Why You Need A Fleece. Really.

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Why You Need A Fleece. Really.

Words by Mr Ashley Clarke

22 September 2017

How the outerwear previously reserved for hikers came in from the cold – and how to work it into your wardrobe.

The cows have come home, hell has frozen over, and we at MR PORTER are telling you that a fleece might just be the most stylish purchase you’ll make this autumn. Have we gone completely mad? A fleece? The sartorial-suicide favourite of ruddy-faced ramblers and off-duty politicians? The kind of lumpy, bile-coloured woollen jacket that Mr Boris Johnson throws on to go for his annual jog?

Somehow, yes, but let us explain.

While the fleece may have a reputation for being an indolently sloppy garment, it’s currently having a moment, and not in a post-ironic Vetements-esque way. If you’ve been paying attention at all, dear reader, you’ll know by now that the fickle fashion pendulum swings in unexpected ways. Thanks to a bounty of designers embracing outerwear as the next big trend (see Junya Watanabe’s collaboration with The North Face, for instance), and the ascendance of Patagonia from sensible hiking apparel to a must-have for streetwear connoisseurs, what was once a practical choice to protect you against the elements has found itself in the baffling world of high fashion. Enter the much-maligned (but seductively comfortable) fleece, which actually looks rather dashing right now in the hands of brands such as And Wander and Albam. This means you have been blessed with the rare opportunity to wear something that compromises on neither style nor substance. The fleece de resistance of your wardrobe, if you will.

Of course, though, partaking in the fleece’s fashionable future involves taking a bit of a step onwards from its casual-country past. With this in mind, we have thrown together a few pointers to show you how to do it.

This cream-coloured number from Albam is the perfect example of the fleece gone fashionable. With seam detailing across the front and scalloped edges, it has all the charm of a shearling jacket with the cuddly comfort of a retro camping fleece. To prevent the throwback getting carried away, keep it contemporary with some minimal sneakers, a neutral T-shirt, or some dark-wash jeans, such as these organic denim ones from Nudie Jeans.

Patagonia is known for its reliable outerwear, and this red and navy fleece is made from the brand’s signature Synchilla fabric, which means it’s lightweight but still keeps the cold out. You can easily layer it over a light T-shirt and still keep warm without appearing too soft around the edges. Keep it colourful with a bright backpack, such as this extra-practical one from Battenwear – whose orange section doubles as a waist-pack – and you’ve cracked the code of how to look good on a hike.

Japanese designer And Wander – new to MR PORTER for AW17 – has built an impressive reputation for clothing that works just as well on the way to the office as it does on the side of a mountain. This two-toned zip-up fleece comes complete with an insulating mid-layer and drawstring hem, but why stop there? Pair it with these water-repellent shell trousers, also from And Wander, and you’ve nailed a look that will work whether you’re climbing up Mount Fuji or staggering along Mount Street.