How to dress for winter without looking like a schlub
Put. Down. The Sweatpants. In fact, throw them down. And don't even pick them up (right away, anyway). Consider that your prize for resisting their sweaty siren call at a time of year when the craving for comfort nearly always trumps that of fashion. On these icy mornings, parting with your covers is an act of bravery. So, it only makes sense that we want to cloak ourselves in something soft and cozy as quickly as possible.
But listen up, boys and girls: You can and should feel cute and toasty this winter. And that's even more important as the holiday glitz recedes and we're left with Valentine's Day, says Emmy-award winning stylist David Zyla, adding that Valentine's Day is just a day, not a season. (This is despite the best efforts of marketers nationwide and, let's face it, the widespread resentment and agonizingly unmet and unrealistic expectations of those bombarded with said marketing.)
"During that period, we don't have that kind of festive feeling in the air like we do around December or even November," Zyla says. "So just for one's own sake â¦ put something on that actually looks good on you and makes you feel good during that January-February period [when] we're all a little down with the weather."
So, how can we beat the blues? Well, by wearing them, so to speak.
"Wear a coat in one of your best colors," says Zyla, author of "Color Your Style: How to Wear Your True Colors." "Nothing makes you smile more," and it gives a lift to those who see you. Your best colors are the ones that "give your skin a glow," he says. To find a color that gives you energy, go for a hue that resembles the darkest shade of your eye (not the pupil). Don't fret, brown-eyed readers. "Brown eyes are seldom really brown," he says, and advises holding up shades of purple, green, orange and yellow beside the eye to highlight the gradations of color in brown eyes. Want drama? Wear a color that matches the veins in your wrist, which can be blue, green or purple, for an extra spring in your wintry step.
Consider color, too, for making a splashy first impression on a date or job interview during dreary weather, he says. "It's like this bleak landscape and all of a sudden, there's this dynamic pop of something."
But don't let it end there. "Have fun with your accessories," says famed fashionista Stacy London, longtime co-host of TLC's "What Not to Wear" and author of "The Truth About Style." London likes add-ons with a sense of humor like Kate Spade mittens emblazoned with "Shady Lady" and suggests men go for bright hats, scarves and gloves. Mix that up with a lined parka, which she notes are "very big this year," and guys have got a great casual look.
If nothing else, remember (and this is meant as a mnemonic): layer, layer, layer. That's especially important as you go from the outdoor elements to office buildings where the heat is often jacked up and erratic. "The trick is to just peel a layer off, and it's not always necessarily the jacket," Zyla says. For example, men can add interest and warmth to their look by adding a sweater under their suit jacket and over their shirt and tie.
The key is to get the proportions right so you don't look like Frosty the Snowman. "If you're going to do volume in one place, you want to keep it pretty narrow [somewhere else]," says London, who suggests balancing a puffy top with skinny jeans.
For a super chic outfit, Zyla recommends women don a jersey dress with a long, buttonless cardigan and a little belt with tall boots and tights. If you're cold, tuck some socks into your boots, he says. Yes, dressing in the winter is more complicated, he concedes to those women who adore the one-and-done simplicity of a dress. But "you want to still look put together," he says, by combining pieces that work for you. "I so want people to feel good in cold weather. â¦ They really deserve it."
Because you have to feel good to look good, London advises "dressing in a way that allows you to feel as energetic and as comfortable as possible."
So don't forget about long underwear but upgrade the thick thermals of yore with a lovely silk number. They're thin enough to disappear under your clothes but give you an extra layer that feels soft against your skin.
More good news: There are sweats these days that are basically sweats but look a lot better, London says. It's what London calls "the knit track pant," and "it's as comfy as all get out." Just don't wear them with a sweatshirt, she warns. Top them with a cotton T-shirt or tailored shirt with a wool or cashmere sweater, sprinkle on some jewelry, add a coat and voilÃ , she says: "You've got an outfit that actually looks pretty fashionable for this weather."
"There are these warm and scrummy clothes that just look a lot better," London says. Take, for example, leather. "If you're not vegan, and you do wear leather, this is the perfect time to wear leather," she says. "There's a reason cavemen wore fur and hides." She notes that even vegans have some fashionable leather-look-alike options. Fur and faux fur can also add warmth and glamour.
So with all this settled, that just leaves one outstanding question about winter fashion: Should or shouldn't we wear Uggs?
That depends on whom you ask. Zyla, who spoke to U.S. News shortly after passing an Ugg store in New York with its signature line to get in, gives the furry boots a thumbs up as long as they're worn appropriately not for a black-tie event or a corporate gig.
But for London, who admits she owns a pair of Ugg slippers, they'll always feel inappropriate after Paris Hilton paired them with "the shortest denim diaper shorts all around L.A.," she says. "We're not Eskimos, and we're not Paris. Leave them at home."