Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wearing Dresses When It's Cold...

I've been wearing dresses and skirts a lot lately. I would say that I've worn them every day for more than a month, except that there was that one snowed in day when I didn't get out of my sweat pants and Paul says that since I went outside and played in the snow "it counts." So much for my perfect record! However, I have taken myself out of the pants vs skirt/dress debate. I believe that both pants and dresses/ skirts have equal opportunities to be modest or immodest. That is not what this post is about (oh the ugly debate!)!

I am, however, more of a dress type of a person these days. Nicole sums up a lot of the reasons that come to mind in this post. It also doesn't hurt that I feel more comfortable in dresses and that post-babies #1 and #2 they've just been more flattering. Now, on to the actual point of this post.

Is it possible to wear a dress out in the kind of weather that we've been having lately, without freezing my legs off? Today the low in our town was something like 18 degrees (Fahrenheit). The temperature hovered around freezing for most of the day.

So this is one of the questions I been thinking about lately. I already knew the answer (yes, it is possible!) but perhaps the more important question was whether it was possible without a penny in my 'buying new warm clothes" budget?

And then there's this: I'm not a huge fan of tights. I'll wear them if I have to, but I don't really like them. Last year I bought four pairs, and when I began to think of dressing warmly I went straight to the drawer that they're supposed to be in and found that they are someplace else (I have no idea where that is, however).

I have actually been happier this year without the tights. Here's what I came up with. And I have been toasty warm:
The key to wearing dresses when it's cold out is to layer. I'll start on the bottom for my "how to stay warm in a dress" explanation. Keep your feet warm. Get a pair of thick socks. In this picture I have a thick pair of knee high cable knit socks that are almost too warm when I'm indoors. They're perfect for long walks when it's freezing (these rather tall boots, however, are not!).

Under the skirt I have even more layers. There is of course usually a post-pregnancy girdle (this post talks about the importance of good undergarments in general. I had to search to find it again!). And then I found a pair of silky pants that were my grandmothers that are very warm! On top of those I have a second long slip and then the skirt itself. The slips are one of my favorite parts of my wardrobe. I have a huge stack of them. Some are quite beautiful! They were my grandmothers and they were almost tossed out because it was thought that no one would want them. But I rescued them from the garbage bag and this winter I am especially glad that I did!

My top half is kept warm with a camisole, under a shirt and then a long sweater/dress that I found at Old Navy last year. I threw on a scarf, a headband and a pair of $1 gloves and when we went on a very cold three mile walk (in sneakers!) everything except my face was warm! And when it's really cold I would go with a thicker scarf to stay even warmer.

Here's a picture of some of the layers:

In the picture on top we'd just gotten back from a three mile walk and Sadie has already stripped off three layers of clothes to run around in her PJs. The cold means she's been wearing a lot of PJs under her clothes lately to add an extra layer. We're all layering to keep warm.

And it is most definitely possible to stay warm in dresses (and be comfortable too! This is a very comfortable outfit! I could wear the skirt every day if I didn't have to wash it so frequently because four messy little hands!).


  1. Handy layering ideas! Though I don't know how well they'd work when it gets to -30 C, or even colder with windchill. I believe I'll hunt down some cozy warm socks, start there. ^_^

  2. I love wearing dresses. People would ask me if I was cold all the time in winter and if I was hot in the summer. Working for historical reenactment communities I learned quite a bit about how to stay warm and how to stay cool in a dress.

    To stay warm, wear wool when possible. It's warmer wet than dry so it's perfect for the snow and rain. Wear pantaloons and petticoats in layers under your skirt. It will seem like it's bulky but warmth is the goal and if those garments are well made they won't be bulky under your clothing. I never wear tights, can't get them to stay up. Before tights were invented women wore stockings, and those stockings did not go all the way up the leg. Often they came to just above the knee or were held on by garters. What kept their legs warm up top were their pantaloons. I will typically wear trouser socks that go up to the knee and my pantaloons go to just below the knee. I have to wear a skirt that hits below the knee, preferably mid calf to ankle length for this to work.

    To stay cool, wear natural fibers as much as possible. Cotton is great because it breathes so well. I still wear pantaloons to wick away any sweat or moisture.

  3. I've always been stumped about how to wear dresses or skirts in the cold. I always just end up in jeans because I don't know how to stay warm!

  4. I really wish pantaloons would come back into fashion!

    I wear these or something similar under my skirts most of the time.

  5. Oh I am SO glad to have read this post!! It inspired me to be comfy...I am not into debate on pants vs skirts because I love both. I just find I'm being sooo more comfortable in skirts/dresses. I always just go to tights as a default...which ends up with me in pants because tights are uncomfortable...the idea of layering is awesome!! Thanks for sharing!!!!

  6. Warm tights and a slip. A coat long enought to cover your skirt if its raining and some decent boots - no problem ! Warm comfortable and very feminine.

  7. I'm with you on tights. I have a few pairs, but postpartum they are not fitting like they used to, haha. I had switched over to leggings under my skirts and dresses when I was pregnant, and they kept me decently warm. I think they're more comfortable than tights.

  8. One thing that I have learned to do, having worn dresses this winter in the northern part of the country is to layer with different clothing accessories. I have layered stockings under and over leggings. Leggings have been great! Because you don't get the extra heat on your feet since they stop mid-calf, and it leaves you to layer on however many socks one wishes to wear. I wore a dress with stockings over tights, and wool socks and was toasty warm. I am thinking of wearing pajama shorts (the shorter kind that one would never dream of wearing in public!) under my dresses to add more warmth around you-know-where.


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