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What goes with what

Summer clothes that work in winter

Summer clothes that work in winter

There are certain pieces of clothing that don’t work well in winter. By the time the clocks have gone back, shorts should have long left your everyday outfits. In fact, the same goes with anything that shows off a lot of skin – not only do things like vests or short-sleeve shirts provide little protection from the chill, they also look inappropriate when it’s dark by four o’clock.

“The biggest difference between ‘summer’ and ‘winter’ clothing is the weight of the fabric,” says Thread stylist Millie Rich. “In summer, you are more likely to wear thin fabrics such as linen and light cotton whereas in the colder months, wool, cashmere and heavyweight cottons provide more insulation.” Cold-weather clothes also tend to be more fitted, the better to trap heat, compared to their looser, air flow-encouraging summer counterparts.

But that’s not to say that you need one wardrobe for summer and a completely different one for winter. Though some warm-weather items always jar after October – Hawaiian shirts or boat shoes will make people think you’re off on holiday – others just need a tweak in order to transition into the tail-end of the year.

Polo shirt

What is it? Like a t-shirt, but with a collar and two or three buttons. It’s smarter than an everyday tee but more casual than a shirt. “It’s also warmer than a t-shirt and the collar offers a nice bit of extra detail under a jumper,” says Millie.

How you wore it in summer: As the outermost layer, with chinos and trainers.

How to wear it in winter: Add some extra fabric on top, but keep the collar on display. “It’s great layered under an overcoat and something relaxed like a sweatshirt,” says Millie. On particularly cold days, try a long-sleeved version for extra warmth.



What is it? A shirt cut in heavier fabric, it’s designed for wearing over other layers and looks great either open or buttoned up. “It’s ideal for unpredictable weather,” says Millie, “which makes it particularly useful when it’s definitely not summer but not quite winter.”

How you wore it in summer: Over a t-shirt as a lightweight alternative to a jacket, to take the chill out of evenings on the beach or in a beer garden.

How to wear it in winter: What was outerwear becomes a midlayer. Wool versions trap heat without adding bulk, so it can sit over a tee and even a sweatshirt, but under an overcoat, depending on how cold it gets.


What is it? A style of durable cotton trousers. Because the fabric’s breathable, lightweight chinos are a summer staple, particularly when it’s too hot for jeans or formal trousers. But if you opt for a slightly heavier fabric, they’ll be warm enough for winter too, says Millie.

How you wore it in summer: With a button-down shirt and loafers, socks optional.

How to wear it in winter: The cotton contrasts beautifully with textured fabrics like wool, so use chinos as a base for cozy knitwear. Because the style was originally worn by soldiers, they’re also rugged enough to wear with tough footwear, like hiking or brogue boots.

Breton t-shirt

What is it? A blue-and-white striped t-shirt, traditionally worn by French sailors and long associated with the Riviera. “A Breton adds interest to your look, but is still minimal and simple,” says Millie.

How you wore it in summer: “Because it’s such an iconic piece, it works best on its own, with shorts and classic coastal footwear like espadrilles,” says Millie.

How to wear it in winter: “When it’s chilly, you can use the stripes to add some extra detail to your look. It works great underneath a sweatshirt or as a base layer beneath a denim jacket and coat.”