A bulky overcoat can seem like a must at this time of year, but if you’re the sort of man who hates feeling bundled up, you’ll be glad to hear that there are ways to stay warm without looking and feeling like the Michelin Man. Here’s how to dress for winter without resorting to the ‘Inuit solution’.
A two degree drop in body temperature is all it takes for you to suffer hypothermia, a condition that results in irritability, confusion, unconsciousness and ultimately, death. But while it’s unlikely you’ll expire as you wait for the train to work – though you might die of old age before it arrives – there’s no sense in standing there shivering. You do need your clothes to work for you, which they do by trapping air between layers.
Keeping warm is easy. You need at least three layers. A base layer – underwear, vest or t-shirt. Mid layers like shirts, sweaters, cardigans. And a top layer – jacket or gilet. A wet body loses heat 25 times faster than a dry one, so unless you plan to pack a mack for rain emergencies, you’ll need an umbrella, sturdy shoes or boots, and a decent hat.
How to Layer
Cotton underwear and a t-shirt or vest are your go-to winter wear, but do remember that because cotton absorbs moisture, if you get hot and sweaty running for the bus, that moist fabric has the potential to chill you to the bone as you cool off. Good alternatives include synthetic thermals, or nature’s toughest lightweight yarn – slinky silk.
A work day will see you don your formal shirt, but at other times, coat-less wonder that you are, you’ll need a shirt with some substance to it, especially if you intend to be out and about. Luckily, your options are plentiful.
Country or Tattersall
Both Country and Tattersall shirts are favourites with outdoorsy gents – the soft brushed cotton fabric traps plenty of air, keeping you warmer for longer. Consider a country check with contrasting collar and cuff lining and wear it for rural walks, days at the races, and pub lunches.
Thicker than your average Oxford shirt, a quality cotton twill gives your outfit extra weight making it perfect for damp, chilly days. The slight texture of the fabric goes particularly well with corduroy or moleskin trousers – both warm options for those who prefer to leave their overcoats at home.
When the frost bites, a cord shirt is “de rigueur” for those who wish to avoid “rigueur mortis”. Thicker than a standard shirt, cord is the traditional working man’s favourite, making it perfect for outdoor jobs like log splitting, raking leaves and clearing the path of snow.
A gem of a fabric, cord really suits casual layering – on warmer days, wear your cord shirt open over a long sleeve t-shirt, or Henley.
At the crossover point between a shirt and a sweater exists the cashmere-cotton-mix sweater or polo – a versatile and stylish garment which, worn with a t-shirt under and a gilet on top keeps the bulk factor down while giving you plenty of warmth where you need it.
Work days will see you pulling on a medium to fine weight jumper, but don’t risk looking like a schoolboy say the fashion gurus at Idle Man – make sure you leave your collar tips tucked in. Alternatively, consider a fine knit merino cardigan – a very smart addition to your wardrobe which looks great with a shirt and tie.
Not sure whether to go for a crewneck or v-neck? The latter is the “classy mofo of the sweater world” say top men’s style advisors, Ashley Weston. In their opinion, the crewneck is just too casual to cut it at work.
Feeling suave? Here’s a tip from the people over at Fashion Beans – they say wearing a turtleneck helps you “effortlessly separate your look from the rest of the workforce, without appearing sloppy or unprofessional”.
Indeed, few could argue against the chic of a roll neck worn under a smart jacket. Bonds from Roger Moore to Daniel Craig have opted for this slimming, silhouette enhancing assassin’s sweater. Especially swanky when worn for afterwork drinks, wear yours with a tan or grey suit jacket over the top.
Cable knits, Arans and other chunky knits suit days off. Perfect for watching children or grandchildren on the winter sports field or any other occasion that sees you hanging around waiting for heirs and heirs of heirs to do their thing – a traditional thick wool sweater is a wearable radiator.
Top it with tweed
If the great Edwardian adventurers could trek to the Himalayas protected from the elements by nothing more than than their hobnail boots, stiff upper lips, and a decent Harris tweed jacket, there’s no reason you can’t deal with the ravages of winter in the home counties, wearing the same wonderful fabric.
Originally the outerwear of choice for ghillies, north of the border, a decent tweed jacket offers warmth, practicality, and the ability to hide from grouse. The guys over at Attire Club say:
“Investing in tweed is definitely worth the money: this fabric is strong, elegant and durable and can be worn with a series of other materials and textures.”
Wear your tweed whenever you’re cold or want to look like the country gent you are.
Or a gilet
More than a jumper, less than a coat, a gilet keeps your core toasty while leaving your arms free. To add a funky layer under your tweed, opt for a lightweight gilet that contrasts with the rest of your ensemble. Or go for a puffier version and wear it as a top layer.
Or, just wear a coat.
Do you have any layering style tips? If so we’d love to hear from you. Just get in touch via our Facebook page .