It seems some folks jump straight from shirtsleeves to parkas when the autumn leaves begin to fall. No, vests are for those in-between days, the time when one extra layer over a thick sweater, a mug of hot cider and the company of a loved one is all we need to keep warm during a stroll through the park. But even when the atmosphere turns up the a/c, a vest beneath your overcoat does wonders; after all, ’tis the season to layer and layer some more. We’ve rounded up the best quilted vests — each fashionable and cozy in its own right.
Light, fast, local
There are big-name brands in the outdoor clothing market that turn out lustworthy, cutting-edge shells, baselayers and insulation pieces season after season. But every once in a while, we stumble upon a small brand doing things a little bit differently yet equally well. One of those is NW Alpine, based in that outdoor playground, Portland, Oregon. We got to test out three pieces of NW Alpine gear in the mountains this fall: the Black Spider Hoodie, the Fast/Light Pant and the Simplicity Jacket.
Tested by sheep
We’ve been wearing Icebreaker’s Sierra Long Sleeve Zip jacket ($180) all summer and fall for mountain hiking — and though merino sheep have a few more centuries of wear-testing on their coats than we ever will, we’ve managed to form some opinions of our own.
36 gifts for the well-dressed gent
If you’re a stylish gent, you’re acutely aware of each seasonal shift. Spring affords chances to wear lighter, refreshed colors; summer is time for light material and sunglasses; autumn means breaking out a chunky cardigan. But it’s winter when a man can truly shine. He can layer. He can sport rich fabrics and hulking boots, overcoats and purposeful accessories. When there is such a wide, deep array of options in the winter wardrobe world, what exactly do you give the man who lives stylishly? We’re here to turn that dilemma into fruitful present curation. So brew up some nog, get out the wrapping paper (even if you’re giving to yourself) and check out our top picks in these important categories of winter style for the well dressed man.
How good can a $50 down vest possibly be? Very. Light as a feather and packed with 800-fill goose down, the Uniqlo Ultralight Down Vest is this winter’s must-have layering essential. The slim cut and packable down mean minimal bulk and effective thermal insulation. Plus, it folds into an included compact pouch for easy packing. We like ours with a dash of prep — khakis or trim denim with an oxford. When errands turn to evening plans, throw on a dark blazer and a wool tie and show old man winter who’s boss.
Gifts for the Continent-hopper
Your friend’s passport has addendum pages for the addendum pages and looks like Costanza’s wallet. It’s easier to count the countries he hasn’t visited than those he has. Travel-weary? Not a chance: this rolling stone likes to be moss-free, so we have the perfect collection of goods to keep your favorite road warrior in fightin’ trim. The tools below cover technology high and low, all to ensure the journey is every bit as enjoyable as the destination. The lucky recipient of your generosity will easily navigate airports, checkpoints (TSA or Syrian Free Army), and resort lobbies with aplomb, arriving refreshed and relaxed, ready for the work (and play) ahead.
Coat of Arms
Few items of clothing have remained relevant as long as the trench coat. Conflictingly claimed to have been created by both Burberry (in 1901) and Aquascutum (sometime in the 1850s), it’s been part of the public style lexicon since the British Army adopted it for officers during WWI (thus the “trench”). Well over a century later it continues to be offered in a variety of colors, lengths, fabrics and configurations from a myriad of companies. Innovation in a product this storied isn’t often seen — which is what makes American Trench ($725) so special and their Dark Navy Trench one of the best.
Essentials for the daily grind
Dali said intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings. Clearly, you’ve got both in spades — all that’s lacking is better preparation. Small upgrades can make big differences in organization, confidence and execution, and luckily for you, we’ve dug up the must-have office essentials to help you stay focused on conquering the office, one job done well at a time. Heed our advice and maybe you’ll be patting backs soon.
The Gear for Rainier
To take on our recent ascent of Mount Rainier, we rounded up some of the latest and greatest mountaineering gear. And after two days, 9,000 vertical feet of climbing and weather that ranged from downright scorching to subzero wind chills, we’ve got a thing or two to say about each piece. So whether or not you plan to use any of this gear in your urban, or more rustic, adventures, you can be assured we’ve put it all through rigorous testing in a worse place. Just don’t take an ice axe on the subway.
