The January sales means it’s time to snap up an adventurous bargain that will last you for years, if not decades. As the hibernation ends and thoughts turn to the great outdoors, Stephanie Smith goes in search of outerwear that treads the line between performance and style.
When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, taking more exercise is right up there at the top of the must-do-better charts. This is all very well, but saving money is also high up on that list, meaning that expensive gym memberships may well be out of the question. The solution – and this especially applies to those of us lucky enough to live here in Yorkshire – is to head for the great outdoors, to the moors and the dales, adding fresh, clean air to our healthy new lifestyle wish-list.
The weather often has its own ideas, however. Last few days excepted, we have so far had a murky winter, one that has kept many of us indoors, no matter how much we might long to be out on the moors.
Outerwear that performs well undoubtedly helps, and if it looks good too, so much the better. Take a leaf from Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, whose canny, classic, highly functional yet street-wise outdoor wardrobe is taking outerwear to new fashion heights.
Investing in a new coat is a January tradition as the High Street stores gather up their autumn/winter stock and apply discount, to free up space for the new transitional and spring/summer stock waiting in the wings. As outerwear is less subject to changing trends, now is a good time to snap up a bargain that will last you for years, if not decades.
Technical and performance outerwear has become a style essential in recent years, and not just for those who take their outdoor activities seriously. Head to Blacks for padded jackets by Berghaus, Mountain Equipment, Peter Storm, Craghoppers and more. Thin thermal layers are needed for underneath if heading out on a proper walk, and remember, jeans are a no-no as they become water-logged and won’t dry. You are much better off with walking trousers, but if you cannot bring yourself to wear them, try sturdy but breathable exercise leggings and take a pair of lightweight waterproof trousers in your rucksack.
Look out for a collaboration between Blacks and the British Heart Foundation – those who donate unwanted clothes to the charity will receive a 15 per cent discount for Blacks – a win-win.
Meanwhile, there’s a new outerwear brand inspired by Sir Edmund Hillary and his 1953 Mount Everest conquest expedition. A collaboration between New Zealand, Great Britain and Nepal, the Edmund Hillary Collection aims to keep the mountaineer’s legacy alive, inspiring people around the world to challenge themselves. The clothes are a modern take on the classic styles worn by Sir Edmund and the expedition team, replicating the original fabrics and construction methods. The design is UK based and manufacturing is in the UK, Europe and New Zealand, with the intention of also developing capability in Nepal. A percentage of the sale of each item goes to support causes in Nepal and to promote outdoor activities for young people around the world. Not just for mountaineers, there are some seriously stylish pieces to consider – some might work well for skiing too.
Take a look also at a lovely collaboration started late last year between Barbour and the National Trust. Together they have created a collection (for men and women) celebrating the British countryside with pieces specifically designed to encourage us to wrap up in style and get out there. On sale at John Lewis, it features a range of outerwear designed for comfort while battling the elements, alongside layers, T-shirts, footwear and accessories. Sales from this collection are going towards a minimum contribution of £25,000 which Barbour is donating to the National Trust.
For those who prefer to steer clear of performance outerwear and would rather take a more glamorous approach to keeping cosy, perhaps while taking the air on shorter walks or in and around town, Celtic & Co specialises in British-made sheepskin coats and accessories, as well as an impressive range of knitwear. Its coats are investment pieces, decidedly chic, but they will last a lifetime, keep you very warm, and the styles won’t date.
Finally, the long black fur-trimmed velvet coat featured here from Yorkshire brand Joe Browns is certain to turn heads and keep you warm while out on shopping expeditions. Sales or dales, it’s high time for a little outdoor adventure.