For a long time—most of the history of menswear, in fact—we strived for harmony in the way we dressed. Every element of any given outfit aligned with the others. Think topcoats with business suits, or waxed cotton jackets with heavy country tweeds. There was a vibe, and each portion of the whole contributed to it. It made sense. But it was also kind of boring.
Because now, we understand what happens when we give harmony the boot and aim for a little push-and-pull. We throw disparate and sometimes unexpected items into the mix and shake it around to see what we can make. And that is far from boring. In fact, it's pretty damn exciting.
There is, of course, the mashup of traditional tailoring and performance wear that's been going strong for a few seasons now. "I always like that tension of putting something technical over something a little more rustic like wool," says Frank Muytjens, the man behind J. Crew's men's designs. "So if you wear a suit, you can throw a waterproof parka over it. I think that's amazing."
To that end, J. Crew works with renowned woolen mills like Moon and Harris Tweed—"we love their story and heritage, and we know the product just doesn't get any better"—for its in-house tailored clothing, as well as specialty outdoors brands like The North Face for collaborative outerwear pieces. According to Muytjens, you should wear them together. You can also pair a topcoat with technical items like a fleece windbreaker or his favorite, a down vest.