Keeping warm during the coldest months of the year can be a challenge any day of the week. It gets even trickier when you’re trying to figure out how to get somewhere in the snow and ice while wearing a suit, whether you’re headed to the office, to a dinner party, or to another formal event.
Fortunately for you, staying warm while wearing a suit doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds. With a little strategic planning, you don’t have to freeze for the sake of dressing in formalwear or looking extra stylish for a party. Just follow these tips to keep warm the next time you step out in a suit.
1. Choose the right suit
Your favorite suit may be one that works year-round. But if you wear suits a lot in the winter, it’s a good idea to evaluate whether you can invest in a warmer suit for those cold months. A lightweight, three-season wool won’t be as warm as a winter weight or wool flannel suit, or even a heavyweight tweed or worsted wool suit. Having a warmer jacket and pair of trousers can go a long way toward keeping you warm on the coldest days of the year.
2. Consider a base layer
Everyone knows layering is the key to staying warm in the winter. So why neglect a tried-and-true strategy just because you have to wear a suit to the office? Consider thermal underwear or compression layers — the kind that athletes swear by — for an added layer of warmth under your dress shirt and suit trousers.
3. Wear warmer socks
When the days turn really cold, you’re going to need as much protection against the cold as you can get. Don’t neglect your feet as you bundle up in the morning. Swap out your cotton socks for merino wool ones, which you can easily find in office-appropriate colors and patterns. And consider wearing light liner socks under your dress socks, a combination that can be particularly useful if your feet tend to sweat.
4. Switch to boots
Your dress shoes probably aren’t particularly warm, which doesn’t bode well for keeping your circulation going during those commutes through snow and ice. Consider swapping your usual pair of dress shoes for a pair of dress boots, which are not only going to better shield your ankles from the cold, but are often more insulated to help your body better retain heat.
5. Add a cardigan
Even if you’ve carefully selected fabrics that will keep you warm in the winter, your dress shirt and blazer don’t have to be your only defense against the cold. Consider adding a cardigan between them. Look for one in a layering-friendly merino wool, and opt for a contrasting color. You can leave it buttoned higher than the top button on your blazer for a look that mimics a three-piece suit (but is significantly more functional if you’re trying to keep warm).
6. Layer on a good topcoat
If you wear a suit regularly during the winter, a warm overcoat is another piece that’s well worth the investment. A refined coat will not only keep you looking polished on the coldest days, but will keep you significantly warmer than you would be if you just braved the cold in your suit, without another layer on top. Look for a topcoat made of a substantial wool, and in a knee-length cut to keep more of your body warm.
7. Bundle up with a scarf
While you’re honing your layering game, make sure that you don’t neglect to add a scarf. A scarf in cashmere or wool will be warm and compact, and can be tied in a practically endless array of methods to accommodate the cut of your shirt, blazer, and topcoat. The scarf can add a festive splash of color to your ensemble, or keep things dark and neutral, depending on your style and mood.
8. Wear gloves
Whether your commute involves a brisk walk, a subway ride, or a frigid drive to the office, it’s important to protect your hands from the cold. While you might be tempted to go with a pair of leather dress gloves to match your suit, consider shopping around for a pair that has some insulation inside.
9. Don’t forget a hat
It’s no secret that protecting your head from the cold can make your entire body feel warmer on particularly cold days. A watch cap in a neutral color, like navy blue, charcoal gray, or black, won’t detract from the classic look of your suit while keeping you extra warm on windy and snowy days.