Looking Forward

Working in the clothing and retail industry (yep, sales assistant), I’m perhaps more exposed to the comings and goings of high street fashion than most. Although it’s my job to be knowledgeable about the industry, you still become acutely aware of the changing seasons, along with the new trends, the new colours and, in particular, the kind of look that many stores are going for.

You also become extremely aware of the more testing periods in fashion – those times where you aren’t really sure whether you’re here or there, or whether you’re buying into one season or the next. These happen twice a year, usually around the beginning of February to the middle of March and then again from mid-August to late September.

These transitional periods are characterised by a lot of conflicting ideas, exacerbated by retailers’ insistence on switching from spring/summer collections to autumn/winter collections (and vice versa) in what many deem as the middle of the current season.

We are now entering the final phase of the mid-summer sales, meaning the majority of high street retailers will have fully switched to their autumn/winter collections by the end of August, if they haven’t already. Soon the only summer clothes you’ll find will be buried away in a dark corner complete with red tags crying out for attention.

With this in mind, over the coming weeks we will be providing you with dedicated guides on how to cope with this tricky transitional season in style, along with detailing the key pieces you should have in your wardrobe. We start with how to prepare for it…

Making The Most Of It

Admittedly, most of the first autumn/winter drops will include transitional pieces, designed specifically to lead you slowly into the new season. Yet it can still be difficult working your way around stores that clearly have a very different expectation of the weather to you – particularly when it’s the complete opposite of what’s going on outside.

But far from seeing this as a time of styling desolation, try to view this seemingly ridiculous situation as a positive – an opportunity to look forward, plan ahead, define your personal style and pick out/try on those pieces that really catch your eye.

Planning Ahead

Not only is this a period of change for retailers, it’s a time when your wardrobe undergoes some pretty substantial alterations of its own.

Moving from long summer evenings to nights by a roaring log fire (or radiator) has a drastic effect on what you wear and when you wear it. Your whole wardrobe must shift to accommodate a whole new set of challenges, and woe betide those that get it wrong.

It's time to get your wardrobe organisedIt’s time to get your wardrobe organised

However, this provides you with the opportunity to make some changes to your look. If you’ve been thinking about revamping your personal style for a while, then this is the time to do it.

I, for example, am looking to add a touch of Parisian chic to the more grown-up side of my style and having this time to plan out exactly what I want or need to buy gives me a great deal more freedom later on. I’ve already been eyeing up a new jacket and I know that I need to invest in more Oxford shirts, another jumper and perhaps some new shoes.

So whilst I’m still enjoying the sun and wearing my shorts, I can be searching the high street for the pieces that will help create my style exactly the way I envision it. I know exactly where these key pieces can be bought when I need them and I don’t have to go through the fuss of searching for things last minute as the seasons really start to change.

This can also be the perfect time for a wardrobe clear-out, so make sure you read up on the key guides below and start the new season off on the right foot:

Unpredictable Weather

I know, I know, we Brits bang on about the weather all the time but it is truly a problem for us (as I’m sure it is for everyone else around the world at some point). Huge fluctuations in temperature, humidity, heat, wind, rain etc. make putting together all encompassing outfits extremely difficult.

We are inevitably caught out by something, be it a chilly breeze on an otherwise glorious day, a sudden downpour after being tricked by that sneaky sun, or returning home drenched in sweat even though the sun isn’t shining because the air is so humid.

Tackling this issue can be a laborious task. It’s always so unpredictable and you can’t rely on the weather staying consistent over the course of a single day, let alone from one day to the next.

The Art Of Layering

The key here is effective choice of clothing and considered layering. The art of layering is a skill that we constantly refer to here at FashionBeans, but that’s because it’s so important.

