How to dress and stay warm in Winter

Haven moved to the United States from a warm climate and living on the East Coast, at the brink of one of the harshest winter Maryland has ever experienced back in 2010, memories of my first winter experience are very far from ever fading. I struggled so hard to dresss warm and actually stayed warm once I left the house.

It took me six long months to land my first job after a 5days a week, 8am – 5pm outdoors experience in temperatures compared to that of the Eskimos of Antarctica shown on foreign TV channels back home in Cameroon. Most immigrants who arrive the western world from tropical and equatorial regions can relate.

Should I mention that the timberland boots and heavy wool overcoat that I bought from Walmart did not help in most of the days I went out job hunting? Or will it be an exaggeration if I say the cold breeze at metro stations (mostly built with concrete cement) was accompanied by a whistle? Anyone waiting for or happened to have missed the last bus at near midnight might suffer from a post traumatic stress disorder from reading this line 😊

I learned from speaking with homeless men on the streets of Washington DC where I spent most of my days job hunting the art of dressing warm and staying warm that I am still using today and have shared with others. At first, my critical mind couldn’t assimilate my few hours exposure to cold that left parts of my body numb to homeless people’s outdoor living. Simply dressing warm isn’t enough for daily survival in winter especially for hustlers who must step out every freezing morning to their career sites. Not every warm dress can keep you warm for up to 30 minutes after stepping out of your home or car. You must think about staying warm for several hours should your car break down, involved in an accident, run out of fuel, missed the bus/train etc. Those who rely on public transportation for commute can relate. Here are the tips for staying warm after leaving your house;

Layering

The key to cold weather dressing is layering.

Let me repeat that: The key to cold weather dressing is layering.

Layering basically means just what it sounds like: wearing multiple layers of clothes, one on top of the next.  Several lighter layers will keep you warmer than one very thick winter jacket/over coat. This is because once cold air penetrates, that think winter coat, the trapped cold air in the cotton or fur tend to supply the cold to your body which defeats the purpose for wearing it. But when you have multiple clothing, warmth from your body is trapped in between layers thereby surrounding you with a self-generated heat shield that insulates you from the cold. Having two warm layers makes it easier to regulate body temperature vs just a shirt and a thick, heavy coat!

Although layering seems to be the correct approach to dressing warm and staying warm, the right garments must be worn if not you might end up looking like a soccer stadium mascot but still freezing on the inside.  You must utilize the right clothing based on fabric and on your destination of course; a business professional’s appearance would be different from a construction worker by default. For purses of fashion and style which is the reason for the existence of this blog, I will incline the direction of this post towards the classy gentleman’s look on a cold winter day.

Experts break layering into three sections:

– The base layer

–  The middle layer

–  The outer protection layer

Let’s break these down further.

Base Layer

Your winter base layer which is worn directly on your skin is primarily meant to provide the first layer of insulation and most importantly deal with moisture removal. Remember you will always sweat after dressing warm so make sure your base layer is one that can absorb the sweat your body perspires because if that sweat is not absorbed immediately, its presence will cool your skin rapidly and may be dangerous in liaison to the outside temperature.

This base layer garment mostly referred to as thermal under garments are mostly made of synthetic fibers which performs a dual role;

–        Insulates the body

–        Wicks moisture away from the body to keep it dry

The lightweight thermal undergarments mostly made of fibers are flexible and fits properly underneath a middle layer which may be a long sleeve cotton dress shirt or a wool turtle or V-neck sweater.

Middle Layer

The job of the middle layer clothing is to trap in heat.

Natural fibers like cotton and wool have excellent insulating properties and make a perfect middle layer clothing.  They provide a lot of heat even though their texture seem light.  Wool can absorb 30% of its weight and not feel wet and even continues to provide some warmth when wet.

Wool sweaters are some of the dressiest options available that still provide serious winter warmth.  A good wool sweater paired with a regular cotton dress shirt makes for a functional insulating layer for a business outfit in cold days. Wool turtle necks are a better option for evening hangouts. Thick wool or fleece trousers make the best insulating layer for your legs.  Over a base layer they’re extremely warm.  Denim may appear thick and heavy but is not an ideal winter wear unless it is worn over a thermal or inner insulating layer. So, avoid jeans if you rely on public transportation or your office’s heating system is not very efficient in keeping your work environment warm enough.

  1. Protective Layer

Your outer layer is the shell that shields all the inner layers.  It’s usually a jacket or over coat like duffle coat, pea coat, topcoat, trench coat, bomber jacket etc (will make a separate post on winter coat types) which doesn’t necessarily need any insulation layer.

The protective layer plays two very significant roles;

–        Traps air and stops wind from reaching your body.  That’s the reason it is mostly meant to be worn outdoors

–        Exhales moisture out–your body from your inner layers. Outer coats made of leather can breathe an ugly smell if worn for prolonged hours

That means that most outer layers are water-resistant but not fully water-proofed.

Cold Weather Dapper Look

Need to look a little sharp and its below degrees outside? Your favorite team is playing against their rival club and you already bought the ticket to go watch the game but it’s damn freezing outside? Let me show you how you can still pull that dapper look and wow everyone like a body builder in beach wear.

Layering, as usual, is key.  Wear your usual dress shirt and tie over a long –  sleeved, moisture-wicking under layer (synthetic fiber) – cotton traps moisture well enough that you don’t want it against your body.

The Importance of Fit

Fit must be of prime consideration when dressing up yourself in layers. Clothes still must allow freedom of movement–one poor fitting layer can alter your ability to perform normally.

Your base layer should always skintight fit.  It’s there for wicking and it needs to be touching your body for efficiency purpose.  Most thermal underwear brands will do just a good job serving that purpose – keeping you warm.

Insulating layers should be stacked from the thinnest and tightest to the thickest and loosest.

Dapper Winter Accessories

Hats:  Insulated headbands for active exercise and warmer/sunnier days.  Stocking caps for colder weather and stationary or light exercise.

Scarves:  Vital wind protection.  Always have one tucked under the shell layer.

Sweaters:  A standard insulation layer.  Wool is the best–thick, natural wool with the lanolin still in it is extremely durable and water-resistant, while lighter cashmere wool makes very lightweight garments that still provide good insulation.

Wool Trousers:  Useful as both dress clothes and cold weather gear.  Thicker wools add more warmth and can handle more wetness.

Flannel-lined Pants:  Common in blue jeans and other work clothes.  Adds a layer of insulation to regular, functional pants.  Basically, worthless when wet, however.

Snow Boots:  Soft-sided boots with flexible soles and insulation on the insides.  Usually waterproof.

Leather Boots: Most cap toe boots perfect for keeping your feet warm and dry while still maintaining a professional look for the office.

Wool Socks:  Vital layer for the feet.  Can come quite thin in wool/synthetic blends, but the extra padding of thick wool socks helps trap more air for warmth.

Long Thermal Underwear:  Wool or synthetic (or a blend of both).  Makes a huge difference in keeping the legs warm.

Leather Gloves:  You want the closest fit you can have without straining the material.  A loose glove that slides back and forth won’t hold warmth nearly as well. You also need a length that fully covers the wrist, far enough up that you can tuck it completely into a coat sleeve.

All the above in one place – CEO of Stanlion Clothing http://stanlion.com/

 

Your thoughts?

8 Comments
    1. They say it’s never too late to start planting a tree, when it’s planted is the right time. Thanks for your encouragement

  1. Wow thanks for the tips.

    I thought a heavy fur coat , jeans and boots was all I needed.

    Now I understand the importance of having a base layer underneath.

    Thank you so much

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