I had a reader recently ask how to dress more ruggedly or develop a more rugged style for the winter season.
My answer is pretty straightforward: incorporate more rugged pieces into your wardrobe. Things like pea coats, heavy sweaters, denim jeans, boots etc.
In other words, the key to developing a more rugged aesthetic is to focus on work wear items.
These types of items have an inherent rugged quality to them by their very nature. By incorporating these types of pieces into your wardrobe you’ll no doubt create a more “blue collar” aesthetic.
For those of you not sure where to start, the following are 5 of my rugged style recommendations for the winter season:
Barbour has been making waxed cotton jackets for over 100 years. These heavy duty, rugged jackets are meant to withstand the elements and are typically designed with features such as snug-fitting collars, “storm cuffs”, and waterproof pockets with drainage holes.
If you have ever seen the movie Skyfall you’ll note that Bond sports a Barbour jacket towards the end of the movie when he’s at his childhood home of Skyfall Manor in the Scottish Highlands.
Although Barbour jackets have historically been popular with hunters and outdoorsmen, these days they have become more mainstream and you’ll see guys wearing them as casual outerwear items or streetwear and not necessarily as a functional piece of clothing.
One thing to note: the key to pulling off a Barbour jacket well is having some masculine qualities, primarily a beefier physique that can actually wear the jacket. Many men simply don’t have the frame to be wearing a Barbour jacket. Here’s what I’m talking about:
Now here are a couple of examples of men who pull the jacket off really well:
See the difference?
My favourite Barbour jacket is the classic Bedale. It’s very simple in design with just the two patch pockets in the front, a nice tall corduroy collar and their signature tartan lining. Pair this jacket with some dark denim, work boots and a heavy sweater and you will have an awesome rugged look that is both stylish and functional for the winter season.
If you’re trying to create a more rugged aesthetic with your style you can’t overlook the right kind of footwear.
And work boots are one of those quintessential rugged items that will definitely give you a more blue collar look.
My favourite pair are the Red Wing Iron Rangers you see above.
What I particularly like about the Red Wing Iron Rangers is their design. For a pair of rugged boots they look incredibly classy and even have an element of refinement to them with the cap toe detail. These boots work incredibly well with items like denim, chinos, and cords.
Red Wings can be a bit pricey so for those of you who want a pair of rugged boots but are looking for something a bit more affordable, I highly recommend you check out Chippewa Ellison Lace-Up Leather Work Boots:
These guys are less than half the price of a pair of Red Wings but have many of the same great design elements.
Shackets have really grow in popularity this fall/winter season. For those of you who are not familiar, a shacket is neither a shirt/sweater nor a jacket but rather something in between.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
Shackets are great layering pieces during the fall/winter season and have a undeniable work wear look and feel to them. Pair them over a simple t-shirt or henley to create a great rugged layered look.
Shackets are also a great option for those of you that live in climates that aren’t necessarily too cold during the winter season. It’s kind of like wearing a piece of outerwear but it’s not so bulky and heavy that you’ll feel too hot wearing it.
My favourite shackets right now are from J.Crew. The one you see above is their thermal shirt-jacket and the other one I particularly like is their Wallace & Barnes sweater-jacket in Italian merino wool:
Throw this on over a henley and some denim jeans or chinos for a great work wear inspired look.
As I’ve mentioned before not all button up shirts were created equal. Utility or work shirts are a style of button up shirt that trace their history through men’s work wear. These are the type of button up shirts blue collar workers and labourers used to wear back during the early part of the 20th century.
Utility shirts have a lot of rich history and given their connection to work wear they have an inherent ruggedness to them. These shirts are great to wear with a pair of denim jeans and boots for a relaxed yet rugged look during the winter season.
I highly recommend checking them out. They have a great selection of different styles and colors to choose from and they will not break the bank (less than $90 USD).
Cable knit sweater
The cable knit sweater (also known as the fisherman’s sweater) is a great rugged sweater for the winter season. The origins of this sweater date back to the early part of the 20th century. The sweaters were originally made for the local fisherman living on the Aran islands off the coast of Ireland (another name for the sweater is an Aran jumper).
Cable knit sweaters are generally made using wool and feature textured cable patterns on the body and sleeves. The original sweaters were made using unwashed wool as the natural oils in the wool made the sweaters waterproof. This made the sweaters a great piece of work wear for the local fisherman working on the islands at the turn of the century.
My favourite cable knit sweater right now is Brooks Brothers lambswool cable crewneck sweater:
It’s made with 2 ply Scottish lambswool and comes in a variety of colours. Once again, I recommend pairing this with some dark denim jeans, work boots, and a pea coat for a rugged yet stylish winter look.
If you’re trying to create a more rugged aesthetic this winter season your best bet is to focus on work wear pieces. The options I’ve covered above are all great places to start if you’re interested in building a more rugged look.
Here’s to looking sharp!