It’s winter. You know it, I know it, and that half-frozen chap selling The Big Issue outside the train station certainly knows it. But a lot of men these days dress throughout the winter months in the same manner that they do in August, the only concession to the cold being a down coat bright enough to momentarily discombobulate migratory wildfowl.
Before central heating reared its cozy little head, dressing for the seasons came naturally to most men. When cold weather arrived it was a case of either getting out the tweeds or shivering all day long, and when spring sprung tweeds were dumped in favour of lightweight woolens. In addition to central heating, in the eighties and nineties technical clothing began to creep its way from the outdoor shops and B&Bs of the dales to the high streets and workplaces of cities. Wool and cashmere overcoats were shunned, while mountain gear – constructed from the latest heat-retaining space-age fabrics – became ubiquitous. The end result? Commuter trains packed with businessmen who look like they’re on their way to a sales convention by way of Kilimanjaro.
Even though it’s no longer necessary to wear worsted wool and tweed to stay warm in winter, recently I’ve been putting more effort into doing so. Not only does it look more appropriate somehow, it also helps to extend the longevity of my clothes (if I wore my cotton trousers all year round they’d soon wear out). I swap out my summer-weight wool and cotton attire for heavier wools when daytime temperatures fall between 15 and 20℃. As the temperature continues to fall I introduce tweeds, worsted wools and flannels into my wardrobe.
Dressing seasonally doesn’t mean that you need loads more clothes: careful shopping will land you a number of versatile items that can be worn in many ways. One of my favourite pieces of clothing for the colder months is a herringbone tweed jacket (pictured above). When combined with an oxford shirt, wool tie, thick cashmere sweater and flannel trousers I’m able to do without an overcoat on all but the coldest of days. I’m also able to wear it casually on weekends.
It doesn’t rain much in Tokyo during winter (in fact, so far this year it’s rained only once), but when it does I usually reach for my trusty wax jacket with liner. It’s big enough to slip on over a suit jacket, yet snug enough to wear with jeans and a jumper on wet weekends.