Winter Style Suggestion: Seasonal Fabrics

A huge component of fashion and style is phasing seasonal pieces in and out of one’s wardrobe. What worked for you in the summer (a polo and chinos, perhaps) probably won’t work in colder temperatures, and the same can be said for cold-weather garb. We’ve been working our way toward winter in Michigan for a good while now (remember those wingtip boots? Now’s the perfect time to break them out), and with the first truly cold blast of cold weather comes another reminder about seasonally appropriate style. The great thing about so many fabrics that work in the fall is that … well, they work in the winter, too.

J. Crew's chambray shirt. Nice texture for winter, without a doubt.
J. Crew’s chambray shirt. Nice texture for winter, without a doubt.

One way to transition your wardrobe in small steps from fall to winter revolves around emphasizing chunkier, thicker textures and fabrics, namely in suiting, shirting and neckwear. Of course, layering is important, as well. A heavier fabric that can get great play in both fall and winter is denim — not just on your legs, though. Denim and chambray shirts can break up a typical shirt-and-sweater combo through a thicker weave and rougher texture. Even in the dead of winter, a light chambray shirt is still appropriate — the fabric is like a classic OCBD, but with slubbier texture. Both types of shirts pair well with knit ties or heavier pieces of neckwear, and variations on styling a chambray shirt with dark denim are often used to great effect across the #menswear world. An added benefit of working in rougher textures like chambray and denim is that shirts and other seasonal staples often come in neutral colors, so pairing them together is quite easy.

If you do have the opportunity to dress up on occasion, leave the ultra-shiny silk ties at home at least once or twice. The same fabrics in vogue in suiting for the winter are just as accessible in terms of neckwear — look no further than last month’s Frank and Oak Hunt Club crate for a great example of a heavier wool tie.  What’s more, switching to a heavier tie fabric ultimately makes sense with other textural changes — a wool tie and chambray shirt is a nearly foolproof combination because of the way those two items play off each other. Knit ties, while versatile and usable at any time during the year, are even more appropriate during fall and winter. Again, a knit tie swaps out the sheen of a typical silk tie for something more visually interesting — a thick weave. Because a knit is inherently more casual (square end, more texture, less shine), it can be paired with dark denim and a great pair of shoes quite easily. And if you find yourself in a business casual office this fall or winter, try out a combination like that on a ‘Casual Friday’ — it’s probably instantly more polished than other get-ups out there.

An example of how to tie it all together -- chambray shirt, knit tie & herringbone blazer. Don't forget those boots!
An example of how to tie it all together — chambray shirt, knit tie & herringbone blazer. Don’t forget those boots!

The key to completing an entire outfit (particularly in a business casual situation) is often a good blazer. A blazer can clean up lines in an outfit, emphasizing a man’s torso and shoulders; in the right size (and maybe with some tailoring), nearly anyone looks good. Now for the winter, a good cotton blazer can probably pull just as much duty as in the summer or spring. But leave the linen blazer in the closet for now, and if you do want to switch out fabrics, reach for … you guessed it — something with a thicker weave, like this herringbone number from J. Crew.  H&M also features a much cheaper option in a winter-appropriate fabric, but the tail could be a bit chopped (too short for the taller fellas).

When the cold weather strikes, transition your wardrobe as you would from any other season, rotating out pieces you don’t wear for pieces you will wear. Keep in mind that heavier textures add visual interest and depth to an outfit, and use neutral combinations like chambray and wool ties to pull together seasonally appropriate (and versatile) looks.

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