I am a summer person. Having been brought up in Northern Europe under grey skies and a constant drizzle, I made a vow in my youth to spend the rest of my life in sunnier climates. A couple of decades later with homes in Monaco, Provence and Palm Beach, I have at least partly achieved my childhood ambition to always follow the sun. However, even I cannot escape winter entirely and I am forced to brave the cold on my constant travels and in my other homes, such as Paris and Berlin, where cold winds blow and snow falls aplenty. There is a silver lining though – the chance to get creative with my wardrobe. While my ideal outfit will always be a Palm Beach-inspired ensemble of cream trousers, an open linen shirt and slippers without socks, winter outfits give me the opportunity to be a bit more adventurous.
In my view, winter should not be an excuse to let sartorial standards slip. What amazes me is how distinguished gentlemen who dress quite well for two thirds of the year suddenly transform themselves into Canadian lumberjacks by donning the seemingly universal winter uniform of oversized puffer jackets and Timberland boots. Don’t get me wrong: that look is perfectly acceptable for a winter day in the woods but in the concrete jungles of Paris, London or New York? Certainement pas!
One key to keeping both sartorial standards and body temperature up in winter is layering. However, this needs to be done intelligently if one wants to avoid looking like a Michelin man. The first step is to add another layer between jacket and shirt by sporting either a waistcoat (think: three-piece suit), a sleeveless vest or cardigan. The important thing for these options is that they need to fit snuggly, thus adding minimal bulk and maximum warmth to the body. While it is a safe bet to choose waistcoats and vests in a colour that matches the jacket or suit, it is much more interesting to choose a contrasting colour that adds a touch of sprezzatura to any outfit. So instead of opting for a blue waistcoat for your blue suit, try a grey one; instead of choosing a grey waistcoat for your grey suit, choose a camel one. If the barometer really drops however, a cardigan will add some much needed warmth to the arms.