A good piece of outerwear is like a best friend; it’ll stay with you for years and always have your back. But unlike a best friend, you don’t have to pretend to like a jacket’s girlfriend or pick its kids up from school on occasion.
Investing in some quality outerwear will give you an item around which you can build the rest of your autumn/winter wardrobe, and – most importantly – keep you toasty when the temperature starts to drop.
Here are five trendproof options worth considering ahead of the cold-weather season.
1. The Parka
First invented by the Inuits, the parka is one of the best means of weathering the colder months. A style staple during peak Brit pop years, this coat has thankfully moved on from being clung to a Gallagher brother and is making a comeback for AW15 in a slightly more refined form.
What makes the jacket iconic isn’t just the fact that it’s steeped in history (being a favourite of the 1950s- and 1960s-era mods, too), but also its sheer practicality. Traditionally padded (or at the very least constructed from thick, hard-wearing fabric) with a fur-lined hood, it makes an excellent first line of defence against biting winds and inclement weather.
While there are plenty of silhouettes to choose from – from classic military drab options to contemporary sporty versions – we suggest scoping out a versatile fishtail design in a neutral hue such as khaki green, navy or black, which you can team with everything from overshirts and denim to smart-casual getups like an Oxford shirt, jumper and chinos.
Alternatively, if your everyday style is more buttoned-up than casual and relaxed, a tailored wool parka makes a great utilitarian alternative to the traditional overcoat, bringing a sense of ruggedness to your nine-to-five attire.
Outdoor brands like Canada Goose, Woolrich, Penfield and Nigel Cabourn offer some great down-filled options, whereas British labels Paul Smith and Pretty Green are go-tos for smarter, more streamlined styles.
- Asos Parka Jacket With Faux Fur Hood In Tobacco
- Bellfield Arctic Parka With Faux Fur Hood
- Penfield Lichen Parka
- Blue Harbour Warm Winter Parka Filled With Down & Feather & Stormwear
- Ps By Paul Smith Hooded Shell Parka
- Allsaints Allsaints Ren Parka
- Our Legacy Shield Parka
- Canada Goose Citadel Parka
- Woolrich Classic Arctic Parka
- Khaki Bonded Parka
- Diesel J-izuna Parka Jacket
- Aquascutum Chesterton Fur Trim Parka
2. The Waterproof Jacket
Rooted in pragmatic design, the waterproof jacket has transitioned from something you throw on for a countryside walk in the pelting rain to a style essential, perfectly complementing the ideals of ‘athleisure’.
With a simple design: an unlined manmade outer (ranging from technical materials such as Goretex right through to PVC) complete with two hip pockets, a zip and a hood with drawstrings, a waterproof jacket is an indispensable part of your autumn/winter line-up – and styles currently available are a damn sight more appealing than the trek-ready outdoorsy designs your mum dressed you in as a pre-teen. You can thank Scandi brands like Rains and Stutterheim for that.
When purchasing a waterproof, there are two things to look out for: the material, and the hood. Anything that is made from a breathable fabric such as cotton generally won’t keep you dry (unless of course it’s made from Fjällräven’s G1000 material, in which case you can wax the outer to improve its impervious nature), and if the hood isn’t a good fit, well, prepare for your hair to get properly soaked.
As with most practical wardrobe pieces, outdoors brands should be your first port of call. Names like Fjällräven (Swedish camping gear), Elka (made for Danish fishermen) or Stutterheim (Swedish fishermen, because the Scandinavians can’t get enough of the rain it seems) are all safe bets as their reputations are built on enduring the elements at their worst.
- Rains Short Waterproof Jacket
- Rains Long Jacket
- Stone Island Shadow Project Navy Garment-dyed Anti-drop Coat
- Stutterheim Stockholm Raincoat
- Fjallraven Greenland Jacket Autumn Leaf
- Patagonia Torrentshell Waterproof Shell Jacket
- Private White V.c. Corduroy-trimmed Waxed-cotton Jacket
- A.p.c. Cotton And Wool-blend Gabardine Raincoat
- Aspesi Waterproof Hooded Field Jacket
- Blue Harbour New Fully Waterproof Jacket With Detachable Hood
- Elka Blevand Jacket
- Barbour International Lockhill Waterproof Jacket
3. The Shearling Jacket
A go-to for the likes of Ryan Gosling, Steve McQueen and er… Del Boy, the shearling jacket masterfully combines a classically masculine style with plush comfort. Traditionally made from lamb or sheepskin and featuring an exposed fur collar, some of AW15’s designs are rendered in wool, leather and cotton, offering more contemporary updates on the old-school favourite.
The main advantage to buying a jacket equipped with a large fur collar is pretty self-explanatory: it helps keep the cold from penetrating through to your skin. But it isn’t just an autumn/winter warmer, it’s also the ideal outer layer if you’re on the go, not having the (sometimes awkward) length of a parka or overcoat.
Try one of these with a T-shirt and slim jeans for warmer days, or wrap up with a flannel shirt, twill chinos and boots once the cold spell hits. US luxury brand Coach was one of the first to muscle in on the shearling space in style, but there are plenty of more inexpensive alternatives from the likes of Ami, Reiss and Private White V.C. available this season.
