We're all about the style here, but what's clothing really supposed to do, when you get right down to it?
It's there to protect you from the elements — wind, rain, sun, snow, cold, you name it. Every climate has its own needs.
And when you're in a variable climate — which most of the world is, in one form or another — your wardrobe needs to be ready to meet all the possibilities.
For travel or for living in an unpredictable climate, the Real Men Real Style variable weather tips are your wardrobe's best friend.
It beats being naked!
A lightweight, breathable undershirt makes any outfit more comfortable.
Wear one in all weather — a good base layer will wick away any perspiration and allow your skin to breathe.
A quality undershirt works well, and many manufacturers make athletic under-layers specifically for moderate climates as well.
The addition of a moisture-wicking layer goes a long way toward making every outfit more comfortable. If your skin isn't dry, it doesn't actually matter that much how many layers you add on top of it. Comfort and protection from the elements start closest to your skin.
If you're scandalized by talking about underwear you can skip this paragraph, but everyone else should probably know that good underwear matters just as much as a good undershirt — probably more, since we're talking about a pretty sensitive area.
Cheap boxer shorts aren't a great choice for most climates — the loose fabric holds moisture and bunches, making things uncomfortable for you. Athletic undershorts with some spandex for stretch and synthetic fibers for moisture wicking will do a lot better than plain cotton, and a close fit with no loose fabric reduces bunching.
There's plenty of options out there with a little more style than whitey-tighties, so keep an open mind and try some fitted undershorts or boxer-briefs. It really does make a difference.
So that gets the awkward stuff dealt with — now the rest of the body. There's no single perfect pair of pants for all weather, but a medium-weight wool probably comes the closest.
These are easy to find in men's department stores or at a tailors, and you can get them in most of the major clothing catalogs too.
Wool flannel is comfortable, low-maintenance, and warm but breathable, making it a staple that stands up well in most conditions.
Dark gray wool trousers are something of a menswear classic — sturdy, functional, and they go with absolutely everything.
If you live somewhere that gets too hot for even a lightweight wool, you're going to want light cotton trousers instead, probably in pale colors to help reflect the sunlight.
Cotton dress shirts and cotton sport shirts will keep you comfortable.
Thick weaves usually aren't necessary — you can always throw a lightweight sweater or a jacket on over a dress shirt if it's too cool for shirtsleeves.
Rely on layering rather than heavy cloth whenever possible.
You can always add and remove garments as needed, and the lighter cloth packs more easily when you travel.
Lighter dress shirts are also a blessing when you're going from cooler outside temperatures to centrally-heated buildings, allowing you to keep your jacket or sweater on without feeling as stuffy.
A lightweight wool sweater provides an extra layer if the temperature declines.
Cashmere wool is the best at this job: lightweight and soft but sufficient to trap body heat.
It's an expensive wool, but your wardrobe only needs one or two cashmere sweaters to see you through the temperate times of year.
Pick a couple of conservative colors that you like best and go ahead and add the sweaters to the wardrobe.
Knit cotton or other wools can do in a pinch, but they lack the light weight and breathable warmth of cashmere.
Blazer Jackets and Sport Coats
Layering lets you adapt to changes in weather.
A blazer jacket or a sport coat does double duty: it's useful in variable weather because it can be taken on and off at will, and it gives you the flattering shape of a man's suit without the heightened formality.
Dress it up with the above-mentioned gray flannel trousers and a nice shirt and tie, or throw on a sport shirt and some dark-wash jeans for a casual look.
If you want to show off your knowledge of classic fashion, wear tweeds and other textured sport coats during the transitional seasons (mid-Autumn and early Spring) and a navy blazer or gray jacket in between.
If you can reasonably expect to run into rain and wind — ever — you probably want a trench coat or a similar long jacket.
Lightweight wool with a waterproof outer shell travels lightly and can be worn for long periods of time without getting too uncomfortable, especially if the shell is GorTex or a similarly breathable synthetic.
Good menswear doesn't belong under a plastic poncho, and an umbrella doesn't do much in serious wind or rain, so go ahead and make the investment in a good waterproofed trench coat unless you live somewhere very arid.
Umbrellas and Galoshes
If you live somewhere (or are traveling somewhere) where it rains often enough that you can't rely on always having your coat on hand, try to keep a collapsible umbrella in your car, briefcase, office, or some similar location.
Plain black goes with everything and doesn't show water spots and stains. If you prefer to go without a trenchcoat or other rain jacket as much as possible, you should also plan on investing in a larger, heavy-duty British-style umbrella with a broad spread and a long, J-shaped handle. It won't protect as well as a trench coat, but it's the best alternative that still keeps you stylish and comfortable.
A gentlemen who wears quality footwear will already be aware of galoshes. Also called dickersons and overshoes, these rubber “boots” protect your shoes from the elements. Galoshes are not expensive and are a must have for those rainy and variable weather situations. They work best when going to the home, office, or hotel — restaurants and places of entertainment are less likely to have storage for overshoes, and you don't want to be carrying them around in your hands.
Suggested Packing List for a Week in Variable Weather
We've made a list of a week's worth of variable weather clothing, suitable for home or travel. Vary the list as situations warrant — if you're thinking about your home wardrobe, you obviously have the freedom of adding all your other clothing into the mix when called for; if you're traveling to a fairly consistent climate you can eliminate some of the “just in case” pieces like the trench coat.
|Clothing Item||Suggested Amount|
|Dress shoes||2 pair|
|Blazer jacket / sport coat||2|
|Umbrella / Galoshes||1 each|
|Workout clothing that doubles as pajamas||2 pair|
How to Pack A Suitcase for a Week in Variable Weather
Self-vacuuming travel bags are a great way to pack small pieces like underwear and socks, rolled up tightly to save space. That leaves more space for your trousers, jackets, and other dress clothing, and more space means less wrinkles!
1) Put the self-vacuuming travel bag with underwear, socks and base-layers in one of the bottom corners.
2) Tightly roll your towel (if you pack one) and put it in the other corner parallel with the short-side of the suitcase
3) Loosely fold a pair of trousers and lay them on top of the travel bag
4) If you have an extra pair of shoes, now is the time to put them along the top side of the suit case (soles touching the suitcase)
5) Take a shirt and gently fold the sleeves (if long-sleeved) over the center of the shirt, then starting at the collar roll the shirt down to the bottom. Put this “shirt log” into the suit case. Do this with all your shirts and sweater (if you decide to pack one).
6) Pack your pajamas and Dopp kit last.
7) Put on the remaining clothes. Wear your overcoat if necessary — this is mostly relevant for air travelers, who can save space in the checked and carry-on luggage (and stay warm on long, air-conditioned flights) by wearing the coat on.
Dressing for Variable Weather
Versatile clothing in multiple layers is the key to variable-weather success. Be ready for the occasional lousy day with moisture-wicking underclothes and sturdy outer layers, and take comfort in the fact that the weather can always approve in a varied climate.
And the good news is that some of the best menswear — sports jackets, medium-weight flannel trousers, cashmere sweaters; trench coats — all hold up well as variable weather staples.
Discover How The Right Image Helps You Make More Money, Attract Women, & Command Respect
Learn the secrets of style in a structured environment leveraging my proven step-by-step master programs.