A huge star-plus of living in a warmish climate is that you rarely have to get bundled up. In the winter there are many sunny and cool days where you can bust out a warm and agreeable outfit and never feel like a stilted mummy.
I’m very much about easy, simple and super-comfortable ways to cheat glamour. Basically, the test is this: the outfit must feel pretty close to wearing pajamas in terms of comfort — but make you feel lifted, or a bit lifted, in spirit. Pajamas, particularly flannel ones that drape on the ground, can’t do this. But something you find stylish, that gives off a pleasing projection of You when worn, can do this.
So here are some style tips on achieving a certain level of sass and comfort when the weather is cool, or even freezing for that matter.
Try a stretchy dress as a foundation piece. But not the flimsy summer kind. Go for the long sleeve, body conscious kind that range from stretchy ribbed cotton. The one I’m wearing is from BCBG, the Trenna Essential Knit Ribbed Dress — they seem to always carry them online or in their stores, they are great for layering and travel well. They retail for about $60 but can be had for less during sales. They are also warm and incredibly comfortable to wear, kind of like an endless t-shirt. Wear some smart shapewear underneath to contain your assets and present a smooth line (no VPL or bra lines) to the world…
Add cool-weather accessories that add color, personality and luxury. Invest in your accessories. Scarves, gloves, bags and so on. You don’t need to acquire many of these. When you go out a-hunting for them, though, realize that it will benefit you over the long haul to buy the best that you can find and/or your budget will allow. The best is not always the most $$, either. I’m wearing a circle scarf around my neck mostly for a dash of color and for a bit of sun protection on the neck. I purchased it for well under $30 from a groovy little entrepreneur I met at a woman’s show who would find fantastic silks in the garment district and sew them up at home in her spare time.
Tip: Discern high from low and in-between by learning to spot the difference between high-quality fabrics and materials and the not-so. Where do you start? Use the hands-on method, examining and touching accessories that run the gamut in price and quality. Feel the difference in your hands and on your body. After a while your senses will be able to spot the difference quickly.
Find your favorite runaround boot. I have been a fan of semi-clunky knee boots for like, ages, and have been stoked to see them back in force during the last couple of years. Here’s the thing with boots. Some are spindly skinny and a bit dramatic for running around during the everyday, while some are reminiscent of what Fred Gwynne might have sported on The Munsters.
Somewhere between these two extremes is your perfect runaround boot: the pair that flatter your frame, are comfortable as heck and project something of your personal style. In the photo I’m wearing a vintage pair of motorcycle boots that I found in a thrift shop back in college for around $20 and have worn about 5 million times since then. Brown is a nice intermediary color because it’s a neutral that will works with a lot of items in your wardrobe from black. If it was colder I’d be wearing gray or taupe tights, which would work with these boots as well.
Okay, back to you. Before settling on your everyday cold-weather boots, give a thought about what you want to look like before heading to the stores. Here’s why: I have found that having a vision of what you want is a better shopping strategy than merely going blindly from store to store, looking for something kind of acceptable. That type of strategy will leave you with an awful pair of hiking boots made from unpronounceable meshy materials that were cooked up on a lab.
Tip: And if you like an old-fashioned look, check out thrift shops or vintage stores first. If you’re finding boots that are not throwback enough for your tastes (as in, you’re finding stuff from the late-1990’s when your flavor is more like 1960’s or 1970’s), then look at the “revived” lines from longtime boot manufacturers like Frye or, if you’re a guy, Red Wing. They usually won’t be inexpensive but they’ll be top-notch in terms of quality and if you take care of them, you’ll wear them forever.
Top with a Slender Cloak, Mi’Lady: Here’s where winter dressing can go terribly, terribly wrong. The parka or its puffy equivalent is heaped on your lovely frame, cloaking it from existence and and essentially banishing all the delicious by-products of style and glamour from your life. On the other hand, you don’t want to freeze.
Assess your climate and determine the amount of warmth you’ll need in your basic winter coat. Since winter can be dreary, please hunt out a coat in a color that gives you a buzz every time you wear it, and suits your frame and shape. And read this, unless you want to end up feeling like a dancing bear.
In the photo I am wearing a lightweight wool pea coat from Banana Republic. It is the right marriage of warmth and style, and is navy, which is a workable neutral shade. I bought it for a crazy sum, something like $28. I think the price had something major to do with the fact that it was hanging in one of their stores in West Palm Beach Florida during the summer. I tried it on over a white strapless dress and turned to my trusted shopping companion. “It’s about 100 degrees out. So why would I buy this?”
She shrugged and said, “Why wouldn’t you? It looks great. You’ll wear it.”