We face a dilemma. Or at least I do. Whilst the world of menswear has decided that it is now summer, the sun is shining and that it definitely didn’t just try to snow this morning, in the real world, it definitely did just try to snow this morning, it is really quite chilly and it isn’t going to be getting any warmer for a while yet.
In this transitional period, when the high street is pushing lightweight chinos, loafers and linen, we are all still wrapping up in a winter coats, pulling on our boots and dealing with a runny nose. However, the biggest problem we face is weather inconsistency. Too many layers on one day might leave you needing a good wringing out, but take too many off and the next day you’re shivering from dawn till dusk.
The solution? Intelligent garment choice and effective layering.
Despite the fact that we’ve only just breached February, it can often be too mild and muggy to be traipsing around in your big winter coat – especially if you’re going to be doing a lot of exercise. Wearing the right fabrics and taking note of Matt’s excellent series of articles on the basics of layering will make all the difference.
A lightweight jacket is an essential piece of a man’s wardrobe. Here in Britain we spend far too long in the confusing time between seasons for us to be able to rely solely on winter coats and summer jackets. A lightweight field jacket is one of the best options you have; (mostly) waterproof, wind proof, warm but not overly heavy they fill the void between our cold weather gear and warm weather outerwear.
If I could offer only one piece of advice, it would be this: forget everyone else. Don’t think about their popularity, don’t pay any attention to the fools that own a Barbour and haven’t got a clue where it came from or how to wear it. YOU have bought into a brand, not the people around it.
The likes of Belstaff and Barbour have years of rich heritage and make great quality items that look good and will last forever. Dave down the pub with his white trainers and bootcut jeans doesn’t understand it (stand next to him and show him up), but there is still no room for complacency – make sure you wear your jacket right and everyone else will fall by the wayside.
The belted waxed jacket is a classic style; versatile, sharp and easy to wear. It’s also a great way to keep heritage influences cemented in your look as we begin to move away from the heavy fabrics and textures of autumn/winter.
A shirt paired with slim leg denim is a clean, simple and great go-to look for any aspiring sartorial gentleman. But whilst this is all well and good, you could try to take things up a notch.
In this instance a striped, print or patterned shirt would be a fantastic way to introduce some individuality and create a focal point. A simple gingham check is a solid base but you could go much further with a navy/white polka dot, bolder stripes, unique motifs or even camouflage.
With the shirt anchored by the jacket, denim and simple boots/loafers you can show off your playful side without throwing it in everyone’s face.
Think a little outside the box and you’ll find yourself both standing out from the crowd and getting the odd appreciative nod of respect.
The field jacket doesn’t have to be all about heritage. I wrote recently about the benefits of not being a one look man – being able to appreciate the style of others, even if it is a big step away from what you’re used to, is a very important part of style development. If you can then begin to incorporate elements of that style into your own look then you’ve really taken things to another level.
As much as we have a love/hate relationship with camouflage, I don’t think it’s going to be going anywhere for a while. The jacket from A.P.C below is a great way to incorporate some camo into your own wardrobe. Camo on outerwear is much more widely accepted and doesn’t appear quite so fashion forward in comparison with camo chinos or a shirt, so it’s a fantastic place to start.
Keep the rest of the outfit simple – we keep saying it but it really does work – with a pair of navy chinos, a plain sweatshirt and desert boots. These pieces will help ground the outfit and keep the aesthetic firmly casual.
Roll up those chinos a bit to flash some sock and you’ve got an easy, multi-influenced outfit that is sure to get you noticed.
If you really want to show off your confidence, styling ability and fashion forward ideas why not try mixing aesthetics? A khaki field jacket is the kind of thing you may traditionally associate with the homeless man that talks to himself on the high street or the backs of many a hipster, but when you take it out of its normal context you can create some really interesting contrasts.
Try taking a leaf out of the Italian sartorial playbook by mixing sharp tailoring and classic knitwear with something completely unexpected. A fine knit roll neck in a neutral colour is both refined and on trend, whilst tailored trousers and a pair of loafers provides a fantastic mix of casual and formal that would most certainly earn you a high five from me.
Don’t be afraid to mix up the colours – why not try a burgundy or camel roll neck with grey trousers? It really is up to you how bold you go, but I would advise restraint and let the mix of styles do all the talking.
Below are a few current season field jackets. However, we all know that they can be expensive, particularly from the likes of Barbour and Belstaff.
Therefore, take note of our recent coverage of vintage shopping, do some searching around and pick yourself up a bargain – a little bit of elbow grease will breathe new life into an old waxed jacket and have it looking as good as new in no time at all.
So there we have a short round-up of the field jacket. Remember that a field jacket doesn’t always have to be a Barbour jacket and it doesn’t always have to be waxed cotton. If you find something a bit more unique you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else and might even find that it’s easier to wear.
As always, I want to hear what you think, so let me know your thoughts on the field jacket and the transitional season in the comments section below.