Ah, winter. That style-forsaken time of year when aesthetic considerations are sacrificed on the altar of more practical concerns like staying dry, not dying of hypothermia, etc. The season when unpredictable conditions make a mockery of even the best laid-out-the-night-before outfit plans, leaving you simultaneously freezing and a bona fide hot mess.
Chill. Like Brentian management consultants, where you see issues, we see solutions. Winter is not a problem, it’s an opportunity. Think of it as nature’s way of getting you to dress better – not least by encouraging you to put on more clothes. That said, it’s not just a matter of piling on more of the same garms you wear year-round (although admittedly sometimes it is – see ‘layering’).
Thankfully, some style moves have a dual purpose, promising both practical and aesthetic benefits. Follow these five steps to winterise your wardrobe and you’ll beat the cold while looking hot.
1. Take The Rough Fabrics To Look Smooth
If you’re part of the majority of men who wear suits in the same generic, shiny worsted wool twelve months of the year, then you’re missing out in more ways than one.
“Worsted wool is sharp and formal, but not particularly warm or interesting,” says Simon Crompton, the dapper founder of online sartorial authority Permanent Style. “Historically, everyone would have upgraded to heavier worsteds or flannels in the winter, which have lovely texture and are much more fun to play with.”
Texture is one of the most overlooked outfit components. The matte finish of flannel and tweed contrasts nicely with details like silk ties or pocket squares and prevents the overall effect becoming glossier than an excessively moisturised Mark Wright. And they don’t just look good: the brushed ‘nap’ of flannel creates pockets that trap air and therefore heat; and tweed has similar hot pockets as well as some natural waterproofing.
Modern men often shy away from these fabrics because they seem old-fashioned, with corduroy in particular getting a bad rap. But (predominantly Italian) fabric mills have done wonders in making them less stuffy and bulletproof. Slim cuts, colours other than brown and, in the case of corduroy, thinner ‘wale’’ or ridges, will all help expel any professorial associations. If anybody queries your corduroy, shut them down by pointing to Burberry’s AW15 offering.
- J. Crew Ludlow Suit Jacket In English Donegal Tweed
- Gap River Island Slim Fit Suit In Wool
- He By Mango Wool Suit
- Suitsupply Hudson Brown Plain
- Suitsupply Madison Brown Check
- Kingsman Grey Slim-fit Wool-flannel Suit
- Reiss Billie Textured Wool Blazer
- Polo Ralph Lauren Navy Slim-fit Tweed Blazer
- M&s Collection Luxury Pure New Wool 2 Button Herringbone Jacket
- J. Crew Ludlow Fielding Suit Jacket In Italian Corduroy
- Jaeger Herringbone Tweed Wool Slim Blazer
- Boglioli Fleck Detail Blazer
2. Layer Like A Player
You’re probably familiar with the science of layering: multiple thin coverings trap warm air. And climate control is as simple as putting more on or taking some off. But layering is also an art.
Take the denim-jacket-under-a-coat thing, for example. It sounds weird (albeit sensible from a temperature perspective) but it works – provided the denim jacket fits you like a glove (more on those below) and its collar isn’t too big. A thin bomber jacket can also work. And we’ve even seen a trucker worn successfully under a bomber and biker (not all three together, mind).
In a similar vein, you can also slip a lightweight gilet or bodywarmer under, rather than over, your tailored jacket, if you’re so inclined. Just don’t try it with your chunky Penfield puffa. Loads of brands are doing these slimline gilets, but it’s difficult to look beyond Uniqlo’s exceptionally good value for money Ultra Light Down option.
Layering knitwear is another pro move: say, a chunky cardigan over a V-neck jumper over a roll neck. The rule of thumb? Thin layers kept close to your body, thicker ones further away. And if you’re doing the knitwear as outerwear thing, then make sure your cardie is chunky enough, maybe ribbed, with functional outerwear details like roomy pockets, big-ass buttons or toggles and even a hood. Otherwise you just look like you forgot your coat.
If in doubt, follow the example of the multi-layered Topman campaign and just stick a roll neck under a shirt, hoodie, whatever.
3. Stick The Boot On
Like suits, most men wear the same shoes all year round; Tim Little, founder and creative director of Grenson, is a little smarter: “For cold but dry days I upgrade from a single-leather sole to a double-leather one, which provides a bit more insulation from the cold pavement.”
