If there’s one thing that’ll kill your style, it’s setting it to standby. As seasons change, you’ll benefit from staying ahead of the sartorial curve, making sure you’ve got all bases covered for shorter days and inclement weather.
Need to breathe some life into your cold-weather line-up? Here are seven luxurious staples that’ll instantly upgrade your winter wardrobe, and your look.
Raw Selvedge Denim
Thinner stretch denim styles might have kept your legs breathing for the hot days of summer, but chillier conditions call for denim that’s made of stronger stuff – and a pair of raw selvedge jeans fits the bill.
Unlike pre-washed, pre-distressed denim, raw selvedge is woven on traditional looms, giving you a hardy pair of jeans complete with a crisp, fray-resistant edge that are both durable and ideal for tackling harsh winter elements head on. They’ll also fade and soften according to how you wear them, developing their own unique patina over time. Meaning you’ll never confuse yours with anyone else’s.
Leaders in the field include Nudie Jeans, Edwin, A.P.C., Acne Studios and Levi’s, while Brighton-based denim brand Hawksmill Denim Co is quickly making a name for itself due to its sourcing of the best indigo fabrics from across the US and Japan.
Those on a tighter budget should try the high street: Uniqlo offers selvedge jeans made using fabric sourced from Japan’s esteemed Kaihara Denim Mill; M&S has partnerships with three of the world’s best mills (America’s Cone Denim; Italy’s Candiani Denim mill; and Japan’s Kurabo); while Gap has been producing affordable selvedge jeans since the 1990s. Safe to say, this is one wardrobe upgrade that every man should – and can afford – to make.
All boots are built for winter. But some boots are better built than others. Nowhere is this more patently clear than sole construction.
Unlike the Blake stitching method favoured for more formal footwear silhouettes, a Goodyear-welted design features a thin, usually cork-filled cavity between the outer and inner soles. Which guarantees you protection against winter’s worst – from snow and slush to hours-long Christmas shopping marathons.
Due to Goodyear-welting being a time-consuming process, styles don’t come cheap; expect to pay £200+. The upside is that this method of construction allows your boots to be repaired and resoled repeatedly by any cobbler worth their salt, meaning they should last you a lifetime with the right care.
Despite their function-first nature, you’ll find plenty of Goodyear-welted options serving up style by the bucketful this season. Want something that’s solid but still smart? Invest in a pair of brogue boots from a traditional British shoemaker such as Tricker’s, Grenson or Oliver Sweeney. Looking for something more rugged? Pull on a pair of hiking or work boots from the likes of Red Wing, Fracap or Yuketen.
A Pure Wool Overcoat
It’s time to loosen the purse strings. Because if you think a quality wool overcoat is expensive, try wearing a cheap one winter after winter. Coats crafted exclusively from wool are – generally speaking – far better at keeping out the cold than the less expensive, synthetic options you’ll often find at fast-fashion stores.
One of the cornerstones of your wardrobe, this is a piece that will get consistent wear for four solid months every year, so it pays not to skimp. However, with most pure wool styles starting around the £300 mark, and some reaching as high as a couple of thousand, you’ll want to ensure you get quality cost-per-wear.
This means steering clear of designs that lack staying power and/or are hard to match with your existing wardrobe – bold colours, statement prints or unusual cuts – and prioritising classic single-breasted overcoats in camel/brown, navy, grey or black that finish somewhere between mid-thigh and an inch above the knee.
Options on the market are myriad, with quality varying dramatically. 1805-founded Crombie are pioneers in the outerwear business (you’ll be hard-pushed to find something that trumps its signature Crombie coat), while Paul Smith, Suitsupply and Acne Studios rep more contemporary alternatives. For high-street styles, hit up Uniqlo, Charles Tyrwhitt and M&S, all of which carry well-tailored options in quality wools that promise a great return on investment.
Where possible, avoid buying online though – you’ll need to cop a feel of an overcoat before committing to it.
A Cashmere Jumper
Second only to an overcoat, a chunky knit is your second line of defence against sinking temperatures. And while cashmere might not strike you as the butchest of winter-ready materials, it packs surprising clout.
