Wearing pink: Tips and combinations

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By Manish Puri

“That was the day I learned how dangerous a color can be. That a boy could be knocked off that shade and made to reckon his trespass. Even if color is nothing but what the light reveals, that nothing has laws, and a boy on a pink bike must learn, above all else, the law of gravity.”

So writes Little Dog (the narrator of Ocean Vuong’s fantastic debut novel On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous) in a letter to his mother. Even without knowing the specifics of what happened that day, we get it. What lengths have we all gone to, and what expression have we denied ourselves, to avoid becoming the subject of playground taunts?

I didn’t wear pink growing up and so didn’t for most of my adult life – it’s that simple. And for what? To unwittingly preserve an arbitrary distinction that retailers use to flog more baby clothes? (“The more you individualize clothing, the more you can sell,” says Jo B. Paoletti, author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America).

It wasn’t always this way. Pink has long been a colour sported by the fashionable male; considered to be a shade of red, it shared that colour’s association with power, war and wealth (importing cochineal dye from Mexico in the 16th century wasn’t cheap). It’s only in the latter half of the 20th century that pink and femininity have become intertwined.

I’d like to use this article to help redress that balance slightly, because, worn well, pink is a terrific addition to any man’s wardrobe - it’s fun, flattering and exudes confidence. We’ll look at colour combinations that I think are particularly good, and check out some examples of pink tailoring.

When wearing pink, I think it’s also instructive to consider Simon’s article on subtle vs showy. Because pink is often bright, bold, and distinct, and frequently works best with high contrast looks, it can position an outfit towards the showier end of the spectrum. But I’ll talk about ways we soften that, and look in detail at a subtler shade of pink that is one of my absolute favourite colours.

My hope is that this article inspires readers to embrace pink, and help them to escape those childhood fears.

Pink and white

Whenever I’m uncertain as to how to best incorporate a new, unusual, or strong colour into my wardrobe I start by pairing it with neutrals: white, black, and grey.

We’ll look at each of these in turn, starting with white, which contrasts brilliantly with those pinks that are light, bright, and sugary. Pinks that remind you of candy floss, strawberry lemonade, and Hubba Bubba.

Both Jason Jules and I have paired sherbet-y jumpers with white/off-white denim above, while Kenji Cheung (shown top) has opted for smart trousers, in keeping with his tailored jacket. This is a super fresh and crisp combination, but it does shift the focus onto the pink garment.

The contrast between the two colours doesn’t have to be quite so stark; a soft pink (which is often a little easier to wear) can sit perfectly with a milky knitted polo, a tan, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Inspired by the above, may I also proffer the swim short as a gentle entrée to wearing pink, because, with all due respect, when you or I spend a day at the beach ain’t nobody there to check out our trunks.

This knowledge should empower even the most conservative of town-and-country dressers to throw caution to the sea-breeze; if nobody bats an eyelid at psychedelic Bermuda shorts, animal prints or a brand name emblazoned across the crotch, then a gentle pink is unlikely to cause a stir.

Pink and black

In recent years, Simon has written more and more about black as it returns from its menswear exile. Above, Scott Fraser shows how black and pink can form the chicest of unions. The key is that the trousers are paler than the two jumpers above. Were they not, I suspect the pairing would be much more lurid.

Considering Scott’s outfit alongside Austin Butler’s Elvis (below) also helps to illuminate something of a Russian Doll concept - the spectrum within a spectrum.

Both looks are identical in their use of colour (pale pink and black with accents of white), and both have a certain Rockabilly flair. But Scott’s clothes have no pattern, no silky textures, harmony between the upper and lower proportions, and a clear colour-blocked structure. Next to Elvis, Scott’s notionally showy ensemble appears positively subtle.

It’s these careful distinctions that separate an outfit I would wear in a second, from one I would wear for a second.

Pink and grey

Simon has written tirelessly about the versatility of grey trousers - heck, his article on a five trouser wardrobe had as many as four pairs of grey in there! In a sense, grey trousers are like me in the local pub at 10:30pm: happy to make friends with just about anyone.

Here grey offers a lovely balance to the pink. New York label Stoffa excels in tonal and tone-matching outfits and the two images above (taken from the Summer 2021 lookbook) show how different greys on the bottom harmonise with the two pinks on the body.

