There are not many things in life that I would say that I’m the Queen of but when it comes to layering, that crown is well and firmly on my head thank you very much.
But this post isn’t about the obvious that we reach for to keep us warm in the winter – the scarf/hat/gloves/thick jumpers/duvet. Oh no. It’s more about those pieces that we can layer under, or over, what “normal” people wear, so that we still look like we’re wearing a “normal” outfit and so that we don’t have to go around looking like the Michelin man from October until April.
I’ve come up with an arsenal of weapons to help fight the cold. These I bring out year after year, literally, and they are a fail safe way of making summer clothes last into the winter and to stop us from having to wear winter clothes into the summer.
Modal long lace vest Jigsaw (£29)
Let’s start with a vest. A vest is always a good place to start when it’s cold. The Jigsaw vests are lovely and comfortable with a nice lace detail, straps which can be altered plus they come in about 9 different colours. They are particularly great if a bit of vest is going to be peeking through – say at the neckline of a denim shirt or something.
M&S cotton rich strappy vest (£5)
Then for the every day work horse type vest, you can’t beat good old M&S, or H&M (who do long line ones), or Next. A vest is the first piece of clothing that goes on after my undies. You have to start layering early on in the construction of an outfit.
Thermal ankle length leggings from Marks and Spencer (£12.50)
You may not know it yet but you absolutely need these babies in your wardrobe if you want to wear a midi dress and do an ankle flash at any point in the year beyond, say, mid September. I bought some from Primark and they key is to have them loose enough around the ankle so that they can be turned up. Thermals poking out from beneath the hem of your dress is not a good look. Nope not at all. But one sadly that I think I may have participated in inadvertently 🙁 I had these on as part of the above outfit.
Long sleeved jersey top H&M (£8.99)
So then I quite often (no, pretty much always) have a long sleeved cotton top over my vest. Last year I bought a stack of scooped neck ones from H&M just like the one above. I must admit that on the day I wore the above outfit, I didn’t have a long sleeved top on as it would have been a bit bulky under my dress and it might have shown through at the neck. But they are definitely necessary about 75% of the time.
H&M ribbed polo neck jumper (£9.99)
Now a ribbed neck polo is the best thing against the cold. Fitted but not too tight is the order of the day. It’s a great layering piece under all of those summer dresses that run out of steam come the end of September. And with a vest to go underneath it, plus thermal leggings, you’re absolutely sorted. They’re also fab under dungarees.
Trust me. If you feel the cold, you really need one of these cropped cardigans from Boden. There are two choices, the cashmere one and the favourite cropped cardi, which is 80% cotton. Mine is never far away from me and although it’s rarely on show, it’s working behind the scenes underneath a biker jacket, adding an extra layer of warmth. I’m wearing mine as part of the above outfit but it doesn’t add bulk and no-one would ever know. A layer over the dress, as opposed to underneath it, also stops the dress from becoming too tight.
Faux fur gilet Oasis (£55)
If you’ve got a coat that needs a bit of help in keeping you warm, a fake fur gilet like the one above does the job brilliantly. Coats can be hard to layer up because there’s often not enough room in the sleeves, which is where the gilet comes in. It adds warmth to your torso but means that you can still get your arms in the sleeves. True, depending on the fit you may not be able to get your coat done up but if the gilet has a fastening that’s that problem sorted. Equally they look good layered over a biker jacket.
Uniqlo ultra light compact jacket (£49.90)
Finally, although I don’t have one of these jackets yet, I’ve always thought that they look such a good idea to have squirrelled away in your bag. I’ve seen my friends dive into their bag to pull out what I thought was going to be a tissue, only to produce, magician like, a coat. For those days out in London where it can go from freezing to really warm, one of these would be perfect.
There are various heat tech type garments available which I may investigate another time for those truly freezing days but for now, I’ve stuck to what is pretty much available in your standard shopping centre.
I hope that this post is helpful for those who, like me, long to look like everyone else whilst their fingers are in fact turning white and their nose, blue. It doesn’t have to be about the bulk to keep warm and stylish, although on some days there’s no denying that there’s no substitute for a thick jumper. But the rest of the time, we can wing it. (Just like many things in life!)