By: Simon Oates
Indulge me for just a second here; your style surgeon has a dilemma.
You see, Singapore isn’t noted for its changing seasons – the climate tends to range from humid and very warm right through to humid and hot. In many other parts of the world though (the UK and the US included), late autumn has already brought a bitter twist to the weather, and with winter just around the corner the opportunities for stylish layering abound. Here? Not so much.
So you see my problem; how does one provide the sartorial Singaporean resident with enough tips about the kind of style armoury that will see him through the (warm) winter months?
Rather fortuitously, a succession of gentle winters in Western Europe has meant that designers have begun producing what they term “transitional” outerwear – this basically translates as stuff you can wear when the weather’s milder than a plate of sambal stingray but still gives you that well-layered look.
My number one rule when it comes to style, is that the jacket maketh the man, and it’s often the strongest style identifier in a man’s wardrobe. So, invest in one new jacket a season, even if it’s just to keep the aggressive air-conditioning at bay. Outerwear silhouettes this season are set to get longer and looser, and the timeless mac style is perfect for the wetter Singaporean months.
Brit designer Timothy Everest has recently opened his first flagship store in the oh-so-trendy Shoreditch, London, and if you want to bring a slice of Hoxton hipster cool to Southeast Asia then his twist on the traditional mac is just the ticket:
Another personal favourite is this one from Gant Rugger that’s laminated with taped seams, so it’s not only smart but will also keep you dry – even in a monsoon.
For something a little more affordable, and with the added practicality of a zip-out gilet, then this option from Mango is just the ticket, especially if your job takes you to colder climates and you need to look smart.
At the other end of the style spectrum, nothing says cool quite like a leather jacket, and while this has been an emerging trend for a couple of seasons, skin is in for 2016, with everyone from high street to catwalk producing their own versions. King of the silhouettes is the “Perfecto” style made famous by Elvis and James Dean, and Marlon Brando in The Wild One. This season you’ll find this style from any number of brands in a variety of materials and prices, although for me you just can’t beat the original – still available from Schott Bros.
If you want to make some reference to the seasonal climate go for an option with a shearling collar like this one from All Saints.
If the Perfecto is a little too edgy for you then its more mature brother, the “Café Racer”, is another classic option.
And if you’ve got money to burn then look no further than Mr Beckham’s favourite, Belstaff – their version is called “The Outlaw” as worn by Mr B in his recent campaign for them.
Unlike the blink and you miss them trends in women’s fashion, menswear can be decidedly slow-moving, with some trends taking a couple of years to develop and then generally sticking around – for the past few winters the Alpine sweater has dominated knitwear – fine if you’re enjoying some après ski in Val d’Isere, but let’s face it, you’re on the MRT not conquering the Matterhorn.
Maybe it’s the “humorous” Christmas jumper that’s finally put the nail in that coffin (though who doesn’t love a sweater with “Tickle my baubles” written in tinsel?). This season the smart money is to go for something a little more simple and sophisticated.
Once a upon a time, buying a cashmere sweater was a major investment – and it still can be if you really want the best, but brands like UNIQLO are increasingly making this luxurious yarn affordable; it’s much finer than regular lambswool and so is much more appropriate to the climate here in Singapore. And, what’s more, the unrivalled soft touch says luxury like nothing else.
If your wardrobe needs a colour update this season then invest in a bright knitted sweater – they’re “bang on trend”, as they say.
Again, if you want to break the bank, head to Saint Laurent and buy their bright green cashmere effort, or Acne’s acid-yellow number; but if you’re on a budget, UNIQLO and COS have a spectrum of technicolour options, like these below.
Finally, for those for those of you who fancy a spot of 70’s nostalgia that doesn’t involve flares and TV stars with questionable backstage habits, the roll-neck sweater makes a comeback for the winter.
I’m not talking about the big heavy numbers worn by Himalayan explorers or submarine captains; think something more refined like Daniel Craig in Spectre – just make sure you pick something lightweight and easy in a comfortable yarn like cotton, or merino. John Smedley has some excellent options and since they’ve been knitting gentlemen’s sweaters for the best part of 150 years, you know you’re in safe hands.
Until next time!