In this detailed men’s winter style guide, we comprehensively discuss how to layer clothes during colder months from both a formal and smart casual perspective.
While walking through a hailstorm as we re-enact our best impersonation of DiCaprio in The Revenant can seem fun in the most perverse of ways, it also lends itself to an incredibly important question: “What on earth am I going to wear to keep myself warm this winter season?”
When you know your winter wardrobe should start taking precedence! Courtesy of www.variety.com
Fashion sensibilities of the fall season, where function and fashion go hand in hand, start to become replaced by a more primal desire to keep ourselves warm. Where the need for protective clothing starts to suddenly seem to diminish almost any need for looking fashionable. But there is a way around this. A way to seamlessly blend fashion and function, so that our aesthetic needs are not entirely dimmed out by the desire to simply wear the most insulative piece of clothing laying around the house. With that said, here is our guide to dressing dapper during the winter season.
Introduction To Layering
While the need for heavier, warmer clothing and winter fabrics can take precedence during the colder months, the basics of layering that we largely encounter during the fall season still hold true.
Layering, at its core, comes down to an appropriate blend of fabrics. No combination of color and pattern can outdo erroneous fabric selection, especially when going for a detailed, layered look.
We will first cover layering from an insulation and comfort standpoint, and then from an aesthetic standpoint.
Layering For Winter With Insulation
Courtesy of www.jiwadji.edu
Because men’s winter fashion requires us to work with thicker, heavier fabrics, involving more layering, we would suggest the following general guidelines:
- Thin --> Thick
- Slim --> Loose / relaxed
- Lightweight --> Heavy
Essentially, we want to start with thin, slimmer and lightweight fabrics close to our body. This snug, body hugging fit for our inner garments will allow us to wear heavier, thicker fabrics with a more relaxed fit as we work our way outwards. It also allows our clothing to drape perfectly, without the awkward thicker inner layer being inappropriately counterbalanced by a thinner, outer layer. Kind of defeats the purpose of winter layering!
Layering will allow you to dress in a flexible manner, where successive layers, if done correctly, will give you the option of taking items off or adding as items as the temperature increases / drops based on your surroundings. The two key benefits of layering are:
- Its easier to regulate your body temperature. If the weather is too warm (being stuck in a building with the temperature cranked way up!), you can take off a few layers. If you step outside and are worried about the wind knocking you down faster than a Tyson uppercut, you can add back a few more layers. This is in stark contrast to wearing just a t-shirt or shirt and a heavier wool jacket for example. A lack of middle ground leaves you feeling either too hot or too cold – not an ideal situation!
- Your ensembles will carry significantly more intrigue – Few things attest to a well dressed gentleman like demonstrating an ability to layer clothes. It’s fun, and with enough practice, it showcases your ability to elegantly discern between fabrics, colors and patterns so as to create a harmonized look that is easy on the eyes.
Layering For Winter Aesthetically
Similar to layering for the fall season, layering for winter from an aesthetic standpoint should be undertaken with the following general guidelines:
Each visible layer should be something you can wear on its own
If you aren’t comfortable wearing a specific piece in your ensemble alone, then it won’t look appropriate when layering. While exceptions here can be made for undergarments, anything that is visible should only be worn if you are comfortable wearing it with a jacket / coat (formal or informal) or on a standalone basis.
Each successive layer should be something you are comfortable wearing on its own (and by that, we don’t mean a vest with a body suit! – we mean layers and the layers underneath it). Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Love the idea of a deeply contrasted, burgundy pocket square against this textured brown? We do, too! The Dark Knot offers an amazing selection of colorful pocket squares, including the Watertown Quad Design Linen Pocket Square, Burgundy/Pink. A perfect contrast to a brown tweed.
Outer hems should be longer than inner hems
Nothing speaks to inappropriately dressed attire like your dress shirt sticking out from under your sweater!
When outer hems don’t cover your inner hems, you risk looking out of place! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Progressively scale your patterns
While you can scale patterns in either direction, we think it is best to progressively scale your patterns from smaller to larger e.g solid or microcheckered shirt, to potentially a solid sweater and a solid overcoat.
Pattern scaling is the best way to layer, especially if you are starting with smaller sized patterns and working your way up. It’s also ideal if you are trying to style like Liberace! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Limit your ensemble to one or two bold colors
Looking to make a statement? Avoid going for too many bold colors. The key is to accentuate your neutral or subtle tones with one or two louder colors.
