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Staying Warm But Make It Fashion

I've literally never lived anywhere that has winter temperatures that don't dip into the negatives with or without windchill. Ever. Buffalo, Cleveland, and New York City aren't the warmest cities in the world and you have to learn how to adapt your wardrobe if you don't want to completely freeze. You're still probably going to freeze no matter what, but at least a warm outfit will prolong the process. The issue comes in when you want to dress weather appropriate but it's also like thirty degrees outside plus the wind and you just don't feel like dealing with that cold biting your skin even through your clothes. Sometimes a warm coat isn't even enough!

Through trial and error, I've picked up some little "life hacks" that actually aren't lifehacks but are pretty much just common sense moves when it comes to trying to keep warm. Sometimes you have to get creative to stay warm with certain outfits, but fashion doesn't have to die during the winter! I find it ten times easier to be fashionable when it's freezing than when it's sweltering, mostly because I don't have sweat pouring out of all of my orifices that causes all of my clothes to become see-through and sticky to my body in inopportune places.

Look, in actuality, most people on the street aren't going to see your outfit, they're going to see whatever jacket you're wearing. Duh. I know this. But what you wear under said outerwear can still make all the difference. You can't wear a t-shirt under a teddy bear coat on a day when it's twenty degrees outside and expect to be warm. Hell, I wore my thick teddy bear coat with a thick sweater and pair of jeans last night and I was literally an icicle for about an hour. 

However, don't completely ignore outerwear! It's what can sink or swim the practicality of an outfit. Make sure your jacket is lined. Try to find something with natural fibers, like wool. If you can't, don't worry, just really focus on the lining and also the thickness and texture of the fabric. My J.Crew Cocoon Coat and H&M teddy coat keep me about the same temperature while one is just a "flat" wool and the other is obviously a thick teddy bear style but both do the trick. I always recommend trying things on in the store too and maybe sizing up so you can layer bulky sweaters underneath without feeling stiff like a robot. There's nothing worse than that feeling!

The name of the game is honestly to layer. But like, strategically layer. It wasn't very warm on this day when I took these photos. It's not pictured here, but I was wearing a black aviator jacket this day. You also can't see it here because the collar of my dress comes up so high, but I'm wearing a black cashmere sweater underneath this dress. It's fairly thin and it's unlined, so I had to do something to take it from spring and summer to fall and winter. 

Strategically layering tops can come in all forms. It can be as simple as popping a t-shirt under a sweater as an undershirt to add a thin extra layer or could be wearing a form-fitting turtleneck under another turtleneck to add a layer of warmth without really any extra added bulk. The key is to add something underneath that (1) isn't going to be distracting visually and (2) isn't going to inhibit any natural movement and (3) doesn't ruin the integrity of an outfit. 

My black sweater here ticked off all the checkpoints. You couldn't see it at all unless you stood eye to eye with my collarbone and saw the tiny peek of black through the tiny little keyhole on my collarbone. I could still fully move my arms, the sweater was very soft and there was more than enough room in the sleeves for it and the loose silhouette didn't give anything away. The sweater added warmth without even affecting the look whatsoever. It just took an extra step to put it on in the morning and that's literally it.

I've done denim jackets under oversized jackets. I rely heavily on thick tights. I've been known to wear them underneath just about anything: jumpsuits, leggings, my looser jeans, hell even my skinny jeans from time to time. During the dead of winter, I never like whatever my outfit is to be the only layer aside from my jacket that the wind can easily penetrate. Nuh uh! It's like peeling an onion that never ends. Trying to get undressed during the winter is like cleaning out half of my wardrobe because I play the game of how many clothes can I shove myself into without anybody noticing. 

Even the tiny things like wearing socks with your tights can make a huge difference. Cold toes are the worst! Also, while you're at it, don't think you're too cool for gloves. Get a nice pair of neutral tech gloves and make them your best friend. If you're not into warm bauble hats, which is fine, at least put something on your head to keep the heat in even if it doesn't necessarily cover your ears. Do a beret or baker boy cap or even a baseball hat. Whatever you desire, just do whatever you can to keep that warmth circulating through your body.

We can't always be cocooned under a blanket fort, unfortunately, but you don't just have to rely on your coat to keep yourself warm and toasty during the winter. Though I will admit, a massive teddy bear coat really does have the opportunity to make you feel like you're living on a cloud when you have a chance to get real comfortable in it...

Dress: H&M
Sweater (unpictured): Saks
Tights: Probably Duane Reade
Shoes: Sam & Libby
Hat: Epoch
Bag: Rebecca Minkoff

Photos by Emily Polner


  1. I like to think I mastered winter layering last year, but I'm failing this year so far! I accidentally wore a long sleeve tee & jacket yesterday and was FREEZING. I swear by fleece lined tights!

    Kendal / Life With Kendal


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