07 Think big

Esquire (UK) - - Style - Says Jeremy Lang­mead

It might seem odd, in a style col­umn, to tell you that it doesn’t really mat­ter what you look like this win­ter... but, by good for­tune, this is mostly true. Thanks to the cur­rent trend for over­sized, vo­lu­mi­nous cloth­ing where ev­ery­thing from coats to kicks are big and baggy, there really doesn’t need to be much of you on display this sea­son. You can al­most com­pletely dis­ap­pear un­der lay­ers of triple-ply cash­mere, twin­pleat trousers, 14-hole boots and ribbed bean­ies — an un­likely cross be­tween With­nail and a Ring­wraith.

The pri­mary pur­pose of a coat to­day isn’t to keep you warm (cen­tral heat­ing and the Cen­tral Line do that) but to help you make ei­ther a grand en­trance or a dis­creet exit. Which­ever of th­ese you pre­fer, you should really be in­vest­ing in a dou­ble-breasted coat. There’s a lot of them out there and they of­fer many ad­van­tages. Th­ese are worn to­day with room on the shoul­ders, a lit­tle length on the sleeves, and a bit box­ier than you might pre­vi­ously have cho­sen. The prac­ti­cal el­e­ment of th­ese su­per­size coats is that you can shove them over your blazer or suit with ease — fit­ted dou­ble-breasted coats, on the other hand, are su­per smart but tend to look bumpy or stretched when worn over a jacket. An­other bonus is that most of this win­ter’s coats are made from de­cep­tively light­weight fab­rics, such as wool bouclé, so they don’t weigh as much, or over­heat you as much as you may imag­ine: they really do take you from car to bar with­out feel­ing too cum­ber­some.

For the grand en­trance-lovers among you, one look to con­sider is the dou­ble-breasted state­ment coat. Be­sides the size, what makes th­ese loom large is the plethora of pat­terns and plaids. Whether checked wool tweed by Stella McCart­ney, dog­tooth al­paca by In­co­tex, Prince of Wales check by Al­fred Dun­hill, or over­size checked vir­gin wool by Calvin Klein, most of the men’s de­sign­ers have care­fully avoided mak­ing you look like an off-duty mi­nor royal. In­stead, the cut and colour­ways of this new breed of coat have both town and coun­try ap­peal: as suit­able for pub-crawl­ing in Ken­sal Rise as they are for fell-climb­ing in Cum­bria.

If you’re look­ing for the dis­creet exit coat — the one that en­ables you to leave the Christ­mas party early and un­de­tected — opt for one of the wrap-up-and-go, lux­u­ri­ously long cash­mere coats from Brunello Cucinelli, Canali or The Row (the chic la­bel founded by the Olsen twins that has just launched its menswear line). Pop up the col­lar on one of th­ese and you can sneak out of the room look­ing like hey­day Mickey Rourke in 9½ Weeks.

If you want some­thing more ca­sual or streetwear-friendly — but are bored of bombers and puffas — then plump for a hide­be­hind parka. La­bels such as J Crew, Dries Van Noten and Yves Salomon are of­fer­ing du­vet­size parkas with over­sized hoods that will keep you both warm and in­vis­i­ble. Slip on one of th­ese and no­body will know if you’ve trimmed your beard, matte-moulded your hair or swal­lowed an en­tire Colin the Cater­pil­lar cake. Th­ese su­per­sized coats al­low you to pile on the pounds and dial down the groom­ing — what more could you ask for?

And if you’re wear­ing a big coat, you’ll need big shoes, too. A dainty derby just won’t do. Team in­stead with a pair of clunky boots or chunky sneak­ers. Leather boots with rugged rub­ber soles are by far the best op­tion — whether it’s an ur­ban hik­ing boot with shear­ling lin­ing (try those by Mon­cler, Of­ficine Creative or Loro Piana) or a pol­ished brogue boot, à la Peaky Blin­ders, in a chest­nut brown or conker red by a brand such as O’Ke­effe or Gren­son. One note of cau­tion: if you’re prone to dressing or un­dress­ing in haste, th­ese boots are not your friend. A long boot means a lot of lac­ing and a fair amount of tug and pull. I just timed how long it took a col­league to put on his new pair of full-grain leather brogue boots by Mr P and it was a size­able 90 sec­onds.

Th­ese are not for the man in a hurry.

So there you go. In­vest in a big coat and match­ing boots and you barely need bother with any­thing else at all. A win­ter wardrobe for the man who wants his clothes to do the talk­ing this Christ­mas.

Above left: Richard E Grant’s With­nail up­braids the el­e­ments. Above right: brown leather-shear­ling lined boots, £1,335,by Loro Piana. Above and be­low: new win­ter wrapsfrom Calvin Klein205W39NYC and Dries Van Noten

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