If dressing bold, opt for two louder items at most! Courtesy of www.stylegirlfriend.com
Looking to add some flair to your wardrobe with plaid trousers but unsure of where to start? Banana Republic currently offers an affordable, classic Slim-Fit Grey Glenn Trouser that makes a perfect introduction into the world of printed, wool pants.
Mid layers are the X-factor of a perfectly layered wardrobe. Instead of wearing one heavy coat, strut a mid layer and a jacket or a light coat.
Wearing two warmer layers makes it significantly easier to regulate body temperature, versus simple shirt and jacket / coat combination.
So which fabrics should we be wearing, so that we can feel adequately protected from the elements (even, if in our heads, we are re-enacting that DiCaprio scene from the revenant with the bear?):
Best used for your based and middle layers. While cotton won’t specifically help you keep warm like the other fabrics below, their absorbent properties will allow the rest of your ensemble to breathe, which in turn reduces sweat.
Contrary to popular belief, flannel is actually a type of fabric and not a pattern (e.g plaid). While flannel was originally constructed of woven wool, more recent compositions integrate different fibers such as cotton, nylon & polyester. Flannel is finished with a process called napping, which gives its unique fuzzy appearance and feel. This process allows flannel to be both warm and soft, without being too heavy.
Flannel Shirts are ideal for cooler seasons. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Best used for middle and or top layers, along with jeans. Few items are as universally appealing as dark denim in the winter months with a smart casual outfit. Denim also happens to be a great choice as a middle or top layer in the form of a denim shirt or jacket. The trick, is to limit your ensemble to one layer of denim at the most.
Courtesy of www.mensxp.com
Best used for outer layers, leather jackets are a classic choice and will protect you from the elements.
Courtesy of www.thejacketmaker.com
Best used for middle and / or top layers. Wool will be the warmest fabric in your attire, and can be used as a middle layer such as a sweater, or an outer layer such as your suit jacket or winter coat.
Courtesy of www.ashleyweston.com
Contrary to conventional wisdom, winter can be a great time to wear a range of colors and to discover new ways of coordinating colors. During colder months, many men choose to only wear neutral colors, as these colors don’t show potential slush or rain stains. However, there is also a psychological component to wear neutral colors, as colors such as brown & beige make men feel safe and cozy.
While most winter clothes feature muted colors and relatively subdued patterns, this does not necessarily mean that one should stick with only neutral colors. Neutral colors can be matched with both brighter and lighter colors.
To create dapper and elegant ensembles, try to avoid wearing too many neutral colors at the same time. Neutral colors combined with rougher textures around winter season can make your ensembles look depressed. We therefore highly suggest injecting your clothing with one colorful article of clothing at any given time. This pop of color can be from one of your main articles of clothing or from one of your accessories.
Wearing color can be a great way of expressing your personality, without having to explicitly state it. Your clothes are an indication of who you are – so why not try to be in control of the image that you are projecting?
Non neutral winter colors that we think can work particularly well during the winter months are:
Burgundy / Oxblood
A deep shade of burgundy is bold enough that it can command presence and make a statement. Burgundy essentially adds color and detail to your look without going overboard.
Oxblood, while it does come in a few different tones, is a deep and rich burgundy with purple and brown undertones. This mix makes oxblood an ideal color for matching with plaid suits! And who doesn’t love great plaid sports jacket or suit in the middle of winter?
Oxblood works particularly well to transform the casual navy suit, making it appear both sharper and more formal.
Few things say dapper like an olive green tweed jacket. Courtesy of www.bluemaize.net
No cold weather wardrobe is complete without at least a touch of olive green – whether it’s a smaller detail mixed into your best winter coat, or the hand rolled edges of a pocket square! Tweed is a fantastic way to bring a rustic look to your formal style without overdoing it. This is a reason we suggest opting for olive green tweed. Not only does tweed make for an incredibly warm jacket during the winter season, but the color is more fashionable.
Tweed is an essential winter staple, especially in a rich olive color. The Samuel Windsor Heritage Tweed Suit Jacket is that perfect shade and texture to keep you looking both dapper and comfortable. They even offer a matching vest if you want to take it up a notch.
A Mustard Yellow Lapel Flower can add serious flair to your winter attire! Courtesy of www.thedarkknot.com
While mustard yellow might seem like a strong option, you can start with a smaller detail, like a lapel flower. Mustard is an ideal color to complement your navy suits, and even your oxblood shoes from above. Shades of burgundy pair incredibly well with mustard yellow.
Layering For Formal Wear During Winter Months
So how do we implement all these various elements into an appropriate layered, formal wear ensemble during the winter months?
