I know what you’re thinking, “Outerwear for summer? You’ve got your seasons wrong.” And normally I’d agree. In fact, up until yesterday I probably would have agreed that outerwear shopping was strictly an autumn / winter sport. You see the past week’s weather across Great Britain held so much promise – sure in other parts of the world where it’s also technically spring 2012 the weather sucked, but across Britain it hadn’t been so warm since the Beatles played New York’s Shea Stadium (1965 if you’re not up to date on your randomly useless Mad Men trivia). But today, today it’s all different. Today the clear London skies of the past week have been replaced by something grey and murky. For many a chap, the shorts will be packed away, slacks worn and sweaters donned. And as the week progresses, out will come the outerwear to counter the rain and the near freezing temperatures.

Yes, spring / summer’s weather is often a bitch of a thing – giving you a tan one day, leaving you soaked and miserable the next. Hence the need for summer outerwear across many a part of the Northern Hemisphere. Doubly so if you’re likely to find yourself jetting off to other temperate locales this season. Which all begs the question, what’s the outerwear look this season?

Put simply, it’s the humble parka. Or the anorak if your use of English is so inclined.

And, ever since Burberry Prorsum opened their Milan show with one and quickly redefined the parka’s potential with their third look, spring 2012’s outerwear for men was always going to be defined by the this particular piece of outerwear. Not just for the aesthetics of course, but for the practicality.

We live in an age where men can (neatly) counterbalance sharp looks with casual ones, and some cuts of the 21st century parka / anorak allow for just that. We also are living through a season where the weather turns overnight and generally on a Saturday as if to rub salt into the wounds of those who work Monday to Friday. So this season, join me as I thumb my nose at traditionalism and the weather, and indulge in the season’s parkas.

The 5 parka / anorak cuts you need to know about

The cropped parka

Look a little further down the list of our favourite parkas for the season and you’ll see the statement parka. It’s a lie. Well, maybe not. Maybe there are actually just two statement parka looks for the seasons. There’s the colourful one, easy enough to pull off, and then there’s the cropped parka – a place where most men will not dare venture. But they should. Look at it on the Burberry spring 2012 men’s catwalk and you know it was a parka cut to make other people weak at the knees.

Burberry Cropped Parka

But if it is cropped a little too high for your on tastes in men’s fashion, then there are alternatives. In the modest corner sits Acne’s camel coloured, brushed-poplin parka whose cropped hem cuts just across the hips. Still too much? In the so conversvative-it’s-almost-orthodox corner sits the Burberry Brit poplin parka (in petrol-blue no less).

Acne cropped Parka and Burberry Brit parka

Acne cropped Parka with hood, and Burberry Brit parka with hood both from Mr. Porter

The statement parka

So to the other statement: colour. An obvious one, yes, but colours that were deemed to be ‘out there’ in the not so distant past are again becoming mainstream in men’s fashion. And most of them play perfectly to this relaxed outerwear trend, particularly if you stick to the citrus-inspired colours of the season.

Lyle Scott Vintage Hooded Parka and Gloverall hooded combat Parka

Lyle & Scott Vintage hooded parka from ASOS, and Gloverall hooded combat parka from Coggles

The retro parka

Looking for a bit of retro (read: hipster) appeal in your spring / summer wardrobe? Then the snorkel parka is your go to item. Seldom out of fashion, generally for only a few years here or there, the snorkel parka has been the go to cut of just about every indie subculture from the 1970s.

First cut in this style by the US military, the men’s snorkel parka tends to be quilted as a winter offering, so if buying online make sure you’re purchasing one with a summer weight.

Selected Lightweight Parka and Snorkel Parka

Snorkel parka in military green cut long by Selected from Asos, Snorkel parka with modern cut by Simon Spurr from Mr Porter

The Mod parka

For both men and women, the revival of 1960s fashion remains on trend in spring 2012. If the swinging sixties, British Mod look appeals, then look to the parkas that stay true to the era’s original vibe.

So how do you get it? There’s one key element that separates Mod parkas from all others: the hem. Like an authentic polo shirt, it needs to be longer at the back in a cut that is known as the fishtail parka, with the tail generally featuring a split and a clasp.

As they did with the cropped parka, Burberry Prorsum have the fishtail parka of the season in the guise of their military green parka with raffia-trimmed hood.

Burberry Military Parka

Military green parka by Burberry Prorsum

The one to avoid

I don’t like to use Fashionising.com to highlight fashion to avoid – there’s too much good stuff to bother highlighting anything else. But for this men’s trend it’s worth highlighting the cut of parka / anorak that doesn’t lend itself to the season: it’s what I dub the sports parka, in that it doesn’t have any front zip or button clasps to annoy you when running. It’s the cut to avoid for the season.

A Parka to Avoid

Fjallraven anorak from Asos

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