Last winter I dabbled in dressing head-to-toe in totally varied grey layers. Never mind ”double denim”, it was “total charcoal” – and I loved it. Grey knitwear under grey tailoring teamed with textured grey outerwear has a refined feel – and it seems I’m not alone in thinking this, if the raft of designers currently championing the multifarious-shades-of-grey-look is anything to go by.
As a member of the Glad to be Grey brigade, I’m thrilled by E Tautz’s collection of gutsy, glorious all-grey British cloths (flannels from Bower Roebuck in Yorkshire, hefty tweeds from Johnstons of Elgin and Breanish on the Isle of Lewis, and textured bouclé from Linton to Carlisle). The tailored silhouette, with broad shoulders and even broader lapels, and voluminous pleated trousers evoke Tamara de Lempicka’s male portraits, but the grey palette and textures are pure northern grit “inspired by the photographs in John Bulmer’s book The North, with its soot, granite, cobblestones and fog,” says creative director Patrick Grant, “as well as the hard-worn clothing of northern men; beaten soft and generously draped and proportioned.” This roomy brand of suave is key to the Tautz look. Capacious polo coats (£1,295) in heavily flecked grey wool and double-breasted overcoats (£1,295) in sombre grey windowpane checks look great over jackets (£545) and trousers (£395) in grey Donegals.
Brunello Cucinelli’s modern, relaxed styling is rooted in layering, and this season the layers are presented in myriad greys. “It’s dynamic,” says Cucinelli, “the colour of metropolitan elegance.” I like the marl-grey wool overcoat (£3,410) with removable inner jacket, charcoal cashmere cyclist’s sweater (£1,170) and garment-dyed denim trousers (£340). Tonal layering is also an elegant way to combine tailoring, such as Cucinelli’s houndstooth Saxony-wool two-piece suit (£2,330), with rib turtleneck two-tone fishermen’s jumpers (£1,260) and sporty coats (from £2,690).
“The colour palette of most cities is layered greys, so in a sense the colour is camouflage for contemporary man,” says Kilgour creative director Carlo Brandelli. Of the streamlined tailoring currently found in grey-marl flannels and cashmere blends, I like the charcoal wool-flannel jacket (£2,220) with an angular lapel that juts into a point and looks sharp with a grey turtleneck (£650). The mottled alpaca coat (£1,995) is also really striking and layers well.
Calvin Klein has long been synonymous with grey and this winter’s entirely grey-hued collection is particularly strong. Pressed-bouclé double-breasted overcoats (£900) and sports jackets (£835) have a youthful elegance when worn over lightweight heather-grey crewneck sweaters (£485), as does a granite pressed-bouclé overcoat (£810) and two-button sports jacket (£945) worn with a lightweight charcoal mohair crewneck (£485). Mélange coats in cement (£970) and basalt (£980) complete the shadowy spectrum.
For paler tones, Hardy Amies nails the look with a brushed-wool coat (£1,200), wool-flannel single-breasted suit (£650), bonded technical gilet (£350) and dove-grey merino rollneck (£150). Paler still is the pearl grey found at Giorgio Armani, exemplified by a wool jacket (£1,385), pleated wool trousers (£1,155) and bouclé alpaca cowl-neck (£360). Voluminous, pleated trousers are a sub-theme of this trend – Armani’s heather-grey stretch-wool trousers (£645) offer an alternative.
There’s more volume at Caruso, where grey pleated trousers (£300) look strong teamed with a charcoal cashmere tank-top (£500). The grey double-breasted blazer (£1,050) with a paler shade of trousers (£200) takes things a notch smarter, while a flannel three-piece suit (£1,700) worn with a wool-jacquard sweater (£350) is über-sophisticated.
For a cross-brand selection of tonal greys, take a look at Mr Porter’s Issey Miyake silk/wool overcoat (£1,690) with a Lanvin cable crewneck (£715), Acne tweed trousers (£260) and Boglioli flannel overshirt (£250). Prince of Wales checks also give superb texture, such as Boglioli’s double-breasted Dover overcoat (£800), which works well with a charcoal wool pinstripe suit (£1,010) and merino-wool polo (£290).
For a more relaxed look, turn to Matchesfashion.com’s in-house brand Raey – try a cement-hued chunky wool cardigan (£395) over a second charcoal cashmere cardigan (£275), teamed with low-rise straight jeans (£140). Zegna offers a similar look; I particularly like the cashmere/wool blouson (£1,390), paired with cotton-tricotine trousers (£320).
Whether worn formally or casually, there’s a certain romance to going grey. You could call it film noir-esque: restrained and moody but with a certain sophistication and subtle complexity.