It’s February and we still have a few more months to go before it gets warmer outside (at least if you’re in the Northern hemisphere). Don’t let intermittent sunshine fool you — the next two months can be surprisingly cold with unexpected blizzards coming out of nowhere, so don’t let yourself get caught unprepared. When you find yourself needing to layer up for the cold weather, long johns are a reliable and easy way to keep warm. We’ve come a long way with this type of base layer in terms of fabrics, colors and ways to style them. Read on to find out our top ways to style long johns this winter.
What are long johns?
Long johns are a type of undergarment designed to provide warmth and insulation in cold weather. They’re typically worn as a base layer underneath other clothing to help insulate and maintain body heat. Long johns can be made with a variety of materials including wool, cotton, synthetic fibers (like rayon, nylon and polyester), and sometimes a blend of natural and synthetic fibers. They have a snug fit to maximize heat retention and fit easily underneath your clothing. Long johns are usually worn for outdoor activities like skiing, snow shoeing, hiking and snow tubing, making it easier to bear the harsh climate.
It's not 100 percent certain where the name long johns comes from, but there are two popular theories. The first one suggests that they were named after 19th century American boxer, John L. Sullivan, who famously wore long and tight-fitting underwear during his matches. Another existing theory is that the name comes from the 19th century slang name for men’s underwear, johns, simply describing long underwear. Either way, long johns have been a winter staple for centuries, inspired by men’s underwear but now worn by everyone.
How to Style Women's Long Johns
Long johns have come a long way from what they were decades ago. While previously they could be bulky and itchy, they’re now smoother, thinner and more versatile. They’re much easier to style now and come in different variations to suit your fashion vibe of the day.
1. Short Long Johns
Let’s say you want an extra layer underneath a skirt, dress or shorts, but don’t want them to be visible. Enter short long johns or as we like to call them, undershorts. Thigh Society shorts were originally designed to prevent chafing in the thigh, groin and booty areas, but they’re also a breathable extra layer that can help keep you warm. While long johns cover the entire leg, our undershorts hit above the knee making them easy to pair with an outfit that shows the lower part of your legs. They’re also great to wear under or over a pair of tights to protect your skin from the abrasive material (bonus: they also help keep your tights from rolling down). This cropped style of long johns is versatile, comforting and keeps you warm — we especially love The Staple shorts for this purpose. Rumor has it that we’ll be making our shorts a little longer (beyond knee-length), so stay tuned for that!
2. Wool Long Johns
For centuries, wool has been one of the best materials to stay warm and dry, and that’s what makes this textile so great for long johns. Merino wool has become extremely popular in the last few years as it’s a breathable and comfortable material, helping you to stay warm without being sweaty. While wool long johns might have been itchy in the past, this new blend of wool feels luxurious and soft against your skin. Wear them under a pair of ski pants on a really cold day to stay toasty out in the cold or use them as a barrier against chilly breezes when you wear them with a skirt or under trousers.
3. Sheer Long Johns
Not everyone loves tights and sheer long johns provide a useful alternative to the winter staple. There are many sheer long john options where the material is light yet warming. Some popular fabric options for this style of long johns include micro modal and lightweight polyester blends. Opacity can vary so some of these women’s long johns might look like thin tights while others appear closer to sheer leggings. This style is perfect for people who don’t like the foot coverage of tights or the waistband which can roll down or feel very restrictive. These babies stay in place and keep you toasty even on the freezing days when no one wants to go outside.