A Deeper Look at the Winter Essentials You Need to Stay Warm in Style
In Cali, November mornings are still dry and balmy with lows hovering around the upper 50s. The Midwest is already experiencing the threat of freeze warnings. The Northeast is bracing for what’s sure to be a nasty, long, bitter cold fight against Mother Nature. People in the South are still spending their afternoons at the beach though temperatures are starting to dip lower and lower with each passing day. Regardless of the climate you live in and your individualized version of the seasons, winter is just around the corner.
For a lot of guys, their fashion priorities shift to staying warm and rightfully so. The colder it gets, the more layers we need to pack on to fight the cold. The problems begin when guys prioritize warmth over style. Sure, in the middle of a record-setting blizzard, no one will care if you’re sporting your best look or not. But on average, your winter style will be front and center. If you’re still bundling up in a bubble jacket circa 1990s-era Puff Daddy and the Family, you’re doing it all wrong.
There’s a common misconception that all you need to do is throw on a huge coat, and your problems are solved. The truth is you’re solving one problem while creating another. There’s no reason to sacrifice your style to stay warm. If you know the essential do’s and don’ts or winter style, you’ll be capable of navigating winter while still looking your best.
Do: Layer to Ensure Ultimate Warmth
Unlike fall layering, winter layering is more focused on function and comfort because you’ll be wearing them all day. Fall layers are usually easily removable and very visible. You can shift your look throughout the day to counter rapidly changing temps without losing the essence of your look. Winter layering is different because not every aspect of your outfit will be visible or easy to strip off. Typically, you’ll need three layers: the base, the insulation and the outer protection.
During the rest of the year, you always have a base layer. It’s called your underwear. You might even wear an undershirt. The typical base layer provides protection against the fabrication of your clothes, shapes your body underneath your shirts and helps regulate sweat absorption and moisture. If you live and work in bitter cold, your base layer needs to be thicker. The most traditional base layer is a pair of long johns or thermal underwear. The modern guy is now tossing on moisture wicking, compression shirts and underwear under their looks.
Your insulation layer consists of your normal clothes. Sweaters and pants are the go-to pieces here but in thicker fabrications. And the outer protection comes in the form of your coat and winter accessories.
Don’t: Think Your Coat Will Do All the Work
A lot of guys learn this lesson the hard way. The great thing about having a strong base layer of protection against the cold is that you’re covered from head to toe. Even a ¾-length coat has its coverage limitations. When a sharp wind cuts through your pant leg with no mercy, your base layer becomes your saving grace. But if you think your regular underwear is enough, you’re sadly mistaken. There’s no coat in the world that has you protected all the way down to your feet. Don’t think you can skip winter layering. One afternoon in freezing weather and you’ll surely change your mind.
Do: Pay Attention to Fit
Your base layer should fit as close to your body as possible. If it doesn’t fit correctly, it’ll make your look bulky. And vice versa, if it’s too tight, you’ll be gasping for air before your lunch break. With your other layers, normal fit advice applies. Your sweater or sweatshirt should sit lightly atop your body but it shouldn’t hug or squeeze your torso. When you take off your coat, you want to look comfortable and presentable. Your pants should fit the same way, allowing your legs some room to breathe. Your coat needs a little extra space. You’re placing it on top of two other layers. It’s important that you have enough room to move without restriction. Coats like our French Terry Hooded Cardigan Cape are perfect because they provide enough coverage all around, create a slim silhouette and still allow enough space for all your winter protection.
Don’t: Wear Oversized Coats for Added Protection
Oversized coats don’t really have any added benefit. A lot of guys reach for oversized coats because there’s a misconception that bigger is better. However, oversized coats fit you poorly. They make you sloppy and give you unnecessary weight to lug around all day. Oversized coats don’t fit you correctly around the shoulders or the torso. When you button and zip them closed, you’ll have far too much extra room between your torso and the coat material. Instead of protecting you from the cold, your extra space will create a wind tunnel that continuously allows the cold to seep in. It won’t make you warmer. In fact, it’ll do quite the opposite.
Do: Incorporate a Puffer Vest into Your Look
Puffer vests, like our Fleece Lined Puffer Vest with Hood, get an undeserved bad rap. They’re typically reserved for days on the slopes and evenings in log cabins. But they can actually add a lot of style into your look-even if you’re an advanced professional. The key to making them work is to get creative. Instead of building a casual or athletic look around the vest, just throw it on over your work look. If you’re a guy that has to wear suits to work, you’ve already got a few different layers going on and a proper coat might be a little too warm for certain days. Instead, toss on a puffer vest over your suit. The look takes on a newfound athleticism that keeps you in appropriate territory for work while also giving you some additional edge.
