In the immortal words of Ned Stark: “winter is coming.” And with that, comes the making of your cold-weather wardrobe.
For many men, nervously navigating this sartorial minefield is a fear far greater than any army of white walkers. Here are a few pointers on the pitfalls that can be easily avoided.
Baring Your Mankles
The trend for going ‘sans sock’ has held steadfast for many a summer season, with your ankles likely having enjoyed unbridled freedom right through the warmer months.
Sometimes, though, function trumps fashion (crazy, we know). As balmy breeze makes way for Baltic bite, not only will the cutting winter wind climb right up your trouser leg, cold-weather conditions will also ravage the skin on your ankles. Keep this up year on year and your godforsaken lower legs will swiftly resemble something hanging in a butcher shop window.
But there’s no reason you can’t cover up and still be cock of the walk. Brands like The Workers Club and Anonymous Ism offer stylish sock solutions in a generous selection of colours and patterns to suit a wide variety of tastes. If you favour something more traditional, then Uniqlo is your high street go-to for neutral options in seasonally-appropriate heavy gauges.
Or, pull on a pair of boots and avoid having to think about how your socks sit with the rest of your outfit altogether. “Winter is the perfect time to invest in a pair of boots,” says menswear stylist Suzie Street. “A Chelsea boot is ideal for the office, a brogue great for smart-casual occasions and a thicker-soled hiking style perfect for the weekends.”
The Fix: Heavy-Gauge Socks & Boots
- Anonymous Ism Knitted Donegal Socks
- Anonymous Ism Marled Cotton-blend Socks
- The Workers Club Marled Merino Wool-blend Socks
- Hugo Boss Boot Socks
- John Lewis & Co. Cable Knit Boot Socks
- Topman Grey Texture Pattern Boot Sock
- Nn.07 Wool-blend Socks
- Uniqlo Men Colour Socks
- Reiss Cash Ribbed Socks Navy
- R.m. Williams Leather Chelsea Boots
- Okeeffe Algy Split-toe Leather Boots
- Grenson Alfred Brogue Boot
- Topman Tan Leather Brogue Boots
- Reiss Tenor Chelsea Boots Black
- New Look Boot In Faux Leather
Nippy as it might be, the drop in temperature affords you the opportunity to play with several more items per look. Which is good news if summer’s pared-back tees and shorts combos were sending you to sleep.
The colder seasons are a chance to add texture and interest to your outfit. But take care not to get too carried away with your layering. One of the main offenders is wearing a heavyweight knit underneath tailoring. It’s important to remember that a well-cut suit jacket or blazer is designed to flatter your form, and although that fisherman’s jumper you picked up in that Swedish thrift store may look great on its own, worn under a jacket, not only will it be uncomfortable, you’ll also look like the Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.
The rules are simple, really. The more layers you’re sporting, the lighter the gauge (or the density) of your knits should be. For the weekend, waste no time in pulling on that chunky cable knit jumper or heavyweight roll neck over a tee. But, during the working week, try layering fine-gauge cotton or merino wool versions underneath your blazer instead.
The Fix: Efficient Layering
Falling Foul Of Function
After an hour of painstakingly starching their shirt and polishing their leather Derby shoes, certain basic bros think it’s acceptable to throw on a very, very sad, several-year-old fleece for their commute, or team brashly branded chunky sports gloves with a tailored suit. The devil is in the detail, gentlemen, and one ugly technical piece can ruin the outfit you spent so much time laying out on the bed the night before.
“A simple thermal layer under your everyday wear is much better than functional clothing choices that lack flair or style,” says Street. Uniqlo’s HeatTech range is practical yet discreet and comprises fitted tees, vests and long johns (yes, you read that right – just like granddad wears) designed to be worn comfortably, and without destroying your silhouette.
As for outerwear that performs on both fashion and function counts, the classic down-filled gilet is a practical piece that’s stood the test of time, with this season’s advocates including contemporary labels such as Maison Kitsuné and A.P.C. through to outerwear specialists like Moncler and Canada Goose.
Not a fan of the body warmer? Thanks to the rise of trends such as sports luxe and athleisure, we’ve never been more spoiled for choice when it comes to performance jackets that look as good as they perform. Crafted using advanced space age materials and construction techniques, they’re not only lightweight and versatile, but designed to provide an impenetrable shield against the elements.
Leaders in the field include Stone Island, Arc’teryx, Stutterheim, Patagonia, Rains and Nanamica.
Growing A Mammoth Beard
Peak or no, the beard really comes into its own in the wintertime. But while letting your faze fuzz grow out with wild abandon is one way of trapping warmth, an unkempt beard, albeit cosy, can run the risk of looking more sloppy than Spartan.
“Go to your barber at least once for a decent consultation on this, as every beard will have a different growth pattern,” says Adam Brady, Ruffians Barbers Trend Expert. “But I’d say to keep it looking tidy, you should at least trim it every two or three weeks to get rid of the strays.”
It’s also important to remember that just like the hair on your head, the right products make all the difference. “Use a beard oil to keep it glossy and fragrant,” adds Brady. Try Ruffians or Mr Natty.
Chunky knits are well and truly in. Cable knits, waffle knits and roll necks dominated June’s runways at London Collections: Men and these knitwear heroes have since become hits on the high street too.
Safe to say, when it comes winter – especially the British one – owning a good selection of knitwear is a no-brainer. What may not be so obvious, however, is that giving your knits a little TLC will dramatically improve their lifespan. Neglect can lead to that cashmere pullover that you hold so dear rapidly being reduced to a misshapen, bobbled shadow of its former self.
“Always wash your knitwear at a lower temperature than the care label states,” says Street. “And if it says hand wash, it really does mean it! Use a gentle baby shampoo for hand washing. Once washed, lay the item flat while it’s still wet and allow to dry naturally in order to maintain its shape.” Prevention is always better than cure and this should help delay any beastly bobbles.
It’s not the end of the world if your knits do begin to pill though: “Gently run a razor over the knit to remove the bobbles,” says Street. For a pro option, try JML’s Bobble Off Lint Remover.
Not Weatherproofing Your Footwear
A new job, a promotion, a Christmas bonus – whatever it is, you’ve decided to treat yourself to that bank-busting pair of designer suede brogues you’ve had your eye on. Only when you slip them on, finally take a break from admiring yourself in the mirror and turn to glance outside, it’s pouring down. Monsoon-style.
But you’ll be fiiine, right? It’s only a quick hop, skip and a jump to the bus station isn’t it? Right? Wrong. As we’ve touched on previously, suede and other types of leather should not be exposed to the elements where possible.
Traipsing through puddles will cause irreversible damage, so to avoid getting caught out, try regularly applying a protector spray like Liquiproof. This adds a water-resistant film to your shoe’s upper, keeping rain at bay and your footwear water stain-free.
Hopefully, this will be more than enough to get you off the starting blocks this season. So, tell us, what are your winter bugbears? Any winter wardrobe foul play that really gets your goat?
Have your say below.