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While fair-weather fashionistos might mourn the passing of summer, any man who truly loves clothes looks forward to winter. There are more chances to wear the best garms (and more of them at once), but unfortunately that means there are also more chances for things to go awry.
As we get ready to hurtle headlong into the eye of the storm, FashionBeans has grimly compiled 13 of the worst winter style mistakes. (Onesies should go without saying.) Think of it as your sartorial naughty list and resolve never to commit any of them.
The Wrong Headgear
More often an afterthought than a finishing touch to a harmonious outfit, hats strike more bum notes than carol singers. A trapper can look more than a little stylish with a plaid shirt and jeans but will be wildly inappropriate as part of a tailored look. Similarly, a flat cap may fly with beefy tweeds or wools, but go too far with heritage style and you’ll look like a gamekeeper.
Your safest and most versatile bet is a plain, neutral-coloured beanie that’s generous enough to cover your ears but not so oversized that you could be mistaken for a Smurf.
NB. A bobble or pom-pom can be light-hearted; it can also make you look like a man-child.
You can spot them a mile off: draping like cardboard, cut from a material with all the thickness and textural interest of a Rizla paper and fastened with waiting-to-snap plastic buttons.
A quality overcoat is worth saving up for because you’ll wear it all the time and, besides, it’s the only part of your painstakingly constructed outfit that most people will see. Even if you’re not blessed with a generous budget, you don’t have to spend a fortune: there are some great, reasonably priced options on the high street.
Unfortunately, there are also some not-so-great ones, which should be avoided at all costs.
Peak or no, it’s hard to argue with the logic of some additional ‘chinsulation’. Until that is, your once perfectly shaped beard becomes so overgrown and dry that it resembles something used to line a rabbit hutch.
As a rule of thumb, you should be trimming your facial hair every two to three weeks, or paying a barber to do it for you. Maybe even use that scented beard oil that ‘Santa’ brought you last year. (Take the hint.)
There is a fine line, of course. The only thing worse than an out-of-control beard is one that has been trimmed to the point of looking glued (or drawn) on.
These are literally and metaphorically pointless unless your objective is to look like you’re operating a network of Dickensian pickpockets.
Fingerless gloves don’t even keep you properly warm. You might think that the name derives from their design, but they’re so called because when you inevitably get frostbite, your cold, blackened digits will fall off, like charred pigs in blankets.
Here’s a tip to replace the ones that you just lost: buy some proper wool or leather gloves that cover your whole hands. Or have one of your street urchins steal a pair from somebody more sensible than you.
The word ‘puddling’ is typically used in a menswear context to refer to the phenomenon of your legwear collecting on the top of your shoes: a sign that you need to take things up with your tailor.
In wet, wintry weather, it takes on a new and scarcely less vibe-killing meaning: when your trews are so long that they cover the heel of your shoes and dip in the puddles as you walk.
This is not a good look, not to mention grossly unhygienic. If your jeans get any more infested with bacteria, they’ll stand up and walk to the washing machine by themselves.
Related to the above fail, except the puddle is on your crotch, and you look like you’ve wet yourself.
There are many advantages to the athleisure revolution, but wearing light-coloured sweats in the rain is not one. It’s like God Himself has splashed back on you, necessitating the need to spend half an hour in a public toilet with the hand dryer directed at your genitals.
If you can’t bring yourself to swap your Tesco tuxedo for a Texan (i.e. denim) one, then at least opt for a darker colour like black or navy that won’t show damp patches quite so visibly.
The humble umbrella is not the sexiest precaution to take against the elements, especially if you cheap out on a plastic canopy that almost immediately breaks or gets lost.
Budget brollies are a false economy of Ponzi scheme proportions. Think how many times you’ve effectively poured cash down the drain over the years. Chances are you’re probably most of the way to making it rain on a decent, wooden-handle umbrella that won’t turn inside out at the slightest breeze.
You’ll also be more likely to look after a legit one. It’s a smart investment – or a liquid asset.
In summer, a flash of naked ankle says ‘louche’; in winter, it says ‘try-hard’. If you don’t want to increase the already high odds of your close relatives buying you socks for Christmas, then put it away.
As well as looking daft, releasing the mankle out of season is highly impractical, and can play havoc with your ability to thermoregulate. As with your wrists, there are a lot of blood vessels near the surface of the skin at your ankles: exposing them to a polar vortex will send the temperature of your claret tumbling. You won’t look cool, but you will feel it.
This covers a multitude of sins including, but by no means restricted to, canvas trainers, plimsolls and espadrilles. Basically, anything that isn’t remotely waterproof. Even if it looks dry, you will get caught in a downpour, and you will develop trench foot.
On the plus side, you probably won’t make this mistake very often, because your shoes will be trashed quicker than an unwanted Christmas gift.
Practicality aside, summer-appropriate shoes also tend to be slimmer in profile, and thus lacking the requisite heft to balance out the top half of your layered-up winter silhouette. It is bulking season, after all.
When the survivors of the apocalypse battle over near-extinct fossil fuels with the help of a grunting Tom Hardy, they’ll marvel at how we squandered our precious resources on novelty knitwear.
Largely made from sweaty petrochemical-derived fabrics, just-for-Christmas jumpers are a phenomenal waste. The UK spends £300m on them a year, only to throw out 40 per cent after wearing them no more than twice. Sure, you could donate them, but what poor person wants to wear a stupid fucking Christmas jumper all year?
Forget the novelty and go for something that will last you all winter like a Fair isle pattern.
Here’s some clothing 101: when it’s cold, you put on more layers; when it’s hot, you take them off. Sounds easy enough, but it’s just as easy to get it wrong and end up looking like an overstuffed (and overheated) sausage skin.
There are a few general rules to live by, which will help you look more #menswear than Michelin Man:
- Layer from the thinnest to the chunkiest fabric, keeping lighter gauge pieces closest to the skin.
- Each layer should work on its own as well as together – that includes colour and textures.
- Consider proportions; don’t attempt to cram an oversized shirt under a muscle-fit knit, which will result in excess fabric gathering.
- For a Kanye-approved style move, try ‘reverse layering’ by slotting longline pieces under cropped jackets.
- Always feel comfortable. Piling on the layers shouldn’t leave you unable to move your arms like a swole bro.
A new job, promotion, Christmas bonus – whatever it is, you’ve decided to treat yourself to a bank-busting pair of designer suede brogues. Only when you slip them on, finally take a break from admiring yourself in the mirror and turn to glance outside, it’s pouring down. Monsoon-style.
But you’ll be fine, right? It’s only a quick hop, skip and a jump to the bus station isn’t it? Wrong. Traipsing through puddles will cause irreversible damage to the leather, creating watermarks that make it look like your footwear has herpes.
To avoid getting caught out, use protection. By that, we mean regularly apply a hydrophobic protection spray, which adds a water-resistant film to your shoe’s upper.
Owning a solid selection of knitwear is as good for winter survival as it is for style points. What may not be so obvious, however, is that giving your knits a little TLC will dramatically improve their look and their lifespan.
Always wash your knitwear at a lower temperature than the care label states before drying flat, and if it says hand wash, it really does mean it.
Neglect can reduce even the finest cashmere pullover to a bobbled shadow of its former self. If this happens, gently run a razor over the knit to remove the piling or invest in an electric lint shaver.