Cold Weather Clothing Tips: Gear to Wear and How to Layer  

If you’ve been outside lately, you’ve probably realized that throwing on a hoody and some jeans isn’t going to cut it, whether you’re going on a walk or just taking out the trash.  

If you’re in need of a winter wardrobe makeover or new to the Mitten, your body will thank you later if you fill your closet with warm, practical clothing.   

Heed these tips and you should make it out on the other side just fine next spring.  

The Power of Layering 

Generally, some of the warmest materials you can wear include wool, polyester, silk, and in some cases, cotton. But much like an orchestra, some of these fabrics perform better as members of a team than they do as soloists.  

In the winter, cold temperatures, precipitation, and wind work as a unit to try and take your body heat away from you. Layering is designed to stop that from happening.  

Multiple layers keep you warmer than a single, thick layer of clothing because the layers trap warm air in between them and act as an insulator. Plus, depending on your outdoor winter activity, you can regulate your comfort by slipping layers on and off as you sweat, cool down or experience a change in weather. 

Let’s start with the base layer. Winter base layers should be rich in wicking properties, which means they should be able to draw moisture away from you. Natural fibers like wool and silk, and synthetic materials like polyester (which includes most types of fleeces) and nylon, all fit this bill. Just avoid cotton, which tends to absorb moisture and trap it against your skin.  

The middle layer should do the heavy lifting when it comes to insulation. Breathable, polyester fleeces work well as a middle layer, as do puffy, down insulated jackets or sweaters. Down insulated material is warm and compressible. Middle layers should never be too tight.  

Your outer layer should be wind resistant and waterproof. Hard shell jackets and rain jackets work well as outer layers. Regular winter coats, like pea coats or wool coats, will do the trick if it’s not too windy or rainy outside. Keep in mind that optimal outer layers contain vents or breathable fabric so your sweat can evaporate off the fabric’s interior layers.  

The Warmest Gloves, Hats, Scarfs and Socks  

The gloves versus mittens debate is generally hot enough to melt snow, but the advantage mittens have is their ability to allow fingers to share warmth. Coated, all-purpose waterproof gloves are fine options, too, and great for aerobic activities like skiing and snowmobiling, where dexterity is important.  

Wool or wool-acrylic blend socks will keep your feet the warmest. Just keep in mind that natural, 100% wool socks are more breathable than the latter option. While we’re on the wool topic, scarfs made out of wool are the undisputed best option.  

Wool stocking caps are great winter hats, but don’t shy away from a nice pair of earmuffs or a winter headband; the long-debunked myth that we lose body heat through our head means hats aren’t quite as essential as once thought. Keeping your ears warm is the main objective.  

Cotton and synthetic pants defeat denim   

While stylish, your favorite pair of jeans aren’t all that practical in the winter.  

Cotton pants or trousers are better at retaining body heat than denim. Meanwhile snow or ski pants, made from nylon and polyester, slip right over the pants you have on and provide a comfortable, unencumbering, extra layer of warmth.  

Pick properly fitted boots 

Boots that are too tight only serve to assist the cold in its mission to restrict circulation to the feet and toes.  

Pick a pair of boots that are well-fitting, provide ankle support and are ideally insulated and water-resistant. Boots with non-slip rubber outsoles provide traction on snow and ice.  

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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