Winter – different people have different imagery in their minds regarding this season. Some have positive images like the gently falling snowflakes, skating on ice, warm food, cup of hot chocolate, cuddling under warm quilts, but for some like me, winter does not conjure up many pleasant images. The unrelenting cold that seeps into the bones without any mercy – I really cannot cope in such weather or even lesser weather for long. It puts a damper on all my mood and activities. It is me, not the weather, I know.
There are people living in places with more winter months out of the year than any other season and they deal with the cold so happily. They must have a way to build good memories during winter. I cope in this climate by wearing the appropriate clothes that will warm me up somehow and make me function near to normal. Here is what I have learned (with what little experience I have and tips from books I have read)
Tips to dressing for winter
It is better to cope with cold with many layers of clothing instead of one thick layer. Start wearing clothes with the lightest fabric next to the skin and then go to the thickest. Like putting on a sweater over a top and then adding a waterproof jacket to make it foolproof; gloves on the hands, thick woolen knee-high socks under boots, and a beanie on the head can complete your winter outfit.
Winter essentials for layering
Sweaters – Woolen sweaters are the number one choice for winter clothing. Do you know that there are more than 30 different types of sweaters? Check out the post on different styles in sweaters here to know your choices. Short sweaters can be worn over t-shirts or camisoles and paired with jeans; long sweaters or sweater dresses can be paired with leggings.
Leggings – Warm thermal fleece-lined leggings can be worn under dresses or jeans.
Jackets/Coats/cardigans – these outer wear are the ultimate in layering. The right type of winter jacket can carry you through the coldest of temperature. One which is waterproof is an absolute boon if there is rain as well. Wool as well fur jackets can give you all the warmth you need for outings. Puffer jackets have padding which gives it great insulation – a must-buy for winter. You can buy down-filled or synthetic padded puffer jackets. Other lesser warm but good options are quilted jackets, fleece coats and long cardigans.
Thermal underwear – This includes everything you wear inside your clothing like a thermal camisole, panties, shorts or leggings, long johns. Fleece-lined soft underwear can keep you warm right from the inside. Thick high-quality tights or leggings can be worn under other clothes. Thermal sets includes a top and leggings which are made of a warm but lightweight fabric. You can wear this at home or under other clothes for extra warmth.
Cozy Tops – Go for turtleneck long-sleeved tops or thick flannel shirts with camisoles inside.
Accessories – You can use a muff during winter or use a muff bag which is a purse and handwarmer combined. A Muff bag is a fluffy bag (made of faux fur or real fur or velvet), with a slip opening on either side for inserting hands, just like you do with muffs.
Warm hats – Everybody knows that your head should be covered in the cold. If you do not like a beanie, choose any other hat, but it should cover your ears as well. If your hats do not manage to cover ears, do so with earmuffs.
Woolen socks and Boots – It had better be Waterproof boots.Instead of restricting yourself to socks inside the boots, go for fur leg warmers which make quite a statement
Gloves – Woolen gloves work well, but instead of woolen gloves you can wear leather gloves, or maybe you can combine them.
Scarves – Goes without saying that a scarf is a winter essential. Choose a cashmere wool scarf if you want a warm scarf that is lightweight and super soft.Faux fur stoles are thicker but equally warm.
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Water Proof Ratings
When you buy clothes you can choose ones with a high waterproof rating, (a rating which shows resistance to moisture). This can ensure that you stay warm even when you venture out in the snow/rain. For light water exposure, a rating of 2000 mm to 6000 mm is fine. 6000 mm -10000 mm Water Proof rating is considered normal for average exposure to water. But for severe water exposure, you will need a higher rating than 10000mm.
Choose the best fabric for winter clothing
Best wool – Merino wool fabric and Cashmere wool
Merino wool is the best wool fabric ever – it is very comfortable, soft, and itch-free against the skin, lightweight, and very insulating. It is also very easy to maintain, naturally anti-bacterial, wrinkle-resistant, and waterproof. It manages to wick moisture away from the body keeping you comfortably warm throughout.
Cashmere is a very expensive wool fabric but one of the most insulating fabrics ever. It is also very lightweight. Cashmere wool scarves are a very stylish winter essential. Learn more about cashmere fabric here.
Tweed /Woolen fabrics
Most of the time wool is said in the same breath as winter. But among wool clothes, those made of woolen yarns (made of carded yarns) are the best to wear during winter. They have better insulation than any other type. The fabric is very soft. This is because the woolen yarn is fuzzier and bulkier and hence keeps you warmer. These fabrics are better suited to make jackets and sweaters. Tweed is a woolen fabric with a hairy texture and thick colored slubs.
Gabardine/Worsted Wool fabric
The worsted fabric is made of yarns that are smoother and tightly twisted (made of combed yarns). Gabardine is a worsted fabric. These fabrics are costlier and are used for making tailored clothes.
Wool blends usually have 55% virgin wool content and this, is blended with other fibers for the extra advantages they provide. Viscose – wool blend fabrics have a silky feel because of viscose content. When spandex is added to wool ( for eg : fabric that is 95% merino wool and 5% spandex) this combines the figure-hugging property of spandex with the insulating property of wool.
Flannel is a thick warm fabric used to make cozy pajamas.
Fleece is a medium thick synthetic fabric with enough insulating properties. It is usually used as an inner layer against the skin, lining wool or other fabrics- the fleece is very soft and smooth against the skin. Fleece is a very good alternative to wool if you have allergy to wool. You have to choose good quality fleece which is anti-pill other wise after a few washes it can look horrible. Learn more about fleece here.
Acrylic is an affordable substitute for wool, It is used to make very soft lightweight (than wool) thermal clothes. Sweaters made of acrylic are almost indistinguishable from woolen ones. Learn more about acrylic here.
There is something very luxurious about a faux fur coat. It can make a statement and keep you warm.
The Batting inside quilted fabrics can make these fabrics very cozy.
Moleskin is a tightly woven thick cotton fabric with a nap similar to suede. It is used to make winter ready pants.
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