Ok, so I'm a dress wearer. I didn't have my first pair of jeans until I was about 10 years old. I actually don't even like pants. If you ever see me wearing them, it's mainly for warmth. Even with it being so cold out this winter I was determined to wear as many swing dresses as possible! Here's the secret of how I stay warm while looking cute: Layering.
What people in warm climates don't know is that layering is truly an art-form. If it's 20 degrees (or even lower!) you can still be warm, but you have to wear at least three layers. But you don't want to look too bulky like the Michelin Man or Randy from A Christmas Story! So what's a dress wearer to do?
This is my layering technique. You can take what you will from it, removing layers or adding different ones, but this is how I have survived every winter without having to wear uncomfortable pants all the time! The secret is layering as many things as possible, and the right things. Technology is your friend, so embrace the modern underlayers. Cuddle duds, underarmor and leggings add layers without all the bulk.
Let's start with the fitted base layers:
1. BRA & UNDIES. Wear a bra you are comfortable in and as for undies... sure those lacy panties and thongs are cute, but a pair of cotton boy shorts will keep you much warmer. It'll cover your bum and be breathable under your many layers.
2. TIGHTS/ LEGGINGS. Wear any tights or leggings you find comfortable, whether lycra or cotton, control top or opaque. Sometimes I even wear two pairs of tights! If you do this choose ones that are the same or choose a solid pair to put on first and then layer a textured pair over them. (Personally I like to wear a solid color pair of tights with a black fishnet or lacy pair over them. I couldn't believe they were selling ones like this at the mall, when you can just wear two pairs for the same effect, and twice the warmth!)
3. SHAPER/ BIKE SHORTS. I know this is scary to many of you, but it will shape you and keep you warm, also heaven forbid it's windy out and your dress flies up, you're covered (literally!).
Shapers have come a long way and can be found in almost any department store. When layering you don't want a full body shaper (because who wants to take everything off just to pee?) but rather use the kind that are like shorts. The longer mid-thigh are ideal because you can just take them off with your panties and tights to pee. Afraid of shapers? Then just get cotton bike shorts, they'll do the job too!
4. SOCKS? Now the question is, what type of shoes are you wearing with your pretty dress? If you are wearing boots or oxfords, add a pair of socks over your two layers of tights—heck, add two pairs! (You want to be warm right?) If it's just shoes you are wearing, put on those tights and you should be fine.
5. FULL SLIP. Now I may really sound like an old lady, but hear me out. Slips can be pretty and sexy and you can wear them year round. Also vintage ones can be very beautiful and inexpensive. Now put on that vintage full slip over your layers!
6. TOP. O.K. this is where it starts to get a little tricky. Chose a top that will fit under the top of the dress you want to wear. If you are wearing a sleeveless dress I recommend a tank top that doesn't show under the dress, or a button down blouse that does. If you are wearing a shirt dress opt for a tank or T shirt. If it's a long sleeve shirt dress you can even wear a long sleeve T shirt. This is where you have to experiment a little to see what lays flat and looks good under your dress.
These layers can be less fitted:
7. DRESS. Finally! Slip on that cute little flair dress and look adorable!
And if that's still not enough layers, let's keep going...
8. CRINOLINE. If you are wearing a full skirt dress you can add a crinoline layer. This will add a nice layer of fabric and make your dress super poofy – you will be the center of attention AND stay warm! They aren't just for decoration anymore!
9. SWEATER. If you're still cold you can add a cardigan or pullover sweater. You'll have to experiment with this a little too – be sure to choose one that will fit over your top and dress layer without looking lumpy. I prefer a cardigan because then if it's a little too bulky buttoned up, wear it open with a belt over the dress, or with sweater clips. That way you still have a waist but keep the warmth! Shirt dresses can also look great with a V neck pull over over them. Just see what you have to work with in your wardrobe.
Take from this what you want and make it your own! And don't forget the accessories--add a brooch to that sweater, a neck scarf, pretty hair flower to help you remember the warm weather isn't so far away!
Get out there in the cold and happy layering!