Summer is now a distant memory so prepare yourself, as there’s still stylistic fun to be had as temperatures cool. Autumn/ winter is all about layering, playing with textures, patterns, weaves and weight. Unpack those winter clothes and get your wardrobe in order (hoping the moths haven’t had their way) and start dressing like you own the season…
The key is to balance the usual practical pieces with additions that add something new. You might be tempted to think a coat and scarf is all you need – but that’s a trap. Don’t fall into it. In reality, it’s worth investing in a few coats and jackets for every situation.
First and foremost, is colour. As ever, autumn’s all about natural, seasonal tones. Think assortments of green, ochre, brown, rust and grey. These colours should form the base of your autumn wardrobe – alongside the usual staples of blue and black, of course.
Secondly, there’s texture. Texture plays a huge part in not only keeping you warm but adding depth to your outfit. There’s no point going chunky knit and large coat when it doesn’t warrant it. You want versatility, such as mixing a shirt with a mid-layer knit, followed by a jacket and then an overcoat. Complement textures by looking at the weight and nature of the fabrics in your wardrobe for as much adaptability as possible. Adaptability means comfort – and comfort means not freezing outside before sweating on the tube.
Merino wool is probably the king of layering fabrics due to its lightweight nature and moisture-wicking qualities. Just between us, it also reduces odour. I don’t need to say why that’s important when you’re layered up, particularly when it comes to socks. Similar to cashmere, it also boasts natural heating and cooling. Opt for a lightweight merino to give comfort and styling versatility, such as a sports collar shirt or roll neck. Both can be worn with smart or casual tailored jackets, as well as relaxed sports-styled hybrid trousers that feature cuffs.
Scarves can be your best friend when it comes to unpredictable temperatures, where the use of a lighter weight scarf allows for some wind breaking while remaining breathable. At the same time, it takes seconds to switch for a warmer cashmere or lambswool version if it turns more Arctic Tundra than mild British autumn. They can also look as suave as hell.
Then there’s footwear. You never know if it’s going to be wet out – it probably is – so rubber-soled shoes are ideal for obvious reasons. Commando soles offer added robustness and versatility, without sacrificing the shape of the shoe itself. Don’t even bother with leather unless you want to ruin them (the best case scenario), or break your neck (the worst).
Winter gives you an opportunity to swap that light linen summer suit for a heavier weight wool, flannel or even a robust heavy cavalry twill cotton. Flannel is perfect for trousers, as it’s soft, warm and flattering. Just make sure you pair with a hopsack jacket to balance between textures; it’d look odd with a shiny Super 120s jacket.
Corduroy has been making a steady comeback the past few years and is rightly considered cool again. As well as renewed style cred, it’s durable and couples nicely with lambswool, cashmere and (if you’re heading for a shoot) tweed. It’s popular enough now to warrant actually understanding corduroy.
The thickness of the cord, a wale, is measured as the number of wales to the inch. Therefore, a fine needle cord is classed as a 16 wale or higher, whereas an elephant cord would be four or six. If it’s your thing, go for a full corduroy suit. Some brands offer ready-to-wear options, but I’d advise getting a made-to-measure, where you’ll have license to choose the colour and wale yourself.
It’s not all about wools though; nowadays there are some great synthetic fabrics. Traditionally, Burberry, Mackintosh and Aquascutum used heavy cotton such as gabardine, before the development of the likes of ventile cotton, which is still being used today. Now though many of them have been replaced by more technical fabrics.
Just look at Norwegian Rain. Recycled polyester might not sound sexy, but it gets the job done. It’s environmentally-friendly, breathable and waterproof. Loro Piana have taken a different approach with their very own Storm System technology, which involves coating the fabric such as wool or cashmere with an advanced hydrophilic membrane. The beauty of this allows the fabric to keep its usual drape while letting it survive monsoon storms.
In summary, autumn wardrobes are all about layering. You want to ensure you can remove and add effortlessly without any discomfort, sticking to tonal colour pairings with a few off-kilter personal touches – and a sexy scarf or two. Now, go and get those corduroy suits and commando-soled shoes.