Bracing for the onslaught of wild winter weather with hats, gloves, sweaters, and scarves is rough stuff. And it’s a particularly treacherous time of year for letting your style take a nasty slip and fall. However, wearing a homemade hat with a pom-pom is no easier than sliding on a sleek ski cap. Consider this seasonal survival guide of dos and don’ts of winter fashion a timely present for navigating through the inclement conditions in style and to still catch the eyes of that girl across the bar.
The do’s of winter fashion
Stick with a classic winter hat
There once was a time when gentlemen roamed the land and, no, they didn’t don terrible hats. Somewhere along the way, novelty hats that supplied functionality for facing the extreme weather became an excuse for turning into a walking advertisement for grandma’s knitting circle. The cottage creations may be warm, but they are far from fashion-friendly. Fortunately, simple solutions exist: Basic beanies, fedoras, newsboy hats (cabbie hat), and bowlers keep heat in and foolishness out.
Avoid: Ear muffs, ear warmers, pom-pom hats, anything made by a so-called friend or family member
Wear – and take care of your – leather
Synthetic fibers aren’t the only way to battle the elements. Long before man-made nylons, faux furs and poly-plastic fire hazards were rugged fabrics there was leather. And high-quality skins along with their specially treated friends, namely suede and patent leather, were (almost) made winter-ready. Despite serious hesitation to expose garments constructed of these pricey materials to rain and snow, they were actually given the ability to take a beating. It just takes proper maintenance, of course.
Here’s how to keep you looking sharp in leather during the winter – and how to keep your leathers from getting destroyed. Water-repellent sprays for leather goods help provide preventative action against potentially damaging moisture. Once indoors, dry shoes off and use a damp cloth to stop the formation of pesky salt lines. If it’s already too late, a simple mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar will do the trick. As for suede, kneadable erasers and toothbrushes can help wipe away scuffs and stains as well as restore the fabric’s lofty texture.
Avoid: Cheap leather, drying radiator heat, salt-wielding neighbors (good thing this is Atlanta!)
Layer with a Gilet
Gilets are the ultimate layering piece. In its infinitely strange, if not genius, arm-amputated design, the vest can be one extra barrier against the cold or act as a final finishing piece on slightly warmer days. Throw it over the typically sweater to keep your limbs covered and core toasty. The key here is to keep everything equal. Plus you get to look like Marty McFly! Pair chunkier sweaters with similarly sturdy vests and finer gauge knits with leaner, lightweight ones.
Avoid: Oversize vests, sweaters with reindeer and/or snowflakes.
Learn to tie your scarf
Scarves were meant to be wrapped around the neck, one of the primary places the body releases heat. And there are three simple ways to wear them. The Parisian – the most fussy of the family – is created by folding the scarf lengthwise and pulling the two ends through the loop created on the opposite side. It’s the snuggest fitting method for maximum warmth. The more casual once-around knot works by placing the scarf on the neck with one side slightly longer than the other and then wrapping it around and through the loop. And if it’s not quite that cold yet, keep the once-around loose and limber. Caution: this route only works with longer scarves.
Avoid: Throwing one end over your shoulder like a Christmas-clad Peanuts cartoon character. (No man or woman should ever do this… Come on people!
The don’ts of winter fashion
Wear an oversize puffer jacket
Big, beefy jackets had their heyday years ago – and they didn’t get any second looks back then either. Intuitively, it makes sense that thicker means warmer. However, toting yourself around town with more rolls than a pack of hot dogs isn’t the way to do it. You’re better off layering with several well-fitted pieces than a single jacked-up jacket, look at other entrees that I have posted in the past for layering types. And for those who just can’t resist puffing up, there are more sensible and slimmer options these days.
Solution: Insulate-lined pea coats, padded and quilted jackets
Trek around in UGG boots
A phenomenon occurred in the footwear world circa 2004, and it wasn’t pretty. UGG boots traveled half way around the world from their native Australia and landed in America on the famous feet of Kate Hudson, Sarah Jessica Parker and Jessica Simpson. The line of unisex boots from the land down under is still trying to gain ground among men. But, as much as the clunky yet oddly feminine footwear has been kicked curbside by most discerning dressers, they still present a threat to the male foot come cold weather time. Perhaps Sydney should stick to what it knows best: beaches with bikinis.
Solution: Sorel boots
Packing on extra pounds is the last thing anyone needs this time of year. And while adding armor to battle the cold is critical, it’s unnecessary to turn yourself into a shapeless heap of heavy layers. The main problem is that bulk can gradually snowball beyond control. It all starts with an oversize knit under a thick sweater. Then, a massive ankle-length wool coat finds its way into the ensemble turning an otherwise tranquil winter wonderland into a catastrophic clothing avalanche. Picking pieces that are fitted and constructed from modern lightweight fabrics like Thinsulate does away with the need for anything bursting at the seams with duck feathers.
Solution: Thermal tees, cashmere hoodies, tailored topcoats, not leaving the house for six months
Mix and mismatch athletic gear
Different missions in life call for varying plans of attire attack. You would never wear board shorts and Havaianas to a wedding. So, why put on a dowdy fleece with a suit? Indeed, it’s occasionally acceptable to infuse technical gear into everyday winter wear – a nylon vest under a tailored sport coat would work well. However, using your ski jacket with its zipper-dangling pass for a night out on the town is a downhill disaster. The same applies to winter gloves. Get separate sets for work and play.
Solution: Invest in a slim wool coat, a heavier nylon jacket with removable layers, a versatile raincoat, and if you’re the sporty type, at least two pairs of gloves.
Winter fashion 101
Bundling up for wintry weather can make looking good a dangerously difficult task. But with these dos and don’ts of winter fashion, there won’t be any room for emergencies.