Cold weather dressing can be tricky, especially if you are wearing a suit. As the temperature drops, whether in your office or an event outside of work, there is always that dilemma on what to wear over your suit jacket. Depending on the company dress code, you may not even get away with wearing a tie anymore at specific temperatures. No matter what you do, it may be hard to stay warm while still looking professional.
What to Wear Over a Suit in Cold Weather
If you attend an event or meeting where it is freezing, such as skiing, ice fishing, or any other activity that requires a lot of movement and exertion in freezing temperatures, wearing sweaters and thick parkas may not go over well for most occasions. You wouldn’t want to fall into the stereotype that ‘you look like a Dad out to play with his kids in the snow.’ However, dressing poorly in cold weather can lead to hypothermia and frostbite. You want to look presentable but still stay warm. Here is how you do it:
Choose the appropriate suit.
If you know that it will be cold outside, a suit in a lighter cloth may not cut it. This doesn’t mean a heavier wool suit either. If the weather is very windy, you should choose a thicker suit with more lining or wear an overcoat instead of a blazer. If your office dress code is business casual, a sport coat or blazer with slacks should be fine. If you’re going to a more formal event, such as an evening wedding in the fall, then a full 3pc suit may be required.
Consider a base layer.
If you know that it will be cold, a base layer can go a long way. This includes things like a turtleneck sweater, v-neck sweater, thermal underwear, and so forth. If you have any of these items already in your wardrobe, they will undoubtedly come in handy when the weather outside drops below 40 degrees. Of course, you can always go out and buy a few base layers if you need them.
Wearing thicker and warmer socks will do a lot to keep your feet warm, especially if you are not wearing overshoes. Wool socks also absorb moisture better than cotton or acrylic/polyester blend socks, so they can undoubtedly help in cold weather. If you plan on going outside for an extended period, make sure that you have a pair of overshoes that you can put on in case your feet get wet or cold.
Change to boots
If you know that the temperature will be somewhere below 40 degrees for an extended period, switching to boots instead of shoes may be a good idea. Boots are not only warmer than shoes, but they can be insulated and waterproof as well. Of course, some dress shoes and oxfords come with storm welts and rubber heel inserts, but boots can offer more protection and warmth.
Add a cardigan to your outfit.
Adding a cardigan to your attire can add some extra warmth to the chest and torso area. It may not help much with your arms or legs when it comes to staying warm, but it can undoubtedly help insulate you from the cold when layered over a shirt. If you add one to your outfit, be sure that it matches what you are wearing underneath. If you are wearing a suit, it should also be dark in color to not stand out too much against your suit.
Layer on a good topcoat
When it comes to a topcoat, you have a few options. You can wear a long pea coat, duffle coat, trench coat, or even an overcoat if it is not too cold outside. If you will be moving around a lot and doing things such as walking from one place to the next, then wearing something like an overcoat is probably the best option. You can wear it open or closed, depending on how much warmth you need. When wearing an overcoat, make sure that it is either plain in color or has a subtle pattern so that it doesn’t look out of place with your suit underneath.
Wrap yourself in a scarf and gloves to keep warm
If you plan on going outside for an extended period, then wearing a scarf and gloves is the way to go. Of course, you can also bundle up with multiple scarves or wear things like face masks and balaclava if your face and neck need extra warmth. Just make sure that your gloves and scarves match what you are wearing underneath not to stand out too much.
Wearing gloves might help.
Wearing gloves can keep your hands warm and protect them from the wind. This is especially true when you are not wearing thick, insulated winter gloves. For example, leather or suede dress gloves will offer more protection than a pair of cashmere or wool blend dress gloves. Leather dress gloves, in particular, will go over most suits very well, and they can help keep your hands warm. If you wear gloves on a windy day, make sure that they are leather or suede so that the wind doesn’t tear through them.
Don’t forget a hat
Wearing a hat with your suit can also help to keep you warm, especially if it is windy outside. Make sure that the hat matches what you are wearing underneath and is not too bulky or tight. If you wear gloves, make sure that they match your hat so that they don’t stand out so much.
