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The Campaign

How To Nail Spring Style

Discover a new way of dressing this season

What should a man wear when it is no longer cold, but not yet warm? This, in a nutshell, is the eternal dilemma of dressing for spring – and one that MR PORTER sets out to solve with its latest seasonal campaign. Shot against the backdrop of South Africa’s ruggedly beautiful winelands, and featuring a bevy of the new season’s best lightweight jackets, coats, sweatshirts and knitwear, these images offer up a few answers to that perennial question.

For those of us emerging from a long, dark winter and looking forward to the onset of blossom, lambs and cleaning, this comes as particularly timely advice. But, even in March, the weather remains highly unpredictable, flitting between bouts of sunshine and bursts of rain at what seems like a moment’s notice.

When it’s neither coat weather nor T-shirt weather, but something in between, it demands a flexible approach, focused on a smart combination of layers. Think unlined coats that you can easily shrug on and off to suit the conditions; knitwear that keeps you warm, but doesn’t stifle you; and jackets light enough to layer over a sweatshirt without leaving you looking like the Michelin Man. This throwing together of different pieces doesn’t just provide you with a way of hedging your bets against the climactic vagaries of spring; it also allows for a great deal of creativity in the way you dress.

But it requires a deft hand to get it right. In the following images, we explore a few key items to buy in order to win this spring. 

Lighten up

A cropped, lightweight jacket rendered in leather or suede might not quite cut it when dressing for the frozen depths of winter, but it comes into its own in spring. Expect a decidedly retro feel to jackets this season, with utilitarian, military-style flap pockets featuring heavily (as in the example above left, by Prada). Keep a close eye on colour when putting together your look: the gentleman on the left has combined the chestnut brown of his leather jacket with the complementary shade of rich burgundy in his polo shirt to winning effect, while his pal has opted for a more subdued combo of army-green bomber jacket, charcoal-grey polo shirt and similarly muted chinos. Sticking to neutral shades is the easiest way to mix and match, and as long as you opt for a variety of textures – as seen here, with the smoothness of the leather jacket contrasting sharply against the roughness of the chinos – you needn’t worry about looking dull.

Cut loose

Knitwear is, of course, a staple of the winter wardrobe, providing as it does a cosy barrier against the elements, but it shouldn’t be overlooked for the milder weather of spring. In a looser, less densely textured knit, a light cashmere sweater can provide ample warmth when chilly, while remaining breathable enough that you won’t lose your cool as soon as the sun peeks out from behind the clouds. Wear over a softly collared shirt and with a pair of sunglasses to exude a mood of vernal optimism.

Material success

It might sound crushingly obvious, but dressing seasonally is really all about choosing the right weight of fabric. Accordingly, we suggest packing away the heavyweight overcoats and chunky knitwear this spring and making room in your wardrobe for jackets, coats and cardigans in lighter, more flexible fabrics. In the image above we see three examples that demonstrate this approach perfectly. On the left, a brushed-satin zip jacket from Lanvin; in the middle, a diaphanous zipped jacket from Our Legacy; and on the right, a lightly lined wool coat from Prada.

Soft touch

Suede, the supple napped leather that gets its name from Swedish-made gloves that were originally intended for the French market, “gants de suede”, is the perfect material for spring. Softer, more tactile and just a little bit lighter than full-grain leather, it makes an appearance this season in a range of Western-style jackets, such as this unlined example in a distressed tan suede, made by the Tokyo-based nonnative. Play up its rugged, rough ’n’ ready American workwear credentials by pairing it with denim – but keep a touch of refinement to your look by opting for white jeans, rather than the classic blue.

Outside influences

These two colourful, checked coats – one of which you will have already seen in a previous image – both come courtesy of Prada, and boast the advantage of being lightweight and boxy enough to be layered comfortably over a tracksuit jacket and shirt, as in the example on the left, or a zip-up top, on the right. Prada’s spring collection, which borrowed heavily from the worlds of technical outdoor clothing and hiking gear, is perhaps the leading example of a new trend towards a more outdoor-inspired aesthetic in menswear, where function marries form to produce garments such as the ones you see here. Expect to see plenty more designers heading this way in seasons to come.