Winter Is Coming
Thirty-six ways to look great when the weather is not
Andrew Kelly/ Corbis
For many, winter is a time when form comes second to function. But it is possible to stay warm without falling prey to such seasonal dressing disorders as Michelin Man-itis or Field Brogue Collapse. When the mercury dips, the canny dresser has a few key moves. One of which is to shop early while coveted product from Canada Goose and Patagonia are still available on our site.
Layering correctly and using lightweight garments is another tactic. Scarves and gilets can keep you warm on your walk to mass transit then easily be removed to avoid burning up while trapped in the molten core of the underground or when vacuum-packed onto a crowded bus.
Below we address some of the other most frequently faced conundrums the stylish man faces in winter and pick out a selection of solutions to see you through. And remember, if all else fails, carry a hip flask – at least you can warm your throat.
Conundrum No.1: Uneven lengths
Most shearling or puffa jackets are too short to be worn with a suit or blazer. The vents from your jacket will hang down like mud flaps. This Aspesi parka is designed to fit comfortably over a suit and cover the bottom of the jacket. For extra warmth, try a Canada Goose parka. Our friends from the Great White North know their cold weather. The down-filled jacket (see below) with fleece-lined pockets feels as cosy as wearing a sleeping bag and has been tested to keep the wearer warm in temperatures as low as -25°C.
Conundrum No.2: A wet wool coat
Parkas are not always appropriate for more formal occasions such as black tie dinners, funerals and important business meetings. Gabardine trench coats are waterproof but not especially warm. Wool overcoats are warm but when they get wet, they stay wet, and that can really weigh a man down. A smart solution is an overcoat made from wool that has been treated to give it water repellency, such as this topcoat from Canali. It’s cut generously in the shoulder to sit comfortably over a formal suit and the velvet collar will keep your neck warm when turned up against the elements.
Inclement weather conundrum No.3: A slushy commute
There are some days when the rain is so relentless or the snow has turned to grey slush of such deceptive depth that you risk ruining your trousers as well as your shoes. Those days call for wearing wellies and changing into shoes once you arrive at your destination. A matter of personal style, we swear by Hunter’s iconic handmade boots. Go for black – less conspicuous than country green.
Conundrum No.4: Sudden temperature changes
If you’ve read our guide to this season’s trends, you’ll know that now is the time to invest in a down vest, aka a gilet. Suave Italians (especially those Pitti peacocks) have led the charge in layering gilets inventively with tailoring – either on top of the jacket (as pictured) or, in the case of lightweight down versions such as this feathered friend from Patagonia, snugly between the shirt and the jacket. The zip allows for instant temperature regulation. And this water-repellent version from Patagonia packs down into one of its hand-warmer pockets, making it ideal to keep in your bag in case of a sub-zero emergency. Click here for five ways to wear a gilet.
Conundrum No.5: Smartphone frostbite
These smart leather gloves are cashmere lined to keep your hands from going blue in the wind-chill. And, adding a touch of practicality, the fingertips are embedded with micro conductors that mean you don’t have to risk losing a digit to frostbite when you need to jab at your phone screen.
Conundrum No.6: An inverted umbrella
A cheap umbrella from a corner-shop pharmacy is a false economy. One strong gust of wind and it will flip its lid leaving you attempting to wrestle the thing under control while trying not to drop your briefcase or gouge out the eye of a passer-by. A London Undercover umbrella is like a well-fed friend – sturdy of frame and it won’t let you down when you need it most. And this particular umbrella is quite literally London undercover: it has a map of the capital printed on its under carriage, which might save you struggling with a sodden A-Z or trying to scroll Google Maps one-handed on a rain-spattered phone screen. Or to get a handle on a unique umbrella, try one by Francesco Maglia (below).
Conundrum No.7: Leather shoes in the rain
Leather-soled shoes are not a good idea in the rain. And popular opinion says you can’t wear suede either when it’s wet underfoot. Fair enough if we’re talking about some dainty driving shoes in a lighter shade of pale. But when the suede is a stain-disguising dark brown and soled with a substantial tread of non-slip rubber, we argue a splash of rain will only add character. Keep on chukking.
Conundrum No.8: Dry, cracked skin
America’s oldest chemist has been dispensing its remedies to New Yorkers since 1838. If there is another polar vortex forecast, get your dry and chapped hands on some of their salve – and vice versa. It’s a medicated moisturiser made with 40.3% glycerin, formulated to heal and hydrate your raw paws.
Conundrum No.9: Soggy laptop bag
Danes know a thing or two about a) brutal weather and b) clean minimalist design. The Danish husband-and-wife team behind Mismo have produced a stylish backpack made from water-repellent canvas so you can keep your laptop safe and dry. Meanwhile you remain hands free so you can stuff your mitts in warm coat pockets.
Conundrum No.10: Bedraggled Hair
Maybe we’ve been influenced by having Mr Frank Sinatra as MR PORTER’s latest campaign model but if you have the confidence to wear a trilby – and admittedly not every man can pull one off – then it is a very debonair way of retaining the body heat that is lost through your head, stopping your hair getting wet and maintaining your carefully coiffed quiff. A woollen beanie will just soak up rain, get itchy and leave you with messy hair when removed.
Conundrum No.11: Numb toes
This French brand is best known for ski boots so it is on the front foot when it comes to winter shoes. You could wear these weather-proof boots with a suit and no one need necessarily know that they are a) heavy duty and b) lined with shearling to keep your toes from going numb. It’s like wearing weighty slippers – except without people laughing at you in the street.
Conundrum No.12: A cold neck
There are times when it’s inconvenient to be laden down with bulky layers or a heavy coat. Perhaps you don’t want to line up for the coat check. Or maybe you’re just dashing from (heated) house to (heated) car to (heated) office and want to streamline the transitions. A scarf is that most basic of thermostats, which you can regulate depending on how you wear it. This particular scarf is a versatile choice. Cashmere feels soft against the bare skin of your neck but has the warmth of wool. And plain grey is a usefully neutral option that can be worn with pretty much any colour or pattern.