Clothes for specific weather

How to stay warm in style

How to stay warm in style

Style isn’t your first thought when there’s ice about. Concerns about what goes with what are less important than getting through the day without losing a finger to frostbite. Which is why when the temperatures do creep below zero, you’ll see all manner of men wearing their bulkiest clothes with little concern for whether they work together.

“But people don’t give you leeway just because it’s snowing,” says Thread stylist Luke McDonald. “If you care about the way you look, then it matters just as much in freezing weather as on any other day of the year.” So to get it right, you need a plan and pieces that are built to withstand the elements.

Below, Luke gives his four-step guide to ensure you look sleek even when you’re stepping through slush.

Protect your legs

Cold weather fabrics

Photographed: Paul Smith cords (£110); Marks & Spencer trousers (£64); MVP jeans (£40)

Keeping your upper-body warm is comparatively simple; keep adding layers until the wind doesn’t get through. But, besides pulling on a pair of long johns, there’s fewer options below the waist. “Instead, you need to think about winter fabrics,” says Luke.

It’s tempting to transition your summer trousers to winter, but that’s a recipe for goosebumped thighs. “Look for denser materials, like corduroy, moleskin, flannel or heavier denim,” says Luke. If you can see light through the fabric when you hold it up to the light, then wind will get through and you’ll spend the day shivering. "You need something that’s going to protect you and trap heat."

That means you should expect to pay more. A pair of chinos that are built for winter use more fabric than those you’ll wear when it’s warm, which comes with a cost. But that means they’ll also be harder-wearing, so will last longer.

Keep your outfit balanced

Overcoat and suit

Photographed: Norse Projects overcoat (£470); Reiss suit (£475); Eton shirt (£120)

A lot of clothing that’s designed for the worst weather tends to be quite technical. Coats are made from space-age materials and come covered with zips and pockets, to store everything you’ll need to survive a day on a glacier. But unless you work as a mountain ranger, that’s not a good look for your commute.

“As with everything else in your wardrobe, smart looks best with smart, and casual with casual,” says Luke. “Technical jackets are very dressed-down, so they clash if you try and wear them with a suit, or even a blazer.” They can work with things like dark denim and boots, but it’s best to stick to styles made for work, rather than hiking, lest you look like you’re about to go skiing.

Again, fabric can be your guide, here. “Think about the materials that make up most of your wardrobe, then go for a coat in something similar,” says Luke. If it’s mostly wool, then look to something like an overcoat or peacoat, which will be more versatile.

Think about your layers

Layers

Photographed (L-R):Oliver Spencer parka (£549); Paul Smith rollneck (£360); Bleu De Paname shearling coat (£375); MVP t-shirt (£15);  Patagonia down coat (£185); Nigel Hall shirt (£85)

Layering is your best defence against cold weather, but it’s not just about piling on clothes. Layers are good because they let you adapt to different temperatures, but that means that at some point, you’ll have to take bits of your outfit off. “When you remove your coat and jumper, you should still look put together.”

The trick to ensuring every layer works with every other layer is in keeping them similar. “You need to keep colours and formality consistent,” says Luke. If you’re dressed smart, then try plain knitwear under a blazer and overcoat, rather than a bomber jacket. Equally, if your look is casual then you should reach for something more relaxed, like a sweatshirt.

“It’s also important that you avoid bulk,” says Luke. Layers can quickly add up to a top-heavy silhouette, so start with finer fabrics near your skin, then work up to heavier layers as you move further out. “That way, you have options if it gets warm, and you’ll keep the entire outfit streamlined for when it’s not.”

Invest in your accessories

Accessories

Photographed: GANT beanie (£80)Officine Generale camel scarf (£229); Officine Generale grey scarf (£229); Norse Project check scarf (£55); GANT burgundy scarf (£40); Anonymous Ism socks (£25)

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: accessories should not be an afterthought. If the only gloves you have in the house are meant for skiing, then on cold days you’re either going to have frozen hands or you’ll ruin the rest of your outfit with bulky mittens that just don’t work. “You should plan ahead, because you don’t know when it’s going to get cold,” says Luke.

The best gloves, hats and scarves are versatile. Odds are you won’t have a version that works with every outfit, so it’s best to go for styles that look great with almost anything. “Think plain colours in natural fabrics like wool and leather,” says Luke. “They trap heat but are breathable, so you’ll stay warm but won’t get sweaty if it warms up.”

It’s also worth spending a bit more than you might think. “Cheap accessories look bad and don’t do the job they’re designed for,” says Luke. “Something more premium will be comfortable, stylish and will never date. You could wear the same pair of gloves or a scarf all winter for a decade and they’ll still look good.” Which means that your cost-per-wear is better than almost anything else in your wardrobe.