Fluctuating temperatures, remnants of summer sunshine, sudden barrages of rain and the occasional dusting of frost and snow, say hello to British autumn – it certainly knows how to put us through our paces.
With such fickle elements to contend with, dressing for the season can be something of a sartorial conundrum; how do you handle this unpredictable shift in the seasons? To quote the rather solid motto of the boy scouts, “always be prepared”.
In this brief guide, we cover the essential prerequisites to survive the British autumn in style…
Quite obviously, a sensible waterproof is the most vital investment for autumn in the British Isles. Whether you choose a mac, trench or parka, you should opt for a durable and fit-for-purpose fabric – waxed or rubberised cottons are ideal due to their water-repellent qualities.
Pick a longer style that covers you down to at least mid-thigh – remember that this piece is the first barrier between the elements and your clothes beneath. There are some great British heritage brands, such as Burberry, Aquascutum and Mackintosh, that couple centuries of fabric engineering expertise with intelligent and aesthetically-pleasing design.
The Nordic nations also know a thing or two about wet weather, and brands such as Stutterheim and Norwegian Rain take influence from practical fisherman’s apparel, who face the worst Mother Nature has to throw at them whilst at sea.
A good mac should have bonded seams and a drawstring hood, and should sit comfortably over your clothes. It shouldn’t be too fitted, as you may wish to wear it with a several layers of knitwear and shirting when the temperature drops. If you opt for a classic trench, go for a modern lean-fit and ageless shade that will transcend seasonal trends.
- Rains Waterproof Rain Jacket In Navy
- Selected Trench Coat
- Cheap Monday Bart Parka Jacket In Black
- Aquascutum Sheerwater Single Breasted Raincoat
- Universal Works Parka
- Esprit Coat
- Moncler Gauffier Parka Coat 154864
- Mackintosh Dunkeld Handmade Bonded-cotton Rain Coat
- Paul Smith London Double-breasted Twill Trench Coat
The Cotton Knit
Early autumn is often too warm for thick woollens, making a skilfully knitted cotton jumper or cardigan ideal for layering or removing as the temperature dictates.
A fine-gauge, chunky cable knit or waffle weave are all great options, and will pair well with Oxford shirts and basic tees. Knitwear has re-entered the fashion arena with a fresh energy in recent years, with traditional heritage styles enjoying a design renaissance.
Not only will cotton knits serve the practical purpose of preserving heat, they’ll also bring a tactile element to your autumn look. Almost every brand from high street to high end offers a great range of cotton knits – some key names to look out for include AMI, NN.07, American Apparel, Uniqlo, Chauncey and Albam.
- American Apparel Fishermans Pullover
- Allsaints Callisto Crew Jumper
- Asos Twisted Yarn Jumper
- He By Mango Shawl Collar Cotton Cardigan
- Uniqlo Men Light Weight V-neck Long Sleeve Cardigan
- J. Crew Cotton V-neck Sweater
- Nn.07 Roger Striped Loopback Cotton-jersey Sweater
- Reiss Pilot Textured Cotton Knit Black
- Ami Knitted Linen And Cotton-blend Sweater
The Sturdy Boot
With damp, leaf-strewn and frost-ridden pavements to tackle, autumn underfoot can be a hazardous affair, making a solid pair of boots imperative. It’s worth considering investing in a pair of handmade boots – if they’re well cared for and taken to a reputable cobbler when needed, they can last you for decades.
Opt for a thick leather, lace-up design that will provide the most support to your feet. Rubber grip soles are best – they will help you keep sure-footed and form an effective insulation barrier between the cold ground and your precious toes.
Tan or black leather versions are the most versatile, as they won’t be limited to wearing with just casual chinos and denim; they also look great with a pair of tailored tweed trousers. On cold days, complete the look with a pair of thick, twisted-yarn socks in a contrast tone, rolling your hems neatly to show them off for a natty flourish.
Brands like Zara, Fracap, Grenson and ASOS all offer styles to suit every taste and every pocket.
- Reiss Marx Brogue Boots Ox Blood
- Red Wing 6-inch Moc Boots
- Asos Workboot In Leather
- He By Mango Lace-up Leather Ankle Boots
- Ben Sherman Keez 6-eye Boots
- Scanzo Tc Boot Oliver Sweeney
- Campanile Class Leather Brogue Boots 166808
- Loake Commando Brogue Boots
- Grenson Fred Textured-leather Brogue Boots
Sometimes, a hooded mac just isn’t smart enough to suffice – but protection from the elements is still required. A quality umbrella should be viewed as a fundamental part of an urban gent’s uniform that can complement a look as well as serve a purpose.
