“It’s getting to that time of year and I need to start looking for a new coat. I need something I can wear with a suit to work and would ideally go for a double-breasted overcoat, but unfortunately I’m allergic to wool. Are there any other options that are formal enough – and warm enough – to see me through the winter?
If so, the solution is simply to steer softer. Fibres with a diameter of more than 30 microns can feel scratchy, and sheep’s wool is packed with them. Ideally you’d upgrade to cashmere with something like Theory’s Whyte overcoat in timeless black (£995), although that much goat fibre doesn’t come cheap.
Camel hair makes for an on-trend and less spendy option – particularly Jaeger’s 100% Camel Hair Coat, which is currently 80 per cent off at £99 and will will see off the weather, not your overdraft.
For men with a true wool allergy, the pickings are slimmer. The fabric is most designers’ winter go-to because its fibres trap heat without adding too much weight, so you want something similar. Though it’s normally a summer pick, cotton can stretch the seasons if you pick a heavy fibre and weather-fighting weave, like gabardine. It was originally invented by Thomas Burberry for First World War soldiers, so should do you fine.
One of his eponymous brand’s trench coats remains a business-wear favourite, or for something less ubiquitous, Japanese brand Chimala have a particularly fine (and sober) gabardine coat (£425) that’s poplin-lined, to help conserve heat.
It will never be quite as warm as a heavy wool, so conserve some of your budget for a scarf and gloves. Especially considering your hometown’s winters.
“I’ve recently discovered that my crown is thinning, and have become very self-conscious about it. I’m tempted to start wearing a hat to work to hide it, but I’m not sure how appropriate that is at work.
“My office isn’t too formal – only directors wear suits – but most of my colleagues tend more towards brogues and collared shirts than tees and trainers. Would a baseball cap or beanie work? And will wearing a hat speed up my hair loss?
“If you’ve got enough weight and length at the front, you could always style it back like you would a quiff,” says Adam Brady, of Ruffians barbers in Covent Garden. “Blowdrying with some styling paste will help conceal the thinning area.”
If you’re committed to the cover-up, then at least know it won’t worsen things. “Unlike plants, hair doesn’t need solar energy to grow,” says Brady.
A beanie sounds too streetwear for your office – and tends not to play nice with central heating – so a baseball cap is a better bet. To avoid drawing attention to why you’re wearing it, stick to subtle colours and rich fabrics. Whistles’ melange-effect khaki cap (£50), paired with a neutral getup, preserves your dress code and dignity.
Black Tie Bond
“In Spectre, Daniel Craig swaps the usual black tuxedo for a white one. If a chap wanted to emulate 007 for a Christmas do, how would he go about it?
First, make sure your office is holding its Christmas party in the Maldives. The white dinner jacket is a less formal take for tropical climates, so doesn’t translate to these shores unless you’re the entertainment. But that doesn’t mean you need to default to black. For Skyfall, Bond wore midnight blue, a tradition that stretches back to the 1930s, when the colour ensured “you weren’t mistaken for a waiter,” according to costume designer Jany Temime.
That outfit’s success means high street and high-end have scrambled to follow suit. If you only break out the black tie once a year, then look to John Lewis for an affordable, cotton-velvet option.
On the other hand, if you see more balls than Mourinho (and boast a bank balance to match) then Bond’s tailor, Tom Ford, will ensure you make as much of an impression as the man himself. Just respect the line between homage and fancy dress, and order anything other than a vodka martini.