It would be nice if each season had a single temperature you could rely on. Spring would be warm but not hot. Winter would be cold (but not too cold), and so on. That way, everyone could go out with confidence that whatever clothing choice they have made, it wouldn't be undercut by a sudden weather shift.
Ah, what a lovely dream.
As it happens, few places in the country know that kind of climate consistency, and the rest of us have to figure out how to prepare for potentially large temperature ranges that just seem impossible to dress for.
Thankfully, humanity has developed some useful approaches to the problem. The most easily accessible to the layman? Layers. Read on to learn to manage pendulum swings in the thermometer with style.
Most of our clothes come in tops and bottoms, and the skill of layering addresses each differently. So let's take them one at a time.
Tops are the easiest to layer, both in terms of adding and removing pieces. The initial layer, the one closest to your skin is going to be a camisole. It's light and maintains your silhouette while still keeping you covered and your core warm. Pick a nice one if the sun is shining. If there is the possibility of an increase in temperature, you definitely want to be able to strip down to your cami.
The next layer is a long-sleeved T-shirt, thermal long-sleeve shirt, or turtleneck if your weather is on the chillier side.
Still thin and relatively light, this is the first layer to cover your arms and is great for when cloud cover messes with your morning. If your temperature has a larger low potential, you may want to use the thermal long-sleeve as a base and build your layers from there.
Since this layer is often a button-up or a zip-up, it should go with your long sleeve of choice. However, consider making sure it also works with the cami. This gives you a "hot" option, meaning should the weather decide to give an early nod to summer, you can strip the thermal long-sleeve and have the thinner cami keep you cool under your cardigan.
After the cardigan layer is the jacket layer. Is there a difference between a cardigan and a jacket? Yes, it has to do with weather readiness. This is the layer that keeps rain and wind from getting to your bones. This layer shouldn't be too tight, and there should be a bit extra to keep you warm as well. Though it can function for snow, it may not be warm enough for some areas, which is why the final layer...... is the coat. This can be either a trench coat or a full snow coat, depending on the weather. The snow coat is critical for skiing, sledding, and other fun snow activities. This is the maximum top layer and if you live in a place where you know you need one of these, choosing the warmest option is likely your priority. If the sun does end up shining on your snowshoeing excursion, you should be able to put the trench coat aside or tie the snow coat around your waist and your jacket layer can do its work.
Now that we've addressed the tops, let's take a look at the bottoms. A word of caution, whereas tops layers are fairly easy to remove, bottom layers are not. Because of this, you have to layer a little more carefully.
The first and easiest bottom layer is the long underwear or leggings layer. The difference between the two is leggings can be worn on their own while long underwear may come with its own matching top for your long-sleeve top layer. Both keep you nice and toasty, especially if you get some made from wool or fleece. On the other hand, warm leggings are less fun when it's warm outside. You'll have to decide what kind of leggings or underwear you want as your base layer depending on your weather range.
The next layer can go one of two ways. You can go with sweats if you are doing something active, or you can opt for jeans or trousers if the day is going to be a little less active and a little more social. Depending on the tightness of your jeans, leggings may not work as your base layer. In that case, consider tights as a faux base layer to give you a little more insulation from the cold.
The final bottom layer, reserved for the coldest climates, is the snow pants. These are recommended for extreme weather and snow activities. If your day doesn't involve either of these, you can probably do without this layer. Though depending on your area, it may be smart to keep a pair of snow pants in your car, just in case.
This completes your layering options for colder and warmer weather. After you have your outfit set, remember socks (as many pairs are you like), warm shoes or weather-proof boots, and other accessories like scarves, hats, and gloves.
After adding these finishing touches, you will be ready for whatever the sky wants to throw at you!