Wearing multiple thin layers is much better than sticking to one or two big ones as you can peel off or add on depending on how you feel:

Men's Multiple Layering LookbookLayering multiple lightweight pieces is often more effective and adaptable

farah aw13debenhams aw13river island holloway road aw13joop 2011joop 2011he by mango spring 2013he by mango aw13he by mango spring 2013Calliope aw12primark aw13hartford ss13joop 2011
Experiment With Layering

Good layering also allows you to get creative by trying new combinations of pieces or experimenting with your silhouette.

Why not try wearing one shirt under another, using your long sleeve polos as a jumper, stacking a denim jacket under your blazer, or throwing a knitted blazer on as a make-shift piece of outerwear? Don’t get stuck in the same old rut, just like everybody else.

Men's Unconventional Layering LookbookUse the transitional period as a time to experiment with new layering combinations

new look aw13marks & spencer aw13diegel aw12Antony Morato aw13-14he by mango aw13gaudi aw123he by mango aw13allsaints aw13allsaints ss133
Pick Pieces Carefully

Choosing your pieces carefully is another great way to deal with the aforementioned unpredictable weather and transition into autumn. For example, a fisherman jacket is a superb lightweight alternative to heavier outerwear when it comes to tackling spots of rain and chilly breezes interspersed with sunshine – wear over a simple Henley tee and you’re set.

As it gets cooler in the evenings consider knitted tops, merino wool jumpers, denim overshirts and heavier weight trousers – exactly the kind of things that are beginning to show up in stores now – you’ll be surprised at how much of a difference such a simple switch makes.

To get the juices flowing, here is a selection of new season pieces that serve exactly the purpose I’ve outlined above. Remember to use them in unexpected ways:

  • Allsaints Modesto ShirtAllsaints Modesto Shirt
  • Asos Twill ShirtAsos Twill Shirt
  • Bellfield Flannel Check ShirtBellfield Flannel Check Shirt
  • Aspesi Slim-fit Lightweight OvershirtAspesi Slim-fit Lightweight Overshirt
  • Uniqlo Men Crew Neck 3/4 Sleeve T-shirt AUniqlo Men Crew Neck 3/4 Sleeve T-shirt A
  • Reiss Gleason Quilted Sweater Light GreyReiss Gleason Quilted Sweater Light Grey
  • He By Mango Washed Cotton SweaterHe By Mango Washed Cotton Sweater
  • Allsaints Gotland Grandad JumperAllsaints Gotland Grandad Jumper
  • Uniqlo Men Extra Fine Merino Crew Neck SweaterUniqlo Men Extra Fine Merino Crew Neck Sweater
  • Asos Hooded JacketAsos Hooded Jacket
  • Asos Cord JacketAsos Cord Jacket
  • He By Mango Washed Cotton TrenchHe By Mango Washed Cotton Trench
  • Allsaints Hilson CardiganAllsaints Hilson Cardigan
  • Reiss Winston Lightweight Textured Polo NavyReiss Winston Lightweight Textured Polo Navy
  • Reiss Astro Woolly Merino V-neck Sweater AubergineReiss Astro Woolly Merino V-neck Sweater Aubergine
  • Asos Long Sleeve T-shirt With V NeckAsos Long Sleeve T-shirt With V Neck
  • Band Of Outsiders Slim-fit Cotton-twill ChinosBand Of Outsiders Slim-fit Cotton-twill Chinos
  • Reiss Townsend Flannel Check Trousers GreyReiss Townsend Flannel Check Trousers Grey
Final Word

The point I have tried to communicate today is that we shouldn’t view this odd time of year as a negative. It might seem strange to plan so far in advance, especially in our current climate, but it never hurts to be prepared. Conditions never stay the same and our wardrobes must adapt through the coming months to tackle whatever scenarios arise.

So, what are your thoughts on the transitional season? Do you find it a difficult time of year? How do you make the most of what retailers are offering? Have you got any drastic changes planned for your wardrobe?

Let me know in the comments section below and keep your eyes peeled for future articles highlighting some key transitional pieces that all men should consider owning.