Monday, Aug 29, 2016
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Layer it on: Three pieces are better than one for winter dressing

Weather forecasters and mothers offer the same advice to anyone spending more than a few minutes in winter's frigid outdoors: Dress in layers.

And it's wise counsel.

Layering typically applies to the torso, since it's practically impossible to wear more than two layers of bottoms, whether it's tights under a skirt or thermal underwear beneath trousers.

Compared to a single top and a coat, loose layers of fabric help you retain body heat and give you indoor-outdoor flexibility so you have a range of comfort between the ranges of freezing and roasting.

Consider the difference between wearing a goosedown jacket over a shirt or sweater and layering a quilted coat over a sweater, a buttondown shirt, and a T-shirt. While the goosedown jacket might be the warmest single piece, it doesn't fend off cold drafts as effectively and offers few options once you get indoors. The other look, however, provides four layers of defense against cold, retaining body heat better and offering a wider range of options for comfort indoors.

Women who packed away their ponchos when fall turned to winter may want to dig them back out, TJ Maxx spokesman Laura McDowell said.

"A poncho can be worn as a sweater now that the weather is cold," she said. "Instead of as outerwear, it can be a layering piece."

Ms. McDowell added that women may find layering for warmth easier than men because they're more likely to layer as a fashion statement.

Still, men need not get themselves in a lather trying to figure out how to layer right. Most men have sweaters, and vests have returned to the style forefront.

Carson Kressley, one of the stars of the hit TV show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, recommends the denim jacket as an excellent layering piece.

"It looks fantastic over a sweater or under a blazer," Kressley writes in his book, Off the Cuff: The Essential Style Guide for Men and the Women Who Love Them.

"You've probably never done anything as crazy as wear a denim jacket under a blazer, but it works. Sometimes you need to try the unconventional and just see what it looks like."

Kressley recommends a plain, classic blue denim jacket that is slightly larger than your actual size so that a sweater can fit comfortably underneath. Throw a blazer or topcoat over the jacket for added warmth before venturing outdoors, and it's a lot easier to remain toasty at the bus stop or outdoor sporting events.

Layers of garments protect against winter's frigid temperatures. A look by Izod features a classic jean jacket ($50) over a long-sleeve striped silk-and-angora ballet-neck sweater ($50) and a long-sleeve white oxford shirt ($40).

A few layering tips to remember:

You really aren't layering unless you incorporate at least three garments. A large, heavy scarf or an undershirt can be considered a layer.

As much as possible, wear fabrics that breathe and absorb moisture - especially for the garment closest to the body. Avoid cotton because it gets cold.

Make sure no garments are tight, including pieces that typically fit closer such as undershirts and turtleneck sweaters.

Retain body heat by wearing a hat and scarf.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. LaMont Jones is fashion editor of the Post-zette. Contact him at: ljones@post-gazette.com.

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