November 5th, 2012 | Blog archive
Thermal underwear. It's hardly fashionable..., a little embarrassing even. But as someone who pretty much always feels cold from late October to around May, thermals are a winter essential.
I remember my mother and grandmother (who both keenly felt the cold) poring over the Damart catalogue each autumn. The resulting vests - made from Damart's proprietary thermal fabric Thermolactyl - were white (always white!) and a little scratchy. I didn't like them, but there was no denying that they kept you warm, so in my teens, when it got cold enough, I wore them anyway.
Looking up Damart again after all these years, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that not only are they still going strong 'warming the nation', but that they now offer thermals in a range of colours: many items are available in black, grey, and ecru, and there's also dusky rose, fuchsia, pale blue, lavender, cherry and more.
What's special about Damart is that they offer five grades of warmth, from light (grade 1) to maximum (grade 5), so you can match your vest to the temperature. My only criticism would be that the range is quite large and disorganised (many items seem to be very similar to each other), so it's tricky to know what to choose.
If Damart isn't your thing (or seems a step too far off the fashion wagon), then where else can you buy winter thermals?
Ebay, of course, has thousands listed, from a bargain 99p. However, you can quickly end up on tricky ground regarding quality and fit (and remember thermals need to fit nice and snugly in order to trap your body heat).
Strangely, most high street names seem to shy away from doing more than the occasional thermal garment. Next, for example, appears to offer a thermal range only for men. John Lewis offers a small, but uninspiring range. Very has a small selection too, but in standard black/cream. Tesco does have a reasonable range of microfiber Heat Plus thermals, but even here it's white, black, grey or, in a couple of cases, purple.
Fortunately we can always rely on good old Marks & Spencer to come up trumps! A search for women's thermals brings up well over 100 items. Here the trademark fibre blend is Heatgen™ ('keeps you as warm as toast'), available as leggings, vests, camisoles, short sleeve, long sleeve, polo neck and cowl neck thermal tops, and even thermal bodies, socks and tights.