Whether you live for the festive cheer or find yourself counting down the days until summer returns, there’s no denying that winter brings with it a unique set of wardrobe opportunities. Depending on how clued-up of a dresser you are, this can either be an exciting opportunity to get creative with your outfits, or a frustrating period of sartorial confusion.
Here at Ape, it’s our yearly job to guide you through the seasonal uncertainty, enabling you to master cold-weather dressing. With well over a decade of experience following the latest trends, geeking out over classic menswear, styling fashion-editorial photoshoots and immersing ourselves in the world of men’s style, we’ve picked up our fair share of seasonally appropriate sartorial lessons that we’re keen to pass on. Hopefully, they will help to demystify winter style for you and make putting a cohesive wardrobe together that little bit easier.
So, if you’re struggling to make the leap from simple summer outfits to more complex cold-weather style, follow these proven lessons to get yourself on track. From buying the right boots to harnessing the power of texture, here’s everything you need to know.
Think In Terms Of Texture
Developing an understanding of different textures and how they interplay with one another is the best way to take your winter outfits from zero to hero. Tactile fabrics can liven up your everyday looks, giving them depth and personality.
You can use them as a subtle alternative to colour when it comes to creating contrast within your outfits, and when you get really good at it, you’ll even be able to create interesting tonal outfits that don’t lean on bold colours or obnoxious patterns to stand out.
Some key textured fabrics you should be working into your winter wardrobe include thick-pile fleece, cord, wool and flannel. The thicker and cosier, the better.
Buy A Seasonally Appropriate Fragrance
Cold weather saps sillage like nothing else. Fragrances that felt punchy and long-lasting in the summer months may find themselves withering and lost in the frosty winter air. This is why deeper, richer scents are better suited to this time of the year.
We think every man should have at least two signature fragrances: one for summer and one for winter. Where your summer fragrance should be bright, floral, zesty and effervescent, your winter one should be dark, smoky, leathery or woody.
Oud-based fragrances are some of our favourites for tackling the cold weather. They tend to be rich and heavy, which is perfect for cutting through the cold.
Invest In Some Proper Boots
There are a few key pieces it’s worth investing good money into where winter is concerned. For us, a proper pair of boots is right at the top of this list. Buy well, and you’ll be able to wear them for many years to come, resoling and repairing them whenever they need it. The best part is, like with a quality pair of raw denim jeans, they’ll only get better with age.
For maximum longevity and wearability, we always recommend going for something leather with a Goodyear welt. This way you’re good for all weather conditions, and any half-decent cobbler will be able to slap a new sole on for you when the time comes.
A few of our favourite brands in this category include Red Wing, Grenson, Danner and R.M. Williams.
And A Proper Coat
A well-made, versatile winter coat is right up there with a proper pair of boots when it comes to cold-weather wardrobe investments. You’ll want to choose something that matches your personal style, while ensuring it’s warm, durable and can be worn in a number of different ways to get the most out of your money.
Several different outerwear styles work well here, but for us it comes down to either an insulated parka or a classic heavy wool overcoat. Both of these styles are extremely versatile, warm and timeless, with the former offering slightly more in terms of weather protection. Both coats can be worn with anything from tracksuits to tailoring, and if you buy well it could last you for life.
For parkas, check out the likes of Canada Goose, Beams Plus, Nigel Cabourn and Private White V.C., and for overcoats try Mackintosh, A.P.C. Acne Studios, Asket and Reiss.
Denim Should Be Dark
Light-wash denim is great, but it works best in the spring and summer. For winter wear, dark colours are the way to go, which is why we think every man should own a quality pair of indigo jeans as we head into the cold, dark months.
Raw denim can be stiff, heavy and uncomfortable at first, but it will conform to the contours of your body over time and develop interesting fades unique to you and your lifestyle. We’d suggest going for a pair from a well-established Japanese or American brand and wearing them day in, day out.
If you’re strapped for cash, Uniqlo makes some cheap-and-cheerful selvedge jeans that look the business and cost under £50.
Ditch the baseball cap and tote bag, and embrace the change of season with some winter-appropriate accessories. We’re talking beanies, scarves, gloves and anything else that will help to add a little flair to your winter outfits.
As far as gloves, scarves and beanies go, why not invest in at least one cashmere item? Accessories are the perfect vehicles for bringing a touch of this famously extravagant fabric into your wardrobe without breaking the bank, and you can wear it with pretty much everything.
Incorporate Patterns & Bold Colours Sparingly
Bold colours and jazzy patterns can make your winter looks pop, but it’s important not to overdo it. Clashing colours and mismatched prints can be headache-inducing, and are a dead giveaway that you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you want to look put together, the best way to work a bit of colour into any given outfit is to stick to one bold piece per look. If you’re wearing a brightly coloured beanie, for example, keep the jacket, pants and shoes neutral and understated. Or if you’re styling an intricately patterned sweater, make sure there aren’t any other statement pieces fighting it for attention.
Don’t Neglect Your Knitwear
Knitwear is a well-dressed man’s best friend when the temperature takes a nosedive. It looks great, it’s warm and it’s perfect for layering up.
There are so many different knitted garments to choose from, but if you’re starting from scratch, we’d recommend going for a simple crew neck sweater and a cardigan. These are two classic pieces with huge layering potential, and you can make them as timeless or as trendy as you like depending on the fabrics, colours and patterns you choose.
To keep it classic, stick to neutral block colours in lambswool, merino or cashmere. Or for something more ‘of the moment’, go for mohair in a dark floral print.
Winter style is all about layering, but don’t feel like you have to stick to the time-honoured template of coat > crew neck > T-shirt. There’s a whole world of cool layering-friendly pieces out there just waiting to be styled, so think outside of the box and give your cold-weather looks some individuality.
Garments like gilets, sweater vests, roll necks, mock necks, quarter zips, oversized hoodies and collarless jackets are all fantastic for wrapping up in style, so play around with some different silhouettes and see what works for you.