If you don’t wear suits often, you don’t realize the number of different fabrics that they can be made from. A suit that is fabric appropriate for the winter months is definitely something that you wouldn’t want to wear to your best friend’s Bahamas beach wedding!
So which fabrics should your winter suits be made from? Wool flannel is amongst the most comfortable and warmest suiting fabrics.
Remember that 100% wool cloth comes in different weights, with 12 ounces being the absolutely lightest you want to opt for during the winter months. Any lighter, and your suit will be classified as an all season weight suit. While this can work, it could require significantly more layering when winter temperatures start to plummet.
Courtesy of www.blacklapel.com
If buying a suit off the rack, you most likely won’t have to worry about picking a specific weight, as they will have already been categorized by season. If instead, you are opting for the bespoke path, you can select the specific cloth & weight.
Regarding Essential Winter Suits, we would suggest going with a standard navy or charcoal grey. Additionally, brown suits can work particularly well in the winter!
When transitioning from your spring & summer wardrobe to fall & winter, it is time to replace your linen and chambray shirts with heavier fabrics such as broadcloth & oxfords. For more formal office attire or occasions, we would suggest broadcloth, while oxfords can be worn in less dressy situations (please see below).
While heavier than its summer shirt counterparts, broadcloth is on the lighter end of the formal shirt spectrum. Broadcloth constitutes a lighter weight, smooth looking fabric with no discernable pattern embedded within the weave of the fabric. Broadcloth, hence, constitutes a simple fabric weave, with warp and weft crossing over each other, one yarn at a time.
Courtesy of www.propercloth.com
Given that broadcloth is comprised of lighter threads and a simpler weave structure, and that the finished product has a smooth surface with little sheen to it, it is ideal for more formal settings such as work or a presentation.
Brooks Brothers has a beautiful collection of American-grown Supima cotton broadcloth shirts, our favorite being the Regent Fitted Dress Shirt, Non-Iron Spread Collar. It's offered in a classic light blue, as well as a light grey, in any fit that you prefer.
Twill fabrics are characterized by a diagonal weave and richer character. Twill fabrics will almost always have some sheen, though the degree of which can vary based on the weave, type of cotton and color that is used. Twill weave makes the fabric very soft to touch, but ultimately, heavier than broadcloth & poplin.
On an online screen, almost all shirts can look the same. Luckily, we've gone through and found the best twill shirt that money can buy. Saks Fifth Avenue carries their own line that can sometimes be found on their outlet site. Check out their Solid Twill Cotton Dress Shirt offered in every size imaginable.
Herringbone, a popular variant of twill, features a mirrored twill weave that creates a resemblance to the bones of a herringbone fish. The herringbone weave features all the benefits of a twill weave and so herringbone drapes well and is easy to iron.
Courtesy of www.philippeperzi.com
The Nordstrom Men's Shop Smartcare Trim Fit Herringbone Dress Shirt is not only beautifully tailored, but also effortless to care for. This shirt is available in a variety of sizes in the beautiful, classic pale blue color.
From black tie events to work, and even smart casual wear, the vest has made a strong resurgence in recent years. Vests come in a range of fabrics and colors, and in colder months, would work particularly well with your suits, injecting them with additional pop!
Courtesy of www.mensusa.com
Besides the obvious insulative properties of a sweater, why should we choose to wear one? A high quality sweater that fits snugly is one of the most flattering garments for a well dressed gentleman. A quality sweater adds weight to a slimmer physique, while also streamlining a heavier one. Sweaters can therefore add both a functional and aesthetic purpose.
While sweaters come in a wide range of fabrics and weaves, from wool and cotton to cable and rib knit, we are going to focus on a few styles that will allow you to dress dapper in the winter months with respect to formal fashion (sweaters for informal wear will be covered later below)!
A v-neck sweater provides you with the perfect opportunity to showcase that tie! Courtesy of www.articlesofstyle.com
Similar to a crew neck (round neck) sweater, but with a v-shape, these sweaters are ideal for dressing dapper during the colder months as they will allow you to showcase your neckties. The v-shape of the sweater allows the shirt underneath to pop out, providing for a less uptight appearance. Given that v-neck sweaters give you more accessibility with accessorizing your attire, you may want to include items like that bold novelty necktie! Alternatively, you could include textural variation by including a knitted tie – the ideal way to bring in seasonal garments into your attire.
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Animal Print Ties
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Knit Ties
Finally, you could counterbalance a darker colored, v-neck sweater with some lighter colored ties, to add some additional flair to your wardrobe. Examples include pairing a light pink or blue tie with a brown or navy sweater!