Souped up threads and a mean music machine
In 1957 the Fender Stratocaster electric guitar was a spry three years young; that same year, Levi’s original 1873 patent for riveted denim work pants — the first jeans — was already an octogenarian. But that doesn’t mean those jeans didn’t love to rock ‘n’ roll. As part of a series paying tribute to America’s vintage Hot Rod culture, this spring Levi’s is rolling out one-off garments and items that would love to take your pink slip at the drag strip.
The time to stow your wool blazers is getting closer everyday — but that doesn’t mean a life of cutoffs awaits. The Arc’teryx Veilance Blazer LT ($500) is sleek and versatile piece of outerwear for Spring 2013 that wears like a fitted shirt, complete with articulated elbows and gusseted underarms, but is fully equipped to handle the rains to come. A rainproof stretch woven fabric that beads water away from the surface, taped seams and Schoeller reinforced laminated cuffs and hem round out this piece’s resume on the durability front, while internal wallet and passport pockets keep valuables safe and secure. If the chic vegas Pit Boss look of the burgundy version above isn’t your thing, the black and grey options should do the trick.
Survival on, brother
If it was good enough for downed British pilots during WWII, so the saying goes, it should be good enough for you. Though that adage is entirely fabricated, the Survivalon Contrast Jacket ($398) was indeed made to protect Limey pilots; it is also easily good enough for you.
Down With It
Depending on your activities of preference, winter is either your joyous playground or whitewashed personal hell. No matter what, staying warm is critical. Down jackets have been a preferred winter option for many years, and for good reason — they’re super warm (when dry), wick moisture away from your body, are packable down to small sizes for travel and have yet to be matched by any synthetic fibers. Here are our five favorite goose-based options to beat the winter freeze.
The M-65 waterproof fishtail parka was first used by the U.S. Army in the Korean War as a lightweight shell to keep soldiers dry. The design allowed soldiers to wrap the back of the coat around their upper legs for ease of movement and more waterproof surface. Recently the “hope I’m cool enough to stay here” Ace Hotel teamed up with Alpha Industries — known for military-inspired casual wear — to revive the storied coat. Retaining the classic M-65 style while updating it with a washed nylon shell, stay-dry seams and modern lines means you can throw this on and hike through unknown forest and muddy embankments before strolling directly into the board room, unscathed. Don’t whine to us if the muddy boots give you away, though.
S.N.S. Herning has been in the fisherman sweater biz since 1930 — long before workwear and Deadliest Catch inspired a new era of blue-collar cool. Founder Søren Nielsen Skyt’s “bubble” knit construction provided extra warmth and durability for life on the sea, and the company still follows the same techniques today in their Herning, Denmark facility. End the cable-knit monopoly with this 74% ELS cotton, 24% Merino woolTrope sweater, and maybe you’ll start hooking mermaids instead of cold fish.
Former J. Crew creative director Todd Snyder has used his synonymous line to push into a luxurious realm few other American men’s fashion brands dare to enter. But it’s not simply about throwing a higher price tag on the clothes you already own. Case in point, the Todd Snyder Fox Fur Marschcoat ($1,350) is crafted from top-of-the-line materials like 100% Italian Wool and features a removable contrast 100% Japanese quilted nylon lining along with a genuine Finnish Silver-Fox Fur Lined Hood (and we’re not talking about good-looking retirees.) In short, it’s in a different Parka league compared to the three figure look-a-likes crowding the department store racks. If the blaze orange isn’t your color, there’s also an option with navy blue lining.
