Fashion is an urban pursuit. Few department stores double up as barns, after all, and though their hides make great shoes, getting up close with cows when they’re still mooing is inadvisable in loafers. But style definitely doesn’t stop at the city limits. It just needs an adjustment. When pavements are a luxury, you’re best stowing all-white looks, suede boots and anything that mud won’t readily brush off. But that doesn’t mean you need to don a gilet and wellies. Here’s how to marry form and function.
Be Precisely The Right Amount Of Prepared
Know that country walks mean mud. So your lower half should be darker than soil and made from fabric that doesn’t fear the washing machine: dark denim, yes; silk parachute pants, less so. But the scoutmaster look is equally inappropriate if your ‘hike’ is across a field to the pub, not the length of the River Trent. So a backpack’s fine, but it should be just big enough for an extra knit, so you can stay until after sunset, and a bottle of something warming. Just in case you get lost on the way home.
House of Fraser AW14
If it showers in the city, you’re never more than six feet from a Starbucks. When you’re caught out straddling a stile, shelter is as tough to find as a decent flat white. When a coat leaves you sweating, reach for a lightweight windbreaker or shell jacket, says Olie Arnold, style director at Mr Porter. Rolled up and stored at the bottom of your bag, if it stays balmy nobody needs to know you even brought one. If you get caught short in a shower or a blustery gale you’ll stay dry while your mates get soaked. Patagonia Torrentshell Waterproof Shell Hooded Jacket, available at Mr Porter, priced £110.
When the skies look to offer more than a brief dousing, you need something more robust. And there’s a reason the waxed jacket has become the de facto uniform for men who spend a lot of time in the rain, either looking after animals or shooting them. The Barbour jacket is a classic for a reason – the brand has been protecting folks from the weather’s worst since 1894 and you could probably swim in its waxed outerwear without getting wet. But if you don’t want to blend in, then deploy a different shape. “Albam recently used the great outdoors as inspiration for its ‘Alternative’ spring collection,” says Arnold. The British label’s game coat boasts a funnel neck to counter rain, and two game pockets should you fancy a spot of poaching. But its lesser-spotted silhouette also means you’ll stand out at the bar of the Dog and Duck. Albam Wax Game Coat, available at albamclothing.com, priced £299.
Walk This Way
Summer is coming, but you’re going to have to abandon the espadrilles unless by the ‘great outdoors’ you mean glamping at V Festival. Although the boots you’ll buy in outdoors stores will protect your feet for the length of the Pennine Way, if you’re planning something more staid then look to heritage hikers. Brands like Diemme and Fracap originally built boots for tackling mountains, but have updated their rainproof leathers with light and grippy Vibram soles. So you’re covered on rock-strewn footpaths and can deploy them with selvedge jeans back home as well. Fracap M120 Natural Vibram Sole Scarponcino Boot, available at END Clothing, priced £199.
Bag It Up
Your work satchel won’t cut it. If you’re off for a country walk ending at a local pub, you can afford to think small but practical. This Barbour backpack is a good bet as the waxed look is synonymous with the country set. Add a Thermos to the mix for hot coffee or soup if it’s early, or a hip flask for a nip of whisky if it’s getting late. For tougher conditions, Arnold recommends the Arc’Teryx Veilance nylon pack as an element-proof adventurers’ alternative. Just don’t let it tempt you into scaling cliff-faces should you enjoy a couple of drams too early. Barbour Wax Backpack With Leather Details, available at ASOS, priced £149.
Follow Matt Evans on Twitter and Instagram @mevs42