A neutral, striped v-neck sweater is a great use way to showcase your personality - while also remaining tastefully put together. Opt for something with a lot of texture like the Tommy Bahama Wave Shoal Striped V-Neck Sweater currently offered at Nordstrom Rack.
A Cardigan provides for an extremely smart look, especially when paired with a tie! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Often referred to as the old man’s sweater, the cardigan has defiantly fought its way back into sartorial relevance. A cardigan functions similar to a jacket, opening down the front with buttons or toggles. The best cardigans provide some taper around your waist, providing a slimming effect like a well fitted suit or sports jacket would.
Due to a cardigan’s thin construction, it is ideal for pairing with a shirt and a tie. The shirt collar and extra layer from your necktie will provide your overall look with more density, thereby creating a more balanced and far more intriguing aesthetic!
Once you find the perfect cashmere cardigan, you will never wear anything else. Saks Fifth Avenue offers an exceptional Lightweight Cashmere Cardigan in a beautiful navy blue.
Thankfully, colder weather does not mean that you need to sacrifice your chic style. An appropriate formal winter coat can make all the difference on a white winter commute.
Courtesy of www.ashleyweston.com
A top coat, alternatively known as an overcoat, provides an excellent option for covering over your suit during frigid weather. Typically constructed of wool, top coats are a preferred choice because of the sleek silhouette that they provide. This is because as far as extras go, top coats come in a clean lines aesthetic, with little in the way in terms of extra pockets, pocket flaps etc. This lends to a formal aesthetic that adds the perfect level of sophistication to your attire. Put simply, a top coat is the perfect ornament to an already stylistic suiting ensemble.
The trench coat is a knee length double breasted cotton jacket with a fabric belt and buckle. The origins of the trench coat can be traced back to Thomas Burberry (yes, the Burberry that you are thinking of), who helped popularize said article of clothing when he switched from wool to cotton, to allow the coat to be worn in more versatile weather conditions. The trench coat was subsequently widely adopted by British Forces during the first world war, hence lending the name.
Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
While the trench coat can be worn on a cool day, they are best kept at home on the coldest of days. Trench coats were specifically designed to help keep soldiers dry in the wet trenches, to repel water, and to allow them to stay lightweight and mobile. They are therefore not best used during the coldest of days.
As mentioned above, Thomas Burberry created the trench coat. Why look elsewhere when this timeless classic is still available in its original form? You can snag The Mid-Length Chelsea Heritage Trench Coat on the Burberry site for about $2,000. Other options are available, but if you want the best quality - it's at Burberry.
While less formal than the above two, a peacoat provides sufficient insulation and stylistic gravitas to be worn as a winter coat. Peacoats are shorter than trench coats and topcoats, and are always double breasted in design. Peacoats often feature a taller and wider collar that can be flipped up and buttoned for extra warmth.
Courtesy of www.hespokestyle.com
The peacoat’s roots can be traced back to nautical origins, designed to protect the wearer from wind and sea spray aboard a naval vessel. Though the Dutch have been credited with its conception, the peacoat was subsequently adopted and refined by the British. Due to the peacoat’s naval origins, many modern peacoats still feature traditional anchor-imprinted buttons and shoulder and sleeve epaulets (signifying rank).
The relatively less formal nature of the peacoat means that it can be worn in both a formal and informal capacity. Additionally, its shorter length means that it should avoided during more frigid winter days!
That being said, every dapper gentleman should have a peacoat constructed from heavy duty wool as a wardrobe staple!
Believe it, or not. Old Navy actually has an impressive collection of outerwear, including peacoats. Not 100% wool, but a wool-blend, you can try this look without very much financial commitment. The Old Navy Soft-Brushed Peacoat for Men comes in two colors and various sizes.
LAYERING FOR SMART CASUAL DURING WINTER MONTHS
While the shirts that you wear for smart casual during the winter months will somewhat differ from your formal broadcloth shirts, our focus on button down shirts will mean that your shirts will bear resemblance, albeit with a textural and pattern shift.
Courtesy of www.lookastic.com
Henley shirts, similar to t-shirts or long-sleeve shirts, but with buttons on the collar, are an effortless way to look stylish, without coming across as trying too hard. Henley shirts are a great option as a base layer with your smart casual winter wear. A long sleeve henley can take a casual outfit up a notch without sacrificing comfort. Conversely, it can make a more formal look feel a bit more relaxed.
