A Man's Guide To Staying Warm
It is that time of year again. Whether you are braving the knife sharp winds of the Great Lakes, digging your way out of the eight feet of snow in the Midwest, or trying not to drown in the off-season rains in the Pacific Northwest, jackets and coats are a part of your everyday life. Keep in mind, if you are living in San Diego or Miami, we all share in a collective sticking out of our tongues.
Just like every category of menswear, there are many different types, styles, and functions of men’s outerwear. For some guys, just getting dressed is a confusing enough proposition, much less adding another layer on the outside that finishes off the look. Having said that, nothing ruins a suit, or a carefully planned outfit, like a North Face Puffer Jacket.
Each style of jacket has a specific use, and if I can use some industry jargon, “design intent.” Here are the basics, and the best colors and times to use them. You can have one, or all, just remember, unless you are climbing a mountain or shoveling off your driveway, the puffer jacket can cramp your style worse than anything else.
There are, once again, a long list of coats that can be worn with a suit, or more professional dress scenario. Top coats, overcoats, car coats, pea coats, whatever route you intend to go, the purpose is to keep the look elevated while covering up your dressed-up image. The Chesterfield is the most basic, the most traditional, and the most versatile.
Make sure it is of a heavy wool, not just for warmth, although that certainly is the point, but also because heavier fabrics last longer and you don’t want to have to continue buying these. The color of this coat should be in the greys. Either the darker charcoal as pictured, or the lighter hues, all of them will go with any color you wear underneath from black to brown.
Flash it up- It may seem hard to make a coat look trendy, but it is one of the areas where the point is accessories. Wear a scarf that brings some color, or a matching hat and gloves made of a genuine leather for a sophisticated look.
The raincoat has always been a necessity, for some time, it was an unfortunate necessity. There was no real way to make the rubberized, waterproof fabric look great when the rain came pouring down. However, walking in the room dripping from the rain was always a motivator to suck it up and find a solution.
The Trench coat, aptly named for the origins in the trenches of World War Two, was made cool again thanks to Humphrey Bogart on the beaches of Casablanca. From that point on, people tossed it on and wore it, proudly proclaiming, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
The Mackintosh is a more modern version of the trench coat, a little shorter and losing the belt, it is usually a tan or camel color. Don’t be afraid to wear it with anything from a suit down to a t shirt and jeans. The point of this is to keep you dry. However, it doesn’t cover the head, so don’t be too proud to carry an umbrella. I am talking to you, Portland.
Flash it up- If you are going to go all Humphrey Bogart with the Trench coat, don’t forget the fedora, or the booze. With the Mackintosh, don’t be afraid to contrast the lighter color with blacks and dark blues underneath, and fold the sleeves back to show off the watch or the shirt cuffs.
What is it about the “bad boy” that women continue to fall for? Is it the unpredictability, never knowing what will happen next? Is it the desire to nurture someone on the right path? Who knows? What we do know, is that the leather jacket is a staple to the bad boy look.
Typically, brown or black are the colors that you will find these, pick whichever is better for you. If you find yourself in a lot of black and grey, go with a black jacket. If you wear more colors like blues, greens, reds, and browns, then brown is for you. Consider matching this with the color of your casual shoes.
There are all kinds of types, moto jackets, single breasted, bomber. Do some research and try some on, see which ones fits your body type and personal style the best. Whether you are Indiana Jones or Danny Zucko, zip-up, jump on the bike and ride off.
DUFFLE COAT (TOGGLE COAT)
The first three jackets in this list had a specific purpose. The Chesterfield for dress, the Mackintosh for rain, the leather jacket for casual. The Duffle Coat is a great marriage between them. If you so desired, you can wear this with a suit if you dress it up with the scarf and hat/gloves. It also looks great with jeans. With that kind of versatility, this could be the first jacket you buy if you are starting over.
This coat should be of a heavier wool material as well, in the interest of warmth and longevity. The fit should be similar to that of the Chesterfield, longer than the waist but shorter than the knees, with the sleeves extending past the sleeves of the shirt. What sets this coat apart is the toggle buttons. There is a level of sophistication from the small detail, and a great way to elevate any look.
Flash it up- This jacket can look great as a grey or tan, opposite of the Chesterfield is ideal. (If your Chesterfield is a charcoal color, consider tan for this.) However, in an attempt to have a throwback to the British Royal Navy origins of this great piece, try a navy blue to put some color into your coats.
While looking great is always a noble endeavor, there is a point where practicality has to come into play. It is wonderful to have all the coats above and look great while you are heading into work or out to meet friends downtown. However, nobody cares how good you look when you are shoveling the driveway, or climbing Mount Rainier.
This coat can be whatever color you want, go wild, go crazy. Bright orange, lime green, whatever your lady thinks brings out your eyes (if that is bright orange then I want a picture for proof). The idea here is warmth and functionality, you want something waterproof and lined with fur or feathers. Fit . . .if it keeps the wind out and you can do jumping jacks, it fits.
Flash it up- This one isn’t about fashion, but the calmer colors (black, blue, grey) go with more and make it easier to match snow pants and other accessories with. However, no matter what you decide, make sure that you don’t leave with frostbite when you scale that mountain. Best brands for this are Under Armor, North Face, and Eddie Bauer.
So, for all of you that are with me in braving the weather this winter, stay warm and look great doing it. For all of you in San Diego and Miami, I will eventually do a piece on protection from the sun that you can use, but until then, I smite you.