Dressing for a heated office inside and Baltic weather outdoors is difficult for any man. If you want to look smart and business-ready when it’s dark, cold and stormy; you need to think about fusing fashion and functionality.
To give you a hand, River Island, a leading UK retailer of men’s fashion, has put together a series of expert tips on how to get prepared for this season’s poor weather.
2017 is all about layering and how to do it. Layering is basically combining your clothing for maximum style, comfort and functionality, and experts have proven it’s far more effective to trap body heat by wearing multiple thin layers rather than one thick tier.
However, picking out what top matches what bottoms is simple, but working out how to wear three or more layers that all complement each other and your lower half is much harder. Especially when you factor in that you have to look business-ready and be prepared for bad weather.
Layering provides heat retention and more scope to spin your own style into an outfit. Keep these key points in mind when layering to avoid messing it up:
- Layer from thin to thick: if you get hot, it’s easiest to remove the bulkier top layer at work to cool you down quickly.
- Make sure your outer hemlines are longer than the ones below.
- Be wary of colours: layering means potentially combining several colours in one outfit. For business, it’s best to stick to different hues of the same neutral shades such as greys, navies, blacks, browns, and creams.
- Keep a check on your outline: layering is going to add bulk, so use the right fits and fabrics to minimise losing your smart, tailored silhouette.
- Don’t let your shirt collar hang over your knitted neckline.
- Avoid wearing multiple designs: layering too many contrasting fabric patterns looks messy and immature — not what you need in the workplace.
Outdoor enthusiasts like snowboarders and mountain climbers have been using the layering technique for decades. Adapting it to fashion is another animal. Now we’re going to check out how to layer from base to final tier.
Tops and shirts
Your work shirt is your bottom layer — although, you can wear an undershirt or vest if your office is particularly cool. Go for long-sleeve style to help your arms retain heat and give the formal look that short-sleeve shirts can’t. Wear a thick material for added warmth, such as flannel or denim.
Don’t think you need to change the overall look and formality of your shirt just because the season is getting colder, though. Keep with the stylish button-fronted, turn-down collar and look for shirts with a plain or subtle pattern and tailored design to ensure you look on-point during tough meetings.
Now it’s time for your middle layer — the main insulator. During autumn and winter, the best choice for this clothing tier is knitwear. Whether it’s a chunky jumper, open-style cardigan or cashmere sweater; woollen textiles are champions when it comes to keeping you winter and business ready.
There’s a huge variety of formal knitwear out there. Merino wool and cashmere sweaters are two of the smarter and more luxurious knitwear styles, which make them good options for the office. Plus, if you get these in a V-neck rather than crew-neck, you have the space to show off a tie to add to your formal appeal. If your workplace is more smart-casual, why not wear a plain white t-shirt with a grey ribbed, open-panel cardigan?
Chances are this will be your most visible layer while you’re working indoors, so don’t rely on your final layer to make the outfit. It should look stylish and ‘together’ without any additions — i.e. just the base and middle layers. You can also take advantage of this mid-layer to project a true winter colour, such as dark red, cobalt blue and emerald green to reflect on-trend, seasonal style.
Sticking with plain, neutral-colour pants is best when layering so you can easily complement the potentially more colourful parts of your outfit, like the shirt, jumper and cardigan. As we mentioned, fabric is key when you’re dressing for the office in winter. Go for pants in thicker fabrics, if possible, and wear slim- or skinny- fit styles that can easily tuck into boots and stay safe from the wet ground outside.
Blazers and suits
Wearing a suit or blazer jacket over a knitted jumper or sweater is a top move if you want to project confidence and sophistication at work this season. The first step is to make sure the final layer matches the rest, so check that the colours complement each other and if in doubt, go for neutral. Then, pick a fabric that’s going to keep you warm and comfortable, such as tweed or a wool blend. Since you’ll be wearing these inside, you could probably go for lighter shades, and keep the darker hues for your winter coat.
Shoes are the foundations we build our outfits on, but they’re also one of the biggest barriers between us and the ice, rain and snow. If it fits in with your workplace, swap your brogues for Chelsea boots to dodge wet socks pre-9am. These ankle-cut shoes are right on-trend and go with any trousers, from tapered suit pants to slim-leg chinos, so you’re guaranteed to easily match them with your layered outfits on a dark morning. Even if you don’t feel you can get away with this style of footwear, why not wear them to the office and change into more formal shoes — like derby shoes, loafers and brogues — for the day?
Even though you won’t be wearing it about the office, it’s still important that your coat complements your workwear. For easiness, go for a neutral shade that complements any colour shoe, such as khaki, camel, black, or charcoal.
If your employer expects smart and formal attire Monday to Friday, finish off your layered look with a belted trench coat or double-breasted overcoat to maintain a high-class appearance on dark, cold evenings. For something equally on-trend with less of the formality, borg-collar jackets are ideal for showing off your layers while keeping you protected from the elements. Mod-style hooded parkas and urban-centric puffer jackets are alternative ways to put your own stamp on your winter office style. Wear your winter coat with a blanket scarf and waffle-knit gloves for the ultimate winter- and work- ready sign-off.
This season, think layers and knitwear to strike the perfect fashion-focused, winter-ready outfit.