Winter’s first bite can prompt something of an overzealous reaction in some men – like piling on absolutely everything in their wardrobe, for example. We get it. It’s cold. More clothes means more warmth, which means less chance of hating the British weather any more than you already do.
But just because the air temperature is dipping it doesn’t mean your style has to as well (there are other ways to combat the cold than resigning yourself to wearing nothing but Jack Wolfskin for three months of the year). The answer lies in layering, in learning how to fine-tune the balance between fabric types, colours and weights to create looks that don’t skimp on style for the sake of staying warm.
But since that takes time, here’s the SparkNotes version. (You’re welcome.)
Denim Jacket + Jacket
A denim jacket is built for winter. Both heat-retaining and durable, it’s little wonder you’ll still find this indigo hero in most men’s wardrobes today, well over a century since it was invented.
But while the original heavyweight denim jacket has winter-beating bulk, lightweight styles come up trumps for versatility. By layering a fitted, lightweight denim jacket underneath a roomier jacket or coat, you’ll produce a look that’s furnace-warm and won’t seem lacking once you lose the outer layer indoors.
Hoodie + Overcoat
Athleisure might have killed sartorial etiquette, but it’s also saved your wallet. Thanks to the continued cotton loopback-ification of men’s wardrobes, you can now wear an overcoat with so much more than just your Sunday best. (Which is good considering you’ll probably still be paying for your coat 25 Sundays from now.)
Layering a low-key hoodie – made from good-quality cotton or merino wool, in a neutral shade like off-white, camel, grey, navy or black – underneath a tailored overcoat is one of the easiest ways to nail sports-luxe. Let your trousers have the final say: tailored joggers keep a look on the sports track, but a pair of slim-fit wool trousers dials up the luxury.
Zip-Up Top/Lightweight Gilet + Coat
Hoodies aren’t the only gym essentials to have muscled their way into your day-to-day rotation – zip-up track tops and lightweight gilets are following suit. They’re smarter, too, without a hood to wreak havoc on an otherwise clean-lined silhouette.
For warmth, opt for a light down gilet and layer with a coat that’s more Scandi minimal than statement-making. If, on the other hand, you’re prepared to sacrifice heat for ahead-of-the-game style, zip-up a track top underneath a classic or drop-shoulder overcoat.
Keep it minimal with a winter-friendly palette of grey, blue, black and earth tones, or get in on menswear’s current 1970s vibe with a multi-coloured (and even striped) track top and a camel or bright overcoat.
Roll Neck + Suit
A suit is a suit is a suit. And other than choosing one in wool, there isn’t much you can do to a two-piece to bolster its winter defences. Sure, you could spend a chunk on something cut from heavy tweed or flannel to help ward off the biting elements, but that’ll make for a pretty steep cost-per-wear.
A smarter idea is thinking about what you can style your suit with to make it warmer. Swapping a shirt for a fine-gauge roll neck not only adds all-important insulation, but also lends your tailoring a louche elegance that a button-up shirt never could.
Mind the gauge though, anything too chunky won’t sit well with tailoring’s clean lines and close fit. Cashmere and merino styles are ideal.
Shirt + Crew Neck Jumper + Outerwear
Still think longline is something you need when fishing? Can’t fathom the idea of wearing more than one jacket at once? Then stick to the layering basics.
It might seem like blithely stating the obvious but teaming a shirt with a crew neck jumper and a winter coat is smart, on so many levels. It’s – most importantly – warm; it’s practical (no reverse layering mastery needed here); and it’s a layered look that still works when broken down into its constituent parts (you’ll look just as smart in the shirt, or the shirt and the jumper, as the whole nine yards).
Plus, you can tweak it to taste. Stay old-school with a preppy pink shirt, oatmeal jumper and navy overcoat or take a modern tack with a micro-pattern shirt, graphic knit and parka.