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Archive for Monday, January 7, 2013

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Style for the Ages: Braving the winter in style

January 7, 2013

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The men's wool winter coat hasn't changed much over the last 300 years.

The men's wool winter coat hasn't changed much over the last 300 years.

Despite the Mayan Apocalypse, the “fiscal cliff” and “Gangnam Style,” 2013 is in fact upon us. The world continues to chug along, and the first month of the New Year is going to bring some bone-chilling weather.

I find that January is often a time when many men abandon fashion for function. But bitter-cold weather shouldn’t defeat your fashion sense — if you choose your classic pieces wisely, they should maintain their usefulness through the chilliest of days.

COATS

Let’s begin with coats. A big issue with many men’s wool-blend coats today is the quality of fabric.

Take a moment to look at the tag along the inside seam at the bottom of your coat. Here you will find the composition of the fabric used to make your coat. You want at least 80 percent wool. This will guarantee not only a longer life for your coat, but also more warmth. The acrylic fabric provides added strength to the wool (in addition to cutting some cost for the manufacturer).

Too many clothing manufacturers have fallen back on selling cheap, thin coats composed of maybe 40 percent wool as a “classic” wool coat.

Don’t let them fool you — always check the tag and make sure you’re investing in a timeless, quality piece that will work hard for you for years to come.

SHOES

You can also continue to wear dress shoes during the winter without sacrificing style.

Shoemakers now offer many of their classic dress shoes with rubber-lugged soles. Anyone who has ever tried to walk on ice in a leather-soled shoe will appreciate this addition.

I would also recommend regularly treating the leather upper of your shoes with oils, waxes or silicone to keep them waterproof and supple.

If you don’t want to abandon your beloved leather-soled shoes, companies like Tingley offer rubber overshoes that easily slide over your lace-ups. Also known as galoshes, overshoes will protect your lace-ups all the way to the office in addition to giving you grip on the icy streets and sidewalks.

And don’t forget, snatch some quality socks to wear under your shoes. I recommend merino wool — with their backpacking origins, nothing keeps your feet warm and dry like these.

BASE LAYERS

What about your legs? Well, if you’re a guy who wears a suit every day, invest in a few good pairs of long underwear. Men have been sporting them for hundreds of years under their pants to fend off the cold, and you should, too.

Sportswear companies like Nike and Under Armour offer a wide range of tights that also provide good base warmth, but I just don’t think you can beat long underwear for its combination of affordability and warmth.

For dressing down, L.L. Bean and J. Crew offer another option — flannel-lined jeans. Not only will these keep your legs toasty with minimal bulk, but you can also add a stylish flair to your outfit by cuffing your jeans just enough to reveal the plaid lining. I guarantee you’ll get some compliments.

As this column has touched on, inclement weather can provide you new opportunities not only to more fully realize the quality and usefulness of your pieces but also to find new ways to express yourself.

In the end, quality will always win out, and fashion can — and should — follow function.

— Vaughn Scribner can be reached at go@ljworld.com.

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