I will plan to layer clothes, but what types of fabrics will be light in weight, size and still keep a cold- blooded person warm?
Merino wool ($) or cashmere ($$$)! Polartec fleece.
I LOVE my pashmina shawl for just those reasons (for Susan, anyway!). I wear it on the plane (to use like a blanket)and it weights next to nothing in your day bag of choice while out and about. It covers your shoulders if you decide to duck into a cathedral or nice cafe, too...and worn folded like a scarf.
Depending on the season and where you are going, I strongly recommend silk long underwear. I have both
the top and bottoms but wear the top most often. It is so light and thin it will in your handbag. It is soft and comforting to your skin. I often wear it even at home in the dead of winter. You can buy it at a good price at Sierra Trading (cheaper than Lands End, etc.). Otherwise I find fleece fabulous. I have an Angelfleece nightgown from Lands End which is my favorite..so much so that I now have 2. I have even been known to sleep in my fleece jacket if it is really cold. Hope this helps!!!
For your base layer (next to skin) you want something that wicks the moisture awayfrom your skin. A lot of people like capilene or some other flavor of polypropylene. Some like silk. They all come in different weights for the level of outside cold and how long you will be in it and your activity level. For a mid layer, merino wool, silk sweaters polar fleece. You'll also want a breathable shell as an outer layer. Goretex maybe?
Don't forget your head and your feet. Merino wool socks are great. Smartwool is a favorite brand of mine. You can also use a polypro liner as well. Some form of hat to keep the heat in will do wonders to keep you warm.
I will second the suggestion of silk long underwear. I bought mine at Winter Silks (online). I wore it to Seattle in March and it was fabulous. I went on a very cold whale watching tour and it was quite helpful!
Thank you all very much! I get very cold easily, and bought some thin polyester long underwear and some thin silk for my daughter, but I didn't realize it comes in different weights. Now I think I'd like to buy the heavy weight silk, just in case. I'd rather do that than bring a heavy jacket. I'm planning to just bring a rain coat along with a few thin layers.
We are going to Austria, Bavaria and Italy- Venice down to Rome in Sept.- Oct. I just hate to be cold, yet it is hard to know how cool it may be.
My suggestion for a jacket is to get a gore-tex or comparable hooded one. We bought them from REI a few years ago when going on an Alaskan cruise. They work great as an outer layer over regular clothes, sweatshirt or sweater. Ours are long enough to sit on, too. They are not thick or "puffy" and keep cold and wind out. Wind pants are another idea. You can take them off when not needed.
Unless you hang out on the mountain tops, you are unlikely to encounter any significant cold weather in those locations in October and September. My advice? Pack light, and if you need something warmer, buy it in Europe.
Microfiber works the best for me, but I wear something very light under.
I can't stand wool or cashmere. They both itch my skin like crazy.
Also I used layering. A very stretchy long sleeve top with something else over it kept me warm or many hours.
We have been to Austria in late Nov/early Dec. I wear cotton blend pants(allergic to wool), a long sleeved T or turtleneck, a "big shirt" or sweater and a heavily lined "wind breaker" type coat. I also wear a hooded scarf and gloves. My husband wears cotton blend "long johns" under jeans or cotton blend "dockers" type pants, a jean shirt and a leather jacket with a hat and gloves- on REALLY cold days he may wear a long sleeved T or turtleneck under the jean shirt. I too, HATE to be cold and find that I don't need to wear nearly as much as I first thought I might. The walking (lots and lots for us) and going in to stores, museums(some very hot) or stopping for tea or hot chocolate helps keep you warm.
Also, make sure your layers will allow you to have at least one warm-weather outfit. A few years ago, I was in Italy (Venice, Florence, Rome) in September and it was HOT.
unless you'll be out in the wet weather a lot, I had great luck with a thin fleece and a running jacket/windbreaker. they were both light and the running jacket was only needed when it sprinkled or the wind kicked up - otherwise, I folded it up and it stowed away really compact in my pack
Living in So Cal there's not much to compare "cold" to. So I pack my warmest items that I use for skiing (ie thermals, long sleeves) and if I need to get a warmer item, I buy it over there.