The shirt on the right is a pale peach (orangey/pink) and so gets paired with a pale grey. The t-shirt on the left is a richer berry pink and the shorts are a deeper grey-blue colour.

Pink and blue

Whilst a saturated pink and navy is a combination that can work, personally I find the two colours a little strong next to one another. I also think I may have seen the colours used at one wedding too many to turn to it instinctively. With navy, it helps if the pink itself is a paler shade (like the PS pink oxford shirt).

To my eye, pink is more pleasing with paler blues – washed denim instead of raw indigo, and well-worn oxford cloth button downs.

I also find knitwear to be a great way of incorporating pink (and other bold colours) into an outfit – that’s especially true of brushed jumpers (such as the J Press knit on the right) where the fuzzy texture helps soften the colour slightly.

Pink and green

My final thought on embracing pink as a showy colour is to consider it in one of my favourite combinations, with green. This is a natural blend in every sense that delivers a high visual impact thanks to the colours’ complementary nature (this colour wheel tool is a lot of fun to play with).

Above is a photo of my friends Zeena and Zack on their wedding day. Since the Queen’s passing, Zeena may well be the owner of the world’s largest pink wardrobe and is a staunch advocate of the colour’s mood-boosting powers. And so, it was no surprise to any of her guests that her wedding lehenga was a symphony of pinks, set off by Zack’s pastel green shawl and ivory sherwani.

Of course, us Indians are partial to a bit of pink - upon seeing Norman Parkinson’s iconic 1956 British Vogue shoot in India, Diana Vreeland famously commented “how clever of you Mr Parkinson to know that pink is the navy blue of India" - but, even so, I think this is a particularly stunning combination.

Above, Gerardo Cavaliere of Sartoria Giuliva offers a characteristically idiosyncratic take: a lavender pink jacket paired with pistachio trousers. I’m a big fan of how Gerardo puts together striking outfits - slightly offbeat but always tasteful.

And then below him, Nicholas Walter mixes a bright pink V-neck with forest green brushed cotton trousers (and a delightful jacket the colour of Gerardo’s dog - which I’m almost certain is a coincidence).

If the idea of a pink-green combination intrigues, but you find these looks a little punchy, perhaps consider the forest green trousers with a pink-and-white striped shirt, or an ecru pair of jeans, a soft pink t-shirt, and a jungle jacket.

On the subject of shirts, one of Simon’s very earliest posts extolled the virtues of a pink shirt while lamenting the hesitance of his colleagues to try one. I couldn’t agree more and reckon a pink shirt (striped or solid) is one of the easiest (and most flattering) ways for anyone to get a wink of pink into their wardrobe.

The subtle pink

If, despite my best efforts, you remain dubious that pink is for you, can I play one more card? The subtle pink. Commonly referred to as dusty or dusky pink, it’s what comes from mixing pink with grey, brown, or even a little indigo/violet. This combination makes the colour a little cooler, darker, and easier to incorporate into tonal outfits - qualities that should reassure you we’re back on tailor firma.

Take Adam Roger’s vintage mock neck above - were he to tire of gazing enigmatically into the distance, stand up and walk off the photo, I could envisage the outfit finished with charcoal flannels, indigo jeans, or chocolate corduroys (trousers I’d wager are already in the closets of many a reader).

In fact brown, and brown-toned earth colours, is a fantastic companion to this colour.

In the first image above, I’ve worn a mock neck similar to Adam’s (from his Adret label) with taupe flannels and The Anthology x JKF Man collaboration tweed; that the jacket has ripples of pink through it is a welcome echo, but the combination works equally well without.

Next are Gerardo and an image from Brioni’s Spring ‘23 collection. Both looks use a teddy bear brown to infuse warmth and richness. Interestingly, both also employ a contrasting neckerchief to prevent the look from becoming too anodyne – a neat hack for any tonal outfit.

The final comparison above shows the same knit shirt (from Yuri & Yuri) worn two ways. On the right, for the Permanent Style reader profile series, I lent hard into brown tones. However, on the left, Will Field draws out the purple in this shade of dusty pink by layering it under a navy blazer. Replacing my chore jacket with Will’s blazer would result in a classic outfit but with a twist.

