For those who live in areas where the seasons change somewhat dramatically, dressing for climate is a very important part of putting together a formal outfit.
Not only style is a concern, but comfort plays a great role in the way a man will feel throughout his day. Perhaps the most functional season in terms of fashion is winter.
My favorite season for dressing has always been winter for the simple reason that if it's cold, you have to wear more clothes, and more clothes means more opportunities to make an outfit look great.
This will be an effective guide for those looking to keep warm while dressing formally.
Fabric Types – How Men Can Utilize Cotton & Wool
An important part of dressing for warmth is knowing what fabrics you're wearing, because many are warmer than others. The two best fabric choices for dressing in cold climates are cotton and wool.
Cotton is not going to be as warm as wool, but it will help keep you warm. Cotton is absorbent and very durable through washing and harsh weather.
Consider a cotton dress shirt as one of your bottom layers when assembling your outfit. Cotton sweaters can be worn as well, but again, they won't be as warm as wool.
Wool is the warmest fabric choice out there, and it's an essential in cold climates. Wool sweaters come in a great variety and selection and they'll absolutely keep you warm.
Wool can be made from sheep, lamb, goat – cashmere, Moreno and angora, vicuna, alpaca or camel hair. Also, if you're going to wear an over coat, wool is the best choice.
Perhaps the most important part of dressing for climate is comfort within your different layer. You want to be warm, but you also want to be functional. You don't want to have so many layers on that you can't move, but at the same time you want to have enough to keep you warm. Finding the right balance is not too hard, but it's very important.
Simplicity is the best formula in this situation. An undershirt from RibbedTee, then a dress shirt, then a tie, then perhaps a sweater, a jacket and an overcoat should be enough to keep you warm.
Accessories will help with other body parts, but for your chest and arms, make sure you have full range of motion under your layers. Also, you want to make sure that your outfit's colors will coincide with that of the season. Being aware of your surroundings and dressing accordingly will go a long way in how your outfit looks.
Wearing a t-shirt (plain white) under your dress shirt is a good way to add an extra layer to your upper body.
Also, if you're not wearing a tie, it is quite fashionable to wear a plain white t-shirt under a dress shirt that has its top button undone.
In terms of your lower body, long johns are a good option for frigid temperatures.
They'll ensure that your legs stay warm, and having a layer between your skin and trousers will make the wind less of a discomfort.
Also, socks are very important for keeping your feet warm, and cashmere or just plain wool socks will be your best option for warm feet, and even if you don't have a pair of wool socks, wearing two pairs of socks can provide you with warmth and comfort.
A more modern alternative that has introduced itself is the use of Under Armour to keep warm. Under Armour, when worn as your first layer, will hug your body which will not add on extra girth.
It's important to remember to no one is going to see what's under your outer layers, so there is nothing wrong with wearing something like Under Armour as a bottom layer.
It may not be very formal, but what matters here is staying warm.
Wearing a sweater is a great way to add something extra to your outfit, while also providing you with an extra layer for the cold weather. If you need to stay warm, the best way to go would be wool. It comes in many different varieties and it'll keep you warm.
One of the most popular types of wool, especially for formal wear, is cashmere. Cashmere is a very soft and luxurious type of wool, and it is quite warm in cold climates. There are many different patterns available when choosing a sweater, and the key when picking a pattern out if to remember that you're going to have many layers and articles on, so making sure that the sweater compliments these things is crucial.
Wearing an extremely loud, bright, or busy sweater will take attention away from the rest of your outfit. Conservative colors that correspond with the season will allow you the best opportunity to put together a complete look. For winter, darker colors and heavier fabrics usually work best. Consider navy blues, forest greens, and browns.
Types Of Sweater Patterns
- Argyle (Seen below) – offers a sporty, diamond pattern. Comes in a variety of colors to allow many coordination opportunities.
- Cable Knit – Stitch that produces a vertical cable pattern by crossing groups of knitting stitches over each other.
- Fair Isle – Pullover or cardigans characterized by soft heather yarns and bright colored yarns in varying horizontal bands of intricate designs.
- Fatigue – pullover in firm rib knit, small v-neck yoke, round turnover collar (almost shawl) and a five button closing at neck. Fairly thick, so great for winter time.
Men's Overcoats & Topcoats
People confuse these two types of coats and often use them interchangeably, but they each have a specific function and purpose. A topcoat is not meant for colder climates.
It is to be worn in the spring or fall as it is thinner than the overcoat. An overcoat is meant to be worn over suit and dinner jackets, and are worn outside.
An overcoat is essential when dressing up in cold weather. It should be made of wool because it will be the warmest and most flexible, and it should be worn so the bottom reaches anywhere from 6-8 inches below the knee. This will help in keeping you legs warm .
Lastly, if shopping for an overcoat, it should be a size larger than your suit jacket.
Men's Accessories (Gloves, Scarves, Hats)
When you're going to wear a functional accessory, make sure it is fashionable as well. There are a few different choices you can make, and each one has the potential to add color to an outfit.
A good hat will frame your face and it will also keep your head warm. Without a hat, a lot of body heat can be lost, so wearing a hat is a good idea in a cold climate. With that being said, not just any old hat will work. A baseball cap does not go with a formal outfit, ever.
When dressing up, go with a fedora or homburg. Another option in very cold climates is the Astrakhan Ambassador hat. It may not be the most stylistic piece of head wear out there, but it will absolutely keep your head warm, which is the most important part.
For a formal attire, a leather glove will provide the best look. There are many, many different types of leather, but if you're shopping for a nice pair of gloves, remember two things:
1. The more stitches, the better. If you can count the number of stitches on a leather glove, you might want to look for a different pair.
2. Color should match overcoat and shoes. Make sure the gloves compliment the outfit. You don't want to make them stand out or attract a lot of attention.
The lining of a glove should provide warmth and comfort. Cashmere is usually the best choice for the inner lining.
A scarf can add a lot of color to an outfit while also making you much warmer. A scarf is good way to keep your neck warm, and it can even add an extra layer on your torso.
A scarf should be worn under an overcoat for maximum warmth, and it's color should coordinate with that of your shirt and tie.
The Hacking Knot for a scarf:
1. Fold an oblong scarf in half and drape around the neck.
2. Pull the ends through the loop and tighten.
There are many choices when you are dressing for cold weather, because quite simply, you wear more clothes than usual. With this in mind, it is crucial to remember that coordination is key.
Having colors and layer that correspond correctly will give you a complete look, which is essential, and within this complete look, you want to be able to function.
Being bulky will limit your range of motion and give the illusion of added weight. Make sure that you are functional within your layers, but do not prioritize functionality over warmth! That is, of course, the most important part.