Armed for the forces of nature
You should be able to go the winter without looking like a neon life raft or, heaven forbid, being the poor sucker who thought a men’s full-length down coat was a good look. Staying warm and fashionable oftentimes means going military (or military inspired); the Canada Goose Burnett down jacket ($649) achieves just the right…
Though Daniel Craig pulls off a solid fashionable Bond, let’s be honest: what we’re buying tickets to see is the grizzly aftermath (and pre-math, and during-math) of his nasty violent streak. He’s got to look like a killer while he does it, and the Levi’s Vintage Clothing Jacket that he sports in Skyfall does the…
Subterfuge is hard when you’re shivering. Combine that problem with Bond’s utter necessity for style and you get the Billy Reid Skyfall Peacoat ($695). The coat alone is noteworthy for its prominent appearance in the movie, but the fact that Daniel Craig loved wearing it so much on set that he bought a few, on…
A good cashmere sweater varies the price gamut. $80 at Uniqlo, $225 at J.Crew, $395 at Billy Reid, $500+ at Etro; but considering its recent vault into wardrobe stapledom, what’s a guy looking for quality without breaking the bank to do? Ever-innovative Everlane proffers a solution in their new cashmere sweaters — and just in…
Timing vest season is tricky — like End of Days math. While we’re no Harold Camping, we do know that the window for warmer chests with free and easy arms is quickly approaching. If you don’t have a down body koozie already, the Crescent Down Works Total 60/40 Italian Vest (~$343) is worth a gander….
Getting hit with road chum, dirt and rain is an inherent part of motorcycling. While you can’t always anticipate what’ll be thrown at you, you can at least combat it with carapaced clothing. Part of L.A. manufacturer Mister Freedom’s Speed Safe Clothing for Modern Riders, the Mister Freedom x Sugar Cane Mulholland Master ($900) motorcycle…
Down with it
Fall officially starts in less than a week, and it’s time to get prepared. The L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Jacket ($180+) is perfect outerwear for cooling days and frosty nights. The jacket’s 850-fill down is both warmer and lighter than the 650-fill down used in other jackets, and its DownTek treatment resists water in…
An unlikely combo of quilting and shotgun shells
British clothing company Musto was born in the 1964 Olympics as a maker of performance sailing clothing. Since then, the company’s foray into the world of competitive and sport shooting has resulted in some beautiful attire that’s just at home in an urban environment as it is in the field, as exemplified in the simple…
Two prominent names in mens style come together to bring you a line of smart-looking waxed cotton bags and coats. Barbour, the British company that forged a tradition over almost 120 years, joins with Jack Spade, the Manhattan upstart 100 years junior. The younger clothier has been making inroads with the British Empire — a…
Outdoor Function, Urban Acceptance
Swedish company Fjällräven interlaces the classic style of waxed cotton with the technical fibers of polyester in their jack-of-all-trades Reporter Lite Jacket ($260). The Reporter Lite’s G-1000 fabric can be waxed for excellent wind and water protection or washed away for breathability and comfort in fairer climes. In the case of full-on tropical weather, the…
Keep warm, look cool
Packing light in the colder months often comes down to a tradeoff of outerwear. Do you pack the bulky coat for warmth, the blazer for appearances, or in the worst case, both? Victorinox’s new Leiden Insulated Blazer takes the uncertainty out of the equation. It’s close enough to the cut of a standard blazer to…
Read Wall is a new made-in-America brand that brings a preppy edge to a field dominated by ubiquitous workwear. The entire line of polos, chinos, and shirts are worth a look, but the Wilson Wax Jacket stands out in particular as a versatile shell for variable weather. The 6.25oz wax cotton outerwear features an Oxford…
Nike likes its innovations. Case in point, the DWR Chambray Vapour Jacket (~$80). Performance-oriented runners with a penchant for a stylish fit in particular will want to pay attention. Originally designed as a lightweight, wind, and water-resistant outerwear, this contemporary incarnation bridges the gap between casual and sportswear, serving as either a swank, lightweight jacket,…
Few brands blend vintage fashion and historical significance the way Nigel Cabourn does. The eponymous English fashion house is well renowned for offering what can only be described as archival pieces or, in other words, garments with a history. The SS12 Aircraft Jacket Desert Wax Poplin Khaki ($710) is part of the Nigel Cabourn Authentic…