The advent of the winter season can be trying, particularly in St Andrews, where ‘summer’ has already been supplanted by frosty winds, and a warm coffee in the morning has become a necessity almost too quickly. The swiftness of this meteorological change lends itself well to how we choose to dress in the morning, as we find ourselves caught between two worlds: that of light-coloured, light-framed, easy pieces, and that of heavier, darker ones. While this transition is always challenging, it is (to my mind) a great opportunity to refresh our style.
An obvious place to start are accessories — warm hats, snug scarves, perhaps even gloves, though I personally wouldn’t break these last ones out until December. For those who can pull off a beanie, I’d recommend classics from Drake’s, French Connection or Barbour; Carhartt for a more casual look. Just like hats, scarves are a good way to introduce variety into your outfit while battling the seemingly relentless wind. A combination of wool and cashmere will prove to be the warmest, but stay away from the signature Burberry unless you enjoy being a beacon of tastelessly conspicuous consumption. Both scarves and hats are unbelievably versatile, not least because they can add interesting textures, particularly thick, cable, or ribbed knits.
Despite the evident value of accessories however, your coat will remain the centrepiece of most winter outfits. Being in St Andrews, the Canada Goose parka will not be an uncommon sight, yet I would advise against it on the grounds that it is difficult to adapt to different styles. Of course, sticking to a casual look is ultimately your prerogative; I would nevertheless recommend classic overcoats and peacoats. Especially in a navy or charcoal, these can be worn from October to March (even late April in St. Andrews), and work well with almost any style.
The peacoat — my favourite — offers endless possibilities. It can be worn with chinos, a sweater, button-down and lace-ups for a dressy look; yet it can just as well be worn with a light sweater, casual shirt or t-shirt, and sneakers or boat shoes for a relaxed take on classic menswear. Even the coat itself offers variety: seen as it is double-breasted, the peacoat can be worn buttoned for a stricter, more formal look, or unbuttoned for a looser look that exudes laid-back confidence.
While the overcoat is traditionally more formal — think 80s Wall Streeters — its simplicity means that it can be dressed down significantly. The past few seasons have seen camel-coloured overcoats enjoy widespread popularity, and this colour in particular can be worn completely casually, with jeans or perhaps even with tapered sweatpants and sneakers. Classic herringbone overcoats are of comparable versatility, and although I am always skeptical of such normative statements when it comes to fashion, a grey herringbone is a coat that every man should own.
Even though your coat will be the first impression you give people, the key to winter dressing, especially in a place as sartorially-conscious as St Andrews, is layering. You will want to match your coat, whether it be a parka, puffer, peacoat or overcoat, to sweaters, scarves and all manner of warm apparel. Sticking to muted colours here makes dressing easy — navies and greys will work nicely with a whole spectrum of coats, trousers and shoes. If you are fond of traditional country style, thicker dress shirts and sweaters are always a nice touch; my favourite classic combination: grey or brown cable knits with subtle checkered shirts. When it comes to British country style, Barbour is a safe bet, no matter how comically archetypal the brand has become in St Andrews.
Like many things in St Andrews, winter is a blessing in disguise; and if you are able to look past the small evils of the (seemingly) malicious winds and your heating bills, you will find a wonderful opportunity to revive old classics, explore new avenues, and freshen up your wardrobe.