It’s always fun to write about style – what’s in, what’s out, what suits and what doesn’t – but offering advice on what to wear during the chilly winter months can be fraught with difficulty. So much depends on our lifestyle and the temperature variations we have to face. I’ve been in some offices where short sleeves are needed all year round and others where I’ve dreamed of getting away with ski wear. And no matter the difficulties struggling to the office in bad weather, there are always some lucky souls with an indoor car park and an in-house restaurant who never actually experience the season at all!
Winter adds all these challenges to the simple task of looking good so keep a clear head and repeat this mantra – you can be warm and stylish. Dress to suit your lifestyle and the temperatures you need to face. Being too hot or too cold is never a good look – the key to great style is to put it together and then forget about it!
1. Getting the Coat Right
My favourite style fix is the simplest – the coat and scarf. When all else fails, a stylish, flattering coat and an on trend scarf are all you need to look chic. Add a pair of boots and with just three items you’re statement dressing. Whilst you might think all the best coats have gone by now, don’t fret as it’s actually not a bad time to be looking – the sales are coming up soon so you need to know exactly what you are after.
With such a range in the stores choose wisely and buy a style that is right for your shape. Military looks are in this year but do look better on taller, boyish figures. If you are curvier avoid double breasted styles and high necks – go for a coat with a long line and a V-neckline. If you are tall, full-length styles will create impact, whereas if you are petite, then tapered, belted and/or empire waist styles will help define your shape and make you appear taller.
Three quarter length coats are typically the most flattering, but if you spend a lot of time in the car short coats are easier to wear – the exact length you choose depends on how much you love your legs. However puffy jackets are best kept strictly for casual wear and be very cautious just how you wear the lovely fake furs that are so hot this year.
2. Love Those Accessories
Accessories are vitally important in the winter. A good coat or jacket doesn’t come cheap and accessories in a variety of colours and styles can update a coat and move it from casual to smart. And of course they keep you warm!
After last winter even the most reluctant hat wearers gave in and looked great so don’t forget those knitted berets and baker boy hats or go for something more stylish and try a trilby. If you really can’t stand a hat then try this year’s surprise fashion entry, the snood. They are everywhere, draping gracefully round the neck with no unsightly tails and can even be pulled over the head for extra warmth. I’ve seen them in cashmere and in the finest lacy knits – but save the fleece versions strictly for hill walking. Another nod to the 1980s are fingerless gloves and mittens – they look great with long line sweaters so try contrasting and even matching colours for a very modern look.
3. Cosy Toes
After many years of trial and error I recommend investing in a few pairs of good quality boots in different colours and styles. Whilst at seventeen, one pair of inexpensive high fashion boots worn for the season and then thrown out is a good strategy, but when life becomes more complicated it’s harder to find that one pair of boots that suits all purposes. Fashion styles for boots are not as fast moving as other shoes and you can afford to invest in a few pairs of boots that will last a couple of years. I would say at a minimum you need a flat pair of striding out boots for shopping and walkabouts, a pair of fab heeled boots for evening and special events, a pair of shoe boots or medium heel boots for work – and if you do get out into the country, a pair of good quality walking boots that will last for years. But don’t forget to take care of your boots if you want them to earn their keep.
It’s a great year for the layered look – gillets and knitted waistcoats cinched in with a belt are in all the stores and capes add a great final touch. Layering provides the answer to all those changes of temperature we face during the day but how is it done without adding bulk?
As a rule of thumb for a fashionable look, the longer the garment the further under the layer it needs to go, and the thicker the garment, the nearer the top. Put light colours under darker colours and contrast colours and textures to avoid the ‘sausage’ look! Remember – layering chops up the silhouette so petite girls beware.
5. Fast Fashion
There’s no excuse for shoving on the nearest fleece and jeans on chilly mornings – to stay stylish and warm a little planning is needed. Match outfits in advance – remember skirts and tights can be cosier than jeans, especially with boots, and layering needs a little thought so be prepared and make sure everything is close at hand.
6. Hidden Comfort
If you need invisible heating for an event and don’t want to rely on Ready Brek you can just cheat. Wear 20 denier tights under leggings for an extra layer of warmth and keep feet cosy with fleecy insoles or hiking socks in boots. If that City coat or trench isn’t quite thick enough, sneak a medium weight gilet underneath Of course the lightest pure silk thermal undies are a dream but if your budget doesn’t stretch to this try the Heattech range from Uniqlo – www.uniqlo.com/uk
The forecasters say we’re looking forward to another freezing winter so if that all seems a bit complicated I recommend the best style fix of all – a log fire, someone to cuddle up to (dog or human) and a glass of something warming!