It’s no coincidence, with our vast experience of rain, that Britain has some of the finest umbrella makers in the world. A hand-crafted wood-framed style is a sound investment – go for a windproof and lightweight construction with a timeless black or navy canopy, or if you’re of a more dapper disposition, a muted check design.
Entering the New Oxford Street premises of James Smith and Sons, one of London’s finest umbrella makers, transports you back to an age where craftsmanship and the pursuit of perfection were the hallmarks of British design. The 183-year-old company produces a vast array of traditional city umbrellas and novel animal head styles for the discerning gent.
Offering a more contemporary selection, London Undercover provides a stylish and design-led range that doesn’t compromise on quality. More wallet friendly, yet still dependable, are Fulton umbrellas, which incorporate ingenious automatic opening and closing mechanisms into their designs.
- Alexander Mcqueen Rib Cage Handle Umbrella 156514
- Paul Smith – Accessories Mens Umb5 Walking Stick Umbrella – Black
- Brooks Brothers Wooden-handle Umbrella
- London Undercover Double-layered Check Umbrella
- London Undercover Double-layered Blackwatch Umbrella
- Fulton Hunstman Tartan Umbrella Navy Multi
Autumn can still produce a prolific amount of sunshine that will warrant a pair of stylish sunglasses. Luckily, you’re quite likely to have your leftover shades from summer, but if not, consider investing in a pair of tortoiseshell acetate sunglasses or metal-framed aviators – they’ll never date and you’ll get good use from them throughout the forthcoming spring/summer seasons.
Stateside brand Oliver Peoples, British labels Hentsch Man, Jeepers Peepers, ASOS and Linda Farrow and Dutch brand Ace & Tate all offer great options.
- Ray-ban Polarized Aviator Sunglasses
- Dita Two-tone Gold Avocet Sunglasses
- Oliver Peoples Copter Polarised Metal Aviator Sunglasses
- Cutler And Gross D-frame Tortoiseshell Acetate Sunglasses
- Cutler And Gross D-frame Acetate Sunglasses
- Illesteva Le Steel Round-frame Lightweight-metal Sunglasses
The Lightweight Scarf
It may seem a little premature to be considering wrapping up at this stage, but a lightweight scarf will prove a smart sartorial companion for the autumn season. Not only will it provide protection against rogue breezes, but it can also be used to add interest to the rest of your look.
Whether you choose to don a fine cotton-wool blend, or a vintage printed silk style, they’ll look great wrapped around the neckline of a mac or chunky cotton knit. Try Drakes, H&M, Paul Smith, Topman and Mr Porter for some smart options.
- Topman Burgundy Mid Weight Scarf
- Paul Smith Silk Scarf
- Allsaints Wreck Scarf
- Drakes Polka-dot Wool And Silk-blend Scarf
- Ted Baker Ourkit – Printed Dot Scarf
- Ben Sherman Paisley Print Silk Scarf
- Allsaints Osumi Scarf
- Marwood Printed Wool And Silk-blend Scarf
- Reiss Cambridge Polka Dot Dress Scarf Olive
When considering your wardrobe, don’t neglect your skin. With harsh winds and crisp sunlight on the cards, your epidermis can take a hit in the autumn months.
Invest in a good quality moisturiser to begin your day properly. Go for one with enriching and hydrating ingredients such as vitamins E and C and a SPF of at least fifteen to protect your skin against sharp breezes and damaging UV rays.
- Daily Moisture Defence Lotion Spf15 50ml
- Jack Black Double Duty Face Moisturiser 97ml
- Clinique M Protect Spf21 100ml
- Loreal Men Expert Hydra Energetic Daily Moisturiser 50ml
- Elemis Men Daily Moisture Boost 50ml
- Biotherm High Recharge Day Cream 50ml
With summer on the wane and the nights drawing in, autumn need not be a dispiriting time for your wardrobe as well as your soul. Whilst it may be time to pack away the Aloha shirts and linen shorts, this transitional period opens a wealth of opportunities for your dressing regimen.
Just remember that in the face of changeable elements, practicality is the key factor to consider – layer up with lightweight pieces that can easily be added or removed and, most importantly, invest in some sturdy footwear and quality waterproofing.