Wear any leather sole in the wet though, and you’ll be like Bambi on ice. “A Dainite sole doesn’t soak up water, gives you more grip and still looks smart with a suit,” says Little. And in biblical floods or actual ice, deploy a Commando sole: “It’s higher off the ground and gives the best grip,” says Little. “You’ll also want an upper leather that is heavily waxed.”
On a style-related note, rugged footwear pairs better with the beefier fabrics above both in terms of feel and heft, balancing out the top-heaviness of your layered-up silhouette. Impracticality isn’t the only reason you look stupid padding around in plimsolls during winter. Instead, step things up.
“Boots keep your ankles warm and stop cold air from whistling around your feet,” says Little. “Pair them with a chunky wool sock and you can survive almost anything.” Almost.
- Churchs Caldecott Boot
- Grenson Fred C Brogue Boot
- Alden Indy Boot
- Kingsman + George Cleverley Scotch-grain Leather Boots
- Trickers Mens Stow Dainite Leather Brogue Boots Black
- Cheaney Pebble-grain Leather Boots
- Dr. Martens Brouge Black Leather Wingtip Shoe
- Churchs Rubber Sole Derby Shoes
- Grenson Percy Split-toe Pebbled-leather Derby Shoes
- Clarks Originals Desert London
- Common Projects Derby Shine
- Paul Smith Tate Derby Shoe
4. Pick Up Some On-point Gloves
Frostbite is not cool (literally – you can’t even feel the cold as your nerve-endings are frozen). But neither are tatty woolly or fingerless gloves that make you a dead ringer for Fagin. The same goes for massive padded mitts that are about as useful for scrolling Instagram as a giant foam finger. Besides, you’re on the bus to work, not a chairlift to the peaks.
“Gloves have a simple function – to keep your hands warm while still allowing you to actually use them, and to look good with anything you wear,” says Josh Sims, esteemed menswear writer and author of The Details: Iconic Men’s Accessories.
“So keep them plain, simple and close-fitting – calf-leather ones from an expert maker like Dents do the trick.” Black is smarter but will inevitably prompt Gestapo jibes, especially if you pair them with that leather trench. Dark brown is a shade more smart-casual.
Established in 1777, Dents is an old hand at glove-making, but recently produced some more modern-feeling styles for Reiss’ Premium collection. They also do gloves with special ‘touchscreen’ leather that let you ‘gram your #OOTD in toasty, cashmere-lined comfort. Thumbs-up emoji.
- Dents Shaftesbury Touchscreen Cashmere-lined Leather Gloves
- Dents Deerskin Gloves
- Valentino Leather Gloves
- M&s Collection Leather Touchscreen Gloves With Thinsulate
- J.crew Cashmere-lined Leather Touchscreen Gloves
- Reiss Woburn Dents Driving Gloves Navy
- Leather Gloves Haindt1 In Lambskin By Boss
- Polo Ralph Lauren Touch Leather Gloves
- Etro Leather Gloves
5. Invest In A Vest
Maybe it’s the subliminal messaging of all those Mr Muscle adverts, but for many men there’s something inconceivably geeky about wearing a vest.
Menswear nerds know, though, that undershirts are underrated. Vests punch well above their weight, adding a surprising amount of warmth (see the science of layering above) while allowing your look to remain slick rather than thick. Handy if your vibe is mostly suited and booted.
But before you load up on multipacks of white vests, consider that grey won’t show through light-coloured shirts as much, as it reflects less light. What’s more, a T-shirt style won’t create those tell-tale lines from collarbone to armpit (or on the bicep if you go long-sleeve). And if your top button is typically undone, a V-neck will fly under the open-collar radar.
The undisputed undershirt champ is Uniqlo’s Heattech range. We tapped no fewer than three fashion buyers to espouse Heattech’s virtues, but their buzzkill PR departments wouldn’t let them since Uniqlo isn’t a brand they sell. So you’ll just have to take our word for it when we say that it’s an industry best-kept secret (well, was). No longer will the elements force you to hide your carefully styled outfit under an Arsène Wenger sleeping bag coat.
Got any more hot style tips for winter?
Join the heated discussion in the comments below.