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January 29, 2008

Clothes-Minded—January 29, 2008

Layering is a chore of the social. When it’s very cold out, as it has been recently, I find it would be much easier to camp out in the warmth of my apartment than to attempt to find an outfit that fits both my style and my bundling needs. However, as I have yet to adopt a hermit’s lifestyle, every morning I sift through my wardrobe in search of a weather-worthy ensemble. The trouble lies in the fact that I am a complete cold-weather wuss. I am a creature of heat (and lover of summer attire), always have been. I would prefer to swelter in a charming sundress than let the snowflakes settle on top of layers of merino wool, no matter how chic the jacket may be. Even with all the time I’ve had to adapt, I continually search for ways to dress that deny the advent of winter. Though I admit that sometimes it is entirely necessary to pull out the large down coat, huge clumsy boots, and cartoon hand gloves, generally a sense of fashion doesn’t need to be cast aside just because Jack Frost has stopped by.

Tights in the early winter months are excellent and necessary. Whether it’s nylons under pants, patterned over solid tights or under opaque ones, it’s a tried and true fact that adding layers to layers equals extra warmth. When the temperature turns frigid, however, tights can no longer provide the serious protection that legs require. If you still insist upon a pants-less winter, try some combination of Wolford’s luxurious cashmere tights and opaque, rainbow-hued stockings from We Love Colors, though I’m afraid even they cannot beat the Chicago winds. It can be quite frustrating to have to ignore part of your possible day-wear simply because it lacks sufficient leg coverage. But truly: Skirts and dresses are not sub-zero wear.

In the case of nighttime dress though, there must be an exception. Here I would suggest thoughtful travel, not layering. If you do choose to go with a piece sans sleeves and legs for an evening out, plan to be dropped near the door and make sure ahead of time that you will be ushered in—bare legs do not wait patiently. And for fashion’s sake, don’t let Uggs take you to any fête, no matter how cute the shoes in your purse are.

Forget bulky turtlenecks and remember to layer scarves. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a pashmina with your outfit and then tossing a cable-knit scarf on top of your coat. Twisting a silk and knit scarf together can add extra texture; the combination can also make it seem more like the scarves are all part of your look, and less like you are too cold to shed the yarn. Christina Webb’s diamond waffle-weave scarf is perfect when paired with one of Pucci’s colorful silk creations. Double-time it with two stunning scarves in one fabulous outfit.

Hats and gloves are never a bad idea. In fact, they are most always a great one. Whether your preference is for floppy berets, knit ski caps, felt fedoras, or an ear-flapped ushanka, now is no time to let your head go without. As we were all told when we were little, a lot of body heat is lost through the head. That’s enough justification for spending a pretty penny on an incredible Erin Fetherston sequined chapeau with ’20s glam to boot. Leather gloves, especially of the lined persuasion, are incredibly warm and come in a variety of indulgent colors. A princess pair up to your elbows adds extra warmth and glamour to an otherwise utilitarian winter accessory. Pay attention to accessories; it’s the little things that count.

Don’t let winter chills dictate your schedule. Layer up and fight back. Be warm and fashionable (tights, scarves, hats, and gloves are all key) and go where you want when you want. Then again, when you’re not quite ready to leave, there’s no harm in using the arctic blast from outside as an excuse to stay a little longer. Baby, it’s cold outside….