Winter is Coming: Why It’s the Best Time of Year to Wear a Suit

Cary Grant leaves a London Hotel in 1946.
Cary Grant leaves a London Hotel in 1946. Keystone / Getty Images

Changing leaves. Warm apple cider. All well and good, if you're into that sort of thing. But the real charm of fall and winter, for those with any sartorial inclinations, isn't the foliage or the beverages — it's the style. After far too many months stuck in warm-weather gear, it's finally time to show our stripes. Time to pile on the layers, indulge in the season's rich fabrics, and embrace everything the months ahead have to offer.

And as it turns out, there's never been a more exciting time to dress for the colder weather. From new approaches to layering, to seasonal patterns and materials, the options are boundless. Here's how to elevate your game for the season at hand.

Layer Up
It's not a new concept, but it's damn good advice. "Nobody really does that thing where they wear a heavy coat outside for three or four weeks in a row anymore," explains Jamie Davidson, founder and designer of the Arkansas-based start up Strong Suit. Instead, opt for multiple items you can add and remove as the weather dictates, and add scarves and other accessories you can easily stash in your bag. But you already knew that. 

Get Technical
There was a time, let's call it the bad old days, when there was a hard line between your dressed-up and casual wardrobe. Not any more. Now the best way to invigorate your cold-weather style is by mixing your tailored clothing with performance-inspired pieces. Try throwing a techy parka over your navy two-button. Or drop a puffer vest underneath a tweed sport coat. Today's versions are slim and streamlined enough to fit comfortably, and they'll add a bit of athletic edge to your workweek look.

Focus on Texture…
There are the classic options, of course. Tweed. Flannel. Boucle. Take your pick. But there's also a burgeoning trend that pulls the best textiles of the warmer months out of their traditionally balmy climes and into the modern age. "I just saw a fall fabric that's 20 percent linen and 20 percent silk, and it dresses like a fall fabric," says Davidson. "And who would have thought that you'd have a fall fabric that's silk and linen? But the whole point is they put it in there for texture."

And Pattern
Sure, seersucker serves its purpose in the spring and summer. But for fall and winter, the whole landscape opens up. There are bold plaids and checks. Donnegal flecks and houndstooth. All of which look great on their own — but even better together. Just be sure to pay attention to scale. Pair a windowpane checked suit with a microdot tie, or plaid trousers with a striped sweater. The rule, if you're looking for one to follow, is to match larger patterns with smaller ones. But if you're feeling rebellious, experiment. Take a look in the mirror. If something feels off, change. If it feels right — even if it doesn't fit with traditional style mandates — go for it. Know the rules so you know how to break them. 

Invest Wisely
The all-season suit has its place. Namely, as the workhorse of your year-round wardrobe. But don't fall into the trap of dressing the same way no matter the month. You'll miss out on all the fun of adapting your look to the weather. The easiest way in? Getting yourself a seasonal suit. And thanks to brands like Strong Suit, Suitsupply, J.Crew, and a bevy of others, you don't need to break the bank to make it happen. We recommend starting with tweed or flannel, and expanding your options as your budget allows. And best of all, you can break it up and work it into the rest of your wardrobe. Wear the jacket with jeans, or the trousers with a bomber jacket. (You do have a great bomber jacket by now, right?)

Most off all, remember: It's only a matter of time before the weather shifts once more. Soon enough, you'll be swapping your boiled wool overcoat for a lightweight cotton tee. And there's nothing wrong with that. But there is something wrong with wasting the opportunity to suit up for the season at hand. Dress accordingly.