Winter to Spring Transitional Fashion Lookbook | Spring Outfit Ideas 2017 | Miss Louie
How to dress for spring
1. Double up your denim jacket
It might sound counteractive, to put it politely, but wearing a denim jacket under another jacket is a trend that's gaining traction, with good reason: "It adds warmth but not too much and creates an interesting contrast of fabrics," says Aaron Christian, co-founder of style blog Individualism. "Plus you have a built-in option if you need to cool down or go casual for the evening." You can even throw over smarter, tailored pieces such as a blazer or overcoat. "A fabric with a bit of weight or texture, such as tweed, works well against denim," says Christian. "This is a casual look that can be smartened up."
"A small collar will fit neatly under your blazers," advises Christian. About 2in from the point to the fold is just right.
You'll also need it slim to prevent bunching. "Fasted it over a T," suggests Christian. "If you can just fit two fingers down the neck, it's perfect."
Ideally, you should have a bit of denim poking out at your cuffs. "Watch out with vintage jackets: they're often short in the sleeve," says Christian.
2. Rock your roll-neck first
Well, after a T-shirt or vest, but before your shirt. "Worn with a jacket or blazer, this is a warmer alternative to a shirt and tie," says Christian. "Avoid chunky knits and thick fabrics like cashmere: merino or even cotton will be cooler." Thinner layers go closer to the body, so make the shirt thicker. Keep everything else but the heating dialled down. "This look is already a statement, so a patterned roll-neck will draw too much attention," says Christian. "Keep to understated block colours: grey and navy are a safe bet and will go with pretty much everything."
Rock the roll
Make sure whatever you wear underneath it doesn't show through: it's the equivalent of VPL." Albam (albamclothing.com) does good seamless Ts," says Christian.
"The thinner the fabric, the slimmer your roll-neck should be." By fabric, we mean "you": fine and fitted is not for lapsed gym members.
Don't tuck it in. "It may look great on models and mannequins but that is usually because it's pinned," says Christian. If you're tempted, it's too long for you.
3. Fire up a blazer with a shawl
Most men know they can wear a bog-standard cardigan under their blazer. But you're not most men, which is why we're going to tell you to try a shawl collar. "This is a styling move-on from the traditional cardie, which is itself the modern alternative to the waistcoat of a three-piece suit," says Mehmet Ali, design director of Hardy Amies. "The shawl-neck is a more preppy, casual way of achieving the same effect. The collar sets it apart from the norm, both visually and in that you can turn it up to act as a windbreak." That V-shape, meanwhile, is more than just enhancing the results of all those pull-ups. "It also allows your jacket to be left open and still look smart," says Ali. Not to mention more knowledgable than the next man.
Collar the right knit
You don't want the shawl collar to compete with the lapels of your blazer. Ensure there's differentiation in thickness and in the depth of the V.
You should steer away from chunky cable patterns and toggles. Exterior pockets are another giveaway that your knit is meant to be the outermost layer.
The shawl dresses things down, so a blazer with a sporty or textured vibe is best. "The look works with casual trousers or denim too," says Ali.
4. Fill out your blazer
The Italians and Japanese have been up on these for a while: tailored jackets, which are almost like coats, featuring padding for insulation and in some cases waterproof fabrics. Now they're available everywhere from Chinese brand Bosideng to Savile Row's Hardy Amies. The benefit is obvious: rather than two too-warm layers, it's one at perfect thickness. "They combine functionality with style," says Ali. "They're great for colder days and will even fit under a mackintosh or overcoat." Don't go teaming them with your best collar-pin shirt though. "Although they look smart, they're more casual than a normal blazer," says Ali. Go easy, Gatsby.
It's a blazer-coat but it should fit like the former: slim with high armholes and just enough room for a light knit under it.
The more technical (read: shinier) the fabric and colourful, the more casual it is. Navy or grey flannel is safe for work
"Padded blazers are smart enough for work but too warm to be worn inside," says Ali. That light knit completes the look.
5. Tailor a mac to crack downpours
It's not exactly cold. But it is definitely wet. What you need is a waterproof outer layer that is several degrees sharper and more breathable than a refuse sack. In short, a mac. "It can work with both formal and casual looks," says Ali. "The perfect mac is made from bonded cotton, so it's light, and seam-sealed by vacuum-heated tape. "Because of that, it's also unlined, which means it can be worn comfortably over a tailored jacket," says Ali. Less bulky than trenches, macs are also single-breasted, so you can leave them open to showcase your layering. (As a guiding principle, anything double-breasted should be kept done up.) And, unlike the Apple variety, you won't need to update it every year.
Be a mac daddy
A 3/4-length cut is just enough coverage. "Your legs will look longer than with a classic mac, which is cut below the knee," says Ali.
Make sure you wear a blazer when you try on your mac, so you can verify that it has enough room to layer up, particularly around the shoulders.
The mac's simplicity is its versatile virtue; plain stone or navy will switch most seamlessly between smart and casual.
