Winter Warmers: Look Alive! Five Upgrades to Keep Your Days Bright

Guys, this winter is so weird. I was (sort of) prepared emotionally and psychologically for my first East Coast Nor’easter in seven years, and instead I oscillate between a very mild teeth-rattle and sunny days that only require my fall coat. It is frankly freaking me out, but I also refuse to look this gift horse too hard in the mouth.

What is still true is that, at the end of the day, I love summer. I fantasize about it constantly. I cannot wait to go swimming again, to feel the hot sun in my hammock while sipping a Moscow Mule, to suck in all that Vitamin D and fall asleep swiftly and slightly sunburned. To make matters worse, everybody releases spring lines right about now, just to remind you how far you are from beach season.

I am currently kind of pasty-faced, and my birthday is coming up which means people are about to be depressed (that’s what blows about a birthday at the end of February, which everyone agrees is the worst time of year, even–it turns out–the people of San Francisco), so I have been making minor, inexpensive adjustments to brighten up my winter wardrobe. I thought you or the menswear fan in your life (or whatever half this shit is unisex) might be interested, so here goes:

1. Socks

That's my foot! Base sock + fun sock = yes.

Taking a cue from womenswear (according to Michael, who does this very well but we have to be careful not to do it on the same day or we look like THAT couple), dudes have been sporting this very practical solution to the pithy bits of snow scum and slightly-more-common toxic rain puddles this season. I like it with a bright, colorful sock and a sense of texture. You can even pull this off with a suit, as long as your hiking boots are fancier, like my white-soled Timberlands.

This is what not to do:

No to slouchy.

This looks like you’re going backpacking. Which is fine, if you are — though you may want to get some brighter, less sad socks.

2. Tie

Wear a tie! If you have a formal occasion (winter wedding, your office job), awesome. If not, take your partner out on a date, get a drink at a fancy hotel, see a play, go to a museum, etc. and so on. Just please don’t wear a tie and go dancing–it’s my least favorite things to see people overdressed in skuzzy locales. If you are brilliantly stylish, no rules apply. But you already know that.


The Hill-Side is always your best bet.

Winter ties are a great way to add a little depth to your outfit. They’re a little like wearing a seersucker shirt in the summer: a small way to signal the seasons with flair.

You don’t need to do much different than you normally would to pull off  a wool tie, though I would argue that the one above would look great with a denim shirt if you want to dress down a little.

3.  Pants

You know what’s not just for summer? Color. I saw a guy in Boston (this is notable, believe me) wearing bright purple pants on his way to work the other day and it looked awesome.

Wool trousers now come in color, continuing the summer trend. Talk about brightening someone’s day:

Wool trousers from Sid Mashburn.

If that’s a little out of your pay grade (and at $300 a pop, it’s out of mine) or your day-to-day needs (likely both), feel free to revisit jeans instead. Topman, as per usual, comes through with a great option:

Plum skinny jeans by Topman.

These would look great with that tie and denim shirt I just suggested, not to dress you. Put on a blazer if you want. Or don’t. I’m not your dad.

4. Smell

Winter is a great time to reevaluate your deodorant, cologne, aftershave, soap, etc. For a few bucks you can make your morning routine brighter by creating a woodsy illusion on your body. If you are anywhere near Colonial Drug in Boston, I highly suggest perusing their aisles. Other thoughts:

Tallba Swedish Pine Glycerin Body Soap.

This is controversial, but ever since I’ve had the man sweat the “natural” stuff isn’t doing me any good. So I’ve opted into chemically-derived, big bad corporation deodorant. I feel guilty, but I also smell better and, being a Libra rising, in this case I have to take a hit ethically in order to be a gentleman. A gentleman, as we know, is not stinky. With that caveat, I highly recommend this clean, fresh offering from Old Spice:

5. Laces

Seems simple enough, and the price is right. Switching out your laces on those nice work-to-weekend boots are a quick way to have a whole new look. Especially if you can’t afford these beauties from Frye:

Cobb Hikers by Frye.

And if you, like me, drool over them several times a day.

REI offers these great laces:

REI Waterproof Round Hiker Laces.

And New Balance has these:

New Balance Hiker Laces.

Though I’ve yet to find some beautiful blue ones, so if you do, buy them for me. I’ll pay you back, I promise.

Keep your heads up! Warm weather’s around the corner. Warmer, I mean. To snow!


About Thomas Page McBee

Gentleman first, always. James Dean is my patron saint, poet is my gender. More about me here:


  1. Great sock ideas! And yeah, natural deodorant doesn’t even really work on girl sweat (at least not mine). I save it for cold days when I know I won’t be walking more than two blocks.

  2. Michael von Braithwaite

    I’m going to start paying more attention to my shoelaces. Also, I want those bright wool slacks! So FUN

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