Types of Winter Coat Fabrics
Wool is one of the warmest fabrics that you can find when it comes to overcoats and topcoats. It wicks moisture away from your skin, which means that if you get caught in the rain while wearing a wool coat, you won’t end up wet and cold, in addition to being stuck outside in poor weather. Wool is also an excellent insulator, which means that it will keep you warm even if it is freezing outside. In addition to this, wool is sturdy and durable. This means that your winter coat made from wool will last for years to come.
Cashmere and Cashmere Blends
Cashmere is a bit lighter than wool, and it tends to be a bit softer as well. It offers many of the same advantages that wool does, such as wicking moisture away from your skin, so you don’t get wet and cold when it is raining outside, being an insulator, and being durable. In addition to this, cashmere will keep you warmer than wool but not quite as warm as the heavier fabrics. If you want something that is just a bit lighter weight than your wool coat, then cashmere may be the way to go.
Cotton and Cotton Blends
If you are looking for a very lightweight winter coat, then cotton or cotton blends are probably what you are looking for. Cotton is very thin, and it offers little to no insulation. However, cotton is lightweight and will also dry quickly if you get caught in the rain or snow. Suppose you live somewhere where cold weather comes and goes pretty often (for example, Louisville). In that case, this is likely the best option for you because you can wear a cotton coat during the winter and then ditch it in favor of a different lightweight jacket when the weather gets warmer.
Polyester and Polyester Blends
Polyester is another very lightweight material that does not offer much insulation. However, it can be pretty durable and will keep you dry if the weather turns bad. This makes polyester a good choice for someone who lives in a milder climate or commutes by car to work rather than walking or biking.
Types of Coats to Wear Over Your Suit
Wearing a Topcoat Over a Suit
If you plan to wear your overcoat, then the first coat that you should look at is a topcoat. Topcoats are some of the most versatile coats you can find, and they will look good with just about any suit. Some people even wear topcoats as their everyday work coat because they look good with everything from a casual dress shirt to a more formal button-down. In addition to this, topcoats provide excellent protection from the wind and cold. If you plan on commuting by foot or you prefer not to ride in a car, then a topcoat is worth considering as your go-to coat for the winter months.
Wearing a Peacoat Over a Suit
A peacoat is another warm coat option that you can wear over a suit. A peacoat looks very similar to a topcoat, but it tends to be slightly longer than most topcoats. Like topcoats, peacoats are versatile, and they can be worn with just about any kind of suit. One great advantage that peacoats have over topcoats is that they are slightly less formal. Topcoats are typically made out of more elegant fabrics, and they tend to look more dressy overall. Depending on what you wear it with, a peacoat may be considered casual enough to wear every day. However, keep in mind that some people do consider peacoats to be more formal. If you plan to wear your peacoat with a suit, it is best to opt for a more traditional-looking topcoat rather than a colorful or patterned coat.
Wearing a Trench Coat Over a Suit
Another option you have when it comes to the outer layer of your suit is a trench coat. Trench coats are trendy on their own, but they also work well over a suit. Unlike topcoats and peacoats, long jackets, trench coats are more like short overcoats that end just below the waist. Trench coats look good on top of a suit, but they also work well for casual workplaces. Just keep in mind that trench coats may be slightly less formal than the other options listed here.
FAQs About What to Wear Over a Suit in Cold Weather
Q: What is the best coat length/type for a suit in cold weather?
A: There are many kinds of coats, but I would recommend something that’s short (above knee-length), trim, and stylish, like this peacoat or topcoat. It should be thick enough to keep you warm when it’s cold, but it doesn’t need to be very long.
Q: How warm should the coat I wear over my suit in cold weather be? Is a trench coat ok?
A: Coats like trenches and macs, while classic and stylish, are not as warm or formal as topcoats or peacoats. They’re also generally made of lighter material, which means they’re not as warm either. I wouldn’t recommend those for colder weather.
Q: How do I wear a coat with my suit in cold weather? Do I button it up and zip it up?
A: Generally, you don’t button your topcoat and only unzip if it’s freezing outside. You want to show a little bit of the vest and tie underneath, so keep it closed until you sit down.
When wearing a suit in cold weather, the most important thing you should remember is “less is more.” It’s not the time to pull out all of your favorite layers and go for broke. Layering one or two pieces correctly will keep you warm and create a friendly, slim visual impression. The best part? You can do this with items you already have in your closet.