2011 December 13

Hoodies don’t work for everyone. Your gran might not be comfortable in something that she associates with heavyweight fighters clambering into the ring for televised boxing matches. Your teenage nephew may have strong ideas about what a hoodie should look like: and given how easily kids become mocking or outright hostile if clothing doesn’t fit perfectly into the current style, he may be right to worry.

On the other hand, a sweatshirt is uncontroversial. From cute girls, to crusty elders, it’s eminently wearable. It’s warm and comfortable and the elasticated cuffs and snug hem ensure that cold winds don’t invade the garment to cause chills and discomfort. But because it’s not bulky, a sweatshirt still looks good under a jacket or fleece. And when you head indoors, the weave radiates heat away from your body so that you can cool down rapidly, unlike a wool sweater that can remain uncomfortably warm and sweatily prickly.

When choosing a sweatshirt for another, the colour is really vital. Blue works for almost everyone; black is good for teenagers and if you’re confident about colour, you can push the boat out and choose something that enriches winter skin, such as a rosy red shade for pale redheads, a rich tangerine for brunettes or even a fuchsia shade for those with greying hair.

2008 December 12

Christmas Day is usually simple enough: get up in your PJs (or put them on, if you’re a commando sleeper!) and head downstairs for the present opening part of the day, then you put on the awful scratchy woolly jumper that Aunt Edna knitted for you, the garish socks your brother thinks are hilarious and the Rupert Bear scarf from your jokey  best mate that on any other day would set gaydars bleeping from one end of the street to the other. If you feel uncomfortable and look like a prat (or a slapper, if you’re female) you can at least console yourself with looking at the ridiculous state of the other members of the family in their Christmas clothing.

But what about Boxing Day? It doesn’t have the same pattern as the preceding day, and you can find yourself not sure what the protocol is, particularly if this is the first time you’re spending the day with your other half’s family.

The basic rule is to make a bit more effort that you usually would but not to get carried away unless there is actually a formal event (lunch with people from outside the family, drinks party etc) planned.

Bear in mind that you may also find yourself being urged to do something to use up all the festive calories: it might be helping a young relative fly a kite they got for Christmas, or taking a hike around the local countryside, so make sure that you have something to wear that can get really mucky/snowy/torn – such as a pair of jog pants – you can even pull these on over smarter clothing if the weather is really atrocious and you still have to go out.

Neutral trousers will take you anywhere from church to pub to country walk, and a good wind-deflecting fleece or jacket will keep your core body temperature up if you’re popping out for snowball fights or to visit nearby relatives.

Winter light is muted, so this is a time when clothing in bright colours can make you look alert and healthy, even if you are feeling the effects of having helped your Nana drink a bottle of Drambuie on Christmas night – opt for a strong red or pink sweatshirt, or deep blue or green T-shirt combined with a contrasting long-sleeved tee underneath: good Christmas colour combinations are red with green, blue with white or black with green. Stay away from yellow t-shirts or polo-shirts if you are feeling a bit hungover – while yellow is a great colour to show off a winter tan, one of the effects of alcohol is jaundicing the skin, which makes it appear yellower, so if you wear yellow as well, you start to look like one of the living dead! Reds and pinks liven up hungover skin, so again, a red polo or rugby shirt is a good idea to look less wrecked if you had a heavy night. I wonder if that’s why Santa has a red suit …?