Ask Ms. Dressaday

by Erin on August 26, 2005

Dear Ms. Dressaday,

Winter's approaching, and I know it doesn't affect you from your Malibu beachfront bungalow, but how should the rest of us prepare for dress-wearing in cold weather? How can I winterize some of my cross-seasonal dresses? Where can I buy thick tights? Are tights going to be in this fall/winter?

Thanks for your help,
Loyal Reader

Dear Loyal Reader,

Ah, if only it were so, that Malibu bungalow! Instead, Ms. Dressaday lives in blustery, snowy, icy Chicago, where dress-wearing in the wintertime requires studied preparation.

First off, there are many dresses made of wool. Find them and make them your friends. Lightweight wool will keep you warm but not steamy, and makes for elegant, nicely-structured dresses. Eileen Fisher makes wool dresses that are very simple, but can be worn forever. Do not think that polyester is as warm as wool! It is very warm, but it not, as they say, a "dry heat." It's like wrapping yourself in a plastic bag: it doesn't breathe. And think of the poor jobless sheep! Buy. Wool.

Don't be afraid to layer both over (cardigans) and under (undershirts) your dresses. There are as many different cardigans as there are dresses: I prefer three-quarter sleeves (for ease of access to my watch) with jewel necklines, but try wrap sweaters, sweater coats, and even knit jackets. A warm undershirt will not only keep you toasty, it will also help protect winter fabrics from you (and too-frequent drycleaning). Don't let your Cuddl Duds peek out from a low-cut neckline (unless you are extraordinarily gifted: one FABULOUS London fashmag editor I know wears thermal tees under everything and, by all accounts, pulls it off), but a thin camisole (yes, camisoles were originally intended to be worn UNDER other things, believe it or not) might make the difference between comfort and shivers.

For your last question: good-quality tights are always in fashion, and even if they weren't, who cares? Readers of A Dress A Day set the fashion; they satisfy their own eyes, first and foremost. You can buy them at, or for the more adventuresome, Buy good ones; you won't regret it.

Will you be as warm in a dress as you would be in pants? No. I won't lie to you. Pants are warmer. Snowsuits are warmer still, but I don't see folks wearing them every day from November to March (and remember: I live in CHICAGO. If people were going to wear snowsuits every day, this is where they would do it.) However, if you wear layers on top, sensible underlayers, tights, and (as mom always said) A HAT, you should be able to wear your dresses on all but the coldest days. (And on those days I'd better see you in a snowsuit. With your mittens on a string so you don't lose 'em.)


Ms. Dressaday

questions for Ms. Dressaday can be sent by email to the address on the right.

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