
This is simplest step of all: Get yourself a great hat and scarf combo! I’d suggest going with a knitted hat but avoid the slouched kind like the plague, their time has come and gone.
This time, reach for one that you can fold back up to form a tight band around your head, like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. And why not introduce a bit of colour? I favour a bold red one personally but why not go for autumnal colours like khaki, orange, green or bright blue?
As for the scarf, stick to one in an insulating material like wool or cotton blends, in a neutral colour such as grey or navy so it can be go with everything else you already own. However, this season is all about a dandy pattern, so you could opt for a polka dot or paisley version.
- Orange Watchman Beanie Hat
- Topman Green Cable Turn Up Beanie
- Edwin Chocolate Cable Oiler Beanie
- Asos Cable Knit Scarf
- Allsaints Ridge Scarf
- Richard James Hand-knitted Wool Scarf
2. Pick Up Some Cord Trousers
Corduroy is a great material for colder months due to its durability and insulation. Think of cord trousers as your updated chinos. A great starter pair is a brown or khaki version because they are fantastic colours for autumn and work well with nearly every other colour you can think of.
If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try a green pair? You’d be surprised at their versatility. Check out Alex Woodhall’s article on cord trousers for the complete rundown.
- Topman Villain Bowey Cord Trousers
- Reiss Brightling Cord Trousers Burnt Umber
- Knowledge Cotton Apparel Forest Green Tapered Leg 8 Wale Cords
3. A Navy Peacoat
If you don’t already have one, get one. You want one that ends a couple of inches above your knees and has a slim enough cut to still be able to fit a suit jacket underneath.
Then wear it with everything!
- Allsaints Frith Pea Coat
- Reiss Hummingbird Double Breasted Wool Peacoat Navy
- Paul Smith London Wool And Cashmere-blend Peacoat
4. Shawl So Hard
A thick shawl neck cardigan could be the most versatile item you own this season. Providing more warmth and style than your ordinary cardigan, it can function in any situation.
Wear it over a casual shirt and knitted tie for a night out or under a suit for an extra layer of warmth on the commute to work. Hell, why not wear it over the suit?
This season, try to branch out into an interesting colour – think greens, oranges, browns or any other colour the leaves can turn. At the very least, go with a white/ecru version for the ultimate in autumn style.
5. Re-boot Your Boots
This time around, when it comes to making a decision on which boot to get for the rain, sleet and snow go for something a bit more dressy. Think black or brown leather (no distressing) in a cap toe or brogue that can be worn just as easily with a suit as a pair of jeans.
You’ll be surprised at how your overall appearance will be instantly lifted once you swap those beaten up military boots for a pair of sleek and sophisticated lace-up dress boots.
- Asos Lace-up Brogue Boots
- H By Hudson Brown Dip Dyed Leather Smyth Boots
- Grenson Declan Black Chelsea Boots
The Advanced Five
1. A Patterned Blazer
Man, every one rocks a tweed blazer these days, right? I can’t get a few steps from my house without seeing one! Simple solution? Update a tweed or wool blazer with a patterned version.
Window pane check in a military olive? Yup, sure. Camel houndstooth? Go for it! Anything is game and will instantly separate you from the masses.
- Asos Slim Fit Stripe Blazer In Italian Fabric
- Reiss Ledbury Boiled Wool Blazer Navy
- Woolrich Woolen Mills Plaid Wool-blend Blazer
2. Precious Cargo
Cargo trousers have been doing the rounds this year after many in wilderness. The key to pulling them off is to pick a neutral colour and a slim (but not skinny) cut. Oh, and no more than two actual cargo pockets.
Wear them with all the things you’d normally wear your chinos with and, for the love of God, don’t overload those pockets!
- Dickies Olympia Olive Herringbone Trousers
- J Brand Denim Utility Kane Straight-leg Cargo Trousers
- White Mountaineering Two-tone Cotton Whipcord Cargo Trousers
3. Echo The Season
By echo the season, I mean invest in at least one item which is made from an autumnal material that you don’t already have.
I find the most stylish way to do this is through your accessories. Why not try a herringbone tie, in a grey marl to wear with your plaid button downs and selvedge jeans? Or a tartan/plaid wool pocket square in reds, blues or greens to wear with your work suits? Or a couple of pairs of thick woolly socks to wear with, well, shoes.
- Ted Baker Herbarc – Herringbone Tie
- Austin Reed 7cm Navy Herringbone Silk Tie
- Alexander Olch Plaid Woven-wool Pocket Round
- Alexander Olch Plaid Woven-wool Pocket Round
- Asos Three Pack Waffle Socks
- 3 Pack Boot Sock Nep
4. Double (Monk) Up
I don’t know how many times we’ve said it this year, but this is the season of double monks. They’re coming in every colour, material, size and price point imaginable by every designer or high street known to man.
They are the dressiest of men’s shoes but the coolest thing about them is they can be worn in any situation. Try on every pair in the shop until you find the perfect sole and shoe for you – and then represent.
5. Three Piece
There will be more on this in my next article, but look to invest in a three piece suit or at the very least a waistcoat to match one or two of the suits you already have.
Trust me, Savile Row is the last fashion powerhouse to have its time in the limelight with the menswear resurgence, and its time is nearly upon us. Be ahead of the curve.
- Topman Great Gatsby Three-piece Skinny Suit
- Asos Slim Fit Suit In Blue
- Reiss Riley 2 Bt Sb Fashion Notch Grey
So there you have it guys, 5 easy ways to boost your autumn/winter style without breaking the bank on a camouflage blazer or some contrast sole Mark McNairy saddle shoes. As always, let me know what you think and berate me for my poor choices.