Learning Center

Dress Warm for Winter

Stay comfortable no matter how cold it gets.

When the mercury dips into the “frigid” level, it doesn’t mean you have to hibernate. It just means you have to dress a little differently.

Whether you work outside, are a winter sports enthusiast, or run from your home to the car to the office and back, here are some tips for dressing warmly in winter.

  • Dress in the following layers, putting function over fashion.
    • Wicking is worn next to the skin to pull moisture (wick) away to keep you dry. This layer should be snug but not tight. The wicking layer is usually thermal underwear made of synthetic fiber. Silk and cashmere are good natural fibers.
    • Insulation is next and keeps heat in and cold out. Insulation can come from sweaters, sweatshirts, vests and pullovers. The insulating layer should be loose enough to trap air, but not so bulky that it restricts movement.
    • The outside – or protection – layer is a guard against the elements. This layer should repel water and wind but let moisture from perspiration out.
  • Avoid cotton socks, jeans, sweatshirts or T-shirts. Cotton absorbs and retains moisture from perspiration or snow, which makes it bad for extended time outside. Once wet, cotton has no insulating ability and you’ll end up with wet clothes and being very cold.
  • Look for outerwear that has hoods, cuffs and zippers to keep snow and wind out.
  • Wear a hat. Up to 60 percent of your body's heat can escape from an uncovered head, so wearing a hat is essential. Also, minimize other exposed skin where heat can escape.
  • Dress so that you can vent excess heat to avoid getting too warm or perspiring too much.
  • Don’t forget your eyes. Sunglasses do more than make you look cool. They protect your eyes from damaging direct and reflected sunlight. Look for 100 percent UV protection.
  • Wear gloves or mittens that use waterproof, breathable fabrics. Mittens, in general, are warmer than gloves, but offer less dexterity. Whatever you choose, don't buy gloves or mittens that are too tight. There should be a little air space at the tips of your fingers, which acts as additional insulation.
  • Don’t forget your feet. Socks are made from a variety of materials, including polyester, silk, wool and nylon. Some socks have wicking properties similar to long underwear, meaning your feet will stay dry and comfortable. Wearing too many socks will restrict circulation and actually cause your feet to get colder.
  • A good pair of boots is also essential. Boots with a felt inner liner and high-top outer covering are warm and comfortable, but can be expensive. Use caution with foam-insulated rubber boots; they will keep your feet warm but also make them perspire.
  • Stay hydrated. Being well hydrated helps you retain heat.

Related Links

If you plan on spending time outdoors in winter, here is some other information you may find helpful: