2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on how to look professional but stay warm in a freezing office, but you may also want to check out our most recent thoughts on what to wear to work in the winter.
How should you dress this winter when you work at a freezing office, and your trusty back-of-the-chair cardigan just won’t cut it? What are the best ways to keep warm while still looking professional and stylish?
Reader J wonders:
My office is freezing cold in the winter — some of the assistants and paralegals keep huge blankets in their office spaces and wrap up in them, or alternatively wear Northface jackets around. As an associate, I can’t get away with cuddling up in a warm blanket or wearing my Northface — it doesn’t exactly scream competent and professional. Do you have any recommendations for sweaters or wraps that look professional but are also very warm?
We talked about how to stay warm in a freezing office a looong time ago (and, more recently, staying warm in a subzero office when the A/C is blaring), but now is a great time to readdress it. While gloves, space heaters, and wraps-as-lap-blankets can help when you’re in your office, here are some thoughts for people who are moving around a lot (e.g., during meetings) during the day, or those who just don’t have the option to wear gloves or sneak in a space heater:
- Cashmere and merino wool. If most of your pullover sweaters are cotton or a polyester blend, you need to upgrade to cashmere or merino wool — I notice a HUGE difference in warmth. These don’t have to be expensive — we’ve seen prices dip as low as $60-$80 in recent months from places like Talbots and Lord & Taylor — and they don’t have to be bulky.
- Layers. I’d add a wool blazer on top of a merino sweater (perhaps with a cashmere wrap or ruana thrown around my shoulders for added warmth). (Here’s another wrap that looks great for a cold office.) If you’re feeling preppy you could always wear a cashmere cardigan around your shoulders (and here’s a great tutorial on that from WhoWhatWear, also pictured). Adding a layer of silk long underwear or fleece-lined tights under pants can really help as well.
- Try a long cardigan. Knee-length (and longer) cardigans are back in fashion, and they can be a great thing to wear. Yes, some of them (fine, a lot of them) can look and feel a bit like bathrobes, but they still can be a nice option when you’re seated at your desk. They look a ton more professional than wearing a North Face jacket or a blanket, but they cover almost as much.
Ladies, how do you stay warm in a freezing office?
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