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The Formal Men’s Winter Guide

Winter’s a great time to achieve a fully formal look while protecting yourself from the severe winters that range from central to north India. The same advice applies when you are visiting a cold country. In this post, we deal with the formal guide to men’s winters.

Just as you have a separate wardrobe for year round formals and casuals, your winter wardrobe too makes a distinction between the two. But, if you have a limited budget, you can retain the common elements, complement them with some much needed winter items and you will be good to go.

Basic Winter Rules

The first rule for winters is to layer your clothing whether you are in a mild or a severely cold winter region. This is to maintain your body temperature even as you move from the cold outdoors to the warmer indoors.

The basics of winter formals include shirts, trousers, a suit, ties, scarf, socks and shoes. Add to this list a sweater and a vest and you are ready to choose each item.

Dress Shirts

Dress shirts or business formal shirts for winters can be thicker than the usual cottons and silks. Oxford shirts with their thicker weave are a good idea. If not, you can go for the regular formal shirt with a sweater worn over it. In terms of colors, you have a choice of winter darks in deep greens, reds or blues. But, if these colors don’t fit your office atmosphere, you could still have them in stripes or checks on a light background.


Vests or Sweaters?

Vests are worn with a suit and are considered highly formal. Sweaters on the other hand lean towards the casual. Keep this in mind when choosing between a vest and a sweater. In the mild to moderate winter regions, you can do away with both. But in a severe winter region, you need to choose between the two depending on whether your day is likely to be formal or not. Vests are bought along with the suit and match the suit in texture and pattern.

Sweaters have a lot of variety to them, coming as they do in a range of textures, colors and patterns. Check if the texture looks good on your body shape. It doesn’t matter whether you are heavy or light in build – the sweater has to hold you softly without riding up because it’s tight or hanging loose. Make sure that the color and pattern go well with your shirt and suit. You can’t be wearing a sweater with a bold design on a bold striped shirt. In such cases, a sweater in a plain, contrast color is the one to look for. Crew neck sweaters are fine when you are wearing just the shirt beneath. But if you have a tie, a v- sweater is the right option. You don’t always need to wear a plain sweater with business formals, but keep the prints small to be on the safer side. The rules for formals apply to them too. Straight lines and angular shapes create highly tailored formals. Curved lines and rounded shapes veer towards the untailored casual end of the style scale.


Invest in a good woollen suit in dark color if it suits your pocket. In addition to being formal colors, dark shades are the right winter color. Charcoal or navy blue is safe to buy. If you find yourself in highly formal business situations or work in industries where formal business wear is the norm, buy one with a vest. If not, a straight forward, single-breasted business suit with two or three buttons is what you need. You can wear it with a sweater underneath to keep you warm when you take the jacket off at work.


For tips on how to match your tie with the shirt and suit, check our post on How to Buy a Tie. The lines, shapes and colors determine whether the tie is formal or casual.

It’s very important to cover the neck and chest against cold winters. Hats are good to cover your head when dressed in formals if you are comfortable with a hat. A range of scarves are definitely necessary and are available in cotton, wool, silk or cashmere to cover the neck. For thicker necks, avoid short, slender scarves – go for the long, thick ones. On the other hand, if you have a thin neck, go for shorter and thicker scarves. If the scarf’s too long, try different types of knots to shorten it. Again, match the scarf to your shirt and suit just as you would match a tie.

Woollen socks for severe winters or cotton socks for mild to medium winters are good to keep you warm. Let the shoes follow the color of the trouser.

You’ll also need a pair of woollen gloves for early mornings and late evenings when you are out. So keep a standard deep blue pair with you. You get them in a range of textures, including cashmere, leather, lambskin or plain wool. Choose the thickness, glove lining and price based on the severity of the winter and what you want to spend on it.

As you see, it just takes a few basics for you to be ready with winter office wear. So complete your wardrobe with the missing items and you are ready to be at work on a winter day.




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