This past weekend I was a cold weather coach for my brother’s girlfriend. She has just moved from California to Boston, and is terrified of her first New England winter. Answering questions about when it’s appropriate to wear a hood (whenever you’re cold, but definitely November – February), and what to do with your hair (let it go—the wind will make it a mess regardless), inspired me to share my top tips for surviving winter weather.
Not all gear is created equal
Even though I usually advocate being frugal, sometimes it’s just not worth losing your toes to frostbite. Since I’ve lived in the Northeast my entire life, I have a wide wardrobe to cover all seasons. But when it gets really cold, certain garments always come out on top.
Good performance wool socks are my favorite winter staple, and I especially like the super tall Smartwool socks that I have. Wool sweaters keep the warmth in far better than a couple cotton layers, and my cute low boots get traded in for tall, practical ones with treads. And while my thin gloves work most of the time, I swap up to my amazing ski mittens that keep my fingers warm, even in zero degree weather.
I should also mention that I’m a big fan of long coats that reach to just above the knee. They help keep wind from blowing up your back and keep your legs warm. The coat gets extra bonus points if it has cotton sleeves on the inside that are tight around your wrist to keep wind and snow out.
Invest in good quality outerwear and layers and it will keep you far warmer than the cheap stuff. I suggest that you look at camping/outdoor stores, like REI, or purchase gear made for skiing and snowboarding.
Take care of your face
Even when you’re bundled up, a little bit of skin is going to peek out and be damaged by the angry winter. You don’t want to look weather-ravaged, so you’ve got to protect your skin. I always have my Burt’s Bee’s lip balm on me to protect my lips. But I usually take things a little further and use the bee’s wax balm on my cheeks and nose to help protect myself from the wind. I also swear by thick lotion for my face, Nivea Crème, to hydrate even my most destroyed skin.
Keep adding layers
If you’re new to the winter weather, there’s literally not a point where you’re wearing too many layers. When I lived in Western New York for school, I often had to walk over a mile in the freezing cold, with snowdrifts blowing across open fields. To cope I would wear tights or long johns under my jeans, plus an undershirt, long sleeved shirt, and sweater, all under my winter jacket with multiple scarves, a hat, and my hood up. Trust me– it was cold.
Layers will do well to keep you insulated and warm. By layering you also give yourself the opportunity to adjust better to the inside temperature. You want to be able to survive the outside weather without sweating up a storm when you come indoors.
Looks don’t matter- temperature does
Personally, I feel that there’s a certain point in the winter where it doesn’t matter what you look like if you’re warm. I have rocked the most ridiculous faux-fur hats, and been wrapped up like a mummy. But frankly, the winter is hard in many places, and it can be very uncomfortable. If you’ve figured out a way to defend yourself against winter, then do it. Don’t worry how you look if you’re warm.