Fashion and Function: How to Look Good and Stay Warm
When Chris and I lived on a sailboat, one of the biggest challenges was learning to incorporate my personal style while out in the elements. Once a fashion designer, I had to whittle down my wardrobe to fit into two duffle bags. Not only that, the clothing had to be waterproof, able to get dirty, and not hinder me from climbing in and out and all around the boat. This experience turned out to be a great preview of being a fisherman’s wife full of trap yards, boatyards, and harbors, too. This…was a challenge. After years of dressing for the weather, I realized how much I missed dressing up for myself! Fashion is an expression of the heart that we can take in any comfortable direction. There are no rules anymore! Plus, it does wonders for your self-esteem. (Catch a glimpse of your reflection like, Who’s that?!) And sometimes, I want to bust it out, even when going to the boat. So the elusive fashion + function challenge haunted me for years – how do I stay warm and still look fabulous? Finally, I’ve figured it out.
- Can I transition from boat to land life? I like to dress as if I’m going to see live music. 😄
- Are the layers easy to pack away and get back out when the weather changes?
- What can I wear that won’t snag? When you’re on a boat, you’ve got to keep to yourself, so leave your long flowy skirts and dangling earrings safe at home.
- Is this high quality that will last? 95% of my wardrobe is wool, cashmere, cotton, silk, linen. Natural fibers make it easy to breathe, plus wool and cashmere stay warm when wet and don’t trap smells as synthetic fibers do. Important when you’re on a trip and need to repeat outfits a few times!
Layer Like a Boss:
Here’s how I layer from the inside out. Of course, I leave out or take layers off, depending on the weather. But here’s a breakdown of how I stay toasty:
- Socks > Fleece leggings > Skinny leg pants > Wool legwarmers over skinny leg or under flare plant> Boots or non-skid shoe
- Tank > Tshirt > Cashmere sweater > Puffy jacket > Rain shell
- Scarf tied in a bow and fluffed out > Beanie > Rings > Stud earrings
If it’s super gnarly cold, I’ll throw a vest on over the cashmere vest, then zip up in the puffy. Here’s a link to a great vest option that’s thin, light, but toasty when piled underneath. BONUS FASHION TIP: I find great wool and cashmere pieces at thrift stores, especially during the summertime when people are clearing out their closets. The bonus of thrift store finds is that they are less precious in a way. The difference between staining a $10 cashmere sweater verus a $150 one is less painful. To prevent shrinkage, wash on delicate with cold water and lay flat to dry.
I’ve listed some items that I currently own and have on repeat in my wardrobe. My staples, if you will. Hope these inspire you to play around with your favorite basics, too! Also, I would love to know how you show your style when staying functional is a priority. Please share in the comments below!
I love to layer my fleece leggings under pants when it's frigid out, but these are so cute that, depending on the weather, you could wear as an outfit! Layer with leg warmers to be a bit warmer or to take the style to the next level.
These are just fun. Wear them like a neutral pant for effortless style. Would look great with a long flannel button up and beanie, too! Mine are flared, but I like the tapered because it's easier to move around in on the boat.
I got the boot cut version of these, but skinny leg is easier to maneuver if you're walking around the boat yard or moving around the boat. Layer them with a thin fleece legging when it's really cold out.
Instant outfit: pair under straight or bell leg pants for warmth or slip over skinny pants for fashion and function! I actually cut the sleeves off an old wool sweater to make mine, but the pattern here is pretty cool.
What's cooler than a slouchy beanie? Not much! An easy way to add personality to waterproof clothing is the cap on your head. This is almost the exact color of the handmade one I found in a thrift shop that I love. Glad to know there's a backup if needed!
This is exactly like the black one that I wear all the time! It love it bc it's a natural fiber that you can style many ways. I wrap mine twice and tie with a bow for a girly flair. An easy thing to pack, store when the heat rises, and add a splash of personality, too!
A cami is THE KEY to staying warm. I love a good wool one from Smartwool, but I've been reaching for the cotton blend one more recently bc of the racerback style - it prevents the straps from slipping off and having to dig them out of your sleeves. Bonus! I wear mine solo, under t-shirts, and sweaters depending on the day.
Your Favorite T
Vintage T-shirts are an obsession of mine, so this one by fellow partner of a commercial fisherman, Lindsey Hoadley of Mothersun and the Captain really speaks (even though it's new). The soft vibe is 100%! If you're looking for a new favorite T, she's got plenty for you.
A cashmere sweater is my secret weapon when it comes to layers. They are light, buttery soft, and warm AF! They can be worn on their own or take your puffy jacket (or any jacket) to the next level. Style tip: Layer over a vintage T.
Packable Light Weight Short Down Jacket
The puffer is the only way to true warmth. Ethically sourced, this down jacket is easily scrunched small to pack down. Also, easy to layer underneath and top with a shell if it gets wet outside. I have a black Patagonia one, but this one is cheaper and comes with a hood!
Sunglasses probably pack the biggest punch when it comes to leveling up an outfit. I found mine at Goodwill and freakin' love them! (See in the main pic.) They make me feel like myself and put smiles on other faces, too. From aviators to Elton John shades like these, which would you choose?
Durable Lux Backpack
My luxury item that I can't live without. Handmade from a 3rd generation Leather Smith in Santa Barbara, California, the Make Smith backpack can be stuffed with your extra layers and sits comfortably balanced on your back. Each piece is incredibly well made and will only get better with age.