How To Look Hot When It’s Cold

How To Look Hot When It’s Cold


This is what they’re wearing in Paris and Milan when the weather turns cold.  For Humboldt, add a hood because, chances are, it’ll rain sometime very soon.

Let’s start with the Coat.  In Europe they’re favoring the slim belted wool coat with pockets but we’re a little more free-spirited, so feel free to channel your inner Neo and try something with a little more flair.  No matter what cut you choose, look for length.  A short jacket just isn’t as elegant as a coat that is at least mid-calf length.  The longer you go, the more elegant you look and, in my opinion, the more you can get away with funky details like fake fur (or real, if you dare!) or frayed and shredded trim.  Of course, you need to choose the cut on your longer coat like you would choose the cut on a dress; where does your waistline fall?  Do you need a Princess Line seam for shaping?  What’s your STYLE? Are you  the Matrix (from Lanvin Vault), London Chic (from Burberry), or Steampunk (from Hell Bunny)?

But that’s all about style – let’s talk about warmth.  Down is probably the warmest you could go, but down is bulky and will add several inches to your silhouette.  It’s also going to be encased in synthetic fabric most of the time, which is practical if you’re climbing Mt. Everest but may not be what you want if you’re taking the time to read a style column like this.

I’d go with wool every time.  Wool is incredibly warm, water resistant, takes color beautifully, is natural (and vegetarian – sheep need to be shorn, we might as well use their wool!) and comes in countless weights and styles.  Yes, you noticed the “water resistant” part.  Sheep’s wool is naturally coated with lanolin, a grease or waxy substance which used to be the number one ingredient in hand cream.  When the wool is processed, most of the lanolin is removed but there will always be a tiny bit in the fiber, and it’s waterproof!  100 years ago a “fisherman’s knit” sweater would have all the lanolin left in, and it became a warm and waterproof garment for those Irish fishermen.  Unfortunately, those sweaters also smelled like wet sheep.  Your coat has enough lanolin removed so it won’t smell like a barnyard but you’ll still see the first 100 raindrops bead up and brush off.  Remember there are also many kinds of wool, mostly from sheep, some from goats, and even muskoxen, that vary from scratchy to silky soft.  Use your hands to find a coat that feels great to you.

Boots.  In Paris they’re doing a slim leather boot to just under the knee with a side zip and a 2.5” chunky heel.  Humboldt?  I’d say waterproof is the most important quality your boots can have.  For some things you just have to go with practicality.  I like my hand- made, mid-calf boots with the side buttons and turn down cuffs.  But I’m thinking your waterproof Ugs will do the trick.  And, if you’re Steampunking it, maybe even your high Doc Martins will do.

Scarf.  Here’s where you can really make your fashion statement.  Of course you can go back to wool but remember that silk can also be very warm!  You can look for silk-wool blends too…those are often deliciously soft with lovely drape.  Then again, it’s not all about which scarf you choose, but how you choose to wear it.  Cumberbatch’s Sherlock favors the “Euro Loop”:  Fold your scarf in half and wrap it around your neck so you have a loop on one side and two ends in your left.  Now tuck the ends inside the loop and snuggle it up to your neck.  My sister, who lives in Minnesota, where they really know about cold, recently taught me the “Woven Loop”:  Start like the Euro Loop – Fold scarf in half and wrap around your neck.  Now take just ONE end and pull it through your loop.   Finally, TWIST the loop, and tuck the other end through.  You’ll get a nice woven effect.  Most folks now have embraced the “Infinity Scarf”, where the two ends are sewn together to make a continuous loop.  Just drape it over your head, twist the loop, and settle this smaller loop a little closer to your neck.  It’ll stay that way all day, which is always a bonus; it can be a permanent part of your outfit du jour.  I’ve got a giant collection, some ready made, some that I made.  You can never have too many!

I hope I’ve inspired you to resist the temptation to fall back into the safety zone of jeans and hoodie.  You really can be hot, even when it’s cold!


Emerald contributor since March 2012


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