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What goes with what

The commuter style guide

The commuter style guide

One of the toughest things about getting dressed in the morning is making sure that what you wear not only looks good in the office, but also makes sense for however you get there. Odds are that where you work has central heating and air con, which means you can be comfortable in chinos and a shirt (or a sweater if someone’s been fiddling with the thermostat).

“But on your commute, you have to think about the weather and the varying temperatures of whatever transport you take,” says Thread stylist Alice Watt. “So you need things that are suitable for work, but offer protection and flexibility outside it.”

Striking the balance is harder than just pulling on your ski coat. “Finding something that looks good walking into work, but also keeps you dry if your train’s delayed, isn’t easy,” says Alice. “What’s practical isn’t always work-appropriate. The same goes for pairing gym trainers with your suit just because they’re more comfortable. It gives the wrong impression when you walk in the front door.”

But with our advice, you can make sure that you look as put-together at your desk as you do getting to it. Which means that you’ll impress even if you bump into colleagues or clients on the bus or in the car park. “Dressing appropriately will make your life easier too,” says Alice. “You won’t have to suffer through being too hot on your train, or soaked on your walk. With some core essentials – which will last for years – you can transform your commute into one that is both stylish and functional.


Bike commute outfit

Photographed: Folk yellow t-shirt (£70); MVP stripe t-shirt (£15);MVP burgundy t-shirt (£8)Eastpak grey backpack (£50)

Backpack: “Don’t cycle in your work clothes,” says Alice. “Turning up to your first meeting with sweat stains and mud up your legs isn’t a good look. Instead, roll your office clothes so they don’t crease and stow in a flap-top backpack, which will keep rain out. Waxed canvas or treated fabric is waterproof but doesn’t look like you’re about to tackle a sportif.”

T-shirt: “Have at least a couple of spares packed so you can freshen up when you hit work.”

Cycling cap: “These will protect your hair from being messed up too much by your helmet, or the weather.”

Hair product: “Although some hat hair is inevitable, so keep a tin of wax in your bag for a quick touch-up when you reach work. It’s a quick way to look neater if your office doesn’t have showers.”


Car commute outfit

Photograped: Moss Bros blazer (£159); Jigsaw trainers (£98); Rains waterproof jacket (£75); Illesteva sunglasses (£165); Paul Smith bag (£525)

Wooden hanger: “If you drive in your blazer it will get creased and rumpled,” says Alice. “Instead of chucking it on the backseat, hang it from a proper hanger and you’ll arrive at work looking like you just steamed it. The same goes if you drive a lot to meet clients.”

Waterproof jacket: “You don’t need a warming down jacket, but you might need protection for the walk from the car park to the front door. A refined, minimalist style – in a single block colour – will work with a suit as well as jeans and a t-shirt.”

Leather trainers: “Driving in your leather shoes can crease the toes. So opt for a pair of leather trainers which won’t clash with your suit should you need to dash into a meeting or pop out at the petrol station.”

Leather bag: “Whether it’s for your laptop or gym kit, embrace the fact it doesn’t need to be completely rainproof by investing in something that you’ll look forward to pulling out of the boot.”

Bus or train

Train commute

Photographed: Patagonia jacket (£109)Saucony trainers (£70); Gant scarf (£40); A.P.C. wallet (£135); Larsson & Jennings watch (£215); Ally Capellino rucksack (£295)

Packaway jacket: “If it’s cold outside, it’s still guaranteed to be sweaty when you're crammed against someone’s armpit,” says Alice. “So you need something waterproof that’s easy to remove.”

Scarf: “When you do need to warm up, a scarf and hat are easier to take off and stow away than a big coat.”

Retro trainers: “You don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style. If you opt for trainers without big logos or neon bubbles, then you won’t look like you’re off to the gym.”

Bag: “You’ll need somewhere to stow those layers, but a crowded train is no place for a backpack. Look for something waterproof that can be worn on your shoulders when you’re walking but carried on transport, to avoid any passive-aggressive tutting.”


Walk commute

Photographed: A.P.C. mac (£465); MVP shirt (£18); MVP chinos (£22); Clarks desert boots (£95); London Undercover umbrella (£65); London Sock Company socks (£12)

Lightweight coat: “Walking to work requires you to be prepared for all the weather in one day,” says Alice. “You coat should be lightweight so you don’t sweat when it’s sunny, but waterproof and long enough to protect you from splashes. Just make sure it’s roomy enough to add layers when it gets chilly.”

Dark trousers: “To be as weatherproof as possible, opt for darker trousers or chinos. Anything light will instantly show up rain splatters.”

Umbrella: “The benefits are obvious. We get around 133 rainy days a year in Britain, so it’s worth investing in something more substantial than a £5 pop-up. Anything but black will cheer up damp winter mornings and look for a classic wooden handle, which is both a pleasure to hold and looks great even when not in use.”

Comfortable shoes: “A crepe-soled boot is smarter than trainers but still forgiving to your feet. Look for waterproof leather rather than suede, which will stain in the rain.”