"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall,” once said F. Scott Fitzgerald. And even if the legendary novelist was probably referring to more loftier notions than fashion, we still think that his sentiment holds true when it comes to all things sartorial – because although spring is often viewed as the time for renewal and rebirth, in the case of menswear, there is no season more reinvigorating than autumn. The lightweight seersucker shirts, Sunspel trunks and canvas sneakers are packed away for yet another revolution around the sun, and out come the sumptuous shawl cardigans, the enveloping duffle coats, and the chunky, all-terrain boots – the louche, rakish looks of balmy days are long gone, and the swathes of down, cashmere and flannel are in bloom.
But with this blossoming of heavy-duty gear comes an embarrassing abundance of choices, making it difficult to decipher whether you need tweed or tartan – and with many of us constantly trying to keep up the with the rapid pace of modern day demands, it can be an exacting task to constantly refresh your seasonal wears.
Which is where we come in: below is a tightly curated selection of the finest, most timeless autumnal essentials that'll help you transition into the breezier months ahead…
Hold on to your baggage: buy big when it comes to the luggage department
Given Britain’s renown for downpour and dour conditions at the tail end of the year, an open, beach-ready, easily accessible cotton tote just won’t cut it when trying to protect your daily essentials while you move from the home to office, meeting room to bar. Something sizeable, heavy duty, pared-back and with zips – a holdall, for example – won't only keep all your gear in good nick, but will round out your ensemble nicely, too, giving you the appearance of a man constantly on the go. Moreover, not only will an overnight-style case be appropriate to use when doing your daily errands around the city, but it’s also ideal to store a few day’s worth of clothes in – the perfect partner to take with you during piercing-cold sojourns to Sweden or Finland.
The Weekender by Bennett Winch is a lovely piece of design – its slim profile belies its ability to stow away quite a lot of kit; there’s an under-storage department for shoes, for example, and its full-grain vegetable-tanned leather shell will take on a beautiful patina over time. The brand’s Large Cargo is a more compact option that’s great for storing a day’s essentials (laptop, gym kit, a change of clothes for the power lunch), and is crafted from waterproof nylon, ensuring complete protection from the elements. Then there’s Charles Laurie’s holdall, a versatile accessory in the sense that it can be paired with almost anything, given it’s minimal detailing and jet-black palette – better still, each one is individually made to order in the label’s south-east London studio, ensuring total robustness for years to come.
Bennett Winch The Weekender
Bennett Winch The Large Cargo
Charles Laurie The Weekender
Seasonal strides: diversify your legwear
With gusts and gales being the meteorological modus operandi for the months to come, it’s time to put the ankles, calves and thighs away, for those Orlebar Brown trunks won’t be coming back out again until next summer’s beach break to Sicily and San Sebastián. Indeed, there are myriad options when it comes to the legwear department – cords, formal wool trousers, selvedge denim – but we believe the below selection should cover most occasions, from countryside strolls to Sunday morning café pitstops.
Defined by its deep pleats – four, to be precise – and razor-sharp tailored fit, the Aleks was Kit Blake’s inaugural pair of trousers and remains a best-seller for good reason: it comes with side adjusters, keeping your outfits free of any superfluous belt clutter; its clean cut allows it to go with desert boots, Oxfords or loafers; and its wool-flannel construction is a quintessential English countryside material, making it suitable for strolls in the Hampshire hills. On the more informal side, this slim-fit pair of jeans by Benedict Raven is cut from a cotton-stretch blend, which allows the wearer maximum comfort while retaining a tapered shape – a great item when scaling the sloping streets of Stockholm during a November citybreak. And for a versatile, no-fail, wear-with-anything essential, New & Lingwood’s navy flat-front cotton chinos can be dressed up with a heavy-wool blazer and derbies, or dressed down with dark leather sneakers during off-duty Sundays in Bergen.
Kit Blake Aleks flannel trousers
Benedict Raven Clifton slim-fit jeans
New & Lingwood flat-front cotton chinos
Don’t sweat it: make knitwear your most hardworking autumn item
There are many things that autumn is synonymous with – auburn-hued leaves; New York in fall; US elections; a certain spiced beverage by a global coffee chain – but, in style circles, the most important association is knitwear. And despite its past reputation as a maligned item that often brought to mind images of schlubby prepwear, the options today are bountiful, glorious and adaptable – a good piece of knitwear can be considered the Roger Federer of your wardrobe, perhaps: versatile, graceful, works as hard as it looks good. For example, a mockneck jumper can be worn under a peacoat to provide both texture and comfort when the winds are in full swing; but on days when the mercury is slightly raised, but it’s still too breezy to wear just a t-shirt, you can jettison the outer layers and wear it as a piece on its own.
Made from a supple cashwool blend that feels like silk, Aurélien’s rollneck is sleek and luxe, and its lack of embellishment or pattern makes it easy to go with a velvet blazer for evening cocktails, or under a padded down jacket when wanting to channel your inner Bond. The Skiddaw, by Hudson Aran, is a more cosy affair, one that evokes images of log fires and whisky at the members’ club – made with double the yarn of a normal knit jumper, this piece ensures extra padding when the grey clouds come in their clusters. And for an item that can be slipped on and off, as and when the weather changes, Uniform Standard, the masters of menswear essentials, offer this sustainably made merino wool scarf.
Aurélien extrafine merino rollneck
Hudson Aran Skiddaw jumper
Uniform Standard merino wool scarf
Protect yourself before you wreck yourself: cover up, from the ski slopes to the city
And finally, perhaps the most important item in your autumnal arsenal: your coat, the first line of frosty defence in the fight against the big chill. You’ve likely already invested in a trench, a down jacket and a shin-length wool coat – now’s the moment to consider lining up a few more heavy-duty pieces that will work across several locations and occasions. Below are the big-ticket items to button up.
This season, all ski slopes, from the Alps to Aspen, will be packed with black North Face shells – if you want to make a statement (and why not while you’re hurtling full speed down the black run?), you can’t really go wrong with Shackleton’s orange-and-chalk hybrid jacket: not only will its bold hues cut a distinct figure for the wearer, but it comprises a parka and a down, which can be paired together or worn separately. Back in the city, Hemingsworth’s windbreaker does exactly that – and it will come in handy during those incongruous autumn days when the heat is on. And for that inevitable downpour, Apnée Swimwear’s parka, made from 100 per cent recycled plastic, will give you full protection.
Shackleton parka + down jacket
Hemingsworth windbreaker jacket
Apnée Swimwear parka
Want more wardrobe upgrades? Here’s everything you need to know about Tencel, and how it could whip your autumn dressing into shape…
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