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How to dress for the winter weather


Dressing for the Austrian winter needn’t be a problem. Elle Blakeman explains how to look your best in the great outdoors when the temperature plummets

Elle Blakeman portrait
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Elle Blakeman ,

Far from mourning the loss of summer in Austria, here the winter season brings a calendar of events so delightful that you will be praying for an end to daylight-savings time. Aside from the slew of balls, classical music festivals and other celebrated cultural events, there is the ski season; Austria has some of the best resorts in the world, from the quiet, chocolate-box town of Sankt Josef to the altogether livelier Sankt Anton, and all host famously extravagant parties for the opening week.

Meanwhile, from mid-November, Austria’s cities are busy spreading festive cheer through their traditional Christmas markets, when the streets of Vienna, Salzburg, Linz, Innsbruck and many other towns are filled with pine trees and scores of fairy lights, while locals sell everything from candles and festive decorations to biscuits and mulled wine that perfume the streets with the spicy sweet aroma of Christmas.

While Austria is a wonderful place to be in colder weather, dressing to enjoy it demands real sartorial skill. While summer revellers can flit out of the door unencumbered by serious thoughts or heavy outerwear, their winter counterparts must take more heed of the conditions outside. Thankfully, there are several high-fashion options to help you brave the elements in style.

Firstly, just because it’s dark outside doesn’t mean your wardrobe has to match; cerulean blue parkas from Missoni looked fantastic on the autumn/winter 2014/15 catwalks and will see you through many a chilly day of city sightseeing. Derek Lam has a beautiful oversized blazer in burnt orange; meanwhile, Chloé has created a stunning wine-hued structured coat, kept fresh and modern with a cream kimono-style sash – a great day-to-evening piece.

Local Austrian designer Lena Hoschek is also a great place to go if you need a jacket that won’t bulk out your outfit. With a fun 1950s feel, her fitted coats and jackets often incorporate a playful flair and cheering colours and prints. For evening events, it can be tempting to opt for something big and full-length, but try to resist as it can ruin the aesthetic of a carefully planned dress. ‘I prefer to stick to something that just covers the top half, such as a cape from Balenciaga, or a beautiful cashmere pashmina from someone like N Peal,’ says A-list stylist Sarah Hogan.

Burberry, whose clothing is renowned for its ability to battle the elements with panache (a skill honed on the trickiest of weather, London rain), has updated its traditional trench with a cape version; throw casually over everything from jeans and boots to a silk dress for an effortlessly tasteful effect. 

Native Austrian Helmut Lang may no longer be at the helm of his eponymous label, but it remains renowned for sharp leather jackets, sleek coats and layered knits. This season’s funnel-neck, cocoon-shaped shearling jacket is the closest thing to a stylish sleeping bag you can get, the perfect outerwear in which to cut a dash in the chill of an Austrian winter. Simply add a glass of mulled wine and a snow-capped view for an experience that marries winter charm with stylish verve.

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