Three essential spring coats
The outerwear options to take you from now until summer
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When SAS founder David Stirling coined the phrase ‘Who dares, wins’, he probably wasn’t talking about his wardrobe. But his aphorism holds true, even out of your uniform. It is easy to dress safely. But trying new things, however uncomfortable they might feel at first, is the difference between well-dressed, and just being dressed.
Spring is the perfect time to experiment, for reasons both practical and conceptual. It’s the season of rebirth, which can (indeed, should) apply as much to your personal style as the flowers bursting through the soil. And with the sun hanging around for longer each day, it’s also your first chance to shed all those heavy winter clothes. So this season, don’t close yourself off to the possibility of new hues, new combinations, and yes, even white jeans.
Texture is every stylist’s secret weapon. It’s what stops an outfit looking flat, and gives depth to clothes by reflecting light in different ways. “Fashion is all about contrasts,” says Luke. “Here, we’ve gone with a corduroy shirt, which is just a little bit different. We’ve added suede boots, selvedge jeans and a wax jacket, so that every item has a texture that complements each other.”
Luke’s top tip is to make sure you’ve got a variety of fabrics in your look. If you imagine seeing a photo of your outfit in black and white (so you’re not influenced by colour), would anything still stand out? A cheat sheet of wearable and versatile textures include corduroy, suede, fleece, and even some technical fabrics. The key is to dial up the differences between the materials – so cord and suede, for instance, wouldn’t pack as much of a contrast as cord (ridged) and cotton (smooth).
One word of warning: you can go too far the other way if everything you wear is textured. “I think you probably want your most heavily textured thing to be outerwear,” says Luke. “It’s more balanced that way. For instance, a really fluffy gilet under a Melton wool jacket could be too much.” As with anything, make sure you have something neutral – like cotton – to act as the base.
“One of the benefits of lighter days is being able to play with colour, especially brighter colour combinations,” says Thread stylist Luke McDonald. “You can start throwing pastels and paler greens into the mix.”
A lavender and mint pairing, as shown here, creates a delicious-sounding (and surprisingly wearable) contrast. “Sportswear either tends to be quite garish, or very utilitarian in greys and blacks,” says Luke. “It’s nice to get colours that are vibrant and spring-like, but don’t look too shouty.” Balance your brighter colours with neutrals, so you don’t look like a children’s TV presenter.
“White’s a blank canvas,” says Luke. “It makes an impact when paired with any colour. Wear an orange sweatshirt with it and it’s already a statement, whereas if you did that with blue jeans it’s kind of a nothing look.”
So if you’re a denim guy and tend to stick with safe and casual options, white denim is a surprisingly wearable alternative. Luke’s advice? Don’t team it with a white shirt, or you’ll look like a yoga teacher. “You don’t want it to be too skinny or distressed either,” says Luke. “The whole point is that the colour is enough to carry the impact.”
Tonal dressing is like a wardrobe superpower. “If you’re generally a smart-casual dresser, staying tonal is a way to make things feel more interesting, without stepping out of your comfort zone,” says Luke, who is a firm believer in thinking beyond the default. “It won’t look like an accident. It’s definitely a move away from the light blue Oxford shirt with navy chinos, but it’s not so far-out as to be challenging to wear.”
Finally, when it comes to tonal dressing, it’s important to realise that it doesn’t mean monochrome dressing. So choose clothes in the same colour family as opposed to wearing head-to-toe one colour. As Luke says, “Make sure the contrast is strong enough, so that you’re not wearing the same shade of brown on brown.”
Words: Theresa Harold
Photography: Jon Cardwell
Styling: Luke McDonald and Toby Standing