Autumn Tactics


Readers south of the equator will have to excuse the ‘timing’ of this article; it is biased. Even readers north of the equator might consider it a little premature. After all, we are yet to see the end of summer; the yachts are still bobbing, the barbecues still smoking, and yet I am already writing of the autumn. However, I believe in preparation. Although it might be a little depressing to flick through the new season’s wools and cashmere the sooner it is confronted, the sooner the shock will pass. Some time needs to be given to wardrobe changes, additions and subtractions need to be made, and in some cases, our rib n’ burger fatted bodies will need a re-evaluation with the tape measure.

I have compiled a list of four items I have considered – paying a little attention to the upcoming trends, much more attention to the overall aesthetic – as good investments for the coming season.

The suit: Three Piece Suit

While I am definitely a fan of odd waistcoats, nothing quite beats the majesty and impact of a waistcoat worn as part of a suit. Enough has been written of the flattering effect of waistcoats, and of the practical, but the thing that should be reiterated is that a three piece suit will upgrade almost anything you wear with it; it makes one look ‘tailored’ and refreshingly ‘buttoned-up’ in an increasingly casual world. It is important to remember to break up the fabric monotony with a pocket square and the more eccentric may wish to add a rather dandy silver-chained pocket-watch although you should remember not to wear a wristwatch when you do so.

The occasion: The Velvet Jacket

Evening jackets are very different to day jackets. And as the days turn darker, there’s even more of a division. Texture is a useful quality when we begin to layer our clothing a little more and velvet is the perfect foil for dreary grey evenings. Even with a plain shirt and trousers, the VJ will make you look like you have made a decent effort for that after-work cocktail party. Look out for the rakish shawl collared versions that are slowly appearing in the shops. Traditionally made in burgundy, deep blue or black, the VJ can easily be worn with denim.

The everyday: The Corduroy Jacket

If you think wearing a tweed jacket shouts ‘I know stats!’ you might wish to opt for a corduroy jacket. Both are perfect for the bookish, Ivy Leaguey autumn casual looks but corduroy is definitely the ‘younger’ jacket. When it begins to look battered, like a Barbour, it simply looks better. The matt texture allows for great contrasting with, for example, a paisley bow tie or a silk polka dot pocket square. It’s a robust old thing so it will be hard-wearing as well as warm. Dark brown is common, if not a little boring. Try navy blue, mustard or slate grey.

The versatile shoe: The Monkstrap

I love my lace up Oxfords but my ‘friend’ shoes – the ones I always rely on at times of indecision – are generally slip-ons. The monkstrap is not officially a slip-on but the more it gets used, the more likely it is that the strap will remain fastened when the shoe horn is put into action. My uncle has a battered pair of Church’s monkstraps that, he claims, haven’t been unfastened in 10 years. However, these shoes are of interest to more than the purely lazy – they have a character that makes them ‘jump out’ like no lace up; a shiny buckle will attract admiring glances. My particular favourite is the double monkstrap – of which I own a lovely Bordeaux pair; as fabulous with cords and jeans as cashmere and tweed.