My parents, as all good parents should, have always been concerned with my warmth. Winter coat shopping was always a huge ordeal in my house, growing up. It didn’t matter what type of outerwear all the other kids were getting or what I thought was cool, I got the coat that would keep me the warmest. In elementary school, I hated being the oddball who was wearing a hunter green coat down to my ankles paired with a full-blown snow suit but, in retrospect, I’m glad I did. Not only was I able to wear that coat for years, compared to my schoolmates who had to purchase a new one each year, but I was really, really, warm. Since then, I’ve learned, through much experience, that cold weather and I don’t really get along. Being a smaller individual definitely does not benefit me in any way when it comes to staying warm. Seriously, I’m like a damn Chihuahua once the snow starts falling and I’m always the first out of anyone to turn blue and start shivering. While I have become slightly more adept to the weather of my state over the years, there’s no denying that I’ve learned a few tricks here and there to help stay warm.
If growing up in Michigan taught me anything about how to dress for the weather, it’s how important it is to be prepared for literally anything. Michigan is infamous bipolar weather; One day it’s 60 degrees and sunny and the next it’s 20 and snowing. This is why it is essential that you layer. I can not stress this enough, come winter time, It’s all about the layers. Layering gives you the flexibility in dressing to be dressed appropriately for the weather at any given time of day. Honestly, I’m always astonished by how many people don’t know how to layer properly or even layer at all. For me, layering clothing is probably the number one reason I could never live somewhere where that doesn’t get a decent winter. The excitement I have with pairing unexpected things together and mixing textures is ridiculous.
Layering, as a tool, should be your absolute best friend come the winter months. Not only does it give you the opportunity to mix some of your spring/summer pieces into your fall/winter wardrobe, it is also a great way to stay warm. When it comes to layering, keep in mind, you should start with your tightest layers first and work your way up to bulkier ones. For super cold days, layer strategically. Do your legs tend to get cold easily? Try pairing leggings or long underwear under your pants. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try mixing different fabrics, patterns, prints, etc. together. You’d be surprised by how much can actually go well together.
As a 20-year-old college student, I can relate to not having the money to necessarily buy the best quality clothing. However, if you’re going to spend money on anything, let it be your winter coat. Your winter coat is an investment, so treat it like one. As one of the primary means of warmth, your winter coat obviously serves a HUGE purpose in your wardrobe. Coats that are made well, generally costs much more than those that are not. This doesn’t mean you need to spend $600 to get a decent winter coat. In fact, you can usually find a nice and stylish coat for around $100-$150.
So what should you look for when buying a coat? For one, try to gravitate towards warmer fabrics such as wool or something that is down-filled. These materials can handle the harsh weather. Also, when looking at the fabric and construction, make sure the coat is properly lined and insulation of some sort is a definite plus. Secondly, pay attention to the fit. When you lift your arms your coat should still cover a majority of your arm. Also, along with being able to button and zip your coat, make sure that you have enough room to comfortably add heavier layers underneath. Lastly, since you are spending more money on your coat than you probably will on most other pieces of clothing, look for something that you will still like a few years down the road. If you have the ability to buy a nice winter coat every year, this doesn’t apply to you, but as fun as it may be to purchase an ultra trendy coat even if it is incredibly crafted isn’t that fun come next year when you want nothing to do with it. Sticking with more classic silhouettes and styles assures that your coat will be able to be worn for years to come and will be worth the money you spend on it. Remember, classic doesn’t mean boring, so don’t be hesitant to branch out a little as long as it’s something you know for a fact you’ll still want come next winter. If anything, let your winter accessories (hats, gloves, scarfs) be the trendier outerwear pieces that you cheap out on. While they are important, and you should at least own one nice pair of each, you can usually find a lot of stylish options for much cheaper than you would a cheap coat.
Inevitably, there’s really only so much you can do to actually fight off the cold so when worse comes to worse, get tough and embrace the weather. Whether it’s being obnoxiously excited about winter activities and holidays or finding a new love for an indoor hobby, learning to alter your lifestyle and perspective, is a key component to getting through the winter. You know the trick where you’re supposed to think of somewhere really warm like Mexico or a desert, when you’re cold? Yeah, well that actually works. Just envision that whatever the weather is, is actually your ideal weather, and that you’re having a blast even if you’re actually doing something mundane like scraping ice off your car. As cheesy as it sounds, thinking negatively is only going to get you negative results.
When it comes down to it, everyone in the Midwest complains about the cold weather to some extent but they’d be lying if they said they didn’t like it just a little. As much as I hate shoveling snow, warming up my car, and getting snow in my shoe, I would hate it even more if I wasn’t able to experience a full winter every year. So, have an enjoyable winter this year and try practicing these tips. You’ll quickly see how easy it is to not have to sacrifice fashion for comfort, which we both know is the last thing anyone would want to do, right?