Pink tailoring

Most of the looks so far have used pink in quite a casual way. However, I think there’s a case to be made that pink tailoring can be subtle. Or at least lassoed and dragged toward subtlety through a judicious selection of accompanying garments.

I can hear you now: “Are you out of your pink Barbie-sized brain, Manish?!” Alas, you’d not be the first person to say that. For, in many ways, the pink suit is the antithesis of sartorial sobriety.

One of the 20th century’s finest literary works The Great Gatsby invokes the pink suit to underline the parvenu status of Jay Gatsby. "An Oxford man...like hell he is! He wears a pink suit" snorts Gatsby’s antagonist Tom Buchanan.

In Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 film adaptation of the novel, the costume designers position Gatsby even further towards the showy end of the spectrum. The white pinstripe in the cloth, the pink and white striped shirt, the blood red and salmon tie, and (off-photo) the tan and chocolate spectator shoes all lend Gatsby the air of a man oozing style but not taste (at least when measured against the standards of New York’s old-money set).

But let’s look at some examples of modern pink tailoring that I think work well.

Above we have jackets in three different luminance’s (four if you count Kenji’s at the summit of this article), some even brighter and bolder in colour than the Gatsby suit, that have all been tamed by the wearer’s monochromatic pairings.

The cloth choice can help here too. The second two jackets above and Simon’s Orazio Luciano jacket are all made from corduroy – a material whose corrugated surface has the magical property of muting colour.

Manish is @The_Daily_Mirror on Instagram

Wedding photography courtesy of The Shannons Photography

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Gary Mitchell

I do like a pink shirt (not obsessively so) with a suit or the pink oxfords for casual, have worn them more than 20 years I guess. I used to wear only pink boxers after a woman bought me a slack handful; that always went down well in the changing rooms. Pink shirt/blue suit (plus a tie) is a favourite of mine so we differ with that one. It still has its connotations here in Africa though, the white south African Boers refuse to wear lemon as its too close to pink… they do seem to think overtight shorts and farmers shirts are fine but apparently pink is not. I did once see an American chap in HK wearing head to toe pink casual, (trousers, shirt, jumper draped over shoulder) that was, well, it stood out and he was a fit looking guy, but… well that was too much. However, the colour pink? yeah absolutely.

Peter Hall

A favourite summer combo for me is pink shirt,khaki chinos,brown loafers with a green cardigan.

I really enjoy the colour based articles and find them incredibly useful.

Lindsay McKee

For me, pink is a no no, unless it’s subtly woven into other colours.
A beautiful example is the Tweed bunch by The Merchant Fox. Look at TD40, “ Tonal Brown & Pink Houndstooth” and possibly TD 4 on their website.Beautiful colours.
Challenge!!! – Match a shirt and trousers with TD40. It has quite a diverse melange of colours, including pink!!


Great article, Manish. It moves the discussion a little away from the ubiquitous grey, navy and earth tones.

Personally, I think a muted light pink goes best with shirts, especially linen (pink is a summer colour for me). I also bought a dusty pink suede trucker jacket last autumn (in a sale) and am waiting to wear it in spring. I even sent Simon a photo before buying it. He nodded approvingly and said it’s best to think of the colour as a light grey when you combine it.

However, I think one can overdo pink and then it becomes “a look” in a not very positive way. While I think the light-dusty-pink jacket pictured above on Leonardo di Caprio and the gentleman sitting on a chair look very good, the jackets in the stronger pink colours and especially a suit in pink are one step too far for me.

William Kazak

I have had pink dress shirts before. They worked very well with kaki colored chinos in the summertime I am blonde, so the pink that I need is a warm pink with some intensity at least but not too overbearing. The pink shirts I have worn in the past were usually a cool pink, that is on the bluish side. I got rid of those and stopped hunting for pink shirts now. Too exhausting a search for my desired pink. I have noticed pink Shetlands offered for sale. They seem reasonable and interesting to me but, again, seem like the wrong shade for my completion or not enough intensity. When I was younger and on vacation in Southern, CA. I saw pink and white combinations. That combo looked great on the girls but if you saw that in the Midwest where I live, a pink top and white trousers looks like an ice cream cone walking! At least to mey eyes.


This article has really cheered me up on a drab London Monday morning. Thanks for that alone, Manish!

