Winter Layering


Winter is upon us, bringing with it frigid mornings and chilly days. If possible, this is the season to stay in bed all day, wrapped in blankets and/or in front of a heater. But, since that is not feasible for most of us, we have to do the next best thing – layer up when leaving our rooms. Clothes on clothes on clothes to prevent the icy clutches of the season from getting us. It may not be the most glamorous way to go out into the world, but it is what is needed to keep out the cold.

The first layer to put on would, obviously, be the thermal garments, what we in Nepal normally call thermocoats. Let us opt for high-quality thermal tops and bottoms to form a snug base layer that traps body heat and keeps us warm. If we sweat a lot, we should choose bodywarmers that also absorb moisture and keep us dry. Thermal garments, or bodywarmers, are the foundation on which successful winter layers stand and are the knights of our wardrobe that defend us from winter’s frosty terror. 

Once we have armoured ourselves with thermal garments, we can move on to the “base layer.” This would comprise fleece, the soft and lightweight fabric that feels like a warm hug from an old lover. A fleece pullover is excellent to wear over bodywarmers or shirts. If we are also looking for style, we can go for vibrant colours or unique patterns, but the primary purpose of these clothes has to be warmth. An additional benefit of fleece is that it is breathable and does not constrict body movements. 

But, as we enter January, a simple fleece outer may not be enough. We may need to bring out the big guns and call on the puffer jacket. This wonderfully puffy piece of clothing is not the boldest of fashion statements, but it is a powerhouse of warmth (prioritise feeling good over looking good). For maximum heat, we can go for a jacket with synthetic insulation that traps and retains heat. Puffer jackets are an indispensable part of winter layering, and we should make a purchase immediately if we do not have one in our wardrobe. 

With the torso insulated, let us now move on to the neck, which is a particularly vulnerable outpost on the winter battlefield. We must never hesitate to wrap our necks, chins, ears and what have you in a cosy, oversized woollen scarf or muffler. When done right, this can also look elegant and add a touch of flair to our outfit. We can experiment with different kinds of scarves to find the most comfortable (read least itchy) one and get out into the world. 

And what goes well with a muffler? A hat. A significant portion of body heat escapes through the head, making hats or caps non-negotiable elements of winter clothing. For maximum insulation, our caps must cover our entire scalp and our ears. Like scarves, hats can add to our personality and complement our overall look, but the priority should be head protection. Let’s not mind looking like a monkey if we can stay as warm as a polar bear.

We cannot afford to neglect our extremities too. Gloves and socks need to be as carefully selected as jackets and pants. If we ride bikes, we need thick gloves made of leather or reinforced textiles that have reinforced stitching on the fingers and silicone grips for easy twisting of the throttle. If we use our phones a lot, we should invest in a pair of high-quality conductive gloves which will allow us to use touchscreens without exposing our fingers. Socks are relatively simpler and any woollen variety that keeps our feet warm and dry may do. 

To complete our winter armour, we must consider an outer layer that shields us from the elements and ties our outfit together. A waterproof jacket is best because it will protect us in the event of unexpected winter rain. We can invest in additional features like adjustable hoods and cuffs or a customisable fit to enhance function. After thermocoats and puffer jackets though, additional outerwear may not be necessary. 

In conclusion, in the grand tapestry of winter layering, each garment plays a crucial role in creating a warm cocoon for us to inhabit. By mastering the art of layering, we will be able to defeat winter’s chill and fulfil the responsibilities the world demands of us. We can try to look good while doing it, but warmth should be the top goal because cold can cause some serious health problems too. Let us emphasise health over beauty.

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