The art of layering: dressing to survive Scotland’s coldest winter for a century

Models: Emily Caulton and Harry Hughes. Photo: Ellen Ridsdale.

Even though Scotland’s weather is notoriously chilly year-round, this winter will allegedly be the coldest in 100 years. This drop in temperature highlights the importance of dressing warmly, which is why it is more than ever; the art of layering should be second nature to every St Andrews girl and guy.

My formula is pretty gender-neutral. Any layered outfit by this formula starts with a vest or a tank top. Whether used alone or layered, this piece will be the basis for a wide range of outfits and will become a versatile staple in one’s closet.

Girls can use the vest as either a basic piece for warmth or as an additional decorative piece for their outfit. Thermals are a practical option, helping one avoid shivering in tutorials or becoming chilled to the bone while en-route to lectures. A decorative vest (either with beading on the chest or lace panels in the back) can be layered with sheer blouses or v-neck jumpers.

If layered with a sheer blouse, a jumper or cardigan should be worn over it. Given the prevalence of pink this A/W 14 season, Topshop’s beautiful mohair jumpers in various pastels should do the trick. Allowing the blouse’s collar to peek out from under the jumper gives one’s look a preppy feel.

For the lower half, thermal leggings (even when not decorative) can go a long way. If they resemble something that a grandfather would wear, then relegate them to being worn under jeans. Plain thermal leggings, however, could easily double as tights with a cute skirt or dress—and are a great way to outsmart the weather.

For those who dislike thermals, stock up on either gorgeously soft, thick tights (such as Primark’s Super Cosy bundle, my personal favourite) or the woollen tights some of us used to wear in primary school. Socks can also be worn over the tights to keep out any extra chill. Even for going out, pubs and bars understandably get warm inside, however thermal tights will help allow one to stay warm even without a jacket for practicality. Hypothermia is not stylish.

For guys, the layering method is very similar. Layering a vest or thermal t-shirt underneath a nice shirt for the day then coupling that with a woollen pullover will simultaneously add snuggly warmth and style to any look. I’ve even known some guys to take the pirate route and layer long john-type thermals underneath their jeans.

After that, St Andrews students should be well-rehearsed in wrapping up warm, but the outer layer must not be neglected. The coat shape this A/W 2014 season is masculine, biker, and is often lined with shearling. If shearling is out of budget, a fur-lined hooded gilet and fleece jumper also serve as a stylish alternative. Hats, scarves and gloves should also form the basis of the St Andrews winter wardrobe; long knitted scarves and bobble hats are extraordinarily warm as are super-soft cashmere gloves.

Well-designed yet warm separates will make this coming winter not only tolerable, but also quite stylish. My advice is to play around with different outfit combinations to find a layering technique that works for one’s own personal look. Stay warm, St Andrews!


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