I actually bought a dusty pink cashmere ribbed fisherman sweater in Johnstons of Elgin winter sale. It was one of those purchases that one makes and thinks, that was a mistake, as really I wanted the Dark Chocolate colour but my size was out of stock so I’ll settle for another colour instead – just to make me feel that I’ve had a good day out shopping! JoE call it ‘Quartz’. I’ve actually begun to like the colour and it even drew a compliment from the gentleman in Drakes.

I’m fairly confident, that I will not be having any tailored clothes in pink but the sweater might see the light of day again.


Muted pink is great for dress shirts, but beyond that… while it doesn’t look bad, I find there’s always going to be another color I prefer. And since you can only wear one jacket or suit at a time, the pink just isn’t going to be chosen for me.


Hi Manish,
As always an interesting, well written and humorous (in a good way) article.
Personally, I think wearing pink is highly dependent on skin tone, even when not directly against the skin (on men and women), and not something for a man’s capsule wardrobe. I have one in an OCBD used in the latter summer months and otherwise, for me, left well alone as it’s not really a colour I like in any usage, including decor. Your informed piece, to an extent explains why.
All the best and looking forward to your next piece. .

Mike Tipper

I love a pink shirt and chose to wear one today with a navy cardigan and brown(ish) chinos.
Received very positive feedback at my earlier business meeting:)


Done that combo many times before, and it’s a winner in my book. I often opt for olive chinos, though.


I think for many men of anglo-saxon heritage, pink can be a risky option. I think skin tone can really make or break pink and if – like me – a man has a ruddy complexion or even just a pinkishness as the base the colour of their ‘white’ skin, then pink on the upper body will wash them out entirely.
I like pink and have wanted both jumpers, shirts and jackets in it. Definitely of the dustier and paler variety, but find that it washes me out completely. For me I’d need something darker, that someone with an untrained eye would call purple for it to work.
Pink trousers sadly I file under the same category as red trousers. Jaunty public school dads with hideous shooting tweeds and range rovers.


Good idea! I will definitely give that a go


I would never wear pink

Mark Humphry

Great article Manish.
I think one’s colouring does have a role to play here. I am dark haired/olive skinned, and having been wearing shades of pink for many years, albeit nothing too “bright”.
Oxford shirt, either plain or candy stripe, mixed with grey flannels/faded jeans/rust spectrum tweed jackets, ditto pink v necks with white/pale blue shirts and flannels/jeans.
An Hermes tie with a pale pastel pink/lilac ground with typical patterns on a very pale blue or white shirt (same idea as HM the King) works really well.
I would draw the line though at the pinkish corduroy jackets worn by SC and Daniel Craig as I think they are just too “shouty”.


Why not?


I remember my father, eons ago, getting a little “daring” and getting a pink shirt to go with a light gray glen plaid suit and it looked fantastic. I’m never without at least one or two pale pink shirts in my wardrobe. They’re shockingly easy to wear and pair. And yes, I often wear forest green ties with them. Dusty pink is also really easy to wear. I have a lavender polo that gets worn fairly often over the summer. All that being said… as much as I like pink (when tastefully done), I like purple even more.

I notice that the article did not have any mention of pink accessories like ties and squares. They’re an easy way to squeeze a little pink into an outfit. Pink pindots on a tie, a little pink in some paisley, etc. I have several squares and a couple of ties that incorporate various pinks, and they can really put a refined finishing touch on an outfit.

george rau

Simon’s shirt is the way to wear pink in my opinion. A light cold pink oxford or linen shirt is one of my favorite ways to wear it. A very light pink with a grey suit also works for me. The other examples are just to strong for my taste

Eric Michel

Light pink shirts work well with almost every usual suit colors, as an alternative to light blue and white. It is a classic. Everything else, sweaters, trousers or jackets, for me, falls in the summer options, and the closer to St Tropez or Portofino the better.


Luca Faloni’s “Desert Rose” is a lovely shade of pink that would look right at home with many of these outfits


Great article again, very humorous and some nice examples. I like a nice pink dress shirt or a polo. I found a nice pink (veering red) chambray shirt that works well with most things. Honestly I’ve found you will generally get a positive response from the fairer sex with the judicious use of pink. Pink takes some confidence. I think the first of your jacketed trio is a boss example. Slouchy and easy. Gatsby and the full suit examples were taking themselves much too serious. Great writing, well done…

Simon G

Fantastic article, thanks!

