Autumn has made a sluggish start this year, with soggy leaves still clinging to the trees like the lingering dregs of a spent party. You don’t want to be hanging around when it comes to buying what you need for the long months ahead, though; fashion stock shifts quickly at this time of year, so make haste to freshen up your wardrobe for the new season right now.
Umbrellas would seem to be an obvious choice for the UK, but they aren’t generally seen as being an essential part of a man’s kit, except perhaps in the City where golfing umbrellas emblazed with the names of morally dubious financial institutions are de rigeur. Bring some style to the practical matter of staying dry in the mist with a more gentlemanly umbrella, like Agi & Sam’s Undercover collaboration, Patrick Grant’s Hammond and Co. for Debenhams version or visit the shrine of umbrellas; James Smith in Holborn.
The bomber jacket is still king and will be practical for some time to come (or at least until the really filthy weather kicks in after Christmas). Specifically, the varsity jacket is a stayer, and the fabric play contrasting a wool (or similar) body with leather sleeves is an ongoing fashion conversation from runway to high street. Upgrade to the best version you can afford: think heavyweight wool, rugged cotton ribbing on cuffs and collar and high-grade leather sleeves. Avoid collegiate tags and logos and opt for black or somber shades for a sleek, modern take on this sporty classic: you’re not in a remake of Grease.
The new, longer coat
Beyond the bomber, coats are getting longer (think slim-fitting teddy boy cuts) and when it comes to rainwear, the freshest coverups are at knee length or below. Black is a great option, having become the non-colour of choice for fashion types again, or try a flesh, transparent or just opaque version for your rubber mac, to give a hint of what you’re wearing underneath. This look is just about staying dry and gives you options for layering (or not) beneath, for those damp but muggy days.
Norse Projects – Elka 4 Pocket – £160
The winter jumper is always a key purchase and quite often the wisest buy is a conservative option you can slip into your wardrobe unnoticed. This year, make at least one more adventurous purchase. Scaled up, disrupted or distorted graphics (think Neil Barrett or Paul Smith) is one direction, colour blocking in the form of Dennis the Menace stripes or more subtle ombres is another. Mismatched colours and textures on sleeves, necklines and cuffs continues the fabric play agenda, or just punk it up in full-on mohair.
Sub layers are just as important as outerwear for true comfort indoors and out during the winter months. Invest in quality T shirts in high-grade cotton from Sunspel and think about introducing a slim-fitting cotton rollneck into your repertoire to modernise your shirt selections.
Scarves are also often a directional purchase: again go bold, with more horizontal grunge stripes or consider the bold, graphic lines of a classic college scarf (but worn with punky irreverence rather than the full, polished Ivy League look of seasons past).
Plaid is not played out it seems, especially in its harshest, red on black or Black Watch versions. Again, it’s less about lumberjack authenticity now and more of a detail; try doubling up a couple of similar patterns, one draped around the waist and one worn conventionally. Uniqlo’s plaid shorts come in a reliably hefty 100% cotton flannel and stand up to pricier competitors.
Winter footwear this year is chunky – think exaggerated soles like the Prada shark tooth. Lou Dalton’s collaboration with Grenson, with its brass-plated detail riveting to the front sole, adds an almost steam-punk aesthetic to this robust look.
Trainer-wise the Raf Simons x Adidas collaborative trainer is a current choice for London’s fashion hoi polloi, chunky enough to give you a bit of lift from the pavement.
Image via sneakernews.com
Ditch the chinos
A final note on trousers: slim-cut wool or tweed trousers (like these jewel-bright versions at Paul Smith) would be a good purchase, or swap out your chinos (whatever their outlandish colour) for slim black jeans – a great basis for the season’s pared-back sportswear and grunge-influenced looks. For more relaxed occasions, well-cut, drawstring-waist joggers in luxury fabrics are another option. Happy shopping!
Colin blogs at SharpenedLead.com and contributes to The Guardian