Introduction

As winter finally relents and we prepare ourselves for spring, the awkward in-between period continues to make our lives difficult. With the temperature and weather fluctuating by the hour, never mind the day, making the right sartorial choices is by no means straightforward and the British climate can quickly catch you out.

Yet with a bit of know-how and some key pieces at your disposal, the transitional season offers you the chance to really showcase your styling acumen by utilising creative layering techniques and a blend of seasonal essentials/trends to produce stylish and practical looks on a daily basis…

‘Unseasonal’ Fabric Pairings

Blurring the lines between your cold- and warm-weather wardrobes and pairing fabrics of opposite ilk can solve many transitional problems in an instant.

This technique does require some careful management though. It’s not a case of pairing the lightest linen you can find with the toughest tweed and being done with it. Extreme juxtapositions can jar and often make it look as though you just grabbed the nearest clothing you could find before rushing out of the house.

Instead, look to take a subtler approach by way of fabric blends. For example, cotton-linen construction remains lightweight and breathable but is sturdier in its appearance than pure linen (less wrinkles) and therefore pairs well with wool or cord, which will help to bolster your attire against inclement weather.

More luxurious blends that combine two or more of wool, cashmere, silk and linen are, of course, ideal but these often come at a higher price point and are not suitable for those on a budget.

In terms of wardrobe staples that all men should own, leather and denim transition particularly well through the seasons and complement both heavy and light fabrics – making them solid options for the winter-spring period.

Transitional Season Lookbook Inspiration

The lookbook below shows how to expertly pair heavyweight materials with breathable fabrics to produce looks that can adjust instantly to the current climate.

For example, take note of how rugged leather is balanced by delicate cotton tees, raw indigo denim is offset by linen-blend blazers and luxe suede bombers are combined with lightweight shorts/chinos without jarring or compromising the overall aesthetic:

Men's Transitional Season Casual Outfits - Juxtaposing Winter and Summer Fabrics

he by mango ss14massimo dutti march 2014h&m ss13he by mango september 2012reiss ss13reiss ss14ben sherman ss12gant rugger ss14ted baker ss14he by mango 2011 Strellson ss14Todd Snyder ss14
Get the Look

Prepare for all eventualities by combining leather with linen. A timeless essential and key SS14 silhouette, the biker jacket adds an edge to any outfit and offers true protection from the elements, should the wind pick up or you get caught in a spring shower.

These days, white trousers are considered a year-round piece and this linen-cotton blend pair is breathable yet sturdy, balancing the leather nicely.

Finish with a simple long sleeve top and some burnished boots that help bring a bit more weight to your lower half:

  • United Colors Of Benetton Long Sleeve TopUnited Colors Of Benetton Long Sleeve Top
  • Allsaints Griffin Leather Biker JacketAllsaints Griffin Leather Biker Jacket
  • Hackett Tapered Cotton And Linen-blend TrousersHackett Tapered Cotton And Linen-blend Trousers
  • John Varvatos Leather Chukka Boot 181986John Varvatos Leather Chukka Boot 181986

Easily removable layers make the transitional season infinitely easier to negotiate, especially when used in conjunction with lightweight fabrics.

A gilet under a blazer has developed into a go-to combination for fashion forward gents over recent years and offers scope to switch the pieces around if the weather dictates.

A printed shirt keeps the outfit firmly casual, as do some light wash jeans – consider rolling the hems a couple of times to show off the desert boots.

