Yes, we know. January is one of the most difficult months in the calendar, both weather-wise and all-round-glumness wise. But that doesn’t mean it automatically has to be something to grit your teeth through when it comes to your wardrobe. Though it seems everyone’s thoughts immediately turn to health and fitness at this time of year, that is not the only way to reset your attitude for 2020. Indeed, you may find that tackling your sartorial wellness will also reap dividends. So, why not pep things up a little bit? Yes, rather than fading into the grim, grey background with the dark, funereal ensembles we associate with the heart of winter, opt for something colourful that stands out and makes you smile. Spring 2020 is, after all, just around the corner and the first glimmerings of its new collections are beginning to arrive in the shops. So, make the most of them and set your style barometer to “positive” and “upbeat” – goodness knows we all need it. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. PICK A PATTERN
Staying warm doesn’t have to be a morose affair, especially in the current era of menswear, where a certain thrown-together, thrift store-like aesthetic has dominated for some time now. This outfit is a great way to break out of that mould: startling colours (yes, you can wear white in January if it’s corduroy), Birkenstock shearling-lined sandals and, crucially, that pleasing contrast between checked patterns on the scarf and coat. The reason it works is that the scarf’s check is far wider than that of the coat – rather than melding together into a foggy mist of squares, they stand out against each other.
2. TAKE A HIKE
In recent years, the visual language of technical outdoor gear has infiltrated the more trend-driven world of designer and luxury brands. And the best thing about this is, in winter 2020, you can dress in a way that is practical and still look like you’re on the cutting edge of fashion. Hurrah! So, don’t be afraid of fleece: here, we’ve actually put two on top of each other, a practice that’s particularly useful if you are having a good climb around like this chap pictured, because when you get too hot, you can simply lose a layer. The inherent design of technical sportswear, of course, also gives you a little more licence when it comes to colour – if you’re up a mountain (or just trying to look like you might be at some point) a bit of a clash is no big deal. Orange sneakers? Sure, why not?
3. PILE IT ON
Extremely cold weather comes with the implicit permission to wear a lot of clothes at once, which means that January is actually a time where you can test out some unusual combinations. Here, we’ve mixed garments with three different collar types – a rollneck, a zip-up shirt and a ribbed-collar bomber jacket – to pleasing and, perhaps, surprising effect. Now, we’re not suggesting you go out straight away and replicate this entire ensemble – although, trust us, you could – rather that you approach your January outfits in the spirit of experimentation. The rollneck is a particularly good starting point, as it will peep out pleasantly from under many types of outerwear. If you’re not keen on wearing a sweater as a bottom layer, as illustrated here, be advised: designers have also created jersey rollneck pieces this winter, which should provide a slightly more flexible substitute.
4. LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
You can read a lot of rather dubious things on the notes handed out at fashion shows. This designer has read a book by Mr Roland Barthes and is now wondering if clothes can even be said to exist. That house is re-interrogating its historic connection with water polo, or Bronze Age ceramics, or cheese. How nice, therefore, to discover the word “optimism” on the mood board at Prada’s spring 2020 presentation in Shanghai. But it’s not surprising that it actually translates quite clearly into the clothes – this field jacket is the sort of colourful, technical and wry piece that the Italian powerhouse excels at. We challenge you to throw it on and not feel your mood lift.
5. TRUST IN CASHMERE
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: if you’re looking for one piece to turn winter’s biting winds into something more reminiscent of a warm hug, cashmere is the yarn to seek out. It’s light, it’s warm, it’s soft: what’s not to love? But just because the cashmere crew-neck sweater is a classic choice, it doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Take, for example, the varieties offered up by Los Angeles brand The Elder Statesman, which is known for its innovative use of bright colours (such as this emerald green, above), witty prints and a glorious range of eye-catching tie-dye techniques. Here, we’ve matched this bright piece with a scarf in a darker green, adding depth and texture to the overall impression.