One of my favourite combos is a pink button down with a simple forest green crew neck sweater and khakis. The combo is fantastic.


Thanks very much, Simon.
That sounds lovely! A kind of inverted version of Nicholas’s outfit in the Pink & Green section.

Triple Monks

In the 21st Century when a man wears any large colour block of pink without a form of necktie he risks being thought of as queer. Most men simply can’t be bothered to deal with this, so they usually opt for red, burgundy, orange or a rusty brown instead.
I’m also surprised the author didn’t mention pink ties, or pink waistcoats that are sometimes worn with Morning dress. It’s obvious he wants to appear fashion forward but not Dandified…
Still the article was a decent read, I appreciate the historical references and the fact he actually includes source material for a Web article. A rare thing indeed.
Keep up the good work Manish!

Triple Monks

Come on Simon, it’s well known that “Preppy and Gay” is a homosexual subculture from the 20th Century thats alive and well.
It leans further towards the dressed down end of the spectrum which rarely features a tie. Almost every look Manish posted fits into that style genre, sure half the guys have beards instead of being clean shaven. And they haven’t got an athletes physique or broad shoulders, but these looks are questionable to say the least.
It’s easy to loose track of these things because we’re all clothes addicts, but gay styling has to be acknowledged for what it is. Who do you think half the Polo Ralph Lauren ads are for? Ever notice how the men are seemingly disinterested in the women? Or how there’s always a group of men where at least one is grasping the pole shaped handle of a racket. Yeah real subtle aren’t they.

We can celebrate gay styling for what it is, but it should be acknowledged as a style genre in its own right. Let’s just be thankful for well made clothes and enjoy the possibilities therein for styling which represents the messages we want to convey. We can’t stop the sands of time Simon, this one is beyond us.

Thanks Simon I know you’ll get it.


Great answer on this topic, I would have given the same, without being able to formulate. Supplementally: none of the given examples / pictures would lead me to associations with a “preppy gay subculture”. At most the color combination with pink conveys something like a conscious, sensory statement, or sartorial courage.


I’m sorry but I feel really compelled to post here and speak out. The above reads as a derogative connection calling into a question a marginalized group as, “questionable to say the least”.
Beside the whole red herring of pink being nothing more than gay styling is simply reductive, and inaccurate — as plainly disproven in the article.
Simon, please consider deleting or ending debate on this.

Triple monks

I should have just left it at questionable, I apologies.
S lets just enjoy our pink clothing in whichever ways make us happy.


I don’t think it really depends much on where you live, not in 2023. I think “Triple Monks” here is just experiencing the deep, paranoid anxiety many men cope with that every little thing they do will make them look gay. It’s a shame.


Hi Triple Monks
I’m really glad you enjoyed the article.
There is quite a bit to unpack in your two comments – but I think others have covered it well.
On favouring being fashion forward over dandy, to be honest, I wasn’t really trying to lean too hard either way. I just wanted to present the most versatile and commonly worn garments I could think of (sweaters, shirts, polos, t-shirts, and a smattering of tailoring).
Sadly, I’ve never had the chance to wear morning dress (and I daresay this is also true of a decent chunk of the readership), but were I afforded the opportunity I would leap at the chance and would definitely embrace my inner dandy and consider a pink waistcoat!
On ties, you (and other commenters) are absolutely right that accessories are a good way of teasing some colour into a look. However, I wanted this article to be about looking at ways to make pink a little more prominent in an outfit.
Hope that makes sense 🙂
All the best!

Triple monks

Hi Manish,
Thanks I enjoy the enthusiasm you write with. it’s obvious you have a real passion for clothing, I wouldn’t be surpised if you end up designing clothes in a few years time to be honest.
Yes that makes perfect sense.
Cheers 🙂


This article desperately needs a picture of the Reynolds painting of the Earl of Bellamont


In the picture with the gentleman smoking the cigarette (picture 19), who makes the knit he is wearing under his jacket?

Jonny L

This has all the usual Manish elements- deep knowledge and excellent taste.

