Dressing for Spring: 5 Tips for Dealing With Indecisive Weather

Whether you’re contemplating how to upgrade your wardrobe for spring, or trying to pull together a capsule wardrobe that will get you through the season, there’s a big wild card that can make it difficult to figure out what you need: the weather. When the weather is indecisive and the morning light ambiguous, it can be difficult to figure out how to dress for a spring day, let alone to figure out what you’re going to need in advance. It’s obvious that layering is crucial on days when the weather won’t make up its mind, but what else do you need for those unpredictable spring days? Here are five things you need to know about dressing for indecisive spring weather.

1. Mid-weight layers are key

men wearing layered clothes and watching a show

This group of men wearing layers has the right idea. | Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Ask any guy how to deal with unpredictable weather and he’ll probably tell you that layers are key. But exactly what kind of layers are best to have on hand to get through the spring? Mid-weight layers, which will keep you warm without adding lots of bulk, are important. Go for mid-weight jackets, which, depending on your style, can include a shirt jacket, a denim jacket, a field jacket, or a utility jacket. You’re looking for jackets that offer a bit of warmth on their own, but will look equally good paired with a lightweight button-front shirt or tee on a sunny afternoon as they will worn over a chunky cardigan on a particularly cold morning.

If your wardrobe is already well-equipped for the transitional weather you experienced last fall, chances are pretty good that you won’t need to upgrade to a new jacket (unless there’s a style you’ve been itching to try). Other layers that are often less expensive to purchase are the shirts you’ll be layering under your jacket. While you might be tempted to break out the short-sleeve tees that haven’t seen the light of day since last summer, it’s a good idea to go for something a little bit warmer. Long-sleeve tees, thermal henleys, and lightweight sweaters are all comfortable pieces that can keep you warm on a windy day without feeling like the heavy sweaters and thick layers you wore all winter.

2. Have a weatherproof jacket at the ready

man wearing blue waterproof jacket

Weatherproof jackets are important. | Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

You might not need one on every spring day that you venture outside of your apartment, but a weatherproof jacket is a staple that you’ll need in order to protect yourself against the rainstorms that are a signature of spring. But choosing a rainproof jacket doesn’t necessarily mean choosing a piece that will look out of place if you need to wear it into the office or out to dinner with friends or your significant other. In fact, there are plenty of choices of styles and materials if you’re hoping to upgrade your outerwear game for rainy days.

A classic fisherman’s jacket, in traditional shades like yellow or blue, can be a great fit if your style tends toward preppy. A Barbour jacket, in green or navy blue waxed cotton, is a more understated option that works well for workwear enthusiasts or fans of traditional suiting alike. A trench coat is another classic option that will be particularly easy to integrate into your daily rotation if you wear suits to the office. And, if you’re a true minimalist, you can opt for a cotton raincoat in black, navy, or whatever color is the most versatile neutral for you.

3. Don’t put away your boots just yet

men's boots

Keep your boots out — you may still need them. | Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

If you went through the trouble of finding a pair of boots that look great with a suit but can still stand up to winter snow and ice, then you shouldn’t put them away for the season just yet. The same boots that protected your feet against snowdrifts will likely be impervious to spring rainstorms, particularly if you’ve maintained them properly to keep them water-resistant and looking office-appropriate.

If you need a bit of a refresher, or if you opted to slog through winter without upgrading your footwear, finding the perfect weatherproof boots isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Look for boots made of a sturdy waxed or oiled leather, with a waterproof Dainite or commando sole. And if you need water-resistant boots that you won’t be embarrassed to wear into the office, look for a classic style, like a derby boot, brogue boot, or Chelsea boot, in a color that coordinates well with your favorite suits.

4. Be smart about layering

men wearing layers

Layering is key for changing temperatures. | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

While you know that you need a good jacket to get through the spring without freezing, you should also think about what you can do to keep yourself from overheating on days that end up warmer than you expected. When you choose the layers that you’re going to put on in the morning, it’s often a good idea to choose more light layers instead of fewer heavier layers.

When you’re thinking about how to choose layers, you need to consider not only the way the layers look when you have them all on, but what the ensemble is going to look like if the weather warms up and you want to take off a layer or two. That means that you want to make sure that the tee you throw on under your cardigan isn’t full of holes or stains, or that your oxford matches your jacket if you need to take off the sweater between them. And on that note, it never hurts to carry a bag with a little bit of extra space to stash that unneeded sweater or jacket.

5. Pay attention to your pants

two men wearing trendy pants

Choose the right pant material. | Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Everyone thinks about T-shirts, button-front shirts, sweaters, and jackets when contemplating layering. But even though you probably don’t want to do similar layering with the lower half of your outfit, you should definitely pay attention to the jeans, chinos, or trousers that you’re wearing. It’s important to take a moment to determine what kind of material is going to be the most comfortable for the day ahead.

When you look at the weather forecast for the day, ask yourself what kind of pants are likely to be the best choice. Do you need lightweight cotton chinos or heavier twill chinos? Is a lightweight pair of jeans the more comfortable choice, or will a heavier pair of rigid denim be more appropriate? And if it’s likely to rain, what kind of fabric are you going to be most comfortable wearing? Just because spring weather is indecisive doesn’t mean that you have to be. With a little bit of thought and preparation, you can put together an outfit that’s going to be appropriate and adaptable for the day ahead.