This mix of technical fabrics along with light and heavyweight pieces helps create an adaptable look that is full of depth and suited to the winter-spring period in every way:

  • Reiss Palm Print Long Sleeved Shirt TaupeReiss Palm Print Long Sleeved Shirt Taupe
  • Richard James Slim-fit Linen Cotton And Silk-blend BlazerRichard James Slim-fit Linen Cotton And Silk-blend Blazer
  • Uniqlo Men Ultra Light Down Vest / GiletUniqlo Men Ultra Light Down Vest / Gilet
  • Allsaints Bryant BeltAllsaints Bryant Belt
  • Asos Slim Jeans In Japanese Selvedge Vintage WashAsos Slim Jeans In Japanese Selvedge Vintage Wash
  • Topman Dune Brown Suede Desert Boots Topman Dune Brown Suede Desert Boots
Key Styles
  • Reiss Ivor Ribbed Crew Neck Jumper StoneReiss Ivor Ribbed Crew Neck Jumper Stone
  • Canali Kei Slim-fit Linen And Silk-blend BlazerCanali Kei Slim-fit Linen And Silk-blend Blazer
  • Rake Suede Flight Jacket 189172Rake Suede Flight Jacket 189172
  • Topman Burgundy And Grey Mix Tapered Skinny TrousersTopman Burgundy And Grey Mix Tapered Skinny Trousers
  • Givenchy Fine Wool And Mohair-blend TrousersGivenchy Fine Wool And Mohair-blend Trousers
  • Slowear Glanshirt Slim-fit Linen And Cotton-blend ShirtSlowear Glanshirt Slim-fit Linen And Cotton-blend Shirt
Key Outerwear: The Lightweight Coat

With the industry pushing long length jackets/coats for SS14, you should definitely consider getting in on this trend early. With the seasonal shift looming, a long, protective top layer that is breathable and doesn’t add bulk to your silhouette is ideal.

A classic mac or trench adds a timeless and refined touch any ensemble, formal or casual. And with some clever layering and fabric combinations, it has the potential to become your outerwear go-to all year round.

Shorter gents who are conscious of their height don’t have to go all the way with a knee length cut – a style that finishes a couple of inches past the waist offers adequate protection in all but the most unfavourable of conditions while simultaneously giving the illusion of longer legs.

Over the coming weeks, expect to see more classic overcoats being reworked in lighter fabrics and bolder hues. Find your perfect style and then wear it right through to next winter.

Transitional Season Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Long Length, Lightweight Mac/Trench Outfit Inspiration Lookbook - Transitional Season

debenhams hammond and co ss14tommy hilfiger tailored ss14massimo dutti march 2014gant ss14saturdays surf nyc 2012burtons ss14he by mango ss14drykorn ss13ti for men ss13Todd Snyder ss14ben sherman australia aw14m&s ss14
Get The Look

Protect yourself from April showers in style by giving the mac a renewed place in your wardrobe. Waterproof, sartorially adept and lightweight, it will instantly take any look up a notch while keeping you and your outfit dry.

Here we combine it with a classic ribbed knit jumper, cotton chinos and tassel loafers to create a timeless ensemble that will never date.

This look can be quickly modified for high summer by swapping the chinos for shorts and/or the jumper for a plain tee/shirt:

  • Reiss Ivor Ribbed Crew Neck JumperReiss Ivor Ribbed Crew Neck Jumper
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Premium Cotton ChinosHe By Mango Slim-fit Premium Cotton Chinos
  • Peter Werth MacPeter Werth Mac
  • Reiss Culross Hand Finished Tassel Loafers TanReiss Culross Hand Finished Tassel Loafers Tan

With the long jacket trend already trickling down to the high street, take full advantage and invest in an unstructured overcoat to help carry you through not only SS14, but many more transitional periods to come.

Bulk up a timeless design with some expert layering or opt for a bold coloured version and make it the focal point of your look.

Here, a polo shirt, jeans and trainers pairing is every day, simple stuff but the overcoat elevates it a level, sartorially speaking, and ensures you are ready to tackle anything Mother Nature throws at you:

