Ask the Bean: Working With Winter

December 14, 2008 • Magazine

Ask the Bean: Working With Winter

Ask the Bean: Working With Winter

Sun, 2008-12-14 08:00

Dear Bean:

With the rapidly-dropping temperatures, I have found myself becoming disheartened when dressing for work. I just want to be warm, but my office definitely wouldn’t allow my chunky sweater, sweat pants and UGG boots. What can you suggest for a warmer working wardrobe option without sacrificing fashion or resulting in my getting sent home from the office?


Dear Chilled,

The winter months are known for sweaters and slippers. Unfortunately, the stereotype doesn’t translate to the working world. The last thing I want to do in the morning is decide which wool suit to wear again, and debate which pumps won’t result in an imminent injury while trying to walk on the ice-covered sidewalks. Having a fashionable season during the winter months is a daunting task, but it can be accomplished!

The solution to staying warm and being work-friendly takes some planning. Make sure you have the basics and know how each can be mixed and matched. That way there isn’t a lot of pondering on your part every morning. Plus you know you’ll be stepping out in style while prepped to battle the snow banks.

To start, make sure you have the following:

• Lined wool suits in black, brown and gray
• Turtlenecks in black, white/cream and tan/brown
• Sweater vests
• Cashmere sweaters and cardigans
• Boots
• Leggings
• Lined wool or cotton knee-length skirts
• Long-sleeved dresses
• Pashmina

You probably have all of these items, but make sure you have enough neutrals before going crazy with color. The last thing you want to do in the morning is realize that you have plenty of things to wear but no outfit in sight. That’s when those sweatpants begin looking quite tempting. Plus with the essentials already owned, you need to know how to work with all of them so you give yourself enough warmth without feeling “overstuffed”.

For instance, when wearing a suit and opting against a blouse under the jacket, I recommend either going for the turtleneck or a three-quarter sleeved cotton top. The shorter sleeves are a bonus so you don’t feel too bulky with layering and you are still sufficiently covered.

If you can get away without wearing a suit at the office, I love the slacks/blouse/sweater vest ensemble. With two or three sweater vests, you have just kicked up the heat with your outfit while portraying a stylishly ambitious look.

And my fashionably freezing friend, you can never have enough cashmere. Wool sweaters are also quite warm, but for those frigid days, there’s nothing better than a cashmere sweater or cardigan. And lucky for you, there are many that offer very work-friendly looks.

Let’s not forget the footwear! The obvious first choice for me in the winter is my pair of black knee-high flat boots. Not only do they provide enough traction in icy conditions, but they also can transition from commuting train to board room. Obviously the boots should be paired with a thicker (and preferably lined) skirt. Opt for knee-length to provide the most leg coverage and instead of tights, maybe consider some leggings. Leggings are made so well now that they at times can be confused for black stockings. For the extra warmth, I fully support the façade.

You also may want to have a couple long-sleeved dresses on hand. They pair fantastically with boots or pumps and paired with a blazer, you are at the height of fashion, fit your dress code, and have one more layer saving you from the cold.

Upon arriving at your office and you delayer the coat, scarf, gloves and hat, even with a warmer ensemble you might still sense a slight chill in the air. The ideal winter accessory is the Pashmina. You can wear it as a scarf with your coat while commuting to the office, and upon arrival you can take advantage of it as a stylish shawl. That way you can concentrate on your email and not on where to sneak in the space heater.

1. Donna Karan Cashmere Wrap Sweater
2. Splendid Fine Cashmere Sweater with Blazer
3. RM by Roland Mouret Couronnes Tweed Skirt
4. Vince Taffeta Collar Belted Cashmere Cardigan
5. Splendid Cashmere Vest
6. Bottega Veneta Draped Wool Dress
7. Fendi Cashmere Sweater Dress
8. Aquatalia by Marvin K – Avery Patent Boots
9. Stuart Weitzman Over the Knee Flat Boots

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