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Baby, It's Cold Outside! -- Layering in Comfort

Thermal winter underwear Instead of shorts, t-shirts and sandals, those who live in cooler climates will soon be bundling up in layers before venturing outside.

The typical winter ensemble includes an inner layer or long underwear, middle or insulating layers including turtlenecks sweaters or fleece items, and finally an exterior or protection layer, your coat to serve as your guard against the elements of winter -- rain, snow, sleet and wind. Sounds bulky, but when you first step outside, you'll be glad you put all those layers on. They protect you from what would otherwise be bone-chilling cold.

When it comes to the layer of clothing closest to your skin, not all long underwear is created equal. When buying thermal underwear, look for national brands such as Fruit of the Loom or Hanes -- or shop your favorite sporting goods store for thermals that are used as a base layer in extreme winter sports such as snowboarding and skiing.

Work clothes specialists Dickies and Carhartt also offer their own thermal underwear products. And, while it seems that cool colors and styles may be the last thing you might consider when choosing thermal underwear, some manufacturers have even come out "sexy" print thermals!

Choosing thermal underwear materials

Whle softer cotton is the traditional go-to fabric for most lines of long underwear, also look for lightweight merino wool, or wool and silk blends for extra warmth in colder temperatures. If your first priority is comfort look for synthetic thermal underwear that is lightweight and moisture resistant. For example, the Cuddl Duds company has the solution to this problem with warm underwear made of Comfortech, a lightweight stretch material made of polyester and Spandex. Comfortech, unlike chemically treated fabrics, provides temperature and moisture management inherently.

“When you begin sweating -- which you will definitely do with all the extra layers on -- traditional long underwear will hold the moisture in, keeping you damp and therefore cold. With the Comfortech fabric, moisture actually moves through the hollow core, or microchannel cross-section fibers of the fabric's yarn and evaporates into the air. The end result, the wearer's clothes remain dry and their skin stays warm,” says Enid Katze, senior vice president of merchandising for Cuddl Duds. She also points out that unlike long underwear made of cotton that can be thick and bulky, the modern design of Comfortech is sleek, soft, comfortable and thin enough to fit under any fashion choices.

Dressing in layers for extra warmth

thermal undershirt, shirt, jacket

While long underwear is the base layer, the middle or insulating layers can consist of turtlenecks, sweaters, sweatshirts, vests and pullovers. If you'll be spending a lot of time outdoors when it's cold, a good material to look for is fleece, a synthetic which maintains its insulating ability even when wet and spreads the moisture out so it dries quickly.

The exterior layer, your jacket or coat, serves as your final guard against the elements. It will repel water from snow, sleet or rain and block wind.

You should also take steps to protect your head, face, neck and extremities from the elements. A hat of some kind is critical because up to 60 percent of your body's heat can escape from an uncovered head. A scarf or fleece neck gaiter (like a collar) is also suggested; as are insulated gloves or mittens and light- or medium-weight socks. Boots complete the outfit.

Shopping for winter gear should be a breeze now that you've gotten a refresher course. One last suggestion -- don't wait until your favorite style or size is sold out! Shop early and be prepared.

Courtesy of ARA Content

More about dressing warm in cold weather around the Web:

How to choose base layers and long underwear

Insulation: first the body, then the home



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