Myth: Staying warm in cold weather
is as simple as bundling up.
Truth: You have to do it right.
When it comes to outerwear, I’m strictly practical. If your coat or boots do not keep you warm and dry, then it doesn’t matter how nice they look. Not that you shouldn’t have a nice coat or nice boots, but for cold weather you need outerwear that does the job. However, when it comes to what’s under your coat, flattery does come back into play and it even works better on a practical level.
From me, you get the truth.
I do find winter layering to be a bit of a potchky and I don’t like that, but I do like layering in general. I think that smart layering can make you look your best in general. It can make something un-tzniut wearable for us. And it can help keep you warm.
There are women who love chunky sweaters because they feel warm and cozy in them. I don’t blame them. I have a couple of chunky cardigans myself. There’s nothing wrong with wearing them if they fit you and flatter you. They look best with narrow skirts to balance any volume. But there are two issues. The first is that if the chunky sweater is not fitted it will drown your body, and that’s not flattering. If the sweater has a belt, like my cardigan does, or if you add a belt or sash for definition, that will definitely help. The second is that while chunky sweaters can be warm and cozy indoors, they may not be enough for outdoors.
According to medical professionals (I read this in a few books), two to three lightweight layers are safer outdoors than one big heavy layer. More layers trap your body heat better. Plus, as long as those layers are lightweight and fitted, they’re actually more flattering than one chunky layer. One chunky sweater adds mass to your body. It sounds counterintuitive, but two to three lightweight layers add less mass.
Your lightest-weight layer should be the innermost one. It should also have the closest fit. Shells and T-shirts are perfect for this. Then you may add other tops, such as V-neck overtops or button-down shirts. Always make sure there’s a flattering color near your face. You might choose to wear one bright color or more than one, and that’s great if the colors are flattering to you. Don’t worry about the color being “seasonally appropriate.” If it flatters you, it works year-round. And flattering bright colors can brighten up the winter doldrums. But even if you choose to wear mostly neutrals, it’s best to wear a flattering bright color near your face even if it’s just your shell.
Take advantage of this layering to play with different color combinations. I like a blend of rich, warm colors because that flatters me the most, but there are lots of options. If you do better with softer, hazier colors, go with those. If you do better with higher contrast, try two tops in contrasting colors. Play around and see what works best for you.
While three lightweight layers will keep you warmer than one heavy layer, it’s best not to wear more than three layers (not counting your coat). More than three layers will restrict your movement, and that can lead to frostbite.
It’s not a great idea to wear more than one skirt because that will be too bulky. There are a few fashion gurus who love wearing trousers under a skirt. This can work only if the trousers are lightweight and fitted so they don’t add unnecessary bulk. Leggings under a skirt are the best way to go if you’re going to wear any kind of pants because they’re usually lightweight and very fitted. Tights are a must, but if it’s not seriously freezing you might be able to wear them by themselves. If it is seriously freezing you may choose to add leggings over your tights.
Skirt length counts even here. JBTK (just below the knee) is always good, but it’s okay to wear skirts that fall below the calf if that flatters you. Even ankle length is fine. Floor-length is not good because it will drag in the rain or snow. You might also trip in that length.
If it’s cold out but not rainy or snowy, then it’s a good idea to wear nice boots if you have them. Your nice boots should come to the knees and fit closely around the calves. Flats or low heels are best. Always try them on with socks so that you can get a good fit. You must have room to wiggle your toes freely so as not to lose circulation. But if you live in a climate that features snowy winters, those nice boots shouldn’t be your first priority. They’re usually not waterproof and so they won’t keep your feet warm and dry.
Winter is still not my favorite season and I still don’t like winter weather. But when you look your best, it’s much easier to get through and it might even be fun. Stay warm and safe.