Known primarily for its luxuriously soft hand feel and lustrous appearance, cashmere is plucked from the neck region of Cashmere goats – a lengthy, painstaking process which ensures the fabric is priced at a premium. Yet high-quality cashmere can be up to eight times warmer than sheep’s wool, so it’s safe to say it does more than just look pretty.
That said, this fine fibre’s delicate weight can benefit from some added bulk, so try a 100 per cent cashmere ribbed, cable or waffle knit jumper if you like your sweaters with some body. All the salt-of-the-earth swag of a fisherman, without the scratch.
The best examples are arguably produced by British heritage brands like N.Peal, John Smedley, Brora, William Lockie and Johnstons of Elgin, but you will pay for their expertise, with prices starting from £250. Fortunately, the high street now offers a wealth of lower-priced alternatives, with H&M and Uniqlo in particular crafting 100 per cent cashmere sweaters from as little as £80. The definition of affordable luxury.
A Leather Jacket
We’re not all cut from the same cloth. So there’s no reason our outerwear need be the same. If a tailored overcoat doesn’t sit right with your hoodie-heavy wardrobe, then skip it for something else.
A classic leather jacket – biker or bomber, in dark brown or black – is a versatile alternative to a long-length winter coat, teaming just as easily with a button-down and jumper combo as a worn-out band tee. Bomber styles work best if you want leather’s sturdiness without its punk edge, while a biker packs enough renegade attitude to spark new life into your go-to cold-weather looks.
It pays to know your leathers, too. Obviously the tacky sheen of leather-look materials isn’t going to do you any favours so shop instead for cowhide, lambskin and nappa leather. Cowhide is exceptionally sturdy, while lambskin and nappa guarantee a softness that’s incomparable. As a rule of thumb, deploy the leather scratch test: gently scratch an area of the leather with your thumbnail – if it holds, you’re on to a winner; if there’s no visible change on the leather’s surface, you’re dealing with tat.
It goes without saying that quality leather doesn’t come cheap. But it needn’t be bank-bustingly expensive either. British brands AllSaints and Reiss both have solid options for under £500, while the likes of Schott NYC and Belstaff carry styles that are pricier, but built on decades of leatherworking expertise.
A Merino Roll Neck Jumper
Dubbed nature’s performance fabric, merino wool – taken from a breed of sheep native to Portugal – gives some of the most sophisticated synthetic materials a run for their money.
Odour-resistant, stain-resistant and breathable, merino also helps regulate temperature, wicking away sweat when you’re burning up and keeping you cosy when the air begins to nip. What’s more, unlike cashmere, you don’t need to spend a flock load to get your mitts on some.
British household names Reiss and John Lewis are both offering affordable roll necks in extra fine merino wool this season, while fellow UK brands John Smedley, Paul Smith and Oliver Spencer carry premium options for those looking for a more luxurious wardrobe upgrade. When it comes to colour, stick to grey or navy for ultimate versatility, or try a rich shade of camel, burgundy or forest green if you’re looking to branch out from the safety of neutrals.
Due to its thin gauge and breathability, a merino roll neck makes the perfect smart-casual base layer; try it underneath a leather jacket with jeans for a night out, or use it in place of a shirt and tie during the working week.
A Dinner Jacket
Winter – for us Brits – means Christmas. And Christmas means parties. Lots of them. Whether you’re toasting with mates or blue chip clients, a well-cut dinner jacket will ensure you look good doing it.
Velvet is perhaps the most festive choice here, and while its rich texture and show-stopping finish make it worth considering, you can sidestep the sheen with something subtler.
Classic black or midnight blue dinner jackets in cotton or wool work well, especially those featuring a contrast satin shawl or peak lapel. If versatility is your priority, then this latter option will serve you best, being easily styled with a pair of well-cut smart trousers for occasions ranging from black tie balls to your more formal family get-togethers.
John Lewis and Charles Tyrwhitt come up trumps for value-for-money formalwear, but Suitsupply’s superb party season collection makes a case for spending just a little more. For top-tier dinner jackets, you can’t steer wrong with British tailoring stalwarts Dunhill, Gieves & Hawkes and Hardy Amies.