Why Should You Wear Dark Clothes in the Winter?

Dark clothes absorb heat to keep you warmer.

Photo: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images

Maybe you wear dark clothing in winter because you've always done it, or that's how your momma raised you. There's a few different hypotheses on why we gravitate toward browns, grays, blacks and navys as temperatures drop. You can foray into brighter hues with a pop of color, especially as winter stretches toward spring. But dark hues dominate the market.

Historically

White clothing historically was the style choice of wealthy Americans summering at resorts. Paler garb took on more of a "vacation" feel, leaving darker the clothing of urban dwellers. As summer ended each year with Labor Day, people traditionally tucked away the resort wear in favor of darker clothes. The change of palette reinforced the "back to work" and "back to school" sensibility, and it endures today.

Scientifically

Dark colors like black absorb heat, as anyone who's gotten into a dark car in the heat of summer knows. Light colors reflect heat. Wearing dark gear in cold weather will keep you warmer by absorbing much more of the sun's heat than paler hues. In areas with freezing winters, a dose of free heat is hard to beat! Dark clothing also hides mud stains, dirt stains and other potential hazards of being outdoors in inclement weather. Not so for lighter garb.

Culturally

If everyone else is opting for navy, charcoal and black, chances are you're doing it too. Especially in a business environment where you need to fit into office culture, wearing similar clothing helps. There's probably a cultural perception that you've got to wear dark in winter that keeps your palette more somber. Likewise, designers put out clothes in darker hues, and also bright ones like red and hot pink. You've got to buy what's warm and on trend, which is typically dark.

Incorporating Color

You can and should incorporate light or bright color into winter outfits. Whether it's winter white, true white -- now OK to wear post-Labor Day, in you missed the memo -- or other colors, strategic hues break up winter doldrums. Incorporate color into scarves and other accessories, such as handbags. Opt for a springy skirt, paired with opaque black tights to keep you warm. Pair vivid hues with your winter pieces to look good and feel warm.

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