Hey Guys! So shortly after I posted this picture to my Instagram, I started getting DM’s asking for tips on choosing a winter jacket that is actually warm, reasonably priced, and lasts well. Those conversations then kind of grew into questions about base layers, the best (actual) winter boots and the inevitable “It gets how cold there?” If you want tips on dressing warm in snowy and cold conditions, I recommend asking a prairie region Canadian. While our neighbors on the east coast deal with moist cold, snow and freezing rain, and our neighbors in the Okanagan can deal with intense amounts of snow- in the past month, my city has had temperatures above freezing, around -30Celcius, freezing rain, snowfall warnings and frigid sunshine. We see a little bit of it all which means our winter gear has to be pretty well-rounded- especially considering we can go from above zero and sunny in the morning to flash freezing with frigid temps overnight.
Let’s start with base layers- I keep base layers on hand for when it’s cold out, but I have to be outside. I recommend any cold-weather commuter (especially if you walk like me!) have two items to start their outfit off warm: thermal tops and thermal leggings. With thermal leggings, you have 2 choices- base layer that is designed to be covered (usually made of thin merino wool that can be see-through and NEEDS covered), and base layer that is all-in-one. I prefer all-in-one, because then you can cover it or not, depending on what type of day it is. I’ve spent anywhere from $15 to $200 on base layer pants over my time, and I can honestly say that unless you’re going to be running outdoors for an extended period of time, the $15 to $60 range is perfectly fine.
Women’s UA BaseTM 2.0 Leggings • Under Armour • $54.99 Nike Pro Hyperwarm Fleece-Lined Leggings • Nike • $45 Heatgen PlusTM Brushed Thermal Leggings • Marks and Spencer • $32 Wander by Hottotties Wander® by Hottotties® Women’s Tech Fleece Reversible Thermal Leggings • $17.99
The next item is thermal tops. I have a bunch of different types, from fleece-flocked to merino wool and waffled cotton- the most important thing is that they aren’t too tight, allowing warm air to be between you and the top (and whatever you put on top of it). Sleeves with thumb holes make suiting up for an outside adventure easier. This isn’t something that you have to spend a lot of money on- most of mine are from Walmart, Target, Costco and the occasional Running Room one. Just keep in mind that the wide-necked versions you may see your favorite bloggers and instagrammers wearing on their feeds (I’m guilty, too!) are designed to wear with a scarf or on warmer days where heat leaching out your neck and chest won’t effect you as much. When it’s really cold, or you need to be outside for a while, choose one that buttons or zips up.
Fresh Produce Portland Thermal Top • Fresh Produce • $29.99–37.39 Wishlist Longsleeve Thermal Top • $36 Obey – Dune Thermal Top Women’s Clothing • Obey • $34.99 LAmade – Thermal Top With Thumbholes Women’s Sweater • LAmade • $50.99–64
Next is footwear, but let’s kick it off with talk of socks- for when it’s cold, wear wool or thermal socks. I have heat-tech ones from Mark’s Work Wearhouse, but you can get great ones in loads of places. Remember to have it come up the ankle so it doesn’t slide off your foot in boots.
Now, for boots. If you’re looking for ONE pair of true winter boots to see you through, I recommend Sorel. This is for a couple of reasons- they actually keep you warm, with the thermal interior unaffected by being crushed down during wear like sherpa or shearling lining. The other reason is the grip soles and rubberized tops. If I’m spending 100-200$ on a pair of boots, I don’t want them to stain from melting snow, salt or let my feet get wet. And they have to have a non-slip sole. I have “pretty” boots for when conditions are ideal- I don’t worry about my cold-weather ones being terribly cute, but Sorel has some options that are far cuter than the clunky boots of way-back-when.
One thing that does make a difference in terms of winter accessories is whether or not your mitts and toques (or beanies as non-Canadians call them) are lined. Fleece and sherpa lining in knits are best for keeping you warm- unless you’re driving, I recommend against leather gloves. You need that pocket of warm air and your fingers cuddled together to share heat. You’ll notice I’m not sharing any scarves- any will do for this, but I’m particularly fond of heavy knits. Good mitts and toques will last if you care for them well, but if you’re like me and take the bus- I’d go on the cheaper end for the mitts in case you drop them somewhere gross.
SONOMA Goods for Life Women’s SONOMA Goods for LifeTM Space-Dyed Braided Cable Lined Mittens • $12 madden NYC Women’s Lined Spectrum Knit Mittens • $12 Isotoner Chunky Cable Mitten W/ Sherpa Soft Lining • Isotoner • $34 Plush – Fleece-Lined Chunky Knit Hat with Faux Fur Pom Pom Beanies • Plush • $66 boohoo Erin Pearl Embellished Fleece Line Beanie • boohoo • $5 Patagonia Lined Beanie • Patagonia • $45 Plush Cable Knit Fleece Lined Beanie • Plush • $55 Madewell Skrallan Cuffed Wool Beanie • Madewell • $35
Parkas, Vests and Jackets
Did you know not all jackets are parkas? Yeah me either. Technically a parka is longer than hip length, though, so if you’re looking for one sensible warm coat – a parka is what you need. If you have the cash to really invest, down vs. synthetic doesn’t matter much in terms of heat- if you pack away your coats, down will crush down and not be as warm the next year, though. For the lightness and easy care, I prefer synthetic- plus it’s much more affordable and as an added bonus, if you confirm it’s faux fur trimmed it could be a better ethical choice (depending on where and how it was made).
The North Face Metropolis Parka II • The North Face • $289 The North Face Gotham Vest • The North Face • $89.50–99.99 The North Face – Metropolis Parka II Women’s Coat • The North Face • $173–289 Columbia Voodoo Puffer Coat • Columbia • $90 Soia & Kyo Karine Coyote Fur Trimmed Wool Coat • Soia & Kyo • $645 Soia & Kyo Hooded Down Coat • Soia & Kyo • Sold Out
Do you have anything you just CAN’T live without in the cold? Let me know in the comments!