Don’t: Wear it Without Protection
Puffer vests are warm but don’t be fooled. After all, vests are sleeveless. So your arms need to be protected. The puffer vest offers added protection but it isn’t everything you need. And if you live in especially cold climates, it’s nowhere near enough to combat winter freeze. Think of it as a stylish addition to your outfit for the earlier days of winter. Or even a necessary add-on for an active weekend hiking or skiing. But on its own, you’ll immediately have second thoughts. Don’t forget to pull together a complete look when working in one of these vests.
Do: Use Hoodies as a Middle or Insulation Layer
Let’s face it-not every guy works in a traditional or formal work environment. Some of us can show up to work in clothes that are similar to what we wear while running errands on the weekends. Hoodies have always served as an easy way to keep warm without much fuss or effort. Instead of using a wool sweater or a sweatshirt as your insulation layer, try a hoodie. Paired with a heavier coat, hoodies can add a strong casual vibe to your overall look. And the hood can give you some extra protection up top that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Perhaps the most common layering hoodie for the season is in heather gray-like our Basic Zip Hoodie Jacket. But feel free to mix it up with bolder colors, patterns or prints. Also, make sure your hoodie fits just as well as any other shirt or sweater in your closet. When they’re cut just right, a hoodie under your coat can look just as elevated. When it’s oversized, you’ll be uncomfortable under your coat and you’ll look sloppy.
Don’t: Use Hoodies as Outerwear
As warm as hoodies are, they’re not enough to work as an outer layer. Unlike puffer vests, you can’t just toss them on over a suit or any other complete look. You have a lot less flexibility. Plus, they’re just not warm enough to function on their own. Most hoodies are made of cotton blends or polyester. These materials are known for their breathability and durability. But they won’t effectively shield you from the elements. If you plan on using a hoodie as your primary winter outerwear, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Do: Try Longer, Trend-Focused Pieces
Just because winter calls for the usual suspects in your wardrobe doesn’t mean you can’t try something new. Just as longlines have become widely accepted in other seasons, the same silhouette can work to your advantage in winter. Long cardigans like our Marled Open Front Hooded Cardigan can give your look some additional texture and depth while also increasing the warmth factor. In opposition to normal cardigans, longer open front versions feel more modern and fashion-forward. They allow you to pull from a new style playbook without losing protection.
Don’t: Wear Everything Long
Congrats on your decision to experiment. But if your cardigan is long, don’t think you can pair it back to several other long pieces. If you’re rocking one of these long sweaters, it’s not a great idea to wear them with longline tees or ¾-length coats. For starters, long cardigans add depth to your look by playing with proportion. If every piece on your upper body is long, the difference in proportion is non-existent. Additionally, your sweater won’t even be visible until you take your coat off. Wearing a shorter coat, like a duffle coat or peacoat, allows you to show off your style without disrobing.
Do: Experiment with Color
Black is an easy color to gravitate to during winter. The days are shorter and the increased darkness makes black feel more appropriate for every occasion. But the tide is turning when it comes to winter color. Neutrals like gray and beige are always a safe bet. However, who says you have to play it safe? Rich jewel tones are a seasonally appropriate way to add some personality to your best looks. Several of our winter essentials including our Quilted Multi Zipper Hoodie Jacket come in gorgeous fall hues like olive and gold. They’re vibrant and fresh without being overpowering.
Don’t: Use Pastels, Neon Shades and other Bright Colors
Fashion is full of guys marching to the beat of their own drums. But even experimentation has its limits. Rich jewel tones are a great way to stand out from the crowd. Neon colors and pastels are not. Spring and summer work best for these shades because the days are warmer, the sun is brighter and the fabrications are lighter. Warm colors work best for warm situations and vice versa. If you’re leaning on a spring color palette this winter, you’ll stand out for all the wrong reasons.
Do: Have Fun
In the end, winter dressing serves as a great opportunity to have some fun with your look. Layering offers the chance for guys to get creative with new combinations of length, color and fabrication. Though there are quite a few don’ts to advise in the cold weather months, there’s plenty of room to play and have a good time. Being bundled up doesn’t have to be stuffy.
Depending on the climate you live in, you might have a different definition of winter. Guys in Southern California might feel frigid in completely different temps than guys from Chicago. But the one thing they both have in common is a need for warmth.
This winter, don’t get trapped into boring looks that rely heavily on tradition or sad, dark colors. Instead, look at your wardrobe in a new light. Start incorporating your favorite pieces in new ways and show off your personality whether you’re on your way to Home Depot, the office or an afternoon at the movies. Just because we’re covered from head to toe doesn’t mean we still can’t show off. Buck tradition this winter and make sure you stay warm in style.