JANUARY’S end-of-season sales and breezy resort collections may be fast-tracking all things spring, but don’t pack away those winter woollies just yet. The ‘big freeze’ is predicted to make a cameo this January, with an extended run of stormy conditions into March. It won’t be St Bart’s. Now for the really bad news — just what are we supposed to wear?
While ski gear was last year’s preferred snow garb, gusty gales and horizontal rain call for less ‘chalet girl’ more ‘Barbour babe’. It’s back to what we know best — water-proofing. Don’t worry, you can still bandy about words like ‘wicking’ and ‘thin-sulate’, you just won’t be lagged like an industrial boiler. There’s always an upside.
Let’s talk about feet. Nothing spells ‘buzz kill’ like wet shoes. We’ve grown close to our festival friend the Wellington, but its ascetic rubber interior can leave one cold. Thankfully, Hunter’s fleece faux fur-trimmed socks (net-a-porter.com, €40) have become the fashion fix-it for rainy days. Wear them inside your favourite galoshes; or take the toe-warmers from country-cool to urban utility with army or biker boots.
Prefer your footwear to multi-task? Check out Bogs (bogsfootwear.com, $100; €75.95) — the aptly-titled rubber boot that claims to insulate your feet to temperatures as low as -40°C. In-built fleece linings, fitted wool collars and a four-way stretch neoprene inner sock equal a fuss-free fit.
Serious fashion adherents will have heard of Crystal Mountain waterproof boots (timberlandireland.ie, €170) — Timberland’s latest winter footwear offering. Not only are these beauties clad in notice-me magenta, but their patented anti-fatigue SmartWool fabric foot-bed is climate-controlled, so no sweaty feet. It’s made of 42% recycled rubber and 30% recycled PET fleece — a green thumbs-up for the eco-chic.
Should the thought of crossing anything but carpet make you shudder, why not try Yaktrax (vikingdirect.ie, €17.99)? Much like snow tyre-chains, these contraptions attach to the sole of just about any shoe, allowing you to get from A to B in one piece without incurring any YouTube-worthy speed wobbles.
Although staying upright is paramount, being layered like a Kiwi rugby scrum doesn’t lend itself to balance. Prepare to dress down — feathers that is. Faux fur may keep you snug, but one Irish shower later and you’re dragging a soggy animal around on your back. Both Burberry Prorsum (brownsfashion.com, was £1,495; €1,789.80 now £750; €897.89) and Barbour (net-a-porter.com, was €298.80 now €178.80) offer feather-down alternatives in knee-length and bomber-padded designs to keep you dry and streamlined; and three times as warm as synthetic alternatives.
Keen to cut a dash? Italian sportswear label, Moncler, has further tightened the gap between style and substance with its quilted Ort biker jacket (store.moncler.com, $1,450; €1,118.79); not to mention a two-toned puffa-inspired mini dress (farfetch.com, was €305; now €213.50). Granted, a bit of layering may be required on the latter but if last year’s deep freeze taught us anything, it’s mastering the fine art of thermals. The heat-generating capacity of the calorific garb has become ‘big chill’ business with Marks and Spencer (marksandsspencer.com) raising mercury with its Heatgen line of base-layer long-sleeve thermal t-shirts (up to €19), leggings (€19) and knee-high socks (€9). The beauty of the base layer is that it’s warm enough to wear solo and thin enough to add chunkier layers, like this season’s popular Aran knit.
No climate-dressing lesson would be complete without addressing the extremities. Fingers and toes mimic perma-frost; no matter how well-wrapped. Top tip? Snow + Rock’s silk glove liner (snowandrock.com, €17) is low on bulk yet traps heat like a thermogenic second skin. Layer with your favourite glove and avoid having to break out a pair of cumbersome gauntlets.
iPhone addicts, on the other hand, can update their Twitter profile, while waiting for the 54A, with smarTouch gloves from Isotoner (isotoner.com, $37.80; €29.20). Compatible with most touchscreens, including smartphones and ATMs; the gloves utilise a conductive thread in the thumb and index finger to convey an electrical impulse to the device. Choose from red leather, black patent or colour-blocked fabric.
Now for some leg. Make skirts and shorts winter-friendly by adding a pair of Woolford’s merino wool-blend tights. Made of 52% fine-rib virgin wool, the tights’ absorbent properties warm up and wick away moisture from your pins, keeping them cosy and dry (wolford.ie; €49).
As feet go, nothing beats a heated insole. The Heat Company (theheatcompany.com) boasts air-activated shoe inserts, which toast tootsies for up to six hours — a savvy way to keep insulated at just €2.32 a pair.
Whatever you do, don’t lose the head. The right hat can ensure your body retains up to 80% of its own heat. Peruvian and trapper ear-flap favourites still spell style with Topshop and River Island offering quilted, cable-knit and faux-fur versions. Heading up the trend-toppers are Slavic-inspired Cossack hats, like Asos’s sheepskin snuggler (asos.com, was €67.25; now €36.99); with Verdel’s cashmere turbans (Luisaviaroma.com, were €170; now €51) a favourite with fashion bloggers Susie Lau (Stylebubble.co.uk) and Nadia Sarwar (Froufrouu.com).
Being this well-dressed, there’s really no excuse to be caught out in the cold; unless, of course, you’re just looking to show off your new weather-proof wardrobe. That’s allowed.
* Winter racing? Wear skiing silks under a maxi dress for invisible warmth.
* Layer up. Shearling gilets are clever multi-taskers. Sling one over a silk shirt indoors or a neat, fitted jacket outdoors for functional fashion.
* Casual Friday? Cinch a chunky knit with a skinny belt over a pleated or pencil skirt for office-style snaps.
* Don’t be sheepish. Angora is eight times warmer than wool and a chic way to keep insulated.
* Go 3-D! If, like most of us, black is your default, lift the palette by playing with texture. Combine leather with faux fur; suede with patent — whatever best creates a contrast.