All about the challenges of Midlife Finance

Seven Essentials for your Winter Wardrobe

     No matter if your climate is chillingly cold, or stifling hot…you’re going to need a boost to your clothing collection sometime. Here are seven classics that should look good now — and for seasons to come.

 Long-Sleeved T-Shirt:  Cotton is comfortable in a wide variety of situations, and looks good layered with sweaters and jackets. Look for heavier fabric and finished (rather than just turned-under-and-topstitched) collars and sleeves, for longer wear. Land’s End is an excellent stop for t-shirts (and turtlenecks, incidentally) that last for years. The Supima V-neck shown here is in one of the season’s most popular colors, a rich fuschia.

       Silk feels wonderful against the skin, wicks away perspiration, and hand or machine washes well. (It’s also expensive.) Bamboo-fiber shirts have their share of fans, too.

Black Jeans:  Dressed up for the office, or down for hanging out on the weekend, these should be a mainstay for anyone’s closet. The only drawback: black jeans can fade much more quickly than their other denim counterparts. (Black dye hasn’t been totally colorfast for centuries, though today’s artificial dyes are a big improvement on the iron-based dyes of the 1800s.) Look for a clean line and a minimum of decorative details. The editors at GQ favor Levi’s 511s or 501s for guys’ jeans: “”Levi’s 511’s are my go-to jean,” Jim Moore, GQ’s Creative Director, says.  “Lean and mean without being skin-tight. They look equally elegant with a sports jacket as they do with a sweatshirt.” 

Gloves:  Here’s one spot where quality really is important. Leather, suede, cashmere wear better — and look elegant while you’ve got them on. (Save the cheaper gloves for cleaning off your windshield, or working in the yard.) Find the tightest pair you can.

Scarf:  If there’s any one accessory that’s big this season, it’s the scarf. The Hunger Games movies, as well as any number of tv and cable series, probably had something to do with the popularity of wooly wearables — but they’re also warm, comfortable and surprisingly inexpensive. Most trendy choices: a one-piece infinity scarf that fills out your neckline.  Stores like Target have a wide variety in various materials, like the examples below — heavy cream wool, or a zippity black-and-white cotton knit. Or choose a long skinny wearable that’s folded in half to make a loop — then the edges pushed through to hang loose. Men are wearing long scarfs this way, as much as women. (Check out a video on 25 different ways to wear scarves here.)

Boots:  Slim boots, if you’ve got narrow feet, riding boots for tucking in pants — heavy workboots have an interesting “rough/texture” effect, but try walking for a mile or so in them. (Ouch.) Look for quality materials, like leather, classic lines and interesting details, like the buckles on this pair from Ralph Lauren. Colors like red, purple and cream may look great — for now. Don’t forget leopard print, either — but brown and black are classics that hang around for the long run.

     Uggs boots are still popular, but have been for a long time now. Odds are good that these trendy sheepskin boots, especially the camel ones, may not stay that way much longer. (Trends have a bad reputation for starting and stopping quickly.) Don’t buy unless they’re available for a great price — and you can afford to replace them.

Coat: Finally, you’ll need a great coat. Look for a classic, like a trenchcoat, worn long, loose and belted, like this version:

     Or a slim version that looks great with those black jeans.

     The short jacket is popular, too, that’s loose enough for a shirt or sweater underneath, but still shapes fairly close to your body. Add a hat (especially a close-fitting one, like this one below) or scarf for the best look. Too much? Try a sleeveless vest, instead.

     One of the newest wearables for guys is the denim trucker’s jacket, worn under a sportcoat or top coat, like below.  Thank GQ for noticing this look, as well: “I challenge you to find a more versatile layer than something cut so slim and short (a good trucker should just brush your belt line) that it fits easily under the snuggest of shapes. There’s something polarizing, almost artful, about putting beat-up denim against luxury fabrics…”

      Whatever you decide on, consider:

*Choose the best you can afford, for the long run. Buying a shirt that washes well and looks great for three seasons is smarter than a quickie version that stretches out in a month. Don’t be afraid to spend a little more, if you have to. Or:

*Check out a thrift shop. Bargains abound here, including reliable brands and luxury fabrics. You may have to make more than one visit to find the best stuff — but it’s there.

*Keep your wardrobe limited. Not only will it cost less, but as Crystal Paine, Moneysaving Mom and a champion of the minimalist wardrobe, points out, it will “help to simplify your life. It is so easy to get dressed in the morning when you only have a few options to choose from. In fact, I’d rather have a few items that I love and feel great in, than a closet full of clothes that I don’t really like, don’t fit that well, and haven’t been worn in a number of months.”

*Stick to colors that complement each other — or neutrals. Don’t just buy whatever looks nice. How does that scarf or sweater go with the rest of what you’ve got? Does it complement your body type or haircolor? (And will it look dated in a year or two?)

*Get it on discount. Sales abound right now during the holiday season — from 20-40% off, and often free shipping is included. Check online for coupons before you buy.

*Check out current fashion trends. Even if they’re ridiculous (4″ spike leopard print heels!?!) , look for touches you can adapt, with minimal fuss. Like one of this season’s “plus” ideas – fur, fake or real. Try it on the collar of your coat (frames your face beautifully), lining a vest, or used as a scarf.

Enjoy — and look great while you’re doing it.

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