The leave the corn cob pipe and old silk hat at home
// JJ Brewis

No one needs to tell you that it’s getting colder out. Like trends, weather has a big impact on how we dress. Winter in particular takes a lot of wardrobe adjustment, and many guys have a hard time bundling up without compromising their look.

Nereida Valles, who runs a blog called Urbane Menswear, says, “Definitely keep in mind how you layer your clothes. It’s always fun to do but sometimes men can get too bulky while attempting it.” While it’s true that more layers are sometimes necessary, there are ways to dress for all aspects of the season that can look just as fresh as the milder months.

A few seasonal staples will go a long way. Australian streetwear photographer Giuseppe Santamaria of says that choosing where to spend more, and where to cut back, is key. “Invest in good boots and a nice coat,” he says. “During the winter, they’re the main part of an outfit and you want them to be good quality to keep you warm and look good at the same time.”

This season, the Letterman or “varsity” jacket is a great look, popularized by stars such as Drake and Kanye West. For those wanting that extra touch, finding a vintage Letterman is going to get you a few more cool points than popping down to the mall and finding the same jacket all your classmates will be sporting.

Alternates to this are plentiful for those not wanting to jump on the bandwagon. A nice army green or camouflage print coat is a strong look, as is a denim coat with fur lining. For weather at its worst, a winter standard is the longer togglefastened coat, a look which comes at many price points and styles. For milder days, a Cowichan sweater is a local favourite, provided you get a nice one, not one of the Roots knockoffs.

Boots are already in all the local shops, both new and second hand. “They never go out of style, especially for the fall and winter,” says Valles. “They keep your feet warm and dry while looking good.” The great thing about boots becoming more of a fashion staple is that many looks are now available. Even a really utilitarian look, such as a hiking boot, can work its way into an outfit depending on which pieces you pair it with.

Not all of us, especially on a student budget, have a lot of money to go around. But many basic staples have become surprisingly affordable, including t-shirts and socks. A winter must-have is the Dollar Giant sock, which is a nice warm investment for the price of pocket change. Plain white t-shirts are also a necessity in most guys’ wardrobes, adding a classic throwback to James Dean and Marlon Brando. While designer stores are going to have them available for upwards of $30, you’re going to find essentially the same thing at most big box grocery stores or department stores for as low as $5. Saving on items such as these may help ease the blow when looking at an investment piece such as an expensive coat or pair of boots.

A good look that works on almost everyone is a toque, available at most retailers. This is something that you shouldn’t be afraid to skimp on. They’re available at Army Navy for a solid $1, and will give the same effect as the $30 equivalents.

“Keep it neat and simple. Don’t overdo it,” says Santamaria. This rule is key, but males often have fewer options in terms of personalizing their wardrobe than females. For those trying to define their look, bolder, patterned accessories are a great way to go.

“Colour in the winter is a great way to set yourself apart,” Valles says. “A default during the cooler times is to wear a lot of dark colors; however, adding some brights could make you stand out in a good way.” A neutral palette can look sophisticated, but adding pops of colour in the forms of scarves, gloves, and socks completes the look. A colourful sock, for instance, looks great sandwiched between subdued black jeans and dark footwear, while a patterned scarf goes well with a monochrome coat.

For those willing to give colour more of a chance, coloured corduroy is everywhere this season. A slightly warmer alternative to denim, corduroy is a classic look that has been rejuvenated with some new hues. A bold red or forest green are a nice switch, but traditionalists will be able to find browns and greys as well.

As always with fashion, it’s the details that make the outfit: pay attention to fit, particularly in staple items like collared shirts. “For some reason men tend to go for a bigger fit in their clothing,” Valles says. “When done consciously, it can work, but normally it doesn’t.”

Though seen as more about function, watches and wallets are still part of your outfit. Finding pieces that show your character is important, but sticking to a mature and classic choice will pay off; you’ll be less likely to get sick of a plain leather wallet than a zany one.

“Accessories are great to set you apart. A great bag always does the trick,” Santamaria says. Many different bags are available to not only customize your look, but also add functionality to your lifestyle. Backpacks are great on campus, but for everyday life, something like a side satchel or a briefcase is a good option, and less formal than you’d think.

So no matter what your budget or style is, winter gives a lot of leg room in terms of personalizing your look. Just stick to what’s in your closet, pair carefully, add in a few strong seasonal pieces, and you’ll be ready to brave the flurry of winter in Vancouver. Avoiding frostbite has never looked better.

// JJ Brewis, Art Director
// Illustration by JJ Brewis

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