Elegance, style and sartorial excellence are by no means things confined to the sunnier side of the year. If anything, the half of the year when the days begin to draw in and the mercury begins to fall is when refined men truly get to shine.
I’ve always loved the colder months when it comes to fashion. Indeed, for me, these are the months when people really get their chance to dress their best. The more clothes one wears, the more opportunity there is to demonstrate a sense of style, after all, and men’s clothing designers use this time of year to bring out perennial favourites which belong in every gentleman’s wardrobe. In fact, the collections hitting the catwalks of the world’s fashion centres this autumn are upping their game in this respect, and we’re expecting to see a particular focus on refreshing certain cold-climate classics for the modern man. With this in mind, we’ve put together a quick run-down of the seven items of winter wear no clothes-conscious gentleman should be without. So, prepare to wrap up warm – it’s getting cold out there, and there’s no excuse to look anything but superb.
A 21st Century Tweed
Make no mistake about it, tweed is back. The preferred fabric of the English upper classes was – for some time – considered far too old-fashioned to be considered by the modern gentleman, but the past few years have more than confirmed that antiquated styles are very much back on the menu… and it isn’t difficult to see why. Today, tweed suits have moved on from the somewhat outdated checks and tartans of yesterday, and now come in a range of contemporary colours and skinnier, fitted cuts, meaning they tick that box which combines the vintage and avant-garde – and that’s exactly what current gentlemen’s fashion is all about.
The heavier knit of a tweed suit is not only thrillingly warming and comfortably solid to wear, it really does look fantastically refined, too. It’s a material which is easily tailored, meaning you can get a two or three piece suit to fit you like a glove, and it’s also very hardy, too – a decent quality tweed is set to last you a lifetime. Step out on a blustery winter’s day dressed in one of these, and your timeless style is undoubtedly going to turn a few heads.
If you’re the kind of person who believes that the practical and the stylish are always at odds with one another when it comes to clothing, then you’re clearly not considering the style icon that is the parka jacket. Casual yet cool, practical yet eternally fashionable, parkas are one of those items of men’s clothing which really, it’s almost impossible to be without when winter rolls around. A well-made parka puts one in mind of the hip ‘mods’ – surely the most stylish of all of London’s 60’s youth movements – as well as any number of later rock stars who have favoured this thick, warm, hard-wearing coat.
Parkas are rarely out of fashion, and there’s a good reason for this: they have a distinctive look which manages to be iconic as well as neutral, and they provide a set of basic components which fashion designers can play around with. Slim and fitted, chunky and loose, short, long… there are plenty to choose from, and you’re sure to find one that works best with your look.
A proper woollen overcoat
There are few items which scream elegance quite as effectively as a well-made overcoat, and we’re expecting to see a flurry of fantastic twists on the classic styles this autumn. While we all love our trenchcoats – such as those made utterly iconic by design houses like Burberry – the colder months do call for something a little heavier and thicker, and woollen overcoats or military style greatcoats offer protection from the elements, combined with a real level of sophistication which is hard to beat.
When shopping for a woollen overcoat, it’s quite easy to opt for a size slightly too small, because we’re used to our tailored jackets hugging our shoulders and torsos. With overcoats, you need to ensure that the fit is comfortable – not tight – and that it doesn’t make that ‘X’ shape when buttoned in the centre. In fact, this year, slightly oversized long coats are going to be in fashion, providing a slightly bohemian edge. As such, it might even be worth considering a size above what you’d normally wear.
A hand-knitted winter jumper
A word of warning, now – nobody ever, ever, ever looked good in a novelty Christmas jumper, and the trend for ‘ironic’ winterwear which seemed to be everywhere in 2016 should be left very much in the past.
Despite this, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a beautifully made knitted jumper, and they can look extremely elegant while also being your own source of portable central heating! The recent Scandinavian influence on European fashion is starting to be felt elsewhere this year, and we’re seeing beautiful traditional Nordic knits creeping into this year’s collections, in neutral tones of grey, brown, navy and cream. Versatile, and fantastic when paired with an overcoat, this is one item nobody ever regretted buying. Also, there are few things a woman loves more than snuggling up to them…
OK – if you’re out hiking in the forests this winter or hitting the ski slopes, then these shoes aren’t going to be for you. However, if you like to spend the latter part of the year safely in civilisation, then you’ll be as excited as we are to see the return of the Chelsea boot – surely the most stylish, wearer-friendly shoe style for the modern gentleman, bar none.
Sleek, streamlined, slightly bohemian and perfectly versatile, the Chelsea boot is just casual enough to be worn with a pair of jeans and a shirt when out for a stroll, and just sophisticated enough to pair with a suit when wining and dining. The leather is durable and warm, great for those chilly, windy days, and you can slip them off and warm your toes by the fire once you get home for the evening. Perfect!
The cashmere scarf
Every gentleman should own (at least) two scarves for winter: one for throwing on when you need to do a quick run down to the shops and back, and the other to use as a genuinely stylish – albeit practical – accessory. The cashmere scarf is a fashion icon in its own right for a reason; it’s a bonafide luxury item which provides warmth in a way no other fabric can, and it also allows men to express their personal sense of style, by giving them the opportunity to add a splash of colour to their outfits.
We’d always recommend avoiding anything garish or patterned when it comes to cashmere scarves. After all, the idea is to accessorise and harmonise, not to make it a distraction from the rest of your outfit. Plain colours or very subtle checks are fine, and use the colour as a base from which to match other elements of your winter outfit – your socks, your pocket square, or even your shirt. Also, gentlemen, take the time to learn how to wear a scarf properly, please. Treat it with the respect it deserves, and it will do you no end of favours.
Next generation leather gloves
You know the situation: it’s cold outside, and you’ve got your favourite leather gloves on. Your date is texting and calling you, and you keep fumbling with your mobile phone, unable to press the buttons without constantly removing your gloves and putting them on again. Thankfully, this problem has been solved in style. Gentleman’s leather gloves can now be bought with ‘tech-friendly’ fingertips, meaning you can text away in comfort, while still looking sharp.
A suitably seasonal perfume
A man refined should change his fragrance with the seasons. While the summer may be fine for brighter, more dynamic scents, the autumn and winter call out for something a little more brooding, more serious and mysterious. Investing in a great quality men’s perfume for the winter is the ultimate invisible accessory, perhaps doing more for your presence than any of the above items combined.
Tom Ford is a fashion house which perhaps produces winter men’s fragrances better than any other. The eternally seductive Black Orchid is a real favourite, as are Tom Ford’s signature collection perfumes featuring oud wood, vetiver, tobacco and more besides. YSL’s Nuit d’Homme, too, is a woody delight, but for my money, nothing has taken me to an autumnal reverie quite as successfully as Encre Noir, by Lalique. This perfume really does have notes of forest floor and fallen leaves, of cypress, musk and cashmere wood. Divine.
So, there you have it – seven winter essentials no man refined should be without. Have we missed anything out? Have you got any examples you’d like to share? As always, let us know in the comments below.