You Asked: How Do I Style Out Bad Weather?
Illustrations by Mr Paul Hempstead
Our style expert answers your most pressing style questions.
Happy New Year. As I write these words at my desk in New York, an apocalyptic snow hurricane is raging outside – a “bomb cyclone” they’re calling it here. How does one dress for such brutal conditions? Meanwhile in Australia, where I used to live, it is currently the height of summer. Which means wedding season. What do you do when the invite says “black tie” and the temperature is sky high? In this first You Asked column of 2018, we examine how to style out such extremes of weather.
Function and fashion need not be mutually exclusive. It is possible to layer up and still look smart, and the canny dresser who can maintain his appearance without compromising on practicality will stand out all the more.
The answer here is base layers. As skiers and snowboarders know, the key to staying warm without looking like the Michelin man is to wear several thin layers to trap heat rather than a couple of thick ones. Choose performance fabrics to sit directly against the skin since they are often effective temperature regulators and will wick sweat away if (when) you overheat on public transport. It doesn’t matter if these layers look sporty since no-one will be seeing them. I do like the Milk Tray Man minimalism of this moisture-wicking, breathable and quick drying Arc’teryx top and these thermal tights from Peak Performance (which your dad will probably, and rightly, call long johns).
If you wear thermal tights then this opens up a great many winter-weight trouser options including cords, moleskins and, for those who want something smarter yet still comfortable, flannel. Wear them with thick socks and a pair of rubber-soled brogue boots for extra grip. And perhaps a slim-fit rollneck to keep your neck warm (John Smedley do the best).
Then how about a lightweight, water- and wind-resistant down jacket such as this from Canada Goose – which packs up into a little pouch which you could stash in your waterproof canvas Brooks backpack should you overheat. This will keep your hands free. So you’ll be needing some of these cashmere-lined leather gloves from Dents which are touch-screen compatible: no fear of risking frostbite when checking your phone.
Personal preference, this, but unless you have a very specific uniform look – I would embrace the opportunity to change your tie every day.
You are likely to have far more ties than suits and shirts. (I currently own 53 ties – just counted – of which I probably wear 10 on rotation.) You will have your favourites which you wear most often but I personally wouldn’t repeat the same tie two days in a row and indeed, if I had to wear a tie every work day, I would try to avoid wearing the same tie twice in a week.
A tie allows you to inject a little personality into your wardrobe – likewise your choice of socks or pocket square (if you wear one). That’s not to say you need to choose something radically different each morning – a lot of statesmen, politicians especially, tend to stick to a tried and tested formula.
I recently attended a black tie wedding in 40-degree Sydney heat. It was gross for every man there. What can I do in future when I inevitably face this challenge again? Is a linen suit and piling on the deodorant the only option even though it would break the dress-code?
From Mr Brodie Gron, via email
Having lived in Sydney myself for a number of years I have experienced your discomfort. The inconvenient truth is that no, you absolutely cannot break the dress code. The happy couple have paid for your dinner and drinks and it’s their big day so make the effort. I believe that Sydney-based tailor P. Johnson is the answer to your problems. Mr Johnson’s unlined summer-weight suiting (which he developed for the Australian market initially) is so light, it feels like wearing pyjamas.
A white tuxedo jacket would make more sense in the hot sun since white reflects light whereas black absorbs. So consider P. Johnson’s unstructured version – this ivory-coloured silk twill jacket which is a more relaxed take on a tux and will work for both daytime and evening, ideal for a summer wedding. Unless someone is careless with the red wine. This particular jacket is currently in the sale and there are only a couple left. I’ll have a word with the buyers about restocking.
In addition to this, I would advise taking a spare dress shirt that you can change into should you need to. It’ll make all the difference.