Outdoor Dining Fashion: How to Look Cool and Stay Warm

The Four Percent

IN A MEMORABLE scene from the seasonal classic “A Christmas Story,” Mother Parker readies her groaning son Randy for the wintry walk to school by stuffing his little limbs into a snowsuit and encasing him like a mummy in layers of woolly accessories. As Randy complains that he can’t move his arms, his older brother (and the film’s narrator) Ralphie intones: “Preparing to go to school was like getting ready for extended deep-sea diving.” While the movie is set in the 1940s, the tendency to overdress one’s children for cold weather is a timeless tradition. And as Covid continues to force us outside to socialize, many of us are tempted to adopt Randy’s over-bundled look.

But you needn’t channel a fashion-paralyzed grade schooler to dine en plein air this season. Instead, consider this far more sophisticated strategy. Step one: Prioritize statement outerwear. Maddie Bailis, 29, a buyer for Brooklyn boutique Bird, sees current circumstances as the ideal opportunity to embrace maximalism. “I think people will start shifting their budgets toward more novel outerwear and thinking of coats not just as a cocoon that you peel off to reveal an impressive outfit underneath,” she said. The ideal coat for socializing is roomy, but not overwhelming, said Ms. Ballis. She advocates for Lemaire’s tent-like boiled wool coats and Dries van Noten’s cozy faux fur styles. Marjon Carlos, 37, a Brooklyn journalist, said “striking and eye-catching” are her outerwear prerequisites. Her pick: a crackled-patent-and-shearling showstopper.

What peeks out beyond your coat’s perimeter should also insulate and look good doing it. New York stylist Doria Santlofer, 36, has found an appealing, cozy silhouette in substantial wool, high-waisted trousers by Marc Jacobs. “I like wide-leg ones so you can easily slip long underwear underneath,” she said. Leather pants by Veda are Ms. Carlos’s go-to—she contends they provide “the perfect insulation.”

Turtlenecks will keep your torso toasty and, as Ms. Bailis pointed out, “can provide a sliver of color or print above a collar.” Dickies—a sort of turtleneck-scarf hybrid—perform the same trick. Casey Larkin Blond, 41, the founder of fashion brand Mr. Larkin, whose flagship store is in Copenhagen, enthusiastically depends on dickeys. “I have several in multiple colors to go with different coats,” she said.

While not a sartorial statement, base layers remain nonnegotiable. Bodysuits and Uniqlo’s layerable Heattech tops guard against the cold without adding bulk, and wool socks or heavyweight tights (or both!) will prevent toe chills.

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