Dan James

I have two pink shirts which took me a long time to convince myself to buy but am glad I did. I should wear them more often and as the ‘Sakura’ (cherry blossom) season comes into bloom here in Japan, I am looking forward to doing so.
A light grey suit, light pink poplin shirt and black grenadine tie has become one of my favourite outfits. Understated in a way but stylish enough to wear both in the day and night if needs be.
The other pink OCBD, teamed with a blue suit and matched with blue tie with small pink polka dots takes a little more bravery. That set-up might only make its appearance once or twice a year but that’s enough. The OCBD works well with beaten up jeans and brown suede loafers as well.

JJ Katz

Pink & Green!! The ultimate preppy colour combo!!
We “Generation Xrs” wear pink all the time.


Hi Manish and Simon. Some years ago in my Uni. days in Sheffield I wore a pale pink lambs wool crew neck bought from Austin Reed in Leeds (a wonderful store back in the 80’s). It drew compliments and I loved to wear it. 37 years on, and off the back off your two pieces on Shetlands, I purchased one from Jamieson’s – also in pale pink. I have fair colouring but, as Simon mentions, a white oxford between the face and the knitwear makes this, (and other colours I might previously have passed over) , easy to wear.


I enjoy wearing the Drake’s corduroy chore jacket in dusty pink. Goes great with mid blue or dark denim, light stone/beiges and green trousers
Also have a plum colour jacket from spier mackay in wool/linen – similar colour to the adret mockneck pictured above and it’s quite versatile.


I love the pink and white color combination! I highlighted it — and that exact photo of Kenji, and that photo of you, Manish, albeit with the chicken head — in my “Strawberry Shortcake” inspiration album last year. Good to be vindicated!


Thanks very much, Dan.
This is a delicious assortment of shortcakes.

Michael Powell

I love a pink OCBD with a navy blazer, sport coat, or any casual outfit; but not with a navy (or charcoal) suit. I’ll wear a blue oxford with anything and everything; but a pale pink (peach?) works better for me with suits. Pink is just too “fun” a color for serious tailoring.

Hadrien Gunnar

Brownish pink are working very well for me 🙂 I really enjoy them with off-white or cream in the summer!


I feel like pink shirts (the light pink kind) would work really well with oxblood/burgundy shoes, I find the colour generally harmonises better with soft colours and textures (lighter greys, taupe, olive, brown) than harsher ones like black or navy in really smooth fabrics.

Steve B

As Manish mentioned pink was associated with power. In Britain Red was the tunic colour of the infantry, indeed Victorians ( those who could afford the choice ) would dress their male babies/ children in pink being part of the red spectrum. Back then nations had a main colour in their uniform – French blue, Prussians blue, Austrians white, Russians green & the British with red tunics. So pink would be associated as a masculine military colour. Girls would wear blues. This changed & was reversed during the turn of the 19th to 20th century, perhaps the emphasis was connected with Britains naval power ( navy blue ?).
That said some men lack a confidence in their male sexuality & so shy away from pink. Personally I like an occasional pink shirt in the warmer months, maybe a T shirt if tanned, or a tie for a daughters wedding. But beyond that pink wouldn’t get too many outings if they were trousers or a jacket.This would be true if in orange or citrus colours too. That said Danial Craig looked the business in his pink b/b velvet jacket & he’s pretty masculine, but for the average Joe in the UK, they’ll not get the wear to justify a purchase on jacket & trousers.

Thank you though for your thoughts on combination colours, always useful & thought provoking when looking through a wardrobe.


Thank you PS, best article so far for 2023, I love pink. I always wear the color. I remember reading an article a few years ago, that if you holiday in the tropics, and returning with a somewhat tan, wear a pink shirt, it makes you look like a million bucks, tried it, I have never left home without a pink shirt after that.

Andie Nicolas

Loved pink business shirts (pastel not hot pink!). Started buying them from Harvie & Hudson, Turnbull & Asser & New & Lingwood during the 1980’s when I was a frequent visitor to London. Went well with grey and navy blue business suits and blazers. My last one was a Kiton pastel pink check shirt which has worn out and I now wear it when gardening. I am in the throes of retirement and if there is one business shirt I miss it is a pink one!!


Hi Manish,

Do you remember where you got that sherbet pink shetland? It looks great and would love to pick one up!


Hi Daniel!

Yes, it was the Connolly’s one I write about here:


Still available in smaller sizes! I’d certainly recommend it having worn it for a couple of winters now.