Imagine yourself walking in sub zero temperature to your car on a freezing cold winter morning to go to your centrally heated cosy office. How would you dress up to tackle the two extremes in temperature – warm at the office and the freezing cold walk till your car parking?
Wear normal office clothes and bear the cold till you reach the car
Decide to wear warm clothes to beat the cold, however feel uncomfortably hot once inside your office? Well, the best way in both scenarios is to wear layers of clothes which you can put on or take away based on your needs.
When it comes to winter fashion, layers are key, both stylistically and functionally. But layers can be tricky and a little intimidating. It’s easy to go from stylishly layered to over-layered. The trick is to layer in such a way that you are warm, without having to compromise on your style quotient and without looking bulky.
Layers can be primarily categorised by function into three kinds.
The layer which is closest to the body is the inner most or the first layer. A typical first layer would be the body warmers (top and bottom) that we wear. As this is closest to the skin, this needs to be made of comfortable and soft yet warm fabric. The primary function of this layer is to absorb perspiration and let it dry as soon as possible, keeping the body warm at the same time. Depending upon the cold, you could choose natural fibres like cotton or synthetic fabrics such as – nylon and polyester blends. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
While cotton is a natural fibre and hence soft and comfortable, it is a good absorber of moisture( or perspiration), however takes time to dry up and being the first layer on top of which other layers are worn, this moisture tends to remain trapped between the layers, resulting in a cooling effect instead of warming.
Another natural fibre – wool is usually scratchy when worn against naked skin and is hence best avoided.
Manmade fibres such as nylon and polyester are the best choice of fabrics when it comes to choosing garments meant for inner layers as they not only keep the body warm by absorbing sweat and drying up quickly. They are also bad conductors of heat and hence tend to keep the body warm for a longer period of time. Technological advancements in textiles and fabric finishes have made it possible to have the fabrics meant for inner wear remain odourless and bacteria free.
Also known as the mid layer, the second layer is worn on top of the first layer and is the one which is also responsible for providing heat to the body. Wool, fleece and cotton are the best choices for wearing as second layer. Second layer garments that we normally wear are tee shirts, sweaters, trousers, jeans etc.
The top most, third layer or shell layer provides protection from the outside climate – cold and rain. The fabrics meant for third layer such as wool and polyester and nylon blends may be treated with finish such as water resistance. Different styles of coats and windcheaters would be a good example of third layer.
While layering for casual wear, choose a well fitting (not too loose or tight) full sleeve, viscose or cotton tee. You could choose a turtle neck to provide you extra warmth at the neck. Invest in some neutral colours and see how by just changing the tee, you can have a different look every single day. Your tee could be in a neutral colour such as grey, black or beige. Wear a contrast colour, say deep wine or maroon cardigan or sweater made with chunky wool on top. For the bottoms – choose heavy weight denims in darker shades and corduroy trousers in neutral tones ( not matching the tee shirt colour) . You could choose a woollen pea coat to wear over the cardigan.
You could wear colourful muffler, a skull cap and gloves to protect your neck, head /ears and hands. High boots are the best bet to protect your feet from cold.
And for formal wear, choose a heavy weight cotton full sleeves shirt. Wear a waist coat with a small sequin embroidery detail ( nothing too flashy) in a neutral colour. Team with slightly flared leg or slim fit wool pants. Complete the look with a silk scarf or fine wool stole tied interestingly at the neck and neutral coloured ankle high boots. This look can be changed by replacing the waistcoat with cardigan or a woollen shrug.