Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Under(clothes for) the Weather

We are apparently under a winter storm warning here in Central Virginia. I’ve heard anywhere from a 60-80% chance of either snow/rain mix or 5-10 inches of the white stuff. Don’t like the Richmond weather? Wait a minute…

With the tenacious grip of winter and Mrs. E.’s recently diagnosed Raynaud’s Disease, my mind has been much occupied by clothing that will keep one warm while keeping in good form.

As with any endeavor, it’s best to start at the beginning of things. In our case, that would be a “base layer”, which sounds ever so much more “man of action” than “underwear.”

I’ve mentioned my fondness for long silk underwear. I first heard about such a thing from an article about George Hamilton, who swears by them as they eliminate the need to travel with a topcoat in all but the most extreme conditions. I swear by them for use under my winter weekend staple: the cashmere turtleneck (rollneck.)

(On sale at Sierra Trading Post)

They are also very useful if your closet is full of the ultra lightweight suits so popular these days.

OK, so you and I are watching our cash these days and we like to have pieces that do double duty. Consider, then, using technical fabric base layers as workout clothing and under your dress clothing. The trick is to keep it relatively snug fitting.

(The C9 Running Shirt available at Target)

(Also via Target)

Your feet will be much happier in a good pair of lightweight ski socks, like these from Smartwool at REI.

Or their dress sock merino wool version at Sierra Trading Post.

Last, but not least, glove liners that let you wear your good leather gloves and still keep relatively comfortable without having to resort to ski gloves. Silk glove liners on sale at Cabela’s. (They make silk sock liners, too…)

I have yet to come up with the perfect winter hat that is warm, covers the ears, and stylish. I have a Persian Lamb Ambassador Hat, but it’s hard to pull off, even for me and I’ve worn some dubious headgear by modern standards. (Although I’d like to try on one of those huge Cossack hats in some sort of fur, I doubt it would fit the bill either.)

In very cold weather, I settle for my black cashmere watch cap. It is lightweight, warm, secure in the wind and slips into a pocket very easily. Portolano cashmere cap in chocolate from Bluefly.

So tell me, those of you who endure the worst of the Snow Miser’s wrath, how do you weather the storm?

7 thoughts on “Under(clothes for) the Weather

  1. Mr/Mrs E: Raynaud’s Disease — it’s both an embarrassing and constant condition. Embarrassing that such a warm hearted individual as myself will have cold hands a good deal of the time. This certainly does not come in
    “handy” upon shaking hands with a new person. (I think it affects the feet as well) I’ve had it for years and was only diagnosed about 15 years ago. What to do? Also is this linked to hypothroid? Good post of warm layers for men, how about one for the women? Good luck.

  2. Yes, silk is warm, but cashmere is both warm & fuzzy, so winter means two tight t-shirts, then a cashmere sweater, then a BB buttondown, then a cashmere v-neck sleveless sweater, then a shetland crewneck then a tweed odd jacket, topped off with cashmere scarf. And that’s it, except for the possible addition of a paiur of gloves–if I can find them. I haven’t worn a winter coat in four years and I haven’t been sick, either. You get sick from being around sick people, not from the cold.

    But here’s the thing: I wear that exact combination from the time I walk out my door in the morning till I walk back in that night and I’m just a comfortable waiting for the bus a half a block from Lake Michigan as I am sitting at my desk. It’s not so much about “warmth” as it is about a stable microclimate.

  3. As a Northerner I note that your weather forecast does yet not warrant that amount of “base layer”. 🙂

  4. I’ve learned many cold weather tips from duck hunting. The most invaluable advice is to keep your feet warm at all costs. Of course, I’m only addressing comfort here – body core temp is paramount for overall safety. The key to keeping toes toasty is to provide appropriate insulation and warmth, and avoid prolonged contact with perspiration moisture. In addition to wicking polypro sock liners, I’ve found that a judicious application of spray antiperspirant works wonders on those duck blind days.

  5. I have a pair of wool glen plaid slacks that are so warm. I once admired a man on the slopes wearing the warmest looking trousers, they were a tweed. He said,”they kept him nice and toasty.” I am about to pour a wee sip of some special reserve which also helps to ward off a chill.

  6. bg, Mrs. E. will have the silk underclothes, glove liners, sock liners and good socks to start. I also bought her a sheepskin/mouton hat in black. She will manifest symptoms if the a’c is up too high … blue fingers, toes, and nose.

    magneverede, you’ve taken layering to a new level.

    CallMeAl, I know that cold and trust your advice. Except for the cotton gardening gloves that you shoot in…

    David V., in Muncie they thought I was crazy. “What are you going to do when it gets cold?” My toothbrush froze and I learned to cook because the gas stove was warm.

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