It’s been difficult for me to start thinking about fall because San Francisco is just now leaving its second winter (“Fogust”) and things are finally getting warm here. Nonetheless, most of us are entering a period of sartorial transition by slowly trading in linens and loafers for tweed and suede. To me, Autumn is about casual comfort. Items that are approachable, comfortable, and reflect the changing temperature end up getting the most use from me.
I will refrain from saying that this is a list of “essentials”; what you might need depends very much on how you like to dress, where you live, and the formality of your lifestyle. That being said, here are some of my favorite items for the coming months.
1. Trench Coat. – I’ve spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, so in my mind Autumn means rain. Glorious, glorious rain. The classic trench coat style is a double breasted khaki number, made famous by Burberry. I like the styling there, but I’ve always preferred single-breasted coats on my body, and navy to khaki. The trench above (from Club Monaco) was exactly what I wanted – except for the buttons, which I upgraded.
2. Boots. Boots come in many forms – hearty work boots, sleek balmorals, wingtips, chukkas, jodphurs, chelseas, and more. I thoroughly enjoy chukka boots, especially in suede. These Loake Pimlicos have treated me well, but I’ve recently had my eye on Alden’s 1493. There’s also the nearly identical Allen Edmonds Amok on sale for $110, which is a screaming deal. I would have absolutely gotten one in snuff suede if they were available in my size. I also love wingtip boots, but have yet to acquire any. If you’ve got some serious coin then get a pair of these and make me super jealous. Consider getting something with a Dainite sole to stand up to wet sidewalks and soggy leaf piles.
3. Grey flannel trousers. I’ve mentioned previously that grey trousers play a large role in my wardrobe, and grey flannels are probably my favorite. I highly recommend Howard Yount, but I’ve also been keeping an eye on Luxire’s offerings.
4. Patterned Sportcoat. Fall is a great season for sportcoats because the weather is finally cool enough to wear a hearty jacket without overheating. A nice wool blazer can take on infinite forms, but try a simple pattern if you’ve already got a classic navy blazer. Try out herringbone, houndstooth, Prince of Wales check, or windowpane. Get one in a simple neutral colorway and find out for yourself how easy they are to wear. The sportcoat above is from Suitsupply’s F/W ‘12 line.
5. Textured Tie. Wooly ties are great things. There are a million variations of seasonal ties, including wool challis, flannel, ancient madder, tartan, and more. I love this vintage tartan tie, but any reputable tie maker should have a good selection of seasonal ties.
6. Sturdy chinos/trousers in a dark hue. Lightweight chinos are great, but I find that most of mine are in the khaki/off white colorway and get worn heavily during the warmer months. For the cooler seasons I turn to heartier fabrics – moleskins, corduroy, and heavy twill, for example. I also like more saturated, overdyed earth tones like brown, burgundy, and forest green. Shown above are a pair of Bonobos’ garment-dyed denim from a few years back. J. Crew and Club Monaco have solid options, and Howard Yount is usually a good source for dressier trousers.
7. Raw Denim. Breaking in raw denim takes dedication, and nobody wants to wrangle in a pair of 16 oz. jeans in the heat of summer. Now is the perfect time to start, since we have months of cool weather ahead of us. My personal favorites are 3Sixteen SL-100x and Gustin straight leg – I own a pair of each.
8. A crewneck sweater. – A couple of years ago I used to hate on the crewneck sweater; I found the dressy shape of V-necks much more appealing. As I’ve started to settle in to my own style, though, I’ve found the crewneck to be much more approachable, especially in the fall. Its athletic background gives it a much more casual feel, and it looks especially great in rougher materials like shetland wool or rough cotton. It can be made a bit more luxe in the form of a cable-knit cashmere. I own this shetland from Gant and a cashmere cable-knit by Polo. Save the fine-gauge merino and cashmere V-necks for later.
9. Blue oxford shirts. I sincerely hope you have already given oxford shirts a try, but if you haven’t yet then now is the time to start. They’re appropriate all year round, but I especially like them in the fall; their comfortable aesthetic and association with academia make them particularly appropriate this time of year. Wear them under just about everything. There are tons of places to find a nice OCBD but Brooks Brothers is a staple (especially when on sale). Kamakura shirts have been getting a lot of good press recently, too.
10. Scarf. You can make scarves complicated if you’d like, but I prefer to keep mine simple. This caramel-colored cashmere number I bought from Last Call is hard to mess up. I’ve also had good luck with Sierra Trading Post – look for Johnstons of Elgin or Moon of England.
BONUS: A nice flavorful beer. It pairs well with rain puddles and dark skies. Grab a Black Butte Porter (or maybe a Shipyard Pumpkinhead if you want to get in to the whole seasonal thing) and get cozy.