Courtesy of www.petermanningnyc.com
Oxford cloth, a highly popular shirting fabric, is best reserved for more casual attire. Oxford cloth is thicker than what would typically be considered a fine dress shirt fabric, and has a texture that is both durable and wrinkle resistant. It is this thicker finish that makes oxford dress shirts ideal for winter wear.
Oxford cotton fabric is also known as a basket weave, featuring multiple weft threads crossing over a corresponding number of warm threads. A single colored thread is crossed with a white thread to give oxford shirts a more distinguished checkered appearance.
As mentioned earlier, it can be hard to figure out what's what when searching online databases for the perfect shirt. GAP offers a classic Oxford Shirt in Standard Fit, which is a great place to start.
Courtesy of www.themodestman.com
Contrary to popular opinion, flannel is actually a type of fabric and not a pattern (e.g plaid). While flannel was originally constructed of woven wool, more recent compositions integrate different fibers such as cotton, nylon & polyester.
Flannel is finished with a process called napping, which gives its unique fuzzy appearance and feel. This process allows flannel to be both warm and soft, making it an ideal winter fabric.
On the hunt for amazing plaid flannel? L.L.Bean offers a vast selection of high-quality flannel shirts in every color and fit that you could imagine. We recommend the Men's Rangeley Flannel Shirt, Long Sleeve, Slightly Fitted, Plaid.
As discussed previously, mid layers are an essential component of layering up during the winter season, so as to allow you to regulate your body temperature by removing / adding layers when / where necessary! Some go to sweater options that we prefer to use as mid layers with our smart casual winter attire are:
Cable Knit Sweaters
Cable Knit Sweaters pair perfectly with a blazer and pocket square. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Looking for extra warmth during the winter months (who isn’t!)? This knit sweaters distinctive cable pattern not only adds textural variation to your attire, it also provides a rugged and relaxed look. A cable knit sweater is ideal for casual settings, and can be spruced up by pairing it with a blazer. Cable knit sweaters pair perfectly with a blazer and a pocket square!
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Silk & Linen Pocket Squares
The Shawl Collar sweater, a variation of the cardigan, is a winter heavyweight that is typically constructed from wool or cashmere in a ribbed weave. This process thickens the fabric by interlaying layers across the weft and warp to increase the sweater’s density.
A shawl collar design is a staple business casual look. With a wide, turned down collar that narrows towards your chest, this can help you stand out in a business casual setting at the office, or in a more informal setting outside of work.
Shawl Collar Sweaters provide your ensembles with textural depth and richness. Courtesy of www.hespokestyle.com
Pendleton offers a timeless capsule of exceptional winter pieces, all crafted from the best wool that they can find. They currently offer their Men's Fisherman Cardigan in both light grey and dark blue - and in several sizes!
The turtleneck sweater, appropriate for those in colder conditions, features a taller collar that is folded over itself, creating a double insulation layer. Turtleneck sweaters belong to the category of thinner sweaters, making them ideal for layering with a thicker winter coat or jacket.
Turtleneck sweaters are highly versatile, as you can find them in a single tone wool variation to pair with a suit, or a two tone option that can be worn with more casual attire on the weekends!
A darker colored turtleneck should be a staple in every gentleman’s wardrobe. Paired with chinos or a pair of dark denim jeans, this sleek sweater variant will make any gent appear leaner, taller and more stylistic.
A turtleneck sweater pairs perfectly with smart casual attire! Courtesy of www.hespokestyle.com
Few items are as versatile as dark denim during the winter months. Perhaps the most polished and popular business casual denim look is dark denim paired with a collared dress shirt and blazer. This look is ideal for casual Friday’s, while allowing you to strut your pocket square collection. This also happens to be one of the best ensembles you can wear on a first date – a look that shows you can be both serious and fun!
A simpler and casual approach is to pair dark denim with a nice sweater. This look can be taken a step further by layering a collared shirt under the sweater with the tie tucked in between. This lends to a sophisticated look!
Courtesy of www.luxedigital.com
If you wear brightly colored chinos during the summer, you can switch up colors for the winter. A switch to darker shades and earthier tones will work seamlessly during cooler months – burgundy, chocolate brown and hunter green will blend in perfectly with the rest of your winter attire.
Courtesy of www.themodestman.com
While outwear options discussed in our formal section – overcoats, peacoats (in particular) can be used in business casual / informal settings, we are suggesting the following jacket options for smart casual wear during colder months:
Courtesy of www.lookastic.com
Bomber Jackets are traditionally short (waist length) outerwear that has a gathered, ribbed waistband and matching cuffs.