- Asos Faux Suede Harrington With Faux Shearling In Tan
- Alpha Industries Black Shearling Ma1 Bomber Jacket
- Ami Navy Wool Shearling Collar Jacket
- Stone Island Shearling-trimmed Coated Cotton-muslin Bomber Jacket
- Private White V.c. Manchester Shearling Collar Wool Peacoat
- Private White V.c. Shearling-trimmed Cotton-canvas Car Coat
- Reiss 1971 Vice Contrast Collar Jacket
- Penfield Rockwool Down Jacket
- River Island Brown Wool-blend Harrington Jacket
- Maison Margiela Blouson Jacket
- Saint Laurent Zip-up Shearling Jacket
- Levis Sherpa Trucker Long Sleeve Jacket
4. The Leather Jacket
A good leather jacket should be a staple in every man’s wardrobe, but getting it right is more difficult than it seems. It’s best to pick a jacket in a single hue with minimal detailing, as anything with more than one colour (or badges for that matter) should be left to biker gang members and dads who desperately want to be biker gang members.
Black is a timeless choice, but you shouldn’t disregard tan or chocolate – both are good options if you find the majority of your wardrobe is made up of blues and earth tones, which brown complements wonderfully.
Silhouette should be based on personal preference; if you’re more of a loose tees, drainpipe jeans and Converse kind of guy, then a biker jacket is a solid option that will bring a classic rock ‘n’ roll edge to your casual attire.
If, on the other hand, you value versatility, then a sleek leather bomber jacket will make a superb addition to your collection. Able to be dressed up or down effortlessly, it will look just as good teamed with a shirt, tie and tailored wool trousers for the office as it does a simple jeans and tee combination on a night out.
When purchasing, go as soft, buttery and refined as your budget allows. A leather jacket should be viewed as an investment that will only get better with age, developing its own unique character and patina as the years go by.
At the top end of the market, you will never regret purchasing a design from the likes of Schott NYC, Saint Laurent or Belstaff, while on the high street, AllSaints and Reiss offer some great value options that are guaranteed to stand the test of time.
- Asos Leather Harrington
- Asos Leather Jacket With Chest Pocket
- Allsaints Conroy Leather Biker Jacket
- Schott A2 Leather Flight Jacket
- Blue Harbour Genuine Leather Jacket With Thinsulate
- He By Mango Leather Aviator Jacket
- Paul Smith Leather Varsity Jacket
- Our Legacy Leather Zip Shirt
- Reiss Brahms Leather Jacket
- Club Monaco Golden Bear Leather Biker Jacket
- Belstaff K Racer Lambskin Leather Jacket
- Ted Baker Lapeer Leather Biker Jacket
5. The Overcoat
The smartest outerwear style to earn a place in our rundown, a quality overcoat is pretty much non-negotiable unless your wardrobe is weirdly tailoring-free. Not only can you dress down this elegant outer layer with a plain tee, selvedge denim and leather trainers at the weekend, you can also throw it over a suit to protect you on those cold morning commutes.
No longer the gargantuan mounds of wool they once were, you’ll find overcoats produced in a wide array of different fabrics and cuts nowadays. Choose classic navy, black or charcoal grey if you’re looking for a versatile piece that will slot seamlessly into both your off-duty and professional wardrobe, or try a timeless camel version if you want to make a sophisticated statement.
Whichever you opt for, make sure yours fits snugly (but not restrictively so) and ends mid-thigh at the very longest, unless you’re auditioning for a bit part in the next season of Game of Thrones during your lunch hour.
Some standout brands for overcoats include A.P.C., Oliver Spencer, Ami and Reiss – all of which fall back on classic tailoring to give their coats a more casual yet well-structured look.
- Topman Camel Wool Blend Overcoat
- Allsaints Banner Coat
- United Colors Of Benetton Herringbone Wool Overcoat
- Oliver Spencer Salt And Pepper Wool Coat
- Ami Herringbone Wool-blend Overcoat
- Our Legacy Classic Coat
- M&s Collection Luxury British Fabric Pure Wool Coat
- Reiss Gabriel Wool Blend Epsom Coat
- River Island Brown Wool-blend Winter Overcoat
- He By Mango Tailored Wool-blend Overcoat
- John Lewis Wool Cashmere Herringbone Tailored Overcoat
- Ck Calvin Klein Wool Cashmere Epsom Coat
Although it’s hard to part with the cash that a quality piece of outerwear costs, you’ll only do yourself a disservice if you take the budget route on this one.
Before buying, think about how your new jacket or coat will sit with your existing wardrobe, and also whether your chosen style fulfils the functions you need it to – a shearling bomber looks effortlessly cool, yes, but it won’t keep you warm in all parts of the world.
Which style do you reach for when autumn/winter hits?
Comment below to let us know.
5 Key Outerwear Pieces For Autumn 2015
Cover up with this season’s best jackets and coats
Image: Ben Sherman AW15