  • John Smedley Noah Polo ShirtJohn Smedley Noah Polo Shirt
  • A.p.c. Unstructured Woven-linen OvercoatA.p.c. Unstructured Woven-linen Overcoat
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Dark Wash Tim JeansHe By Mango Slim-fit Dark Wash Tim Jeans
  • Common Projects Leather Slip-on SneakersCommon Projects Leather Slip-on Sneakers
Key Styles
  • Asos Belted MacAsos Belted Mac
  • Reiss Curzon Concealed Placket Mac GreyReiss Curzon Concealed Placket Mac Grey
  • He By Mango Waterproof Cotton-blend Trench CoatHe By Mango Waterproof Cotton-blend Trench Coat
  • Topman Peter Werth Twyford Yarn Dyed Check Raincoat Topman Peter Werth Twyford Yarn Dyed Check Raincoat
  • River Island Navy Smart Short MacRiver Island Navy Smart Short Mac
  • Ted Baker Trencie Debonair Trench CoatTed Baker Trencie Debonair Trench Coat
Key Layering Piece: The Gilet

After spending extended time in the style wilderness, the gilet has seen its popularity skyrocket after the industry realised that fitted, lightly padding versions could play a key role in the modern gent’s wardrobe.

And when it comes to dressing for the transitional season, there aren’t many pieces that are as versatile and practical as the gilet.

Rightfully earning its ‘essential layering piece’ label, the gilet’s lack of sleeves allows it to be utilised as both a mid or top layer, depending on personal preference and the aesthetic you are trying to achieve.

Not only that, the aforementioned new era versions are also cut extremely slim, meaning they will not add unnecessary bulk to your frame and can even be combined with smart tailoring or formal wear.

Transitional Season Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Gilets - Transitional Season Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

massimo dutti december 2013j lindebergdigel 2012he by mango ss14suitsupply ss13pepe jeans aw14minimal winter 2013j crew pre aw13he by mango ss14
Get the Look

Simple and stylish, layer a gilet over an on trend roll neck. If the wind is really biting, you could even pop your lightweight overcoat over the top. For those still not convinced by the trend, a sports coat or denim jacket would make a suitable alternative.

Khaki chinos in tapered fit and a pair of tan Chelsea boots finish off this suave, smart-casual look:

  • John Smedley Belvoir Rollneck Merino Wool SweaterJohn Smedley Belvoir Rollneck Merino Wool Sweater
  • He By Mango Padded GiletHe By Mango Padded Gilet
  • Allsaints Pipe ChinoAllsaints Pipe Chino
  • Topman Bertie Chelsea Boots Topman Bertie Chelsea Boots

Harness the layering power of the gilet by slipping it in-between your shirt and jacket.

With two easily removable layers (which wouldn’t dramatically alter the aesthetic of the outfit once taken off), this ensemble is open to changes midway through the day – just don’t forget to take a bag to store them away.

Loafers are great for bringing a touch of elegance to your off-duty looks and can be combined with a colourful/patterned sock for an individual twist:

  • Browns Cotton Flannel ShirtBrowns Cotton Flannel Shirt
  • Allsaints Esuka Denim JacketAllsaints Esuka Denim Jacket
  • Uniqlo Men Ultra Light Down Vest / GiletUniqlo Men Ultra Light Down Vest / Gilet
  • Reiss Medway Classic Twill Chinos GreyReiss Medway Classic Twill Chinos Grey
  • Bresciani Knee-length Fine Cotton SocksBresciani Knee-length Fine Cotton Socks
  • Oliver Spencer Leather Tassel Loafer 188854Oliver Spencer Leather Tassel Loafer 188854
Key Styles
  • Raging Bull Signature Gilet ClaretRaging Bull Signature Gilet Claret
  • He By Mango Foldable Quilted GiletHe By Mango Foldable Quilted Gilet
  • Moncler Ribay Quilted Gilet 167754Moncler Ribay Quilted Gilet 167754
  • Topman Bellfield Froya Khaki Gilet Topman Bellfield Froya Khaki Gilet
  • Allsaints Kane Leather GiletAllsaints Kane Leather Gilet
  • Alfred Dunhill Ascot Corduroy-trimmed Quilted GiletAlfred Dunhill Ascot Corduroy-trimmed Quilted Gilet
Key Piece: The Chunky/Textured Knit

A good chunky knit needn’t be packed away as soon as winter ends. Of course, substantial, heavyweight wool versions aren’t going to transition well into the warmer months, but the versatility of cashmere-linen blends and the like shouldn’t be underestimated.

