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When autumn arrives, in all its hot-one-moment-freezing-the-next confusion, you quickly learn that you can neither stick blindly to what you wore all summer, nor bring your winter wardrobe forward a few months. “Fabrics have different purposes and are intended to be worn at different times of year,” says Thread stylist Toby Standing. “If you want to beat the weather, then nailing your materials is more than half the battle.”

Changeable weather demands clothes with flex. “A heavier fabric will offer more insulation but that doesn’t mean thin can’t be warm,” says Toby. “Right now it’s all about finding textures and fabrics you can layer.” Here’s your starter pack.



Corduroy is a thick form of cotton with raised parallel lines, called ‘wales’. Essentially a rigid form of velvet, it’s been worn by everyone from royalty to factory workers.

How to wear it

“It works best as a layering piece,” says Toby. “Corduroy overshirts are great and right now, they work as a lightweight jacket. Corduroy trousers are also enjoying a comeback, but avoid anything bright to swerve that geography teacher look. Navy works really well because it’s easy to wear, but the cord adds texture and interest.”



Merino is a lightweight, breathable wool. Merino sheep are used to temperatures that go as high as 30ºC and as low as -10ºC, so their wool ideal for fluctuating temperatures.

How to wear it

“It’s a light knit so perfect for crew neck jumpers,” says Toby. “There’s excellent warmth relative to weight, which means despite it being so thin, it’s toasty in cold weather but breathes when it’s warm. It’s ideal for layering because you won’t overheat.”



Ripstop is man-made fabric created using a weaving technique that makes it resistant to tearing and ripping. A military favourite, it’s used for sails and parachutes as well as clothes.

How to wear it

“It literally does what it’s says – stops rips,” says Toby. “It’s incredibly durable so is great for trousers. Its got a really unique texture, which gives a nice contrast to cotton and flannel.”



Flannel is a soft, woven cloth, typically made from cotton or wool. It can be brushed or unbrushed (brushed gives a softer feel) and is traditionally used for bedcovers as well as clothes.

How to wear it

“Flannel is perfect for shirts,” says Toby. “When you don’t want a jumper or jacket, you can layer a flannel shirt over a tee or wear it alone. A plaid flannel shirt is a classic look – think Twin Peaks or Kurt Cobain – but if you’re not confident with pattern, wear it under a jacket to downplay the print.”


Brushed cotton

Take cotton, then brush it with steel rods, and you get a version with a raised fibres which trap heat and feel downy against your skin. It’s warm but lets air circulate, so ideal for cold mornings that become hot afternoons.

How to wear it

“I love a brushed cotton tee, for me it’s the best execution of the fabric,” says Toby. “It has the autumnal feeling you want of being cosy and warm, but because it won’t make you too hot so it’s great for layering.”


Words: Nadia Balame-Price
Photography: Chris Howlett
Styling: Brooke Philips