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Fashion November, 28 2011

Streetorialist Lesson 4: Snowblown

I had meant to dedicate this weeks column to something a little more all-encompassing, but then, almost out of nowhere, winter fell down upon me. Probably should have seen it coming.

As such, other subjects can inevitably be put on hold for a moment or two, while those of us who are, shall we say, geographically less fortunate, deal with the sartorial reality of plunging temperatures.

Autumn tends to be, to my mind at least, the most forgiving season for men’s fashion, and the one that allows the most variety, experimentation, and options. Sweaters and blazers, polos and goose downs, jackets of all weights. There’s plenty of options available. And scarves. Scarves are a man’s best friend. They make everything pop.

Winter, on the other hand, bleak as she is, has a tendency to lock us into a few frustratingly generic looks, and can make it extraordinarily difficult for even the fashion conscious man to separate himself from the herd.

Outerwear is a major market, and there’s plenty of variety to be had. The danger tends to lie in veering too far from that self-aware middle ground between traditional (which can easily slide towards staid if not careful) and ‘fashionable’ or funky. Like the determined aetheist’s wholehearted insistences, choosing a jacket that is intentionally ‘different’ can be seen as reactionary; a specific intent to avoid or respond to the status quo. I’m sure that there’s plenty of cats who can pull off that Supreme x North Face Cheetah Puffer, but most of them live near the Yamanote line.

Continue reading after the jump.

For the rest of us, as with so many other aspects of fashion, a little tasteful minimalism goes a long way. There are plenty of ways to funkdafy (sorry, da brat shoutouts are too few and far between these days) the rest of your outfit. A butter simple anthracite cashmere overcoat can shield your pinstripes from the inclements by day, but throw it over a Margiela shawl collar sweater, some dark denis or coloured Acne chinos, and some Raf Simons hightops and you’ll turn heads at a gallery opening.

Keeping various options is also crucial. I keep an old metallic Neighbourhood Puffer and a knit Duffel by the front door for quick runs outside to walk the dog or grab an espresso at the corner. Both go over most anything, and are simple and unfussy.

The real secret with outerwear is to choose pieces that are traditional in influence, but tweak the details just so. God is in the details, they say, and nowhere is it more apparent than with a topcoat.

To this day my favourite jacket I have is an Hedi Slimane-era Dior military overcoat. At first glance it’s nothing more than a simple black Italian wool, but upon inspection the little touches, black-on-black double stitched motifs on the cuffs, the way the pockets are integrated into the belt, that transport it from a utilitarian garment to a work of art.

Lots of jackets thread that border between dressed up and dressed down, and none more so than that old sailor’s standy, the peacoat. I’m lusting after Band of Outsiders’ Navy Melton version, which adds a touch of ironic country club insouciance through gold buttons and a demi-belt. If you’re looking for something a little more traditional Rag & Bone’s version is clean and crisp, as is Gucci’s, albeit with a slightly more military shoulder, and nice details like suede elbow patches and leather buttons.

Winter fashion can be restrictive, there’s no getting around it. On the other hand, a little challenge to one’s creativity can inspire unexpected inspiration. And that’s what fashion is all about.

Text by @quentincrispy

Read the other Streetorialist Columns here.

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