So lets get real. Cold weather is just not fashionable. And while I’ve browsed many a fashion blog to find more chic winter apparel. Nothing comes even close to being remotely warm. Sorry, but a wool jacket is just not going to cut it against -20 degree windchill.
So when I DO go on the hunt for new winter duds, I don’t even bother looking at regular stores. Winter is rough around the midwest and its particularly brutal in Chicago. We’re stuck with frigid temps and even more frigid wind chills. We’re not called the Windy City for nothin! (Actually we’re called the Windy City because of political “windbags” not the actual wind…) Now to be fair, there are a few items on my little collection below that you can purchase at places like Nordstrom and Target or American Eagle, but most of my research I did came through Outdoor Gear Lab
(they review outdoor gear!) or via sites like REI
. Because lets be honest, those places are for the real adventurers, the people who go on frozen expeditions and ice climbing and all that jazz, and if you want to brave the below freezing temps…why wouldn’t you buy the same things that they buy!?
Here are a few of the things I found that are for braving the blizzardy temps!
Can you tell I love some black and blue!? I wanna give ya some deets on a few of the items listed above because not all are rated weather gear. Because in reality, no one really WANTS to wear ski gloves even though they’ll keep your hands warm.
Mittens are more likely to keep your hands warmer. I haven’t had a pair of regular gloves in AGES. I stick to thick wool mittens that are lined with a jersey, shearling or fleece. You know how if you’re stranded out in the cold with another person you’re supposed to get naked and lay together to stay warm? Its that skin on skin body contact that keeps you warm, same thing goes for your hands. When your fingers each have their own place to go, they can’t rub together and keep themselves warm! So Mittens are my thaaang. The gray ones above are from North Face and are a pretty penny ($40), but at least they’re cute! The blue mittens are from Topshop, and run you $26 but they’re lined with fleece and have a matching hat!
When it comes to hats, I’ve had them all. I like hats, hate the hat hair (say that three times fast!) I love a hat with a heavy wool, a extra layer around the band (to keep the itching to a minimum) and I generally stick to black. The black Smartwool hat above will run you $40 at REI, but its Smartwool (which I’ll talk a little more about when we get to the socks), and its got a jersey lined headband, compared to the typical fleece (can you say staticky hair?!) . The other hat I while it isn’t double lined, its still pretty cute, that one is from Akira and runs you about $20. For me a good hat is going to cover your ears, because why wear a hat if you’re going to leave your ears hanging out!?
So lets talk about the socks. I did a little unofficial poll on Facebook on what the best winter socks are. I come from a family of hunters and outdoorsy types (I missed that gene somewhere) so they all spend a bit of their time in the freezing temps, whether deer hunting, ice fishing or just hiking. They know their socks. Everyone agreed: Get SmartWool. They’re warm, mold to your feet and look pretty snazzy! The black pair above are the SmartWool and come from REI, they’re not cheap, running around $25 a pair. But from everyones great reviews they’re well worth it. The pink pair, are from Wigwam and are another good for cold weather sock. This particular style is the 40 below, thick, ultra warm and keep your feet dry. Plus they’re a little cheaper ($13) and available at Dicks Sporting Goods. I may just stop off and get a pair (or two) because damn my feet were cold!
Good winter jackets are expensive as shit. I’m not talking $150, I’m talking $500-$900 expensive. For me, warmth in the winter trumps looking good.
“I’d rather look like a garbage bag stuffed marshmallow then be cold and fashionable. “
A North Face is always a good option. I love mine, even though sometimes I still get chilly, its a really good coat for harsh winters. On the lower end of the expensive scale (running anywhere from $180-$500) they’re well worth the price. If I could afford it, I’d get the purple Patagonia jacket from Backcountry.com
(runs you about $529) but its waterproof, double layered with a puffer jacket on the interior and the hard shell on the outside. The reviews for the super, super cold weather aren’t fantastic (14 degrees and below it still leaves you a little cold, but for regular everyday winter coat, its great) I have a Columbia Jacket that is similar 2 in 1 that was always super warm, but uber bulky. This Patagonia one is slimmer and more elongated rather than a big rounded square. I like the purple but it also comes in blue, black, olive and gray. As much as I would LOVE to get a Canada Goose one, the longer versions run around $700-800. Definitely out of my price range.
I’ve been back and forth on boots for quite some time. Should I buy a pair of new ones and drop $150 only to have to pack them in a suitcase 9 months from now and add another 10lbs to my weight or just buy a cheaper pair that I don’t care if I donate. So for my boot selections I put the boots I want, and the boots I’ll likely buy. The Sorel Joan of Arctic are a #1 seller and really great for harsh, brutal winters. Its definitely my top choice when it comes to boots. Overall, I like that they’re intended for frigid temps, look cute and are a good quality. But for $150 I’m struggling with whether to buy them or not. In my hunt for new winter boots, I found a similar pair at Target for $45. While I can’t verify the quality, they have pretty mixed reviews online. I’m still on the fence, I may be able to get one more season in with my current hot pink Coach snow boots especially if I snag a couple pairs of warmer socks and some more fleece lined tights (also a winter neccessity).
I never got onto the Blanket Scarf trend until this year. I actually have the gray scarf above (from Target) in turquoise and I gotta say, I LOVE IT. Not only does it keep me warm and cover half my head if need be, it also acts as a blanket in office. So I can snuggle up when the office is just too chilly for my comfort (which is like 90% of the time). The other blanket scarf above is from American Eagle, super gorgeous colors, which is what attracted me. For me, the bigger the scarf the better. You can wrap yourself up a gazillion times over and be warm and toasty! These ones run about $20-30 which is about average for a blanket scarf. If you head over to Zara.com
you can get some of their super famous ones on sale! Express also had some great blankety scarves a few months back, but I can’t seem to find them online, might be worth a little trip into a store and see if they’re in the clearance section!
So what are your MUST haves for the really brutal winter months?!