Nov' 2004


Dressing For The Autumnal Transition

It’s not saying goodbye to summer that I hate or the onset of autumn that I dread, it’s the unpredictable period stuck in between – that awkward transitional period when it’s possible to experience multiple climates moments apart.  That ‘inbetweener period’ from one season to the next can be made markedly easier, however, by stocking up on a few versatile and practical essentials that will work with all manner of outfits for months to come.

Here are my key pieces for this transitional period between Autumn and Winter:


Lightweight Base Layers 

Nothing keeps you warm like a quality knit.  For most of us it’s still a little early to break out the big guns, so stick to lighter gauge knitwear until winter hits in earnest.  Roll necks and pullovers in temperature-regulating merino wool, breathable cotton-blends and unbeatably plush cashmere are all worth considering.

If you’re looking to invest, prioritise versatile colours such as navy, grey, brown or beige, which will match with almost everything in your wardrobe.  If you’ve already got your neutral bases covered, consider acquiring a more seasonal option in burgundy, bottle green or burnt orange to give your cold-weather looks a seasonal lift.

Unlike their chunkier cousins, lightweight knits  can be easily layered under or over a shirt or tee and worn under a jacket or blazer without running the risk of looking like a fitness magazine’s unfortunate ‘before’ picture.


A Classic Cardigan

Once the unofficial uniform of university lecturers, thankfully the shawl neck cardigan has gone global, meaning you don’t need an eye-wateringly high IQ to wear one.  Wearing a cardigan, at least a standard issue one, can have a tendency to get a bit geriatric in the wrong hands, but you’ll have no such issue with a shawl collar.

Play to this preppy design’s strengths by teaming a navy version with a roll neck or classic knit, wool trousers and smart boots.  A camel shawl collar cardigan, meanwhile, will pair handsomely with a denim shirt, slim fit jeans and black boots, torpedoing the myth that men can’t wear lighter colours in winter.


Wool Trousers

Not all trousers are created equal.  While colour and cut might be the most common considerations, fabric should also rank high on your list if you want to keep your crown jewels from the cold.

Even though some cotton trousers are hardy enough for winter, wool styles promise the best combination of warmth and comfort.  In recent seasons, a growing number of designers have joined the unofficial campaign for a wider leg cut, and although it makes for a (roomy) statement look, it’s not for everyone.

To ensure longevity, opt for a slim – not skinny – cut instead and wear with a shirt and blazer for buttoned-up occasions or a roll neck and suede bomber jacket for an on-point high-low outfit combination.

Colour-wise, these usually look best in timeless black, navy and grey, but shades of deep green and burgundy also work well.  To add some textural interest to your lower half, keep an eye out for a flecked, herringbone or melange designs.


Smart Boots

Looking good underfoot isn’t much of an issue when the sun’s shining, but you’ll need to rethink your footwear strategy once the leaves start falling.  For something that’s smart and stylish but won’t wither in the rain and snow, add a pair of well-built brogues, Derby or Chelsea boots to your shoe rack.

Smart but sturdy offer more coverage than a pair of shoes but are no less versatile.  Dress them up with smart trousers or a suit and they’ll fit in just fine at most formal events, or keep things casual by teaming with a pair of selvedge jeans with the hems rolled up.

When it comes to the finer points, ditch delicate suede for resilient grain or matte leather in classic black, rich tan or chocolate brown so they can be polished regularly as part of their upkeep.  For enhanced durability (and to ensure you’re not coughing up for another pair of boots next autumn), keep an eye out for Goodyear-welted styles with a rubber or leather sole, which are solidly built and offer plenty of grip for braving spells of adverse weather.

When it comes to shopping for trans-seasonal pieces, it’s important to bear in mind this guideline: buy items that resonate with the coming season as opposed to the last.  This will ensure you get true value for money by investing in garments that will continue to be relevant for the next nine months and beyond.

Get The Look: