When shop windows are full of shearling but you’re sweating in shorts, you know the fashion calendar is broken. Sure, brands are moving to see now, buy now. But wear now? Sorry, Tom Ford. Your ankle-length parkas are lovely, but maybe get back to us in January.
However, you can debut some of this season’s trends before the first frost. As designers embrace the in-between, AW16’s collections prove that once you master texture and layers, you’re prepped for any weather.
The Suit That Says Check Me Out
It’s no secret that tailoring has leaned punchy the past few seasons. We’re over #menswear, thank god, but now that suits are, for many men, a choice and not a requirement, they want to experiment. This season, they’re the easiest way into AW16’s key pattern, the check. Although there are a couple of points to keep a (double) breast of.
First, no top-to-toe tartan or retina-burningly bold colour combos. Leave hot pink on cyan windowpane checks to those who roam Pitti’s square, and look instead to its architecture: cement suits with off-white checks, or tonal blues that stick nearer navy than sky.
This is also a look that favours slimmer men; patterns naturally add bulk to frames, so beware if you packed up your beach body with your summer wardrobe.
A Track Top Made For The Touchline
Athleisure is the worst-named best thing ever to happen to menswear. What were once looks reserved for laundry day now strut runways; jogging bottoms with unstructured blazers, overcoats with sweatshirts, and the zip-up track jacket with, well, everything.
It’s the evolution of dressed-down smarts, the tracksuit merging with the actual suit. And it keeps you warmer (and more on-trend) than a waistcoat.
But, unlike a waistcoat, it works on the weekend too. Sportswear might nuzzle up to smartwear these days, but it’s not forgotten its roots. Whether you plump for a high-end version by the likes of Burberry, or OG logo takes from Adidas or Fred Perry, they can be combined with slim jeans for a Casuals-inspired look, or tapered joggers for an athletic take that’s right up to date.
The Trousers That Lost Their Baggage
This year’s biggest accessory is also its most practical. Pockets mushroomed on safari jackets, bodywarmers and, carrying through from the last two seasons, halfway up your leg.
The cargo trouser has enjoyed an unlikely revival – the bro’s favourite uniform kidnapped, dropped off at fat camp, and not allowed out until it worked off all that excess fabric. Think Michael Bastian preppy, not Fred Durst flutter.
Of course, practical means something else in fashion. These are spaces not for your keys, or a spare charger. In fact, don’t slot in anything larger than a cloakroom ticket, to keep that silhouette slim.
You’ll also want to avoid mixing them with anything too martial – add in a MA-1 bomber or camo jacket and your military nod ends up enlisting. Instead, think of them like chinos and dress up with a double-breasted blazer, jumper or sweat to keep your look in civvy street.
The Neckwear That’s No Noose
Most luxury runway looks stay there. They’re too expensive. They’re too impractical. They’re the kind of thing that looks good in fashion mags, then like hell in the street (shout out, Rick Owens). But occasionally, the biggest brands launch a piece or trend that any man can steal. And this season, Gucci’s louche neckerchiefs are the simplest way to light up any outfit.
On Alessandro Michele’s models, they tapped into a nerdy, 1970s air, all paisley prints, pussybow blouses and shimmering silks (this is Gucci, after all). But your spin can be less luxe. As every mannequin in every high street store proves this season, match the shade to the rest of your outfit and everyday getups suddenly look fashion forward.
If you’ve gone for plain separates, use your neckerchief to add pattern. If you’re doing the checked suit thing, let a tonal, block-colour ‘chief sit where a tie would, under an open shirt. Just leave the knot loose, with some room to breathe.
Trousers That Let You Breathe
Many men will defend skinnies to the death, but this season trousers have grown up. The pleat, so beloved of your granddad, steps into the spotlight, and means you need no longer stress your #squatday gains. To pull them off, pare everything else back: slim’s the norm, which makes anything baggier a statement. It’s also why you’re best shunning patterns or cargo pockets in this case.
To balance out your lower half, go slim up top. Fitted tees, tucked-in, tap into the style’s mid-century aesthetic. Avoid oversized jackets and plump for cropped hems instead. If it sits on your waist, you’re good. But go big above and below the belt and you look like you’re in hand-me-downs.
If you’re still unsure, a tapered fit from the thigh keeps things trim.
The Jacket That’s Always Prepared
Remember what we said about pockets? This season designers tackle practicality on a few fronts. The safari jacket is good news for your preparedness (those pockets), your body temperature (it works as outerwear over a T-shirt now, but layers under an overcoat when winter arrives) and your wallet (if you bought one last season, feel smug).
A military jacket comes, unsurprisingly, in military shades: khaki, sand, anything that hides you from enemy soldiers or big game. Which means it’s especially versatile – those neutral tones will work with anything in your wardrobe.
The best versions also have a waist cinched either by a belt or inner drawstring, which gives what can be a boxy jacket more shape. Just beware pairing with your cargo trousers. A man can have too many pockets.
The Boots You’ll Want To Touch
The easiest way to winter up your look without sweating up a storm is texture. Now’s the time to break out your suede, before the rain showers arrive and make every day a gamble with the forecast.
Chelsea are the perfect in-between-seasons boots. They’re sturdy enough to nod to the new season, but aren’t so bulky as to make it look like you just got back from the Alps. When it comes to colour, chocolate shades work with almost anything, but opt for black if you need to lean smarter.
Just keep your fits slim. A sleek, tapered silhouette like this doesn’t sit pretty under mounds of trouser fabric.
The Bomber That Feels More Peaceful
Texture works up top too. This season, try ditching the MA-1’s sheen for a bomber in a luxe material such as suede, wool, denim or even velvet, for a look that stands out from the ranks.
Key things to remember: keep your fits slim and think beyond green. Yes, it’s a trending shade. But when every bomber on earth comes in it, the smart man looks to falling leaf hues: burgundy, burnt orange, deep browns.
Not that you can’t keep things classic. Just plump for the lesser-spotted classics – navy or grey are seen everywhere but bombers. So you can make a statement, without shouting about it.