How to dress warmly (and still look stylish)


Winter seems to have come early to the city. For the past five days it has been icy cold and pouring with rain. My facebook and twitter are inundated with people complaining about the cold, and lamenting their inability to dress fashionably while remaining warm.


It’s entirely possible to dress warmly and still look great. You don’t have to pile on so many layers that you wind up looking like the Michelin Man to stay toasty. You also don’t need to swathe yourself in heavy, unflattering garments in order to keep out the cold. I assure you that you can make a few tweaks to your dressing routine that will have you cozy and warm in no time.


Invest in thermal underwear.

It’s true, thermals don’t look terribly sexy, but they really are a godsend in the cold weather. Thermal underwear traps a layer of warmth close to your skin, so you stay warmer for longer. The trick to buying thermal underwear is to make sure that it’s quite a snug fit. Thermals don’t work anywhere near as well if they’re too loose, because the cold air can waft between the fabric and your skin. Choose thermals that fit snugly so that the heat is trapped. Close-fitting thermal underwear is also less likely to look bulky and lumpy underneath your stylish clothes. I recommend buying a couple of different types of thermal underwear. In my drawer, you’ll find several singlets, some short-sleeved spencers and some long-sleeved spencers. I have a couple of spencers with round necks and a few with V necks. If you have a range of different thermal underwear at hand, you’ll be able to choose the right ones to fit under any outfit, taking into account the level of warmth you require, the length of your sleeves and the neckline of your outfit. Thermals don’t need to be pricey. Most department stores have good quality thermals for reasonable prices.


For extra warmth, tuck your thermals into your pants or your skirt before pulling your shirt on over the top. This will trap the heat more effectively and keep you warmer.


Choose the right stockings.

I know that some women stick to pants and jeans in winter, because they think that it’s too chilly to wear skirts. The truth of the matter is, you can easily get away with wearing gorgeous skirts and dresses when the weather turns cold, provided that you choose the right legwear to put underneath. There are plenty of super-warm stockings available, and they don’t cost a lot more than regular stockings. One of the best discoveries I’ve come across in recent years is circulation stockings. These stockings promote circulation in your legs, which keeps you really warm. The ones I wear are called “Sheer Relief” and you can buy them for about $8 a pair at any supermarket. They come in a range of colours, from nude to opaque black and they’re quite hardy. They’re perfect for wearing under skirts and dresses, and they can also be worn under trousers for an extra layer of warmth.


Another option for legwear is cotton or wool-blend tights. These are slightly more pricey than your average pair of nylons, but they will trap the heat much more effectively. Once again, these come in a huge range of colours and prints, and are ideal for wearing under vintage-inspired or preppy outfits.


Wrap your tootsies.

Your feet tend to feel the cold, because they’re closest to the floor. Your feet spend the best part of the day pounding cold pavements and sitting on the chilly floor. If you want to stay warm, it’s imperative that you keep your feet toasty. The best way to do this is by investing in some good-quality socks. I always buy a few fresh pairs of woolen socks before the chilly weather hits. I find that wool or wool-blend socks are much warmer than your average cotton socks. You can buy them quite cheaply at most deparment stores or supermarkets. Wool socks don’t have to be thick and bulky, I have some fine-knit socks that are really toasty.


When the weather gets cold, be sure to choose shoes or boots that have thick soles, to put plenty of padding between your feet and the pavement. If your soles are a little on the thin side, add rubber inner-soles to your shoes for extra warmth.


When you’re at home, keep your tootsies toasty with a pair of house slippers. I find that the most effective slippers are the ones that encase your entire feet, and have rubber or foam soles, as opposed to scuff-style slippers that have fabric soles.


Choose light over bulky

If you want to stay warm, you’re much better off wearing a few light layers than one bulky layer. While you might think that your heavy, knitted jumper will keep you warm, it’s actually better to wear a few lighter layers, like a singlet, then a t-shirt, then a jumper, to keep the heat trapped. If you just wear one bulky layer, the heat will escape more readily. When layering your clothes, choose natural fabrics like wool and cotton, which breathe. Opt for longer garments that cover your entire torso and tuck your tops into your bottoms to keep the warmth in.


Stick to winter-friendly fabrics.

Certain fabrics are much more effective and keeping the cold air out and the warm air in. When selecting your winter wardrobe, choose garments that are made from wool and cotton. Natural fabrics tend to be a lot better at keeping you warm than synthetic fabrics. They’re also better for your skin. Select some heavy-wool skirts or dresses, wool and cotton-blend or fleece jumpers and denim jeans to keep you cozy this winter.


Gloves are your best friend.

When I’m really cold, my fingers feel like blocks of ice. My digits seize up and feel stiff and sore. To combat cold fingers, invest in a few gorgeous pairs of gloves. Gloves look stylish and polished, and they will keep your fingers really cozy. My favorite winter gloves are a leather pair that I got from Lincraft. They’re waterproof and very warm, and they only cost $30. I also have several pairs of fingerless gloves which I like to wear inside the house, because the cut-out fingers still allow me to type.


Cover your head.

Did you know that most of your body heat escapes through your head? It’s true. If you want to stay really warm, you need to keep your head covered. Hats are the most obvious way to go. There are loads of hats in a million different styles for you to choose from. They’re the perfect compliment to any outfit and will keep you much warmer than if you’d gone without. If you aren’t a hat-person, try wrapping a scarf around your head. It’s a great way to top off a vintage hairstyle and keep warm all at once.


Invest in a good-quality coat.

In the colder months, a good coat is your best friend. I highly recommend saving your pennies and buying an excellent coat that will last you many winters. You could buy ten cheap, nasty coats and they won’t keep you as warm as a single good-quality coat. Choose one in a neutral shade like black, camel or tan that will go with loads of outfits. Make sure that your coat is fully lined, closes snugly around your body and has a high collar and deep pockets for maximum warmth. Best of all, if you choose a really good-quality coat, it will last you for ages. The best coat I own is a sheepskin coat that my mother bought for herself when she was 16. It cost her $150 (which in 1976 was rather pricey) and it’s still in brilliant condition. She passed it on to me when I turned 16 and I have worn it every winter since. If you save up and buy a really fantastic coat, it will keep you lovely and warm, and last you for years to come.


Does anyone else have any tips for staying warm and still looking fashionable? If you do, I’d love to hear them.

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