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  • Writer's pictureKAT KOHTALA

Winter layering life hacks


In the winter of 2021, I was tasked with costuming for outdoor theatre. As a resident of Northern Maine, where winter temperatures average around 20-30°F, this proved to be difficult. Through this experience, I learned how to dress actors for warmth whilst achieving the costume requirements, as well as how to preserve my self-expression and style in freezing conditions. Here are some of the tips and pieces I found most helpful that you can hopefully apply to your winter wardrobe.


The first step to keeping warm is selecting proper base layers. The best option is long thermal underwear, sometimes called “long johns”. Fleece-lined leggings or tights are also incredibly effective. In place of fleece or thermal wear, standard cotton or polyester leggings can be worn, though you may need multiple pairs to achieve the same level of insulation. Wide-leg pants or long skirts can be worn over these underlayers. Thermal shirts can hide under anything long-sleeved, and turtlenecks, sweaters, and cardigans all style well together and keep the wearer warm.


Wool socks, gloves, scarves, and hats are recommended to keep your extremities warm. Wool socks, in particular, make a huge difference as they reduce the need for heavy winter boots. Wool keeps warm even when wet, so these socks are effective in less-than-ideal footwear should water or snow leak in. Touch-screen gloves are also a great investment, as you will not need to take your hands out of them to use your phone. Hats or headbands are important to keep ears warm, and scarves can be used to wrap and protect the face in windy conditions.


It’s also important to find a cozy coat that inspires you. Personally, I love vintage peacoats, as they are warm but not as bulky as modern puffer jackets. Typically made of wool, they are incredibly versatile in basic colors and pair easily with other items. There are many coat styles that can work for winter weather. The key is to select a warm material (such as wool, fleece, leather, or quilted fabric) that can be worn with a variety of outfits.


With colder temperatures and winter months fast approaching, it can often feel like we are being forced to choose between fashion and comfort. However, I have learned that weather doesn’t have to be an obstacle to style and self-expression. With the correct layering, we can embrace winter style and continue to wear our favorite pieces year-round.


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