The wise man knows that great wardrobes are built from seasonless staples. But neutral tones and transitional fabrics don’t just smooth your morning decision-making; they’re also the perfect bed for those pieces that update your entire wardrobe. The one purchase that makes the clothes you wore last year feel suddenly vital again.
If you only buy one piece this season, make it one of these.
Athleisure has shown more sticking power than your commitment to pilates. Which at least means all that slim-fit sports kit you bought won’t go to waste. “Seen on catwalks such as Matthew Miller and Burberry, sports luxe mixed with utility is a key look for the season,” says Ross Wilson, head of buying at House of Fraser. Although we’re still waiting for designers to repurpose the yoga mat.
Head-to-toe is a no-go – you want to look like you go to the gym, not like you’re going to the gym – but when you mix athletic kit with weekend staples, you get a look that does heavy style lifting.
“Pair a khaki bomber jacket with a luxe pair of black joggers and a cap – a key accessory for the season.” Just no racerback vests, please.
The Pitti peacock’s favourite shoe has developed some edge. “Monk-straps had tended to be associated with a ‘buttoned-up’ get up,” says Giles Farnham, head of River Island’s style studio. “Suit, shirt, tie, monks. But as the style has grown in popularity, so has the variety of styles on offer.”
You’ve ditched the pocket square and tie bar, but you don’t need to lose the shoes. Just give them a tweak.
“The trend for chunkier shapes and heavy soles that has dominated the catwalks is not only a refreshing alternative to slimmer options, it’s also rather practical,” says Farnham. Winter isn’t kind to leather soles, but puddle-clearing rubber means the damp won’t extinguish fire looks.
“Our black monk-strap in a rugged textured leather is the perfect accompaniment to rolled up dark jeans or cropped tailored trousers. The heavyweight cleated sole will give you extra purchase on those icy pavements.” You style doesn’t slip, so nor should you.
Shearling Flight Jacket
In a season of statement outerwear, shearling is the one style that any man can pull off. Which means, to stand out, you need a style that doesn’t follow the flock. “We saw leather on the runway in different guises from the likes of Prada, Lanvin and Valentino,” says Daniel Todd, buyer at Mr Porter. “But for me it works best when shown in a classic style like a flight jacket.”
The pilot’s favourite went AWOL on the back of James Dean, and hasn’t shaken its rebellious air since. Even when it costs more than a car. “We recently launched Prada and I’ve had my heart set on this shearling trimmed style since I saw it in the showroom six, long months ago,” says Todd.
“The masculine colour goes well with black and navy but I see it working best with a white T-shirt and raw denim jeans.” Cause for your rebellion, optional.
However many coats you have in your wardrobe, it’s not enough. They are the reason god made seasons, their expanse of fabric the canvas for a designer’s art. And because they’re big, and they’re on the outside, they also transform whatever you’ve got on underneath.
“An overcoat is smart enough for evening and, if worn the right way, can add a smart edge to casual get-ups,” says Alice Watt, stylist at Thread. “You can wear it with a suit or over a crew neck sweater, jeans and trainers.” And if you stump up for wool and cashmere, it will outlast everything else you own.
“Look for a style that has a classic lapel and is knee-length,” says Watt. “It’s most flattering, generally, and also practical for winter.”
This season, you don’t have to default to black. “Toffee and copper-coloured hues – as seen at the likes of Barbour and Topman Design – work with everything and are the perfect way to refresh and lighten up a look. They’re also just as versatile as some of the more obvious colour choices.”
Some pockets of the City cling tight to the grey suit. But for most men, tailoring is now a choice. This season, that means you can experiment. Pick a print. Pick a pattern. Pick the kind of colour normally draped on Christmas trees. Then dress it however you like.
“The past few seasons we’ve seen guys start to move away from traditional styling rules, which is really exciting,” says Farnham. “They’re wearing suits with T-shirts and trainers instead of the formal tie or pocket square combo.”
The punchier your suit, the more room to play. “Try a print number with a crisp white sneaker and a plain tee or Henley, for maximum impact on a first date.”
There’s no point lamenting wet weather. So long as the earth spins around the sun, autumn will bring rain. But you can embrace cosmological fact by investing in the kind of boots that aliens might travel to earth to see.
“Every man should have at least one good pair,” says Chris Benns, from MatchesFashion. Good, in this case, meaning “a smart upper and then a heavy, military sole to battle the elements.” Bella Hadid may have slipped on the runway this season, but that doesn’t mean it’s a trend.
“For me the perfect boot is this suede brogue boot from Brunello Cucinelli,” says Benns. “Its deep brown suede pairs perfectly with a heavy selvedge denim and a thick knit through the autumn months. Their classic style will never age meaning you can wear them year after year, making them the perfect investment piece that will get better with age.” So long as you don’t forget the suede protector.
Some trends tweak staples. Others just update what you’ve already got. Occasionally, though, something seismic happens. And this season, there’s been a tectonic shift below the belt. “The key item that every man should invest in this autumn winter is a wide-leg trouser,” says James Lawrence, head of menswear design at ASOS. They appeared everywhere from Oliver Spencer to J.W. Anderson, which should make even slim-fit acolytes realise just how versatile they can be.
And since the silhouette is new, it makes even your default pieces seem on-trend. Although if in doubt, steer simple. “They look their best worn casually, with white socks and sneakers for a true skater look,” says Lawrence.
“These ASOS chino versions are great, as the weight of the fabric holds the shape, and navy can be worn with almost anything.”
The bomber jacket has always hovered at menswear’s peripheries. It’s been adopted by various subcultures – skinheads, mods, gangster rappers – who’ve worn it to death then moved on. But in the last few seasons, it’s stepped into the mainstream. It seems every designer’s given it a spin, from Casely-Hayford’s floor-sweepers to Gucci’s silk and gold chinoiserie. Which makes it that rare breed: the on-trend buy that won’t date. Especially if you pick a classic.
“It’s tempting to pick a trophy piece,” says Ben McGregor, men’s contemporary buyer at Harvey Nichols. “But there’s no escaping this classic CWU jacket from Alpha Industries, which feels like an absolute staple for the season.”
The bomber OG, Alpha has rejigged its US military classic this season. “The collar gives it a slightly more tailored look and the angled pockets are incredibly functional.” The cropped hem also makes it the perfect counterpoint for your new, wide-legged trousers. For a look that’s da bomb.