6. Figure out the "Shacket"
Is it a shirt? Is it a jacket? It's indisputably a terrible name. But a shacket is useful on days when the weather can't make up its mind either. As the name suggests, it's a hybrid of a shirt and jacket. Wear it over a normal shirt for insulation without stuffiness. "It's a great laidback alternative to a blazer or jacket," says Christian. "You can even dress it up, with a chambray shirt and knitted tie. But it's not formal: don't wear this if suits are required." Save it for casual Fridays or the weekend, with a T-shirt. It's 'freekend' wear, if you like.
The shacket uncovered
"It should fit slightly bigger than a normal shirt, so you can wear it over layers," says Christian. "You should try a size up."
"Look for a heavier fabric than normal," says Christian. Army or lumberjack-style shirts fall into this category. Otherwise, it's just a shirt.
Grey or navy is your best bet, although olive is versatile and will distinguish you from the rank and file.
7. Take your knit outside
By now you've come to terms with wearing cardigans; the next step is to get comfortable in them instead of your blazer or coat. Which should be easy, because it is comfortable. "A knit can be more breathable than a woven wool blazer or overcoat, says Ali. (That unironic Christmas jumper from Grandma is the exception). But take note: while your knit can replace your blazer, it's not a like-for-like swap: even with a shirt and tie, the overall effect is smart but more casual than corporate. "It only works when the mood is relaxed," says Ali. Loosening up has its perks though: "It has the advantage of drape, which can make layers underneath more visible." You don't want your coat to hide all the effort you put in.
Stitch your outfit together
"A shawl collar is good for knit outerwear as it wraps around your other items," says Christian. "A belt also helps to create a nice silhouette".
"A waistcoat in a less formal, more textured fabric something like a boiled wool twill works really well," says Ali. You'll also look smart when you de-knit.
Design touches such as toggles make your knit more outerwear-y but less office-y. "These details are more casual," says Ali. Best to keep them for the pub.
8. Swap your gilet and your jacket
This is another move that designers and brands are borrowing from the Italian style playbook. "The extra warmth is the main reason, but it's also an interesting modern twist," says Ali. Plus it avoids your jacket flaring out as though you're wearing a skirt. But don't attempt to stuff a down-filled puffa under your blazer: you'll be too hot. Instead, plump for an ultra-light gilet, the likes of which can be found everywhere from Brunello Cucinelli to Uniqlo. "The jacket should retain its natural shape and not be too bulky," warns Ali. "Heavier gilets should be worn over, as long as the jacket has a short cut." Besides, bulking is what you do in the winter, bro.
Analyse your bodywarmer fat
Work out if your gilet is in the right weight category. "A guide is if the central button of your jacket can be fastened without it pulling," says Ali.
A matte finish is smarter but a shinier material can contrast nicely against a textured fabric like flannel or tweed, just as silk tie or pocket square does.
Oh, and take it off when you get back indoors, obviously, otherwise you'll look weird. Put your blazer back on again if you need to.
9. Customise your biker jacket
The classic moto was in so many of the spring/summer 2014 collections thanks chiefly to Heidi Slimane at Saint Laurent Paris that the menswear shows resembled aSons of Anarchyfan convention. The new way to wear it though and get even more mileage out of your investment is as if it was a blazer: over a knit (or in this case hoodie), shirt and even tie, with tailored trousers to rev up the visual contrast. But don't be fooled into thinking this is a formal look. "It's still very much on the casual side of smart-casual," says Christian. You could even try it over a roll-neck for a similar but less statement-y formal-meets-tough effect. "Over a denim jacket can also look good, as a biker is similarly rugged," says Christian." Well, jacket on jacket should be simple now that you're a layering pro.
Dress easy (Rider)
Biker jackets can come with a lot of hardware, but the plainer it is, the more naturally it will layer with smarter pieces. "A clean, grain leather works best," says Ali.
The bottom of the jacket should hit just around the waistband of your trousers. Even though you're layering buy it tight as it'll stretch; too baggy and it'll say 'midlife crisis'.
Check under the bodywork. "A good biker will often be quilted from the inside," says Ali. Did we mention that you'll want to layer it up with confidence?
10. Go nuts with knits
Now that you're au fait with roll-necks and chunky cardigans, it's time to level up. "The advantage of layered knitwear is flexibility," says Ali. "You have more freedom of movement than with a woven fabric, and you can layer and discard pieces as you see it." A light knit can also be less suffocating than a weave, as air can pass through the looser material. Some things are still rigid, though. "The order is important," says Ali. "Start with the finest gauge and most amount of coverage: for example, a 12-gauge roll-neck, followed by an 8-gauge cardigan and then a chunky cardigan on top." In English: thin, thicker, thickest. Remember that whole 'knitwear is outerwear' thing we were telling you about?
Knit on knit unravelled
You don't have to know the gauges, but there should be a discernable progression in texture from fine to coarse.
You'll want to wear lighter knits such as merino or cotton. Layer cashmere on cashmere over more cashmere and you'll melt, or combust.
No tailoring makes this more casual but dressier than a cardie with a T. "It's quite smart," says Ali. Think date night or the in-laws.
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