Cardigans, in particular, can be utilised as an outerwear replacement during the transitional period, and during summer they remain a great option for when the temperature dips in the evening.

In contrast to lightweight fabrics such as cotton and madras, chunky knitwear also helps bring a tactile touch to any look – something that is often neglected in our attempt to stay cool.

Making use of chunky knits during the transitional period supports the case for developing a year round wardrobe, rather than creating a clear division between your autumn/winter and spring/summer clothing. A jumper makes for an interesting base layer during the colder months, but it can look equally as good as a standalone piece when paired with shorts in summer.

Realistically, with the climate unpredictable throughout the year here in the UK, ensuring your entire wardrobe remains accessible really does prove a huge help when pulling together interesting outfits that are both stylish and functional.

Transitional Season Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Chunky Knitwear - Transitional Season Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

new look ss14zara man aw12m&s best of british ss14boomerang ss14allsaints aw13next ss14mac denim ss13pepe jeans ss13ami ss13ami ss14gant rugger aw13j crew aw13
Get the Look

Combine many of the aspects touched on in this guide by making use of unseasonal fabric pairings, a lightweight long length coat and a piece of chunky knitwear.

A waterproof mac in a cotton-blend gives the outfit its practical appeal while a ribbed jumper and seersucker trouser combination adds character and texture.

Finish on a structured note with tan leather Derby shoes:

  • Nerve Ribbed Knit Jumper Ox BloodNerve Ribbed Knit Jumper Ox Blood
  • He By Mango Waterproof Cotton-blend Trench CoatHe By Mango Waterproof Cotton-blend Trench Coat
  • Richard James Cotton-seersucker Suit TrousersRichard James Cotton-seersucker Suit Trousers
  • Grenson Toby Leather Derby ShoesGrenson Toby Leather Derby Shoes

Leap forward to the summer-autumn transition and use your chunky knitwear as an outerwear replacement.

A cable knit cardigan layered over a t-shirt and shorts combination prepares you for a sudden temperature drop come the evening, but is easily removed and tied around your shoulders/waist if the sun comes out.

A pair of streamlined, minimalist trainers should be in every man’s wardrobe and they suit this dressed down outfit perfectly:

  • Allsaints Baltis Tonic Crew T-shirtAllsaints Baltis Tonic Crew T-shirt
  • Asos Cable CardiganAsos Cable Cardigan
  • J.crew 9 Stanton Cotton-twill ShortsJ.crew 9 Stanton Cotton-twill Shorts
  • Gianvito Rossi Leather Low-top Trainers 188076Gianvito Rossi Leather Low-top Trainers 188076
Key Pieces
  • Allsaints Rok Knitted Bomber JacketAllsaints Rok Knitted Bomber Jacket
  • Reiss Drive Button Through Cardi StoneReiss Drive Button Through Cardi Stone
  • River Island Ecru Double Breasted Cable Knit CardiganRiver Island Ecru Double Breasted Cable Knit Cardigan
  • Asos Chevron JumperAsos Chevron Jumper
  • Burberry Brit Seddon Cable-knit Striped Sweater 182938Burberry Brit Seddon Cable-knit Striped Sweater 182938
  • Faconnable Cable And Ribbed-knit Cotton And Cashmere-blend CardiganFaconnable Cable And Ribbed-knit Cotton And Cashmere-blend Cardigan
Final Word

The transitional period is renowned for being awkward to dress for. However, with the right fabric combinations and key pieces, the process proves far less challenging.

Opening up your wardrobe to both sides of the seasonal shift is certainly a key point to take away here. Just because the summer is coming, don’t box up your chunky knits and leathers for another six months, they can still play a key role, especially for those of us who currently reside in countries with unpredictable climates.

But now we want to hear your thoughts: have you got a top tip for beating the transitional season in style? And what fabrics/pieces do you continue to reach for during the winter-spring period?

Let us know in the comments section…