The art of layering (wool) clothes
With June upon us, it is officially wintertime in South Africa. This means we are looking at 3 months of colder temperatures and the possibility of snow if you live in the mountainous areas of our beautiful country.
Cooler temperatures also mean we dress differently in more long sleeve shirts, heavier sweaters, and winter coats and jackets. However, the struggle is to find the right balance between feeling comfortably warm and not becoming too hot and sweaty. So, at Core Merino, we were asking ourselves, what is the answer to reaching this comfortable stage? The answer is: Layering up!
What does layering up mean? It’s a method of combining different layers of clothes that ensure good warmth and breathability but is also flexible enough to adjust whenever your activity level or your environment changes.
The layering method is very commonly used in countries that have cold weather during most of the year such as Northern Europe. To get in-depth insights into layering, we contacted a wool friend in Norway about how Norwegians dress in cold weather. This is the reply we got:
“Think three layers. Wool in two layers and a wind-proof third outside layer. Think air – not too tight. Feet and head need to be toasty.”
Keeping this in mind, let’s peel apart the layering system layer by layer to find out how to stay comfortable without getting too hot in cold weather.
1st layer or base layer
The first layer of a winter outfit is next to the skin. This layer will regulate your body temperature and transport any moisture away from your body, so that you stay warm, but not overheat and don’t feel wet. The most important here is to choose next to skin items that are super soft and don’t irritate your skin. Some people are more sensitive than others, so make sure you can test the fabric to see if you would find it itchy or not.
Wool Long Johns or Leggings
A base layer to keep your legs warm would be a pair of long johns or wool leggings which can be worn underneath your jeans or trousers.
Have a look at the Core Merino leggings.
Long sleeve wool t-shirt
Another important 1st base layer is the long sleeve wool t-shirt. Same as the long johns, it regulates your body temperature and manages your moisture in such a way that you don’t feel wet.
Long sleeve wool t-shirts come also in all different styles and fabric thicknesses. Choose a lightweight one if you don’t freeze easily and a heavier one if you get cold quickly.
Wool Vest or Singlet
Another 1st layer is the wool vest or singlet, which is a sleeveless undergarment worn underneath a long-sleeve t-shirt. This additional first layer might not be for everyone, but is a good tip for when it is icy. For this base layer, we strongly recommend that you choose wool and not cotton. Cotton worn as a first layer would absorb any moisture from your skin and feel wet. The wet fabric on your skin will feel uncomfortable and may also make you feel cold. If you choose wool instead, the moisture would be transported away from your skin into the air and ensure your skin stays dry.
We all know cold feet can ruin every outdoor activity. As our friend from Norway wrote that it is important to ‘keep your feet nice and toasty’. Therefore, it is important to invest in a good pair of wool socks. Make sure you try the thick socks together with your boots. Your boot should not be too tight when you wear your thick socks as the wool needs a bit of air to do its job of keeping your feet warm.
We are currently working on a range of merino socks so look out for them later this year!
2nd layer or mid-layer
The second layer goes on top of your 1st next to skin base layer. This is a layer that gives some extra warmth, but it is also the layer that can easily be taken off if you need to as temperatures or your activity may change.
A wool jumper is, of course, a classic wool item to wear. As jumpers tend to be a bit bulkier, they can trap much more air which is what essentially keeps you warm.
Depending on your outdoor activity and your third layer, you might find a wool jumper too heavy and prefer a heavier wool shirt. These tend to have a heavier fabric of 250 g per square meter than the base layer which is often around 130 to 200 g per square meter. These shirts often come with a zipper to be easily worn with the base layer and also be taken off or put on more easily.
The Core Merino long sleeve 1/2 zip is a perfect mid-layer to check out.
3rd layer or outer layer
The outer layer is the layer that needs to protect you from the elements and therefore needs to be wind and/or waterproof.
Wind resistant trouser and jacket
The jacket and trousers need to be made of a wind and waterproof fabric that will most likely be made of synthetic fibre. For freezing temperatures, your third layer may even be filled with padding made of downs, polyester fleece, or even wool fleece. There are more and more jackets and trousers available that are filled with wool wadding, but you may have to hunt for them a bit more.
Your gloves also need to be wind and waterproof and should have some extra padding to keep your hands warm. Typical skiing or snowboard gloves will work well in snow and icy weather.
The importance of keeping your head warm goes without saying. You need a beanie that covers also your forehead and your ears. When you are out in the snow, your jacket should also have a hood to protect you from snow and wind. If possible the hood should have some fake fur at the edges as that works best with keeping the snow and wind out of your face.
Scarf or neck warmer
While your jacket will close up nicely around your neck, you do also need a scarf for extra protection and warmth. Depending on the wind you might even wish to pull your scarf over your chin to protect your face as well. A normal wool scarf will do, or you might prefer a neck warmer.
Have a look at our neck warmer as well.
Hopefully, this little explanation of how the layering system works is of value to you and that you have a great winter while staying warm, comfortable, and toasty.
Don’t forget to check out our Layering Bundles to secure yourself a special winter deal.