Men’s streetwear has seen trends rise and fall this year: expensive anime-inspired tech-wear is out, while colour-blocking and simple patterns are in. My favourite trend of the year, however, has slipped under most people’s radar: the return of the half-zip fleece.
Pertaining to the dad-core subcategory, fleeces have taken the minimalist streetwear scene by storm. They’re versatile, they’re affordable, and they can be subtle or stylish — let me break down these down.
Versatility: One of the easiest ways to get creative with your outfits is layering. Fleeces are a perfect choice for spicing up your outfit in the winter months, as they work with plain or patterned tees, and even a button-up shirt. The half-zip comes in clutch when you don’t want your underlayer to show, while an unzipped fleece can reveal extra colour.
Affordability: My personal favourite fall/winter fleece is the Uniqlo Half-Zip. It’s soft, warm, well-cut — and it’s £19.90. If colour blocking isn’t your style, Uniqlo released a collaboration with Engineered Garments which features experimental designs at the same price as their monochrome offering. Most other fleeces I’ve seen rarely surpass the £50 mark, especially second-hand.
Style: Single-coloured fleeces with minimal or no branding are great for colour blocking, and will follow Shia LaBoeuf’s fashion philosophy of putting shape and fit above everything else. However, if you want to go wild and unique designs, go vintage shopping. Last winter, my friend and I were out thrifting and he found a playful ‘Nautica’ fleece for £20 — the piece is so rare that we haven’t been able to find photos of it online.
My love for the half-zip fleece isn’t blind: they do have their downsides. Although the zipper allows for ventilation, it can get stuffy wearing one indoors or under a thick jacket. You could always forgo the jacket and put a hoodie under the fleece, but if Mancunian weather has taught me anything, it’s that leaving home without a raincoat is not a smart move.
To avoid being sweaty or soaked to the bone, it’s essential to know when to wear a fleece. My preferred time is mid-autumn, as the high neck provides the perfect insulation from the occasional gust of wind while being less suffocating than a scarf. I’d also recommend wearing them in the coldest winter months, essentially any time that you’d go for a turtleneck but want a loose fit.
Come join the half-zip hype train: cheap, potentially unique, and great with a cap, jeans, and tall boots. You’ll be the coolest dad on the block — even if you aren’t a father.