When it comes to winter, there are some purchases that should never be scrimped on. Things like a good duvet, the better half’s Christmas gift, and preemptively booking a personal trainer for January in an attempt to deflate the yuletide paunch. There are also certain elements of your wardrobe it’s worth investing a little more in than you usually would. While the expense of seasonal festivities can make it tempting to cheap out on your cold-weather clothing, you’d be doing yourself no favours in the long run.
Choosing your seasonal investment pieces wisely is the key to tackling winter in style. It’s also an opportunity to extend a frosty middle finger to the fast-fashion industry. While you might be spending more, you’re buying better, which means less waste, more wears and an overall cleaner conscience. These six pieces are the winter-wardrobe heroes you need to know, all united by three key elements: quality, versatility and timelessness. They’re not cheap, but they’ll have your back in decades to come. Because a proper garment is for life, not just Christmas.
There’s a reason polar explorers, pioneering mountaineers and arctic locals alike have all made the technical parka their outerwear of choice. This beefed-up version of the historic Inuit garment takes the original elongated silhouette and fur- (or faux-fur) trimmed hood and packs it full of the latest and greatest in outdoor advancements. We’re talking windstopper fabrics, durable water-repellent coatings and more high fill-power down than you can shake a feather at. All this warmth comes at a price. Still, the difference in heat retention and build quality between a cheap imitation and the real deal is less of a gap and more of a gaping maw, meaning it’s well worth making the extra investment. With its low hem and puffy shape, a technical parka is best suited as a casual, day-to-day garment. Pair it with other winter warmers like a thick-pile retro fleece and commando-soled boots to tackle low temperatures in high style.
Heavy Selvedge Denim
One way to give yourself a daily workout during the most calorific quarter of the year is to treat yourself to some real denim. These aren’t your run of the mill, wafer-thin, skinny jeans. Rather, this is the sort of legwear that will have bearded men with tattoos on their knuckles coming up to you in pubs to try and start conversations about thread counts and shuttle looms. The best denim is thick, weighty and manufactured in either Japan or the USA, but as well as being a workout for your legs, it’s also not too easy on the ol’ credit card. Handmade using rare machinery and exported for vast distances overseas, premium denim is never cheap. However, for the investment you’ll end up with a pair of jeans that mould and age over time to become something totally unique to yourself. A winter workwear essential, selvedge denim is best worn dark and paired with workaday classics like a flannel shirt, gilet, chore jacket and beanie. That being said, its true beauty lies in the fact that it can be comfortably paired with almost anything likely to reside in your casual wardrobe.
Those crepe-soled desert boots might look cool, but you won’t when you inevitably slip on a wet leaf on the way into work and spill hot macchiato all down your white Oxford shirt. To preempt embarrassing scenarios such as this one, more robust footwear is required. Premium hiking boots have been tipped as a must-have trend for more consecutive years now than we care to remember. Perhaps it’s time we all just accepted the fact that they’re now a fully ingrained part of the winter footwear menu. It’s not hard to see why either. Their retro styling offers a tasteful nod to the past, while premium leathers and a smartened-up appearance mean you don’t have to be Bill Oddie to get away with them. Simply team them up with your favourite denim, a thick winter coat and an overshirt to never worry about a slippery pavement again.
We can say with some confidence that you have never known pleasure until you have slipped a soft cashmere beanie over your cold ears on a frosty winter’s morning. We don’t need to tell you how great cashmere is, you already know. However, if your experience with it ends at jumpers and scarves then now is the time to branch out. A cashmere beanie might be something of a splurge, but it’s a winter must-have – particularly if you’re a little sparse in the hair department. Cosy, luxurious and, if you buy it in a neutral colour, it can be highly versatile, too. In terms of styling, it’s really just a case of throwing it on. There’s not much a cashmere hat won’t work with, apart from perhaps tailoring, but even that can work when styled with a little personality. Just ask Richard Biedul.
It might seem odd to be advised to spend large sums of money emulating the attire of someone who spends their days hauling sacks of fish out of the North Sea, but this Scottish classic is an exception to the rule. Thick, warm and perfect for the winter, a fisherman’s knit is the perfect tool when it comes to bringing a bit of texture to proceedings. Traditionally a term used to describe a ribbed, knitted jumper, a fisherman’s knit can be more broadly defined as any heavy knitted jumper that boasts lots of texture, whether it be ribbed, cable-knit or whatever else. There are plenty of them to be found on the high street, but it’s well worth spending the extra money to get one that’s been handmade by a little old lady in the Highlands, just the way nature intended it. Unless you’re actually a trawlerman, steer clear of yellow rubber waders and wellies, and instead wear yours with dark denim, black boots and a wool overcoat.
Layering and workwear are two of the cornerstones of good winter dressing, and the chore jacket covers both of those bases in heavyweight duck canvas. This workshop hero is built to take a hammering, which means a good one may even outlast you. Warm, timeless and infinitely versatile, it’s the jacket that’s been missing from your outerwear rotation. Famed from its ruggedness and durability, a good chore jacket will be as hard as nails, which means quality construction, a lot of man-hours, which means a significantly lighter wallet for the buyer. It’s all worthwhile though, because this is the sort of garment that begins the pay for itself the minute you realise how much of your wardrobe it actually works with. Layer it beneath a parka in frigid temperatures, or as a standalone layer with knitwear, perhaps even with a light gilet underneath. It’s a Swiss army knife of a jacket if ever there was one.