I think it’s safe to say that we are well into the colder months of the year. The longer nights, brisker winds and potential flood alerts can effect sartorially inclined people in many different ways. For those of you summer lovin’ people, it’s a nightmare. Layering becomes a necessity, bringing with it the possibility of overheating and dreaded sweat. Or worse of all, the likelihood that your one and only winter coat is going to become the signature piece of any look, no matter what day it is.
On the other hand, those of you out there who enjoy the winter months will probably find all these points appealing and only serve to whet your appetite for further temperature drops. And at the end of the day, that’s what makes clothing, fashion and style so interesting – each to his (or her) own.
However, regardless of your opinion of the coming winter, the main flaw in most men’s autumn/winter style game is not tailoring their wardrobe to the season. Because it doesn’t matter if you enjoy layering or not, if you’ve picked the wrong fabric you’re just making your life harder.
This is what my next set of articles will aim to address. Not only do you get the excitement of unveiling a new wardrobe when you utilise seasonal pieces, but you get added comfort and longevity out of everything you purchase too. Furthermore, seasonal pieces often work better as separates and are more versatile than the standard ‘four season’ fabrics that are pedalled at most high street stores.
With this in mind, in my opinion, chief amongst these autumn/winter fabrics is tweed.
A rough, unfinished woollen fabric coming in either plain or twill weave, it’s been used to keep people warm for over 100 years. Traditionally used for upper class country-clothing like shooting jackets, tweed became popular among the Edwardian middle classes who associated it with the leisurely pursuits of the elite. It’s tough, durable and due to the way that’s it’s weaved can have all kinds of colours or patterns incorporated into it – such as houndstooth or windowpane check.
And due to its resurgence within men’s fashion over the past couple of years, you can now find a wide variety of pieces made from tweed at varying price points, whether it’s a Harris tweed driver’s cap or a pair of brown Donegal tweed suit trousers.
Here are a few of my favourite tweed pieces that I enjoy incorporating into my own personal autumn/winter looks. I’d suggest, if you have the money to do so, to purchase a tweed three-piece in a neutral colour such as navy, grey or brown. Each of these contains every tweed piece you could possibly need as a separate, with the added bonus of ensuring that they will be exactly the same colour, tone and texture.
Every guy should own a tweed blazer for the colder months. It works effortlessly with everything that you already have in your wardrobe and can stand up to some serious wear and tear.
They look best when paired with other durable materials like denim or corduroy but can still complement a dressy pair of chinos or suit trousers.
They are also a great way to introduce a pattern into your look. I currently own a brown houndstooth check jacket from Reiss that I often pair with a rumpled Oxford cloth shirt in blue/pink and a pair of raw selvedge indigo/black jeans. I finish it all off with a knitted silk tie and a classic pair of black loafers.
You could always swap the jeans for a pair of navy chinos and the shirt for a grey chambray version, for a more contemporary urban take. However, try to avoid wearing it with just a t-shirt – it is such a waste of a great tailored, structured piece of clothing.
Why not try out a pair of tweed trousers? They are super versatile and crazy comfortable too. I purchased a pair of grey herringbone trousers a few years ago, and they are just liking wear pyjamas (only warmer).
Again, you can pair them with other durable fabrics – like a denim shirt or a corduroy jacket – but why not mix things up a little bit and introduce some luxury? Polo necks are making a mini-comeback this season and, so long as it fits and is in a neutral or complementing colour, can really bring out the refined history that is woven into the fabric of tweed.
With a dressier pair of boots, this is a really simple look to pull off and can be worn just about anywhere on the weekend.
However, the most versatile piece of all tweed garments has to go to the waistcoat – there really is nothing that it can’t be paired with. Try to avoid going for any pattern or odd colour here, because more often than not it will be layered between other pieces; a bold pattern or colour just adds another layer of complication to the visual experience.
Opt for something in grey, navy or black and then wear the hell out of it! I like to wear mine as a contrasting piece within my winter suits, so a grey waistcoat will be paired with my navy wool suit (and vica versa) to add depth to my look. It goes great with a plaid shirt and jeans on the weekend or even with some olive chinos and a washed out, beat up Levi’s trucker jacket for those long days outside watching the game.
So there you have it guys, a few reasons to consider purchasing a more tweed items this season, and how to wear them when you do.
Of course, tweed does have it cons: It’s not ideal for more heavyset or overweight men due to its weight and structure, and it does have the ability to absorb a wide array of smells. However, in comparison to the durability, versatility and sartorial points it can add to your wardrobe (not to mention the game changer that is Febreze) it’s a small price to pay.
Next week: Corduroy!