Put the polos and T-shirts away; it's fall, the best season for menswear.
This is the time of year when layered looks and textured fabrics come into play.
Stock your closets with the essential autumn looks — you'll be wanting each one of these classics in your size and style as soon as the leaves start to fall!
1. Gray Flannel Trousers
Savor the first day cool enough to bring your gray flannel trousers back out of the closet. Dark gray trousers in soft wool flannel are sturdy, warm, and look good with almost anything.
Pair them with a tweed jacket for old-fashioned country casual, or throw a shirt and tie on under a cashmere sweater for classic schoolboy prep. It's worth adding a few different pairs of gray flannel trousers to most wardrobes.
Play around with herringbone weaves, light striping or windowpane checks, and lighter grays to vary your outfits up. You'll always have a solid base for the rest of your clothes when you've got some gray flannels ready to hand.
2. Tweed Sport Jackets
The tweed jacket, made from a rough, unfinished wool, has its origins in the British countryside.
Good tweed jackets have colors worked into the fabric to give it a textured, slightly-speckled appearance. You can get tweeds in a wide range of colors; earth tones are the most common and the best for fall.
Wear a tweed jacket with gray wool trousers or a pair of corduroys for a relaxed fall look. It works equally well with a dressy white shirt and tie or just a plain black long-sleeve T-shirt.
Your outer layer stays thick, rugged-looking, and fall-colored. The texture gives you some visual interest and the tapered shape of the jacket flatters your upper body. Casual touches like elbow patches and ticket pockets are perfect on a tweed jacket.
Sport jackets are great for just about every fall activity, so plan on wearing yours to football games and walks in the woods as well as business and social engagements. As with flannel trousers, a couple different tweed jackets in varying colors and weaves gives you a flexible wardrobe that you can mix and match with other pieces.
3. Colored Corduroys
Corduroy is a ribbed fabric that makes great casual clothes for men. It's soft and thick, making it perfect for cooler weather, and the ribbed texture gives it visual interest.
You can get “cords” in just about any color — dark browns and tans are common options for a slightly dressier look, but there are plenty of good manufacturers out there making corduroys in things like lemon yellow and bright turquoise as well.
You can wear cords with just about any casual outfit. They're a little tricky to work into business dress — if you're going to wear them to the office be sure you're over-dressing the rest of the outfit, pairing the cords with a good shirt and tie and a snappy blazer to balance out the relaxed lower body.
Corduroy is also sometimes used to make sports jackets. These have an old-fashioned look to them and often come with elbow patches or other casual accents; wear them on college campuses or to sports games for a timeless look. Oversized accordion pockets for holding books are the ultimate addition for a “rumpled professor” jacket.
4. Cardigan Sweaters
Cardigans are open-fronted sweaters. They can range from a tight-knit, lightweight cotton sweater with a zipper front — just a small step up from a sweatshirt, really — to a big wool sweater with a shawl collar and wooden “toggle” buttons on the front.
Cardigans are basically an alternative to a sport coat (though you can wear both for a busy, layered look). They give you a warm outer layer without turning your upper body into a single, solid block.
You can wear them over a patterned T-shirt for a trendy look or with a collared shirt for something more old-fashioned. Knit cardigans with a shawl collar and lots of extra fabric are almost like wearing a blanket — expect the ladies to want a snuggle.
Don't be ashamed to look a little nerdy in your cardigans. They're an old-fashioned college kid style. Enjoy looking young again! As an added bonus, a lot of adult men avoid cardigans, meaning you'll stand out in a crowd.
5. Cashmere Sweaters
We'll put an extra word in for cashmere sweaters of any kind — crewneck, V-neck, or cardigan, they're fantastic pieces of clothing.
Cashmere is a lightweight wool that comes from the underhairs of goats that live in very dry, rugged regions.
It makes clothing that's warm without bulk or weight, meaning you can wear cashmere sweaters in layered outfits without the puffiness that a regular wool sweater of the same warmth would give you. It's also soft to the touch and can be worn against the skin much more comfortably than coarser wools.
Throw a cashmere sweater on over a dress shirt and under a blazer for a layered variation on business casual, or wear a V-neck cashmere sweater with a T-shirt and jeans for an effortless social outfit. Get some bright colors to spice the wardrobe up as well as the basic grays and earth tones.
6. Suede Shoes
A fall style that most men overlook: the suede shoes. Its brushed surface is much softer than regular leather and has a dusty, country look to it. Like tweed, it originated in practical rural clothing and transitioned over time to men's fashion.
Suede shoes in a dark brown or tan complement most fall outfits. The textured look and earth tones of a lot of fall clothes go great with the rough-looking leather in its natural colors. Choose a casual style that suits your taste: wingtips, saddle shoes, and monk strap loafers all look good in suede.
7. Dress Boots
Another footwear option for fall is the ankle boot — and yes, you can get in suede if you want to combine our advice here. Chukka boots are a classic suede option: ankle-high with two or three holes for laces.
They traditionally come in earth-tone suede, but you can find dress boots in similar styles made in materials ranging from polished calfskin to alligator hide. You can even get a hornback boot with the tail ridge running down the toe of the boot if you're feeling particularly exotic…
Dress boots of a more restrained style are, of course, better for most occasions, and do a good job keeping the weather off during wetter fall days. Polished leather holds up better in heavy wet than suede — be careful of getting your suede too wet, as it will discolor and stiffen over time, losing its soft, brushed surface.
Your Essential Fall Wardrobe
So what do all these have in common?
- They're textured — rough wool, decorative weaves; brushed leather.
- They're meant to be layered. Most of these can combine into the same outfit if you want!
- They're soft — none of these have a very stiff, sharp-edged shape to them.
Your essential fall wardrobe should be all about relaxed, warm clothes that you can take off and put on in mixed layers. Contrast and texture are huge. So's fun — this is the season for trousers and jackets without heavy overcoat, the best time of year for menswear. Fill your wardrobe with the essentials and go enjoy yourself!
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