Single-digit temperatures means it’s time to stow your linen. Swap fair-weather fabrics for heavyweight options that pack a chill-beating punch, to ensure you’re never caught off guard. Even when you’re blindsided by the forecast.
Cashmere’s expensive, but your investment pays dividends. It’s three times as insulating as wool, meaning you don’t need bulky layers to stay warm, and it’s an unalloyed pleasure against your skin, since the hair fibres are super-fine; proper cashmere is less than 19 microns thick – around a quarter the width of human hair.
That is, so long as it is unalloyed. You can tell the good stuff by rubbing it between your fingers. If it feels oily, it’s cut with lambswool, so don’t pay premium prices.
While that cashmere overcoat remains a dream, stick to accessories. A scarf in cashmere – or a wool-cashmere blend, if your budget’s tight – will protect you from winter’s worst and offer a contrast to the textures in your tailoring.
Alternatively, Uniqlo’s incomprehensibly affordable cashmere sweaters will keep you toasty without burning through your savings. If you’ve more money to play with, British brand N.Peal comes recommended by 007 himself.
When you can’t spring for cashmere, reach for merino. Shorn from the eponymous sheep, the wool’s almost as fine as the spendier stuff, at 24 microns for basic merino, down to 12 microns for the superfine versions. It’s also breathable and super-absorbent, making it the perfect base layer. Just ask the cyclists who prefer it to space-age materials.
But it’s not just good in sportswear. A merino roll neck will regulate your body heat on those tricky-to-dress-for transitional days – again, Uniqlo should be your first port of call for versions as flattering to your physique as your wallet.
Or for something simpler, surf brand Finisterre’s merino tees are the ideal layering piece, whether you’re hitting the waves or a chilly beer garden.
Your geography teacher’s favourite fabric is now fashion-forward, thanks in part to Wes Anderson’s ubiquity on designer’s mood boards. Match your fit to his; suits cut with breathing room in a narrow wale (that’s the space between the ridges), which will give your tailoring some texture and banish any thoughts of oxbow lakes.
A thicker wale means a heavier fabric, which traps more heat. Save Grand Canyon ridges for outerwear – a trucker jacket with a sherpa lining ticks off two trends (shearling was unavoidable on the autumn/winter 2015 runways) without denting your pocket.
Flannel’s distinctive appearance comes courtesy of fine metal brushes, which are run over the fabric to create a ‘nap’ – the raised fibres that give the material its softness. Beyond texture, the lifted material traps air and heat, making it the ideal counter to plunging mercury.
It’s the staple winter suit fabric, since its cold-weather credentials are bolstered by a matte appearance suited to greyer skies. With central heating and public transport putting paid to the true winter suit, opt for a for lighter fabric – 10-11oz – for tailoring you can wear from autumn to spring.
Before Thomas Burberry’s textile breakthrough in 1879, waterproof clothing was rubberised, which kept the rain out, but the sweat – and smells – in. His approach treated the fabric before it was woven, making it breathable without compromising protection from the elements. The development helped the Burberry trench coat become an iconic piece of outerwear.
Today, gabardine is synonymous with durability. Gabardine suits are hard-wearing and hold their shape, ideal for damp commutes when you want to avoid arriving at the office wrinkled. Certain blends are even machine washable, for those days when you can’t seem to avoid the puddles.