Even in sunny Australia, winter can be cold to the point of cruelty. You don’t need a big, heavy, puffy coat to stay warm and toasty though. Here’s how to layer up for comfortable, effective (and stylish) warmth.
Supplement Peacoats With A Packable Vest Or Jacket
Peacoats may be fashionable (I have a bizarre passion for them), but they’re often not warm enough to get you through the entire winter. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear them, though. Just layer up with a lightweight, packable, down jacket or vest underneath the peacoat to stay warm while retaining the sleek, formal, shape and material of a peacoat or overcoat. (Here’s an example.)
Down jackets are better insulated and easier to compress than synthetically-insulated jackets, but also wilt when it’s damp. This should be less of a problem if you layer your peacoat over it.
Vests are good for you if you want to keep your torso toasty, but don’t want to get too bulky in the sleeves (and retain elbow flexibility). I wear a sweater under my down vest and wear a peacoat. That’s kept me pretty warm in Toronto for the past few years, although I’ll wear my big bulky jacket in super-cold weather.
Try A Set Of Runner’s Tights
If you're wearing long underwear, you already know that adding a layer under your clothes could be just as effective as adding another one over it. To keep as warm as possible, try wearing runner's tights under your sweaters and pants.
You could also wear thermal underwear, but retired law enforcement officer Tim Dees writes in this Quora thread that runner's tights will keep you warmer than most varieties of lower-half thermal underwear, and still fit neatly under your clothes.
Protect Your Ears With Slim Earmuffs
Winter headgear can be laughable (for all the wrong reasons). While scarves can safely protect your neck (and face on occasion), many of us don't protect our ears properly. You don't have to mess up your hair with a toque or big winter hat. Instead, keep your ears warm with slim earmuffs (that is, a wrap-around headband or ear wrap).
To minimise the bulk, look for a pair of earmuffs that fits behind your head and one that you can fold up and leave in your briefcase or bag. I'm very pleased with these wraparound earmuffs, which I carry around in my bag and use whenever it gets too cold or windy.
Keep Your Hands And Feet Warm
Our bodies prioritise keeping our organs warm, which means our hands and feet are typically the first to feel the brunt of the cold. Protect these extremities by adding a layer or two. While mittens may suffice in mild temperatures, you'll need full-out insulated winter gloves to keep your hands warm if you're walking in the freezing cold. You can also keep your hands warm with heat warmers.
Your boots should be insulated as well. Ideally, when they should also have some extra space so you can comfortably fit in them with thick wool socks. Some of you may think desert boots are a good idea for winter, but they lack the waterproof and traction that proper winter boots have.
If you're required to wear shoes at work or certain formal occasions, you can wear galoshes or other shoe protectors so you don't have to carry two pairs of footwear around.
Cover Your Face
You can lose heat from any uncovered part of your skin. Even when you've covered everything else, leaving your face exposed can make the cold difficult to endure. Fortunately, you don't have to wear a clunky ski mask to cover your face.
Jezebel's Erin Gloria Ryan recommends using a face mask like this one. It may look a little strange, but on days when the wind chill is merciless, you'll appreciate the extra protection it offers. Best case, it can prevent frostbitten noses or ears.
Start Off Warm
Most of us warm up before our workouts and jogs (or we know we should!). Quora user David Mongan suggests a similar technique to weather the cold.
Mongan does a few pushups, jumps, lunges, and squats to get the blood flowing before stepping out the door. If your clothes don't allow you to move around (especially in your business suit or formalwear), wear your jacket or vest for a few minutes inside the house to get warm before stepping out.
As Wes Siler writes on Indefinitely Wild, insulation doesn't increase your temperature - it simply maintains it. It works much more effectively when you start off warm.
Layer Up Like An Onion
You don't have to be a sartorial wiz or a fashionista to stay warm in winter without the heaviness or puffiness of a standard winter coat. Layer up like hikers do. Wear vests or jackets under your peacoat, wear tights under your clothes, cover up your extremities, protect your ears with slim earmuffs, keep your face warm with a face mask, and warm up before you leave the house.