One morning you wake up, go outside, and immediately take a chill that stays with you all day and well into the night.
Summer is over – welcome to fall.
Since I grew up in chilly, fall-intensive New England, I’ve spent quite a lot of time with cold wind whipping at my face. Fall is my kind of weather, the way that the ocean is a sailor’s kind of place – you have to love it and you have to respect it, because it can make you happy, miserable, or chilly on any given day.
The key to any season is to enjoy it. I must confess that one of my most favorite pasttimes is crunching leaves. Say you’re walking down a chilly sidewalk sometime in mid-morning when, all of a sudden, you spot a leaf on the ground and then – CRUNCH! God, what an amazing noise.
Dry fall mornings are the perfect time to start protecting yourself with a facial moisturizer with SPF15, such as Boots’ Simple Sun Sensitive Protecting Facial Hydrolotion. The moisturizer will keep your face protected from the wind, and when the humidity drops, you still need to be mindful of sun damage, even on colder days. There is no shame in finishing up all the sunblock I convinced you to get last summer.
Fall lets you ease into the cold weather. The best way to do this is to phase out as much cotton clothing as you can. Cotton is a wonderful and versatile fabric, but since it is an organic cellulose-based material, it can absorb 25 times its weight in water. On breezy, chilly days, cotton garments will leave you cold.
The easy way to avoid this is to wear wool or synthetic fabrics against your skin whenever possible. Nylon (by comparison) can only absorb a meager 10% of its weight in water. The key especially is to keep your core temperature up and keep your hot, healthy blood pouring to your extremities. Try the Marks and Spencer Ultrafit Sport Trunks.
Even if you plan on wearing cotton button downs all fall, this may be the time to start breaking your addiction to undershirts. The classic white men’s crew neck undershirt belongs on men in the Navy or men named Fonzie.
It is nothing more than a sponge for sweat and odor, and to be honest, it ruins the shape of many dress shirts and leaves you with strange lines on your biceps. If you like the feel of undershirts, try something more practical like this smartwool thermal.
You might think it makes you look like some kind of mountain man, but it has the added bonus of making you feel like a mountain man.
Fall shoes should have thicker soles than your summer wear. In fall, you want to distance your toes from muddy puddles and cold pavement, but this needn’t be any thicker than your average pair of basketball shoes.
For the serious fall weather try a pair of Salvatore Ferragamo "Master" Slides. These shoes will keep you warm and high above the cold pavement.
The ideal fall sweater is a thin lambswool zip sweater. Zip it up, and you’re suddenly wearing a turtle neck. Zip it down under a light jacket, and now you’re wearing a breathable warm jacket.
Of course when the cold winds blow, there is pretty much no designer that can match the protection, comfort and durability of a US Navy Surplus Officer’s Sweater.
In the novel written just prior to Moby Dick, Herman Melville describes the perils of going to sea in a seemingly warm jacket. But was it water proof?
my dear friend; and that was the deuce of it. Waterproof it was not, no
more than a sponge. Indeed, with such recklessness had I bequilted my
jacket, that in a rain-storm I became a universal absorber; swabbing
bone-dry the very bulwarks I leaned against. Of a damp day, my
heartless shipmates even used to standup against me, so powerful was
the capillary attraction between this luckless jacket of mine and all
drops of moisture."
-Herman Melville, White Jacket
A Modern Gentleman wearing thick-soled shoes and a comfortable wool or synthetic sweater needs a windproof and waterproof jacket like a Harrington with a wool tartan lining. A Harrington is one of those things like zippo lighters or moleskin notebooks that can be imitated, but never improved upon.
If you’re completely happy with your job, your appearance, your love life, and your apartment, feel free to spend the forthcoming year searching for the perfect leather jacket. There’s no room for insecurity in a leather jacket; if you’re buying a leather jacket because you want to hide your scrawny frame and seem tough or rebellious, you’ll look like a scrawny fellow that wants to seem tough or rebellious.
Good leather jackets aren’t cheap, and cheap leather jackets aren’t good. A leather jacket may last you the rest of your life, but the stitching and lining will inevitably wear out. For these two reasons, it is always a good idea to keep an eye out in vintage shops for a leather jacket that fits you in the shoulders and chest, because the rest can always be adjusted. This $40 leather jacket (below) came to me with torn sleeves and cuffs that barely reached the wrists. After a couple nights with a wonderful leather tailor, it was returned to me with new lining, longer cuffs, and an inside pocket the size of a moleskin notebook.
(Work done by Nelson Tailor Shop 176 Rivington St. Tel: 212-253-7071)
Don’t bother if you’re anything like me. I find gloves to be annoying and tiresome; whenever I buy a pair I actually like, it inevitably finds a way to slip out of my pocket. In my estimation, unless you work directly with cattle or raw fish, you’re better off keeping your hands warm in a jacket pocket.
Until I see you again in winter: stay warm, stay dry, keep cool, and if you see any suspicious leaves on the ground: CRUNCH! them for me.