December 8, 2022
It’s not difficult to argue that fall is simply the best time of year for getting dressed. The options go up, the knits and jackets come out, and you get to flex a few layers you’ve either loved for years or just picked up on Black Friday. The tricky part comes when temps start to fluctuate wildly from week to week like they have this fall — and as we get closer to winter, it’s only going to get more extreme.
What should you wear, for example, on a day where the temps start at 40 degrees in the morning, and reach 65 by 3pm? Shorts and a parka?
While those days are going to remain mostly impossible for anyone to sort out, most nominal fall and winter days are going to offer an easy-to-navigate 10 degree variance, which makes getting dressed a lot easier! Today, we’re going to attempt to give you some “temp tiers” as a simple guide for what to wear as the weather get’s a little less mild.
For most of us — your cousin who grew up in Wisconsin and can wear shorts in a snow storm aside — 65 degrees is where the confusion starts.
That’s not warm, but it’s not cold either. Maybe you’re driving with the windows down, but probably not if you’re only wearing a t shirt and shorts. You can wear a jacket, but you’ll almost definitely be taking it off after you walk a few blocks to get to the park. It’s the iced vs hot coffee line of demarcation. It’s the perfect weather for a BBQ, but you may find yourself getting a little chilly if you’re standing in the shade too long. It’s too warm for a fire in the fireplace, but too cold for a dip in the pool. You get the point: this tier is the trickiest of all clothing wise, but it’s also the one I’d love to live in a few extra days each year. This is our “Temp Tier 1”.
The best solution for a 60 degree and sunny day? A hoodie and shorts. When thinking about cold weather gear, always start with making sure your upper body is taken care of (and of course, your feet — you’re only as comfortable as your little piggies). If your upper body is cold, it’s just really tough to function. Your “getaway sticks”? As long as you’re moving, they’ll be fine.
You don’t have to worry about a freeze-out situation on a 65 degree day, but having a hoodie + shorts combo gives you the option to strip down if things get too warm while still being ready for even the slightest temp drops as the sun goes down.
*Not a hoodie fan? Quarter/half zip pullovers and fleeces are great alternatives.
This is arguably the ideal fall weather range. No one’s losing feeling in their toes or experiencing nasal drip, and it’s time to reach into the closet for your best sweaters and light jackets. Ditch the shorts for good when you get to this part of the spectrum, it’s about your jeans or trousers (yeah, that word is super pretentious, but it’s just a nice catch-all for anything not made of denim).
At the top end of this spectrum, you can rock a tee or button down under your favorite light jacket, or simply throw on a sweater to keep warm. At the lower end, you can finally start doing a bit of layering with the sweaters or hoodies under a light jacket.
While this is maybe our favorite tier in terms of what we get to wear, it’s also the one where people make the most mistakes. It’s not actually cold, so don’t wear something so heavy that you’ll be sweating in it after a short walk or in a place that has the heat blasting. Focus on one or two light layers, so you can feel good outside, but easily adapt if needed.
*Example: Jeans, Sweater / Tee Shirt and Flannel or Light Jacket or Overshirt, Sneakers / Loafers / Boots.
It’s at this tier when we start checking the windchill regularly. A 40 degree day with no breeze is pretty manageable. A 45 degree day with a hefty gust? That can be borderline miserable.
Days like this are ideal for extra layers and heavier jackets. You’re probably not reaching for the intense puffers just yet, but you may be rocking a vest under your jacket for extra warmth. Like the tier before it, you want to give yourself the flexibility to layer down if things get too warm at your destination.
At this point, the undershirts transition from tees and tanks to long sleeve tees, and your standard button downs get swapped out for flannels and cardigans. Once again, don’t overthink the cold. If you’re going to be standing outside without a ton of movement, bundle appropriately, but if you’ll be moving around a good bit or largely staying in your car, then don’t put yourself in a position to sweat.
*Example: Heavier Weight Jeans / Trousers, Flannel Shirt / Sweater, Vest, Heavier Jacket, Sneakers / Boots.
Tier 4 is our first major leap into legitimately cold temps. Not much changes in terms of your layering options from Tier 3, but if you’re going to be outside a lot, it’s time to evaluate your “base layers”. Up to this point, you’ve probably worn standard base layers like underpants and an undershirt, but now it’s time to consider tights underneath your pants, or a long sleeve tee under your sweater to keep warm.
Additionally, this is probably where you’ll start thinking about beanies and gloves. If nothing else, we like to have them with us in the event things get colder than anticipated.
*Example: See Tier 3, but add base layers + gloves / beanies.
When you get to this point, don’t mess around anymore. It’s time to break out the puffer. If you can find a down fill puffer, you’ll be set in almost any temperatures — we’re big fans of Uniqlo’s puffers, because they’re affordable and still retain heat really well.
It’s important to remember these tiers, and this spectrum are all made up for fun. In the end, your main goal above all else should be to stay comfortable.
Jerry Lorenzo is a major fashion designer and even he recently said in response to the question “what trends are you most excited about”: It’s not about following trends. I just try to be comfortable.
So with any of the suggestions above, take them with a grain of salt and find your version of what layering up looks like. If nothing else, we just hope this post offers a fairly loose guide of what to consider when dressing for the elements — and please don’t blame us if you’re freezing your butt of in a hoodie and shorts.