The first snow of the winter is always exciting. The kids are wired, yet the world feels weirdly peaceful. Everything looks bright and glistens. Few people can resist the urge to pull out their phone and attempt to capture the moment.
That will surely be the scenario for many during the latter half of this week, when snow showers have been forecast along the North Sea coast, including Scotland and the north east of England. By the weekend, we may see snow as far south as Hampshire.
This is all great fun until we actually need to navigate it. It takes seconds for that shimmering blanket to become grey mush, which in turn becomes an invisible slick of ice. Suddenly, the pavement or driveway you usually traverse without issue is a death trap.
But we can’t grind to a standstill, we all have work to do and people to see, so having weather-appropriate clothing to hand is important – even for the light flurries we’re expecting to see this week.
Yes, you could wear your ski gear, but that’s a little like turning up to the office in your gym kit – it looks a bit weird out of context. If you’re going to work or doing anything social, as most of us are at this time of year, something more elevated and considered is required. Cameron Diaz in The Holiday has been the pin-up for cold-weather style since the film first came out in 2006, so remember, you can’t go too far wrong with a cream-and-black palette.
The mantra to remember is to layer, layer, layer, says personal stylist Annabel Hodin. Wearing multiple layers of clothing traps pockets of air, which is what keeps us warm. “Start with basic underlayers, this is most important,” she says. “Thin thermal underwear such as Uniqlo’s Heattech range is very good.” Marks & Spencer’s Heatgen thermals are also a strong and affordable option.
The main event with any winter look is, of course, the coat, and it doesn’t need to be a function-over-fashion down number if that’s not your thing. “I’d recommend a long coat that is big enough to go over all of your layers, either something in the style of The Row, possibly belted to minimise bulk, or a long, Barbour-style quilted coat,” says Hodin.
There’s no excuse not to look sharp in snowy weather for men either. “Snow calls for serious kit,” says Telegraph men’s style editor Stephen Doig. “This, fortunately, is something men enjoy; the heft and solidity of a properly padded jacket, even better if it contains some heat-tech and inner machinations like detachable layers.” You can DIY this by buying a thin padded liner jacket or gilet from a performance brand like 66 North or North Face, and wear it underneath a more classic wool coat.
Consider your hats, scarves, gloves, et cetera the final flourish to your look. Hodin likes to style her clients in one colour from head to toe: “A long but not too bulky scarf in the same colour as the rest of the outfit makes for a great tailored silhouette,” she says.
So have fun with your layers, and use them to add personality to your snow-day look – with just one word of warning from Doig: “Knitwear can become sodden with sweat pretty rapidly and emit a wet dog smell, so layer wisely. Lots of thin layers with a chunky padded coat are more effective than a mohair sweater.”
Today’s thermals are not your grandmother’s thermals. There are so many clever fabric blends available on the high street now that feel soft, wick sweat and keep you warm, all without adding bulk. Colourful roll-necks layer beautifully under contrasting jumpers. Long johns have made a comeback too – they’re not just for the ski slopes – try them as an extra layer beneath jeans.
Because what is a winter look without a cosy jumper? Treat it as an opportunity to add a layer of colour, print and personality to your look. “Most men want to aim for something akin to Robert Redford in Downhill Racer – all Fair Isle knits and black-run athleticism,” Doig says. Enter, Brora, which does some of the best Fair Isles around. If it all starts to feel a little bulky around the arms, consider a sleeveless knit instead.
Your choice of coat depends so much on the demands of your lifestyle, but truly versatile outerwear will be warm, can accommodate several layers beneath, goes with the rest of your wardrobe – and looks damn good in the process. Casual styles tend to pack in more performance features, but layer wisely, and you won’t miss them anyway. That said, a belted wrap coat not only looks glamorous but can be cinched in to feel hug-like and protect you from the wind.
This is usually the point at which you realise the faux fur-trimmed boots you picked up in last year’s sales have absolutely zero practicality in actual inclement weather. You need a waterproof boot at the very least, with proper grip in the soles. Go to the brands that have a good track record in this and, if shopping online, read the product description (and customer reviews) carefully to check your chosen boots have all the required features. When you try on, do so in a thick pair of socks to check that the fit is realistic. Luckily these designs have a timeless sense of style so one big investment should last.
Clockwise from left: Men’s Zip Wire weather-proof boots, £345, Russell & Bromley; men’s #519 Chelsea boots, £170, Blundstone; women’s pull-on Inclement boots, £449, Penelope Chilvers; women’s Sorel Joan Now leather Chelsea boots, £170, Net-a-Porter
Hats, scarves and gloves
Don’t forget the extremities – snoods and hoods are easier to wear than you think, and ensure that there are no gaps through which an icy chill can reach your skin; nothing feels more comforting than super-soft cashmere cosseting the ears. Choose gloves that are touchscreen-friendly, so you don’t have to remove them to reply to a text. If you’re usually muted in your colour choices, these smaller items are the perfect moment to add a dose of uplifting colour to grey winter days.
Clockwise from left: Cable-knit cashmere beanie, £85, Aethel; Sienna knit snood, £35, White Stuff; cashmere ribbed hood, £119, The White Company; touchscreen wool and cashmere blend gloves, £35, Aspiga