I’m so excited the weather in London has finally turned cold. Summer clothing is great, but there’s just so much more of it in winter: hats, scarves, gloves, overcoats, plus heavy-gauge knitwear and serious boots.
The key to dressing well in winter is investing in 1-3 quality items in most of these categories. A great overcoat, for example, can be one of the most rewarding investments you’ll ever make. You’ll wear it every day, and appreciate it every day. You can make do with one this year, and invest in another the year after next – perhaps a raincoat, or a top coat rather than an overcoat.
I should be receiving my pea coat from Davide at Gieves next week, and I’m very excited about it. The key, for me, is that its versatility: formal enough for a suit, but also short and casual enough to wear with jeans and knitwear. I don’t personally like rugged coats with tailoring (eg Barbour jackets), but I can see the appeal: when casual and formal wear are coming closer together, why have an especially formal overcoat?
So consider your actual needs and buy accordingly. A pea coat, for example, is also practical for commuting – you don’t have to tuck it under your legs when you sit down, and it can even be worn on a (Boris or Brompton) bike. I’ve tried and like the Harry Stedman and E Tautz versions.
Below are some more quick tips on dressing for winter – as requested by readers over the past few weeks (apologies for the delay, I must get better at writing for the seasons…). But as always, please ask any questions in the comment section and I’ll try to help.
1 Invest in an overcoat
As above. Worth stretching the budget for. Also worth having it altered in the same way as a suit, if you can. You don’t want it as slim as a suit, but a well-fitted overcoat is a beautiful thing and no one else will bother.
2 Raincoats are RTW
I know about a dozen tailors that have tried making bespoke raincoats. It’s not easy, it’s expensive, and importantly the end result doesn’t justify the effort. Buy them ready-to-wear and try to find one with a belt, to cinch some shape. Classic Burberrys are fine, but overpriced and usually not long enough. Look for a similar style elsewhere. For the rubberised alternative, try Mackintosh or the Seal-Up ones at Anderson & Sheppard (nice quilted linings – always get a lining if you can).
3 Wear a hat
Nothing is more striking while actually being quite conservative. Stylish and incredibly practical. Wear with an overcoat or raincoat, and always tilt slightly to one side.
4 More than one pair of gloves
Gloves are probably the most attractive way to add variety to a winter outfit. More interesting and unusual than a scarf. Buy one versatile colour (brown leather/suede most likely), one more interesting (peccary perhaps) and one outright pop (yellow is my favourite). When not in use, stuff into the overcoat’s outbreast pocket.
Layer knitwear – a thin crewneck under a chunky shawl-collar, for example. Layer outfits –T-shirt/shirt/V-neck/scarf/jacket/overcoat. Layer anything, in fact, and have fun with the playing of colour and texture. It’s like figuring out shirt/tie/jacket/handkerchief combinations, but more fun.
And as ever, that’s the most important thing – have fun.
Photo: Luke Carby