HOW DOES ONE get dressed? This is a question I asked myself a lot throughout 2022 as I got back into the swing of regular travel and found myself frequently needing to look like a person who remembered how to put together a sensible look that didn’t involve sweatpants. Spending so much time in airports and living out of my roller bag for the past few months I found relied on a few beloved essentials: go-to items that can be easily mixed and matched for an array of occasions. As someone who forms deep emotional attachments to certain objects, I am drawn to things that are both fundamentally utilitarian and beautifully designed. Finding the perfect bag, a jacket that can be dressed up or down, or a goes-with-everything pair of boots is deeply satisfying and, when chosen wisely, feels like a sound investment. Looking back on the garments and accessories that have served me well this year, I am reminded of the value of well-made menswear. I’d gladly (and will likely) buy all of these items again. They also make amazing gifts.
When I first heard about Vollebak’s 100 Year Hoodie, I was dubious. It seemed impossible that any fabric made to withstand the test of time, be impervious to the elements, and repel fire, wind, and water would also be comfortable. Turns out, the British company’s “clothes from the future” weave materials such as ballistic nylon, recycled bulletproof vests, and carbon fibers into garments that are not only deeply sustainable but also profoundly chic. This nondescript, unembellished hoodie might be the last sweatshirt you’ll ever need to buy. SHOP NOW
When we traveled to the Monaco Grand Prix earlier this year, a certain Todd Snyder cotton silk polo recommendation became a personal fascination. Now that the weather is colder, I’ve turned my attention to the American designer’s beautiful cashmere chore jacket. Crafted from recycled fibers and cut from two solid pieces of cashmere, the jacket boasts remarkably seamless lines. It’s notably hardy and can be worn as a stand-alone coat, yet also serve as a nice, lightweight layer, particularly when paired with a sweater, depending on the weather and your state of mind. It can also accomplish the rare hat trick of being rustic enough to wear on a farm — it is, after all, a “chore” coat — yet slick enough to pass for a dinner jacket. SHOP NOW
As I am generally averse to anything with too many logos or aggressive branding, this slinky, understated sweater by Hèrmes strikes just the right notes for versatile, cold-weather layering. Knitted from 100% virgin wool in a muted harvest gold color, it packs all the insulating qualities of a classic wool sweater in a delicate, easy-to-pack package. And even though it’s a remarkably understated garment, it still has the subtle luxury touch of Hèrmes in the guise of a repeating “H” motif woven into the inside collar. SHOP NOW
Sunglasses are a funny business. The right pair can either add a jolt of whimsy to an otherwise staid ensemble or inject a subtle touch of class to your most outré look. These Icon sunglasses by Dolce & Gabbana can actually do both, depending on how you wear them. Comprised of a yellow havana and crystal acetate frame (suggestive of an otherworldly tortoiseshell) and dark green lenses, the oversized specs transmit a strong “I’m a celebrity sneaking away from the paparazzi” vibe when worn in the right environment. But, alternately, they’re just as perfect for a funky, low-key day at the beach. SHOP NOW
This year, few garments brought me as much pleasure or as much use as Percival’s Waterproof Sherlock jacket. The English brand’s penchant for subverting classics is on full display here, with a coat that feels like a heritage piece — bonded Italian wool in an earthy Shepherd check — in a distinctly modern cut. This is the ultimate dress-it-up or dress-it-down piece: a mid-length jacket that pairs well with a suit and is equally dashing with your favorite jeans and pair of worn-out boots. Sufficiently tweedy-looking for solving a mystery or just classing things up at your local dive bar, it is fall-weather appropriate and, when layered over a hoodie or sweater, warm enough to carry you into winter. SHOP NOW
When I tell people that I have finally found “the one,” I am not referring to a lifelong romantic partner or a new pet. Instead, I am talking about this beautiful bag created by the London-based leather-goods brand Métier. When I wrote about this ideal bag earlier in the year, I hadn’t yet had much time to live with it. However, now that I’ve traveled with it a few times, I love it even more. I chose a slim, briefcase-sized version of it in a ruddy, caramel suede called Marrakech because it made me feel like a ’70s college professor and because I suspected (rightly, I might add) that the bag would become softer and look even cooler with use. SHOP NOW
In my opinion, people don’t talk enough about how the right pair of pants can be a total game changer — or, for that matter, how many of us are walking around in pants that are ill-fitting or just the wrong size. These tailored chinos from Dior are the answer. Crafted from a lightweight wool-mohair blend, they can pass for formal or be casually dressed down. They also exemplify designer Kim Jones’ fascination with meticulous tailoring. So not only do they fit perfectly (and require no additional alterations, at least for me), they are also the kind of functional staple that gives you a return on your investment, meaning: My suitcase never leaves home without them. SHOP NOW
I am admittedly a novice when it comes to fine watches, but my first foray into high-end watchery — via a visit to Hublot’s New York City flagship store — turned out to be a fortuitous one. I wanted a timepiece that conveyed a kind of quiet power like this one instantly seemed to transmit. This particular model comes in matte black, with a face and case that combine polished and satin-finished black ceramic with six H-shaped titanium screws. It also boasts Hublot’s own “Art of Fusion” self-winding movement, a 42-hour power reserve, and a bracelet that consists of links of black ceramic with a black-plated titanium clasp. In addition to the general gravitas of the watch itself, it also looks great with literally everything. SHOP NOW
In the same way that a great bag or the perfect jacket can carry you from day to night or elevate whatever they’re paired with, the perfect boots can be a godsend — especially as we go stomping into winter. While every brand on planet Earth has its own take on the classic Chelsea boot, this particular iteration from Ferragamo is the winner of my personal boot wars. Constructed of calfskin leather and assembled almost entirely by hand in a process said to involve 160 distinct phases of workmanship, it is both classic in shape and surprisingly lightweight. It’s also the ideal “works with everything” piece of footwear. SHOP NOW
It’s always winter somewhere — and, if you travel a lot, chances are you’re gonna need to avoid the cold. No brand helps you do this better and more stylishly than Canada Goose. Known for their insane warmth and impeccable design, these puffy icons offer unlimited variations on the classic down coat. This Mountaineer Parka is a pared-down version of one of the brand’s most popular models (the Skreslet Parka) and comes in vibrant blue or red. In addition, the jacket is field-tested to withstand temperatures below minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit (and includes both a hem drawcord to seal out the cold and a mesh water bottle pocket). So it will surely keep you toasty this winter, even if the only cold-weather journey you undertake is walking to the train or running out to check the mail. SHOP NOW
T. Cole Rachel Writer
T. Cole Rachel is the deputy editor of Departures. A Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and teacher with over 20 years of experience working in print and digital media, his writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Interview, and the Creative Independent.
Ahonen & Lamberg Illustrator
Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.