Words: Chekii Harling
From mood-boosting colours to technical fabrics, here’s our guide to finding expressive outerwear for autumn, winter and beyond

It feels as though we were fused to our coats last winter when daily walks were our only real avenue for flexing our fashion muscles. Now we’ve returned to actual plans, it turns out we’re still quite attached to the idea of outerwear that outwardly shows some personality. Cue the AW21 collections, which are bursting with expressive style that you can invest in now and return to each winter. Here, we spotlight four ways to combine fashion and function – from mood-curing colour to the brands offering earth-conscious outerwear alternatives.


Ever wish you could be teleported to your destination from your duvet? Us too. Cue the next best thing, the puffer jacket. “This season’s puffer jackets aren’t just cosy, they’ll add a functional and directional element to your look, too,” says our Designer Menswear Buyer, Yasmin Mehmet. “We’re excited to introduce new styles across sought-after brands such as Canada Goose and Moncler, who deliver not just on warmth but the quality of their fabrics, too.” Other brands playing with padding include Valentino and Fendi’s interpretations featuring experimental prints and illustrations, and Patagonia’s planet-conscious puffers crafted from recycled materials. “We’ve also added innovative Italian sportswear brand Nemen,” adds Yasmin, “who crafts technical menswear with Italian craftsmanship – the Kaos Discharged Recycled Goose Down Jacket is on my wish list, as it has been garment dyed to create unique colour variations.”


Now that shorter daylight hours are on the horizon, we’re looking to bright colour for a much-needed pick-me-up. “Colour-blocking has been cropping up on the runways for some time now,” says Arron Dickinson, one of our expert personal shoppers at Selfridges Manchester Exchange Square. He has his eye on Stone Island’s green shell-down jacket: “it’s a bold choice that can be played up or down for a statement-making moment or Sunday strolls in the park.” The same is true of Valentino’s patterned ski jacket at our planet-friendly platform Selfridges Rental and the bright-red shell jacket (featuring a kitsch embroidered cat) from Alessandro Michele’s AW21 Gucci collection. If you’re in need of something more chilled, though, we’re loving Dsquared2’s calm colour combos.


When looking for outerwear, I like to pick up things that are quite individual. If I already have something that does the same job, I won’t buy it. Look for different textures, colours and shapes, and over time you’ll have built a beautiful and versatile collection.

– Ajani Dowey, Menswear Designer Street Buyer


If the thought of hot-desking doesn’t get you out of bed in the morning, these tailored jackets just might. The return to reality certainly doesn’t mean designers are looking to the old way of doing things – we’re seeing classic silhouettes reinvigorated with fresh finishes and feel-good details. When we asked Bay Garnett, the Queeen of Thrift and curator of our Oxfam space in Selfridges London (which just so happens to be packed with pre-loved Prada coats, Aquascutum macs and Barbour waxed jackets), about the coats she always keeps an eye out for, she told us, “I always LOVE the classics; you cannot go wrong with the perfect long camel coat or a classic shape (complete with good, manly lapels) in tweed or navy.” Cue reversibility at Eleventy with its caramel-to-midnight-blue wool coat, a subtle tartan check at Paul Smith, padded tailoring at Dries Van Noten and Acne Studios’ oversized coat from our Project Earth For Communities edit. How bold you go is up to you; Arron’s advice is to trust in your taste, “wear something that represents you, your best self and be confident in your choices, as that’s the thing that gets noticed when you walk into any situation.”


Our new flexi lifestyles have us seeking outerwear suitable for multiple situations, and brands are reflecting that by drawing on hardworking styles traditionally associated with workwear and technical gear. Off-White, A-COLD-WALL and new brand Arnar Mar Johnsson keep their shell jackets low-key with a smattering of logos, while FOG Essentials’ amber tones and Stone Island’s purple pieces are perfect ways to make your casual layering more impactful. Then, there are the brands going off-piste with experimental features – look to Snow Peak’s diagonally zipped shell jackets and outdoor label Manastash’s hard hemp and cotton fabrics. Forget post-work outfit planning and let these technical jackets take the weight off your shoulders.

Images courtesy of Anna Stokland, Style Du Monde, and Szymon Brzóska at The Style Stalker

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