'Tis the season

Tips on how to keep your cool clothing-wise in the colder months.

Living in Australia, we get to enjoy all the benefits a temperate climate has to offer: the ability to wear board shorts kilometres from a beach, don singlets well into April and pretend that thongs are perfectly acceptable non-corporate office footwear. Because of this we seem hardwired to ignore the fact that the temperature drops lower than 20-odd degrees on occasion.

Though Melburnians and most Radelaideans seem to have their wits about them in this area, those of us north of Mildura seem to have summer-induced amnesia when it comes to remembering how to dress for the cooler months.

You see it every year, people adding naught but a scarf over their T-shirts well into May while bitching about how cold it is. On the flipside you see people who think that 13-degree days combined with a light breeze calls for winter jackets best suited for the Russian Arctic.

So, to ensure that you don’t die from a chilly, whiney death or incite inappropriate coat-related hatred among your fellow public transport users, here are some tips for dressing well when those warm days are done.

Seasonal style
Summer may rule when it comes to warm weekend barbeques and after-work swimming but autumn reigns supreme when it comes to wardrobe versatility. Especially our lightweight ones where we still get to enjoy all the sunny days without the stifling, BO-creating humidity.

If you get caught out wearing nothing but shorts and a shirt you should be fine but you can also start busting out some of your favourite lightweight jumpers, jackets and jeans with impunity.

The first rule to staying warm as the weather starts to turn is layering. It may sound obvious but you can’t jump straight up to your woolly jumpers and thick coats; especially when we’re at the tail-end of autumn and your choice is to either sweat up a storm or freeze your nipples off at the outside table down at the pub.

T-shirts under shirts and a light jacket or pullover will do. Lightweight trench coats look good on almost anyone and can be worn out at night or to the office. If you’re going to start popping on a scarf make sure it coincides with you packing away your thongs, as both worn at the same time leaves you looking a little foolish.


Winter warmers
Again, layering is key once winter really sets in. But you need to pay more attention to the way you do it if you’re going to be in and out of the office all day. While on the weekends you can hibernate under the doona, it takes a bit more skill to stay warm Monday to Friday. The secret is to work three-to-four layers in your outfit so you have plenty of versatility while remaining a little dapper.

Start with a tighter, form-fitting layer such as a long-sleeved T-shirt in a light, neutral colour. (A visible short-sleeve will look ridiculous once you take off your suit jacket.) Follow that with a darker shirt – or white on white – and tie.

When you’re prepping to brave the wind tunnel of the CBD, pop a woollen vest on under your suit jacket and follow it up with a water-repellent trench – this will help carve some shape out of all that bulk. And a scarf will make you look that much sharper.

Northward bound
One of the biggest challenges facing Australian travellers is that almost everywhere else experiences temperature fluctuations almost unheard of in our little nook of the world.

Expats headed to London or New York have the excitement to carry them through the first bitter winter but after that it’s a downhill slide into icy depression. We simply weren't taught how to cope. Though it’s often down to the constant grey skies and lack of a summer Christmas, avoiding hypothermia is also a concern.

As with the previous two entries, layering is the key to success. Unlike Australia, almost every building in colder parts of the world will have sufficient heating and you need to be able to strip down fast to ensure you don’t accidentally boil yourself under all that Gore-Tex.

There’s a pretty simple guide to looking good in these climates – beyond the fact that they have much more stylish winter clothing options. Stick to what you would wear during your coldest winter day back home and add long johns plus the most heavy duty coat you can find.

That and make sure there are plenty of stores and pubs on your walk to work, because on truly horrific days your eyeballs will slowly begin to freeze and stepping inside to defrost for a few minutes along the way will take the literal sting out of it.

Do you have any other handy hints when it comes to cutting out the chill?