Frozen as­sets

State­ment coats, bold boots and out­door ac­ces­sories — de­signer win­ter wear is hot­ting up, but pro­ceed with cau­tion

Esquire (UK) - - Style - THE STYLE COL­UMN by Jeremy Lang­mead

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

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