The Australian winter has finally made it self known, meaning electric blankets are being turned on, doonas are being laid out and numerous cups of hot chocolate are being consumed. Even though an Australian winter is a pretty pathetic excuse of a winter (the sun is shining as I write this and I wore a summer dress yesterday), it’s still good to be knowledgeable about our clothing components before the sporadic storms creep up.
Cotton - You’ll find cotton in many of the cheap winter coats on sale. However, as a protective layer against the cold, cotton isn’t all that useful. Cotton doesn't wick away moisture, which can make you cold due to the moisture on your skin and the cold wind getting through. Once cotton becomes wet it stays wet and becomes heavy. Cotton also won’t keep you warm as the material doesn’t insulate well. So don’t intend your cotton coat to be a protective layer against the rain, but more so a layering piece. But, avoid this material if you can.
Wool - A great source of warmth in the winter as it has great wicking properties, meaning it doesn’t harbour any wetness or perspiration, but transfers it out. If you were to use wool in the winter, it’d be great to use it as a base or middle layer with the intended purpose of insulating heat while keeping you dry. However, wool isn’t vegan, and not to mention, it can be heavy and itchy.
Polypropylene - A good material to use as a base layer as it can wick away moisture. Found in many thermal clothing. Protip - use underwear made out of polypropylene to keep you extra warm.
Nylon - One reason to bring back the late 80’s. Get your neon windbreaker out of the back of your closet, or borrow your mum’s, as nylon is the perfect material to protect you from the outside elements. It’s great to use as a barrier against the wind as it acts as a lightweight outer shell. However, nylon won’t keep you warm, which is why it’s important to layer underneath this material.
Polyester - Similarly to nylon, this material acts as a good shield against wind. Polyester also insulates heat well, however, it doesn’t wick away moisture, which is a reoccurring theme with synthetic materials.
Fleece - Insulating properties similar to wool, as well as being lightweight and having wicking properties.
It may not be realistic to overhaul your whole coat collection for a new one, so do the best you can with what you have. Layer, layer, layer, and keep the important areas of your body warm. So instead of investing in a new winter coat, buy clothing accessories that will keep the areas that lose heat the easiest warm. Think beanies, gloves, socks, undershirt. Then, with your newfound knowledge of what materials are best used in winter, layer the coats, jackets and jumpers that you already own.
The final tip is to avoid getting wet at all. A raincoat may only seem cute on children, but at the end of the day, wet is wet, and the wetness will make you cold.