The Urban Adventurer


I’ve noticed a lot more urban adventures out there this winter. They’re not out climbing glaciers or trekking the Appalachian Trail. Nope – they are just going to work. These guys look like they’re in the process of summiting K2, or in Washington’s case, Capitol Hill. You’ve probably seen them too; out driving their sport edition Range Rover (spotless), carrying their laptop to work in an expedition quality back pack and weathering the weather in a Patagonia blizzard-proof parka.

Now, I don’t want to pick a fight with anyone. I’ve said at least a dozen times that classic, preppy styles center around the idea of repurposing functional clothing for daily life. I mean, who do you think started the trend of wearing foul weather gear to the office anyway?

Most people follow this train of thought in some way. The difference here is that too often men who yearn to be manly men turn themselves in to affected parodies of their heroes.  Everyone role plays a little bit; I like messenger bags, but I’m no bike messenger. Some wear military fashions yet have never so much as scraped a knee, or sport team jerseys that barely fit over their couch potato paunch.

These looks are usually a desire to connect with a cherished role model or organization. It’s a search for identity and belonging; aspirational but not overblown.

Yet when it comes to the couture mountain man look, moderation seems to go out the window. Even if you really are a transcontinental hiker, please don’t wear your Fortress Peak GTX hiking boots to the office. It’s tacky.

When worn in moderation, I think the outdoors look is classic, fresh and emotionally fulfilling. One feels a little more independent, perhaps a bit lone wolf about life. While I do agree with my fellow contributor Winston Chesterfield, that strapping on a back pack while wearing a business suit is tantamount to sartorial blasphemy, the pairing of a technical jacket with selected business attire is really quite pleasing.

Basic rules of proportion hold true: your outer coat should cover any suit or sport jacket underneath and avoid any outsized puffy jackets. A mountaineering jacket may be rugged and functional, but its scale and overall feel should match your other clothing.

If done well, the look says you are at home in both the outdoors and the corner office. It should not look gimmicky or forced. If you are wearing a bespoke cashmere Brioni and alligator slip ins, leave the parka at home.


Chris Hogan, an association executive based in Washington, D.C., blogs at A lifelong interest in style and clothing led to sales and management positions at several Ralph Lauren stores and an active wardrobe consulting practice


  1. Now I can see the appeal of this look.