As I sit here writing on a sunny and yet somehow still chilly day in late August, I’m looking through the mullioned windows of a cosy little cafe in Stoke Newington, north east London, where I’ve taken to working of late – and not one guy who’s walked by the past half-hour has looked comfortable in his clothes.
It’s an awkward time of year, this – as August rolls gently into September. It’s mild rather than warm, but often quite clammy, and the forecast seems to flip between bright sunshine, a chill breeze and autumn showers multiple times a day. In weather like this, dressing comfortably and stylishly is no mean feat, but thankfully I do have a few tips for you, make of them what you will.
The first relates to your wardrobe. These in-between months are when lightweight layers and open weave fabrics come into their own. It’s worth investing in a couple of unstructured blazers in an open-weave wool hopsack for smart days, and a lightweight overshirt or two that will sit comfortably over an Oxford button-down or simple crewneck T-shirt when the sky turns grey. Opt for lightweight cotton chinos over heavy brushed cotton or corduroy trousers, and smooth wool fresco trousers that breathe and resist creating over insulting flannels. You only need a few pieces like these in your arsenal to take you through the next month or so, but they do make a difference when the weather is unpredictable.
More importantly, what should you wear on your feet to accompany these trans-seasonal staples? The answer, I think, lies in Crockett & Jones’s clever unlined suede shoes and boots. First up, consider C&J’s Cranleigh Chelsea boots. I think these are a seriously clever design; low-rise, unlined suede boots in contemporary colours, finished with rubber City Soles. I tried these soles for the first time on a pair of loafers a few months ago and can’t recommend them enough – they are comfortable and practical in equal measure.
Wearing boots in August might sound counter-intuitive, but it’s important to remember that the Cranleigh isn’t a conventional Chelsea boot. Rather, it’s designed to be both lightweight and forgiving to wear – perfect for the transition into autumn. In terms of colour, the mid-grey suede version is quite distinctive, but makes a change from navy or black. The mid-blue pair are a lovely casual choice. Try any of these with some nicely fitted navy chinos (roll up the hems so they sit just on top of your boots) with a lightweight merino crewneck and overshirt combo for an easy between-season look. Snuff suede is also great summer-into-autumn choice, workable with both summery and wintery clothing, and Cranleigh comes in this colour too.
If you’re sorted for boots and in search of new trans-seasonal shoes, you might try C&J’s Flore III monk shoes with their sporty crepe soles, or a pair of timeless Hardwick derbies from the Main Line collection, which are both equally useful for this time of year. The Hardwick also comes in dark brown suede too, and both pairs are finished with rubber City Soles, to boot.
Let’s not also forget that if you’ve yet to try the ‘tassel-less’ Camden loafers that Crockett & Jones released at the start of spring, these are well suited to the transition into fall too. Much like the Cranleigh, they are unlined, lightweight and unfussy. The Ocean Suede colour way, are set on rubber City Soles and like all C&J’s suede shoes, they’re finished with a water-resistant coating; very handy if you have an unfortunate habit of getting caught in late summer showers.
Tricky though the next couple of months might be, the best advice I can give you is not to over complicate your wardrobe choices. One or two pairs of the above shoes will serve you well, as will a pair of lightweight chinos and an overshirt or two – and I’m sure you’ll agree, there’s nothing tricky about that.