Statement coats, bold boots and outdoor accessories — designer winter wear is hotting up, but proceed with caution
Since I am writing this column a few weeks before you read it, I have no idea what sort of weather you’re facing today. It could be late autumnal sunshine, sheets of rain or — least likely of all — blankets of white snow.
I’m going to imagine it’s the latter. After all, this is the December issue — where, in the magazine world, we all pretend to be in a festive mood — and if you take a peep at what’s in the stores this month, the menswear designers seem convinced it’s going to be a big freeze. There are rows and rows of big, down-filled puffer coats, shearling coats with fluffy collars high enough to hide the wearer’s surprised expression, cardigans so wide and long they look more like wizards’ capes, and dazzling assortments of striped scarves, leather gloves and rubber and suede duck boots.
A friend of mine grew up in the depths of Canada where the winters were cruel and time spent outside in the biting cold was kept to a minimum. It was so cold, she says, that the school run was a complex operation. Not only did she have to wrap up like an Inuit, but her dad’s car took a long time to start and was too risky to let stop again on the journey. Instead, as he drew up outside her school, her dad would slow down the car and she would be expected to open the passenger door on the move and jump out. “Tuck and roll!” her dad would shout,“Tuck and roll!” — as she landed “splat!” in the snow each morning.
But will it get cold enough to make us buy all these winter clothes and accessories? I love a good statement coat (sorry,
I know that sounds wanky), but all the other bits and bobs that go with winter outerwear are fiddly, easy to lose (umbrellas) and either age you (leather gloves) or make you look like a tosser (fedoras).
On the first conundrum — the cold, or lack of — a handful of designers have realised we want to look wintery, whatever the weather, and have come up with coats that look heavy but are deceptively light. The Italian label Eidos is a mix of Neopolitan tailoring and British quirkiness and has designed a checked coat made from a mix of camel hair and linen: it looks snug but is actually lightweight. Another, Brunello Cucinelli, has created a down shell-jacket that feels as if you’re popping on a silk shirt but is rainand snow-repellent.
It has a shearling collar
(tick for current trend) but it is detachable if too warm (tick for conundrum sorted).
As for accessories, well, personally I feel we already have enough to carry without having to remember clothing clobber, too. Without wishing to bring back the onesie, the more functions that one item of clothing can cover the better. There is nothing more depressing than losing something that also cost a fortune. It almost — almost, I stress — helps you realise why your mum used to make you wear those knitted gloves tied together with a piece of string threaded through your coat sleeves.
And remember that it is equally important to avoid looking like lamb dressed as mutton as it is mutton dressed as lamb. Swagger to work dressed in a threequarter length, doublebreasted coat, swinging a tall umbrella clasped in leather gloves while wearing a fedora, and you’ll resemble the Artful Dodger. If you think I’ve made dressing for winter sound stressful, I’ve only one thing to say: “Tuck and roll! Tuck and roll!”
Snow patrol: a WWII B-24 Liberator bomber crew target the cold, Labrador, Canada, 1942 Navy nylon down jacket with shearling collar, £3,290, by Brunello Cucinelli