How to Be Stylish but Comfortable in Sprinter

by | Mar 15, 2012 10:11 AM ET

Last week, one of my pals posted this comment to her FaceBook page -- "Sprinter: My least favorite season to dress for." And a "What Not to Wear" follow-up: "... a lightweight cardigan with cords!" I was in total agreement with Candace as I'd made a similar mistake by pulling out a three-quarter sleeve cardi a little too soon -- it simply didn't transition to my après work plans. Far too chilly.

With 25+ degree variances not uncommon during this time of year, it can be difficult to figure out just the right outfit to take you from a 42°F, brisk early-morning commute to a sunny 76°F al fresco lunch to 63°F (and dropping) after-work dinner and drinks with friends.  So, how does one manage to be stylish but still comfortable during sprinter?

First, do some research. Scour your closet and drawers for lightweight, multi-season items that you can pair for layering. For example, consider starting with a long-sleeve, tissue-weight T-shirt, a pair of opaque tights, and ballet flats or booties. Next, layer on a floaty capped-sleeve or tank-style dress and top with a mid-weight cardigan or mid-weight jacket or trench. If you don't have a tissue-T that works, swap in a light-weight cardi and still cover it all with a jacket or trench. The same premise works with skinny jeans or leggings instead of the tights. Overall, opt for neutral colors, but bring in a pop of color in one clothing item and/or an accessory -- like chartreuse or plum tights, a spring-hued cardigan, or a zesty bag in orange, lemon or lime.

The point to layering, obviously, is that as the temperature warms during the day, you can delete an item from your ensemble. And then, at the end of the day, as the digits start to drop, you can don those items again.

In addition to floaty dresses, super-light Ts, tights, cardigans and jackets, skirts and dress shorts are other great layering options. Again, start with a base of a light-colored, light-weight T-shirt and opaque tights and then pull on shorts (or a skirt) and a crisp cotton shirt. You can top this with a light-weight cardigan or a short-sleeve belted sweater or a three-quarter kimono sleeve sweater. Pair with boots, booties or flats and a bright bag. And a scarf.

Scarves continue to be a stylish finish to most outfits -- but during sprinter, it's their practicality that I love. I have a range of light-weight scarves -- T-shirt material ones are great, as are lighter knits and crocheted styles, which you can wear in pairs to mix up texture and color. But that doesn't mean you should pack away your chunkier-knit scarves -- they can provide the right balance to those tights and booties you're using to make your sprinter outfits work.

Speaking of balance, just try to keep that in mind when you're layering and mixing things up to create an outfit. We've all seen those fashion don'ts. For example, don't mitigate the fluctuating temperatures by merely topping a go-to summer staple with your favorite parka or cozy winter coat. And don't try to lighten up a heavy winter ensemble by sliding on a strappy sandal at the last minute.

Certainly this post has been geared toward our female readers -- but men, you too can benefit from the basics of this post -- layering, balance and a pop of color go a long way in sprinter. And some of you may already be taking advantage of the added warmth mantyhose (a.k.a brosiery) provide -- although, I'm still on the fence regarding this fashion trend. Sure, I've purchased Under Armour leggings for my husband. But -- at least so far -- he wears them like long johns to combat cold temperatures, not as a fashion statement.

Do you have any favorite how-to tips to share? Any favorite sprinter ensembles? We'd love to hear about them. And don't forget to follow How-to Stuff on Facebook and Twitter.

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