During winter, while maintaining your own personal style of dressing, you also need to get a good layer on insulation between yourself and the environment. While wearing layers works well, selecting the right gear in the right material for each part of your body, from undergarments to hoods and boots, is also important.
Wearing layers help as one can remove or add layers, depending on fluctuations in the climate during the day. Layers also help in reducing sweating but one must note that some materials lose their insulation value when wet with sweat and can also cause hypothermia (a significant drop in body temperature).
In Oman, winters aren’t cold enough to be worried about wearing the right clothing but by following the thumb rules one can coduct oneself comfortably through each day at work as well as at home. One needs to first find out what the weather conditions are for the day (or the week) and then make sure you have the right winter clothes that will protect you in that temperature, even if it drops ten degrees lower than expected.
For extremely cold conditions, if you chose synthetics, polypropylene wicks moisture away and insulates even when wet. For the insulating layer, look for down, Polarguard, Holofill, Thinsulate, or Primaloft. However, wool and silk are the best natural fibres to wear in cold weather.
Wool insulates better (even when wet) and is naturally odour resistant, besides being durable. But, if it is not too cold, silk is a good option as a thin layer of silk can fit under almost any garment. Silk is, however, less durable than wool. I any case, cotton is a poor choice because it absorbs water and holds it next to your skin.
Choice of cold weather jackets should depend on the weather conditions and your intended activity. Also, consider wind and wetness. Do you need insulation only, or do you need to block the wind, too? Are you likely to get wet or sweaty? Down (a fluffy insulation material) doesn’t work well when wet, so does leather – unless it has a water-resistant surface.
When buying thermals, remember, you want them fitted, but not too tight. Exterior layers should also be fitted but not tight. You don’t want a draft blowing up under your shirt to give you a chill.
They say, you lose 40% of your heat through your head. However, this isn’t accurate as the head is similar to other areas of the body for heat loss, but you still need to protect your head and face in winter. There are dozens of options to protect your head from cold weather. You can wear a woolen cap or a ski-mask or balaclava with an aviator hat or with a full parka snorkel hood.
Get a size larger than your regular shoe size to accommodate thicker socks or boot liners. If you plan to double layer socks, you might need two sizes larger. If possible, try on similar boots with the socks you plan to wear outside.
The four layers
When dressing in layers, remember these four basic layers that will make you feel most comfortable in clod climates:
Your first layer should be your long underwear. It should fit snugly against your skin and be made of a nonabsorbent material. This layer works by wicking away water and keeping your skin dry.
The next layers are important because they serve to absorb the moisture out of your long underwear and transport it to the environment through evaporation. Use synthetics, angora, or wool. Shirts, sweaters, and trousers are what you will likely be wearing when you are active. Pay close attention to the fit, as the mid layers work by trapping air and preventing it from circulating and carrying away your body heat.
Thickness is warmth. If you are holding still or it’s extremely cold, choose an outer garment with several inches of loft. Down, Polarguard, Holofill, Thinsulate, and Primaloft are the types of insulation for extremely cold climates in snow and ice. However, one can use a more simple layer of insulation like woolens or silk garments.
The most important part of your layering system, and the most used besides your long underwear, is your shell which takes on the wind. Studies show, that in still air, wind shells worn over any garment can add up to 5 degrees of warmth. In windy conditions, wind shells can increase warmth by 10 degrees.