The fall can be a very different experience for people in different locations, especially now that we’re at the cusp of full-blown winter. Snow has officially fallen in the American Midwest thanks to a storm system, but most cities on the coasts and in Europe are still in the freezing rain phase.
Mornings and nights can be quite chilly, but walking in the sun in the middle of the afternoon can still be a balmy experience. A cardigan, a jumper, or a jacket — which one should you grab? Well, it all depends on just how cold it is where you are. With such a wide spread of weather conditions everywhere, here’s us trying to cover you (pun!) for all degrees of sweater weather.
The cardigan has a colorful military history – it was nicknamed after the 7th Earl of Cardigan, James Brudenell, who led troops decked in these nifty “waistcoats” to wage war against Russia over Crimea. A victorious but controversial battle later, the cardigans gained much street cred, if you will, amongst the better dressed individuals of English society.
The Earl in question. Source: Wikipedia.org
Now a staple in menswear especially on chilly days, the great thing about the cardigan is also its weakness: its lightweight, open format. For those awkward spells too warm for a full-blown jacket but too cold for just a t-shirt, the cardigan’s a perfect in-between.
The cardigan is basically a garment with an openable Y-shaped front and long sleeves. With such a simple form, many riffs have appeared over the long history of the cardigan. Most versatile of all, is the button-down, collarless version, such as LL Bean’s or Moncler Gamme Bleu’s.
Add a contrasting color to the placket, and you get a preppy look, like Gucci’s maroon wool version (read: warm!), or the Dries van Noten piece Ben Whishaw wears in Spectre as Q – this one has a zip-up front instead of the traditional buttons, which lends a streamlined, modern feel.
Shawl collar cardigans have been very popular recently, and it’s perfect for Utilitarians and BoHipsters alike. One that features thick weave details like cable knit would provide a handsome, rugged dimension. Or, wear one that’s printed Fair Isles style for Bohemian flair. Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply and Bellfield are great brands to look at.
For the NuDappers, cardigans are a great way to make a statement – Saturdays Surf NYC’s Jacob cardigan in fuchsia will add a punch over a pressed white shirt and navy knit tie. In line with statement-making cardigans is Saint Laurent’s black-and-white crocodile print cardigan: a great update for modern Rebels.
If it gets too cold for a cardigan, it may be time to throw on a jumper. Unlike the cardigan, jumpers do not open at the front and so reduces your exposure to the cold. It’s basically a much thicker version of a t-shirt. That being said, jumpers can also come with collars, usually a shawl style or turtleneck. More often than not, the cuffs and bottom hem of a jumper are fitted with ribbing.
Hurray for Hypebeasts – jumpers have become exceedingly popular noticeboards on which the latest #statements are scrawled, from “I WOKE UP LIKE THIS” to “#HASHTAG”. These jumpers tend to be baggier, thicker, and crew-necked. Lined with a layer of fleece, these are known in America as sweatshirts.
Blank slates as they are, jumpers come in all different styles. H&M and Topman have a variety of jumpers for BoHipsters, Normcores and Utilitarians, with prints ranging from birds to abstract art to knitted geometrics. Preps can wear a collared shirt and striped tie under a tennis or cricket sweater, or Barque’s navy stripe shawl-collar sweater.
Necklines make all the difference. Those going for a classier look should go for woollen turtlenecks – Hugo Boss has muted ones perfect for the Traditionalist. NuDapper? Try Façonnable’s two-toned version. If you live in a place where fall isn’t too harsh, Sandro’s riviera style boat-neck sweater will give Islanders an ol’ jumper with a nautical refresh.
The sleeves of a jumper are another design element to look at. For that breezy sporty look, go for Micah Cohen’s Shades of Grey raglan-sleeved jumper, or Todd Snyder x Champion’s version with a pocket.
When things get straight-up bleak and frosty, zip-up jackets are your best bet against the cold. Thankfully, the vocabulary of menswear offers many forms of such jackets that have withstood the test of time.
The Harrington jacket, originally from British clothing companies, became insanely popular after Elvis Presley rocked a particular Baracuta G9 in his movie King Creole. The same model is still being produced – testament to the timelessness of its simple style, which everyone from mods in the ‘60s to scooterboys in the ‘80s proudly donned.
Harrington jackets can be made of different materials, but are differentiated from others by its lining, usually in Fraser tartan or checks. They tend to be lighter than typical winter coats, but this makes them perfect for layering. Fred Perry, Ben Sherman and Merc all make this classic, in different colors and weights.
Originally created for pilots, or bombardiers, the bomber jacket was engineered for proper cold – that which was experienced at high altitudes in planes without enclosed cockpits. They therefore feature high, wraparound collars, wind flaps that cover the front zipper, as well as ribbed cuffs and hems. Besides skinheads in the ‘70s, hip-hop fashionistas also co-opted the garment, ensuring its reputation as a stylish and versatile must-have.
For the Rebel and the Hypebeast, Black Scale x Golden Bear does a wicked all-black leather version that will surely add an edge to your wardrobe. Tim Coppens’ technical fabric MA-1 varsity bomber oozes Sportif character, while Acne’s suede version gives Utilitarians a layer of luxe.
And who said bomber jackets can’t be slim fitting? For those worried about bombers making them look shapeless, go with PS by Paul Smith‘s and AMI’s fitted versions. If you prefer to tamp down the jet pilot aura, Folk’s corduroy bomber will give you the jacket’s function without screaming F-16.
Last but not least, the parka. Invented by the Caribou Inuit (does it get any colder than that?), made from seal skin, and waterproofed with fish oil (ugh!), the parka has come a long way. While they’ve lost the stench, they haven’t lost their mighty cold-defying powers.
A parka is a fur-lined hooded garment that’s padded with down or warm synthetic fibers, openable at the front. As you may have expected, it was first adopted as a military jacket – the N-3B snorkel parka was used by flight crews in temperatures as low as -50ºC. So yes, very warm.
The North Face (who else??) has a great looking yet functional Gotham Jacket that’s waterproof, breathable, and feature internal pockets to loop headphones through. J.Crew offers a pared down, military style parka, while Italian brand Stone Island has one that looks like business in the front and Arctic ice fishing at the back.
Parkas tend to fall under the style category of “utilitarian”, but in the right color they can also complement more traditional, corporate styles, or even preppy looks. If you’re wearing a suit underneath, Michael Kors’ gray parka affords some sophistication. If it’s a cricket sweater, then Fred Perry’s navy parka with plaid lining should do the job.
This article is part of our Fall Style Diary series. For seven weeks in the fall/winter season, His Style Diary will be offering some nifty advice on how to best seize the final trimester of 2015. Our focus is, of course, style – the colors and fabrics to wear this season, must-have fall accessories, and even something for those who live in the tropics but still wish to get into the mood of autumn.
Next instalment: Fall in the Tropics. Stay tuned by following the tag “FSD2015”!