The trickiest dress code to get right isn’t smart-casual, it’s smart-cold. Smart-cold doesn’t get printed in invitations, but it is an unspoken dress code with which you will almost certainly have to grapple over the next two months. One can’t neglect standards just because the mercury dips. It’s too bad for morale.
It goes without saying that keeping warm is the most important issue here; smart-cold is never about shivering or wearing fewer clothes. But if you abandon all sartorial coordinates and dress only for warmth, piling on random layers and hats and scarves and gloves, you end up lumpy and bundled and chaotic. Snowman-who-got-dressed-in-the-dark is not a good look, and streamlining your outfit can help you feel more in control of your battle with the elements.
So, three points. First: underwear. Uniqlo’s HeatTech under layerings do the heavy lifting invisibly, while John Lewis 150 denier fleece-lined tights get me out of bed on the coldest mornings. Second: polo necks. There is almost no outfit not improved by a sleek polo neck. This is an off-white wool one I bought from Marks & Sparks a couple of years ago. A jacket or coat that has a bulky collar looks messy worn with a scarf, and this is just as warm. White has a pleasing 1970s après-ski vibe that I enjoy (I can’t ski, but that’s irrelevant) and for a smart daytime look works well under an open-necked white shirt and a dark blazer.