Bomber jackets were introduced during World War 1, when most aeroplanes did not have an enclosed cockpit and the need for durable, warm winter jackets was at a peak. Initially designed purely for functional purposes, the jacket was established as part of the uniform by the US Army and Aviation units.
While the bomber jacket was initially a military essential, it eventually transitioned its way into civilian wardrobes. While bomber jackets were initially designed purely to keep the wearer warm, the jacket is now available in a range of fabrics from nylon and polyester, to woolen and leather variants.
For the purposes of staying insulated during colder months, leather and woolen bomber jackets are your ideal choice. Wear your bomber jackets with a casual collar down flannel or henley shirt, and a knit tie for that perfect smart casual look!
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot's range of Knit Ties!
Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
A parka is a thick coat stuffed with down, typically with an attached fur-lined hood. Parkas are long and provide significant protection during colder climates. This style of coat comes from the Inuit living in the Arctic, who created them from warm animal furs and skins. The Inuits used to coat their parkas, called anoraks, with fish oils to help protect the wearer from rain and mud. Given that parks are very warm due to the many layers of down or other stuffing inside, they make for ideal outwear with a smart casual outfit!
With so many parkas to choose from, finding the perfect match can be a daunting task. Start simple - but don't skimp on quality. Eddie Bauer consistently puts out affordable, top-notch parkas. The Superior Down Parka is the perfect mix of classic and cool.
Courtesy of www.styleoholic.com
Duffel Coats, characterized by their large hoods and wooden toggles, are ideal for business / smart casual wear. Duffel coats derive their name from the town in Belgium, where the coarse material that they are made from was first made. Duffel coats date back to the early nineteenth century, and are still popular today, although modern styles are made with softer material.
As with parkas, a high-quality and affordable option can be hard to come by. Opt for a classic brand like Original Montgomery, who has been proudly producing classic Duffel's since the 2nd World War. The Men's Classic Fit Duffle Coat comes in many colors and sizes, all with beautiful wooden toggles.
Aviator / Flight Jacket
Courtesy of www.usajacket.com
With a similar background to the bomber jacket, the aviator jacket derives its roots from the air force. While the bomber jacket has evolved over the years to become even more streamlined, the aviator jacket has remained largely the same. The quintessential aviator leather jacket is comprised of shearling, in dark brown leather. Signature characteristics include a front zipper, covered by a placket for enhanced protection.
Similar to a bomber jacket, flight jackets are highly versatile, enabling you to dress up or dress down your look, depending on where you are going.
We get it, choosing the perfect leather flight jacket is hard work. Luckily, we know just where to look. One quick scroll through the Orvis website and you'll find everything your leather jacket heart desires. Our personal favorite is the Spirit II Leather Jacket - a flight jacket that stands up to the test of time.
Courtesy of www.bloomingdales.com
For conditions that are less than frigid, a racer jacket could be an ideal option. With the exception of military and sportswear, one of the strongest influences in the menswear realm is the automotive world – with the racer jacket being one of those examples.
Racer jackets are snug, streamlined jackets with a central front zipper and a minimal collar (or no collar at all). These jackets lack the warmer lining of a aviator / bomber jacket. However, their lighter, streamlined nature makes them an ideal business casual outer layer.
Try opting for your racer jacket with a chambray shirt, dark denim jeans or chinos and a pair of Chelsea boots to raise your style game. Finish off the look with a knitted tie and you are good to go!
Woolen Sports Jacket
A sports jacket with a knitted tie provides for the perfect business casual look. Courtesy of www.soletopia.com
For the days where you are blending casual with sophisticated (i.e smart casual!), a woolen sports jacket is an ideal choice! Ideally worn in a semi formal capacity, this jacket is a winter essential in every dapper gent’s wardrobe, and will keep you feeling warm. Your sports jackets can be largely delineated into two categories:
Conservative Sports Jacket: The conservative jacket focuses on adding another element to your ensemble, without being your statement piece. The conservative sports jacket is highly versatile, and can be utilized in a more fashionable setting, such as a wedding, or dressed more formally at the office.
Fashionable Sports Jacket: The Fashionable Sports Jacket provides you with the freedom to fully express yourself. Pair this sports jacket with a button down shirt for fancier events, or a turtleneck sweater for chillier nights. Pair this jacket with an overcoat for when those temperatures really start to plummet!
