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ALPHA MALE: Layering for Early Fall

Thursday, August 23, 2012


It may still be 80 degrees outside while we scramble to hold on to the last shred of daylight and squeeze in that last paid vacation day before the kids go back to school, but one thing is certain. Fall is upon us. Back to school shopping is in full flux and your 9 to 5 is once again not 9 to 5 “ish”. Days are shorter and your shorts are longer as you ditch the Summer wardrobe for denim, trousers and shirt staples 7 days a week now. But why get stuck in the monotony of your “9 to 5 look”? The beauty of Fall- especially here in the Northeast- is the variety it lends to your closet that Summer just filters out. We are talking layers.

I love Fall. More specifically, I love dressing for Fall. Spring is the time of year when we shed layers, but typically infuse splashes of color. Fall tends to be more muted tones, cooler colors like grey, navy and beige, but more complex textures thanks in part to the bulked up fabrics like wool, fleece, and canvas that overtake the lighter cotton Madras or linen you sported all Summer. It is amazing what you can do with 3 shades of grey in 3 different fabrics. As the temperature cools, most guys just throw on a shirt and maybe a lightweight jacket. Cold weather calls for a heavier jacket. But why be relegated to such a safe choice? What I prefer is thinning out each layer and multiplying them.

Rule 1: Start with the basics

My rule of thumb is to always start with your basics, and as I mentioned last time, think about what is appropriate to the demands of your day. On top, a solid color crew or V-neck T-shirt or cotton button-front shirt; Now that Fall is coming, think cotton broadcloth or flannels—something with a bit more substance and texture. On bottom, heavier weight chinos in Twill or Canvas, or splurge on that new pair of dry, raw indigo dyed denim like I do every Fall to really feel like you are making that transition in your wardrobe. Even the versatility of today's Tweeds is not just for stodgy suiting anymore, but a true go-to fabric that excels both in its look and layering ability.

Vary based on occasion

From these basics, start using your judgment based on occasion (e.g., work dinner or weekend party plans) and weather (cool in the evening or cold?). Do not ditch the tie and deconstructed, Twill blazer, but add a lightweight crew neck sweater in between once 5pm hits and your friends want to grab a drink at Happy Hour. Maybe a thin cardigan and denim jacket to go with duck canvas trousers and your pair of gently broken-in suede chukkas would fit that Labor Day beach party as the sun goes down and coastal air draws everyone closer to the bonfire.

Reintroduce color

Once you figure out the tonal layers for Fall that work for you, feel free to work color back into the equation. For today's guy, color does not have to fall out of favor when the leaves begin to drop from the trees. Spring is no longer the only time to infuse your wardrobe with an easy pop of personality that the color wheel brings. I tend to use accessories for this- pocket squares, ties, even socks with a pattern or bright color can take the monotone textures to which your Fall wardrobe subscribes and gives life and liveliness to it. Thanks to textures from layering in heavier fabrics playing against color from accessories, the colder months will suddenly not seem so dull and grey anymore, but a chance to show off your true colors- a guy with an understanding of what works for him in any season.

Robert Babigian is owner of WHARF Clothing & Wares, a menswear retail boutique located at 212 Westminster Street in Providence, RI. A native Rhode Islander, Rob started WHARF after 2 decades in marketing and sales to fulfill his desire to combine his loves of consumer branding, small business and style that would fulfill a niche for desirable men's clothing in the Providence market. The apparel and accessories found at WHARF reflect Rob's own personal aesthetic—a combination of traditional New England staples mixed with modern fits, construction and fabrics blended together with a touch of European style. For more tips or to shop the store, stop in and see Rob and his staff or reach them online at shopwharf.com.


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