History in the Making

Staying Stylish in the Cold, Style File Friday

Depending on where you live, wondering how to dress in the cold may not be a question you have to ask yourself. When I lived in Dublin, I never had to worry about having multiple layers on, if I would get frostbite being outside more than 5 minutes, or really make a change other than bringing an umbrella with me (unless I was going into the city). However, here in Winnipeg, and many other cold places, your winter wardrobe drastically changes so that you physically don’t freeze. These are my top 3 tips to help you with styling stylish in the cold!

Staying Stylish in the Cold

The way I dress can make a massive impact on how I am feeling mentally. Wearing sweatpants and leggings puts me in a relaxed and quite frankly lazy state of mind. That’s not a problem at home for the most part, but when I’m at work or actually need to do something, it becomes an issue. I also believe that we expect too much of our clothing, and that having some division between our clothing helps make it last longer. (Why does one shirt need to take you from your day at work to an evening out with the girls to a family brunch?! It is ONE shirt.) However, the fact that it can reach -45°C and colder here means that I have to put a lot of thought into how to have a sense of style without physically putting myself in danger.

Skip the Fashion Coat

Do I love peacoats more than most people? Yes, yes I do. Do I wear one myself? Only for evenings out when I am guaranteed less than 15 minutes outside at a time. Peacoats aren’t actually meant for cold weather. And no, I don’t mean 5°C cold, I mean -25°C cold. Yes, if you have a true wool peacoat, it would probably be warm enough. However, most people balk at paying several hundred dollars to get that true wool peacoat, and it’s most likely not going to be in a stylish cut. So, skip the fashion coat hanging in your closet and wear your parka.

None of us are paying attention to what you are wearing before and after the event, we are paying attention to you during the event. And if I do notice what you are wearing for outerwear, 9 out of 10 times it is because you look frozen in a thin coat. Bundle up, wear your cosy hat and mittens, and make sure that you don’t start the evening off by wondering if your necklace has frozen to your skin.

Columbia Parka for Cold Weather Style

Pay Attention to Your Legs

(That might be one of the weirder sub-headings I’ve used on the blog…) I am a big of fan of skirts and dresses; you will almost always see me in a skirt or dress for an evening out, and much of the time at work. Why does that matter? Because no stockings or tights are made to provide any sort of warmth! I know that you can buy fleece lined leggings but those look very casual and undermine any sort of formal look. And normal pantyhose and stockings do exactly nothing for keeping your legs warm! So, you have to factor your legs into every thing.

Aside from an evening out at the ballet or the theatre, I will wear Lululemon leggings or snow pants (depending on the weather and how long of a walk I have) on top of my tights in and out of everywhere. I remove them along with my jacket and outerwear, have stayed warm, and can still have the style that I want. If I am wearing pants that need layering, I will usually go with sweatpants because they easily fit over most of my dress pants. But in either case, I’m making sure that my legs are covered! And ALWAYS make sure you have extra warm clothes in your car.

Fun tip: Flannel pyjama pants are actually fantastic for this purpose because they are loose fitting, and help with keeping in heat. If you are heading somewhere that you can remove them immediately, they can make a huge difference!

Warm loose clothing

Wear the Right Fabrics

Different fabrics are known for different things. Linen is light and breezy, lycra is flexible, and cotton is known for durability. Now is the time of year to find fabrics that are both warm and breath-able! I have two go-tos for this purpose- cotton, and wool. I have a few cotton sweaters that are cosy and warm but can still be dressed up for most events that I go to! Collared shirts are wonderful for taking something up a notch from casual. Balancing a sweater with a full skirt tends to still look quite formal, so you don’t have to worry about a sweater dressing you down!

Wool is also incredibly warm! I find most wool scratchy and uncomfortable, but Merino wool is very soft and very warm. I have a beautiful 100% Merino wool sweater from the Gap in both black and cherry red, and it is possibly the warmest sweater that I own. (And the thinnest- what is this fabric magic???) You can’t wear thin polyester shirts or dresses, and then wonder why you are frozen. Spend a little bit of time with the composition tags on your clothing (and clothing you will be buying) to get a better feeling for what will keep you warmest!

Fair Isle and Cable Knit Sweaters

Do you care about staying stylish in the cold or are you all about the comfort?

The Historian
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4 thoughts on “Staying Stylish in the Cold, Style File Friday”

  • I don’t think I would ever be able to live there. It gets toooo cold and my body (especially my hands and toes) wouldn’t be able to take it. On the other hand, these are great suggestions for if it ever gets cold again here (like a proper wind-chill. Thanks!

    • I have quite poor circulation in my hands and feet, but I would honestly say that anyone can live here, you just have dress appropriately and limit your time outside! A lot of it comes down to putting on your mitts/ scarf/ boots on a few minutes before you go out so you have actually generated enough heat! For my arthritis, the damp cold in Toronto is FAR worse- it is a dry cold here, so bundling up actually does help. No matter how much I put on in TO, I couldn’t get warm 🙁

  • I can’t believe it gets that cold there. That’s crazy!! We still get pretty cold, too, so I’ve also learned to bundle up in the winter. I also LOVE peacoats, but I only own two — one in maroon that I can wear for everyday in, like, October and November only; and one in a gorgeous cherry red that I bought over 10 years ago (after seeing Natalie’s coat in Love Actually) that I only haul out for Christmas week, lol. It’s much too cold in the winter here to wear anything but my down puffy coat.

    • When it is literally colder than Mars, you forego all stylish choices in favour of not getting frostbite haha. I do enjoy going down to the US in the winter- other than North Dakota/Minnesota/Michigan, no one is as cold as we are, so it is a lovely warm break!! (Heated seats and steering wheel are also a life saver….)

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