Accessorizing A Winter Ensemble
Accessories really allow your winter ensembles (or any other, for that matter) to stand out. The below accessories can be used in both formal / informal capacity, with color and texture often being the differentiating factor as to when to use each type:
From a functional standpoint, scarves do an excellent job of protecting a man’s neck. A thicker woolen can help keep your neck warm on a frigid winter morning! From an aesthetic standpoint, a scarf can immediately enhance an otherwise neutral look, or similarly can be used to balance out a bolder outfit.
Scarves can be used to dress up your formal attire or add a stylistic element to your business / smart casual ensembles!
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot's range of Wool & Cashmere Scarves
Courtesy of www.etonshirts.com
Ready to add some flair to your suits during colder months? A scarf is the perfect addition – with minimal effort, you can layer your ensemble one step further. When wearing a suit with a scarf, it is imperative to drop the knotted look, so as not to conflict with the tie knot! Hence, simply drape the scarf over your neck, without any detailed knotting. If it’s a longer scarf, fold it in half and drape the scarf as necessary! Feel free to choose a bolder scarf for extra flair, or neutralize your look with a more subdued pattern / color.
For a business casual look, a scarf functions as an ideal accessory. If going sans tie, opt for a fancier scarf knot! Detailing a conservative jacket look with a bolder scarf is a great way to enhance visual interest. Alternatively, you can dress down a bolder, fashionable sports jacket with a neutral, solid colored scarf.
Courtesy of www.asos.com
If going with more casual attire, a scarf is the perfect complement to your pair dark denim. Given the relatively non layered look with jeans (compared to suits or a sports jacket), you can really up your scarf game by tying more intricate knots.
The Woodbury Plaid Wool Scarf, Brown/Grey/Beige is a great way to add a little flair into your casual looks - while also keeping warm. 100% wool and intricately woven, it's a sure showstopper.
Courtesy of www.harryrosen.com
While winter season may be characterized by colors such as dark greys, deep reds and muted greens, that doesn’t mean you can’t use color to make an ensemble truly stand out. Some colors typically associated with a winter wardrobe can actually be accentuated with paired with a louder color. If you are looking to turn heads with your winter sets, consider pairing non conventional colors like mustard yellow, turquoise & burnt orange!
Burnt Orange is a fantastic way to add visual interest during colder months!
Another great way to layer in your ties is with textural variation. A silk tie with a finer knit sweater will appear much smoother and hence stand out. Alternatively, a textured, woolen tie will stand out perfectly against a cashmere sweater!
Courtesy of www.gentlemansgazette.com
For more casual settings, our favorite go to ties during the winter months are knit ties! Knit Ties are characterized by an open weave, a narrow blade (typically around 2 to 2.5 inches) and square ends (as opposed to triangular ends that you typically see with a jacquard woven or printed silk twill weave). It is these very characteristics that make a knitted tie ideal for casual wear.
Looking to add a bit of texture AND a pop of color? With the Barrington Stripes Knitted Silk Tie, Burgundy/Yellow/White, you'll have the best of both worlds. The Dark Knot offers an entire range of exquisite Silk Knit Ties.
Please feel free to also view The Dark Knot's range of Winter Ties
There is no formal or business casual ensemble that cannot be accentuated with a pocket square. While silk pocket squares are best used for more formal settings, a linen or cotton pocket square can work perfectly for your less formal / business casual occasions.
Silk Pocket Squares in paisley or floral patterns often work best, as they help balance out the clean lines with striped or geometric / foulard silk ties.
The Dark Knot's Altamont Paisley Silk Pocket Square
With business casual settings, linen pocket squares with either a geometric or paisley design work particularly well. Because these squares can be folded in an assortment of ways, due to their relative rigidity (similar to cotton pocket squares), the type of fold can provide as much intrigue as the pattern itself.
As shown above, The Dark Knot's Altamont Paisley Silk Pocket Square, Pink/Blue, is the perfect addition to any look. A perfect blend of warm and cool - Altamont Paisley can awaken the drabbest of looks. Be sure to check out the full offering of Silk Pocket Squares, there's a little something for everyone!
Please feel free to also view The Dark Knot's range of Linen Pocket Squares
The Dark Knot's Granville Paisley Linen Pocket Square
While most dapper gentlemen will have their choice of classic oxfords, brogue or monkstraps, alternatives that are more weather compliant can also come in extremely handy.
Oxfords are considered the most basic and timeless of dress shoes, and are an ideal starting point with your formal wear. These shoes gained popularity in the 1800’s, amongst students at Oxford University. Oxford shoes are characterized by their ‘closed lacing’, indicating that the shoe’s finishing is attached beneath the vamp. This leads to a narrower and slimmer silhouette, ideal for formal wear.
Courtesy of www.ashleyweston.com
When it comes to beautiful, high-quality Oxfords, Johnston & Murphy is the most classic and trusted avenue. Their Melton Cap Toe Oxford comes in three shades of calfskin and is offered in several sizes.
Alternative – Chelsea Boots
For a frigid day alternative, try a pair of leather Chelsea boots. Chelsea boots are leather boots with an elasticated opening. Because these boots are free of detailing, they can work perfectly with your formal attire. Ensure that these shoes have a rubber, rather than a leather heel – as it offers firmer grip during colder months.
Courtesy of www.thursdayboots.com
Brown wingtips / brogues are less formal shoes that can be worn with smart casual wear. Brogues originated in the marsh conditions of Scotland, and were initially designed with holes in order to drain out water.
Courtesy of www.oliversweeney.com
Thursday Boot Company, a brand quickly establishing itself as a household name in men's shoes, offers an exquisite pair of Brogues. Their Aviator shoe comes in three exceptional colors - perfect for any occasion.
Alternative – Chunky Brogues
For a significantly colder day alternative, opt for a pair of chunky brogues. These are essentially your standard brogues, but with some extra puddle buffer, courtesy of a thicker sole. This is usually in the form of heavy-duty rubber or an extra welt – the piece of leather that melds the sole to the upper portion of the shoe, which helps keep your feet dry.
Courtesy of www.mensstylefashion.com
If you’ve reached this far, thank you for having read through our full detailed guide. That was a lot of information to digest! To summarize, here is a recap of what we believe distills down our entire article:
- Layering during winter season is incredibly important, as it can help regulate body temperature (by allowing you to remove or add layers where / when necessary), while also adding visual intrigue to your ensembles.
- Because winter fashion requires us to wear heavier fabrics, the general guidelines should be helpful: thinner layers (closer to body) to thicker layers (further from body), snug fit (closer to body) to looser fit (further away from body), lightweight fabrics (closer to body) to heavier weight fabrics (further away from body).
- When layering during the winter season, from an aesthetic perspective, try paying attention to the following (1) Each visible layer should be something you can wear on its own (2) Outer hems should be longer than inner hems (3) Progressively scale your patterns, starting with smaller patterns and working your way out to larger patterns with each successive layer (4) If using bold colors, opt for one or two bold colors at most.
- Mid layers are the X-factor of a perfectly layered wardrobe. Instead of wearing one heavy coat, strut a mid layer and a jacket or a light coat. This not only helps regulate body temperature more effectively (as it gives you more options with regards to how many layers to wear based on climate), but it also looks more visually intriguing. Mid layers include vests and sweaters.
- Fabrics that work particularly well during winter months include cotton (for base or middle layers), flannel, denim, leather & of course, wool.
- Neutral colors (grey, browns, beige) can form the basis of much of your winter clothing. However, non neutral colors such as oxblood / burgundy, olive green & mustard yellow can add significant flair to your attire!
- When layering your clothing for formal wear: Woolen Suits, Broadcloth, Twill or Herringbone Dress Shirts, Vests or A Sweater, Types of Sweaters include V-Necks & Cardigans, Types of Coats include Overcoats, Trench coats & Peacoats
- When layering your clothing for smart casual wear: Henley or t-shirt as a base, Oxford, or Flannel Shirts, Cable Knit, Turtle Neck or Shawl Collar Sweaters, Dark Denim Jeans or Chinos and Bomber, Aviator, Racer Jackets, Parker or Duffel Coats or a Woolen Sports Jacket.
- If accessorizing your winter ensembles with a scarf, opt for a drape with formal wear (so as not to conflict with your tie knot). With smart casual / informal wear, can opt for an intricate scarf knot if going without a tie.
- With your ties, instead of opting for standard winter tie colors such as navy, dark greens and dark reds, try opting for something with more punch such as burnt orange or mustard yellow.
- Add textural variation with your choice of ties, either with a woolen tie or a knit tie to add texture and character to your ensembles.
- Silk pocket squares with floral or paisley patterns work best with formal wear, with the designs helping balance out the formal clean lines of geometric / foulard silk ties.
- Linen pocket squares with a paisley or geometric patterns work particularly well with smart casual wear. The variety of folds that can be accomplished with these pocket squares (due to the rigidity of linen or cotton fabric) can add extra intrigue to your attire.
- While Oxfords and Brogues can work with your formal and smart casual wear, colder day alternatives such as Chelsea Boots or Heavier Brogues can work effectively.
And that’s a wrap for this one! We hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as we did writing it.