Growing up, shopping was one of the main ways my mother and I would bond. (This says and explains a lot, no?) We would scour the shops, looking for the perfect thing, a.k.a. something we could both agree on. I would always pick out weird pieces, and when I showed them to her, she'd stick her finger underneath the fabric and veto it by simply saying, "Oh, there's no warmth in that."
It would drive me crazy. CRAZY! But just last week, I said the exact same thing to my friend when we were out shopping. And these days, it drives me mad when all I see is a bunch of cheap cotton knit bullshit. Seriously, you'll freeze in that. It is COLD outside!
With this in mind, I present to you a selection of ACTUALLY really truly WARM things to wear. Ninety-nine percent of it comes from ASOS, because their stuff is good quality, reasonably priced, they do free returns and the things they sell are actually cute and interesting. I have really gone off a lot of online retailers because they all sell the same stuff, it's cheaply made and it's marked up like mad. I do the vast majority of my clothes shopping at ASOS now. I love 'em.
I am quite in love with the Peter Jensen Fox Intarsia Crew Neck Sweater Dress. I'd add in some wool tights and ankle boots (preferably with a wedge, but then, I am almost morally opposed to flat shoes), and throw a cute coat -- maybe leopard faux fur -- over the top. Instant outfit. By the way, if you'd prefer the same design as just a sweater, be my guest! (It also comes in navy.)
Speaking of leopard faux fur, hello there! This coat is a really versatile length, perfect for wearing with jeans and heels. I am such a fan of wearing leopard with black. Maybe it's my inner Peg Bundy, but whatever it is, I love it!
Markus Lupfer is one of my go-to guys when it comes to keeping warm but looking good while you do it. He is kind of like the king of bedazzled sweaters. I have gotten a lot of wear out of this, for example. While his pieces certainly are a pretty penny, you can buy them at a bit of a discount on eBay.
Even though I generally think of him as the god of knitwear, he recently (as in, Monday!) did a collaboration with ASOS Black, releasing a really, truly beautiful range of leather pieces with a kaleidoscope print. Soooooooo good. Take that leather dress, throw a cashmere wrap over the top, add a coat and you're good to go.
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Kat referred to me as a "sequin-pusher." It's true. If you, like me, are addicted to sparkle, Victoria's Secret Pink has a lot of options, like, for example, this sweater. I love it, because if you take the teenage model out of it, it's like something your most awesome grandma might wear while doing jazzercise.
Hey big spender, if you're in the mood to splurge, this Sonia Rykiel dress is 100% wool and sweet like sugar.
I made an exception for this one -- it's acrylic -- because UNICORNS, BITCHES!
Sometimes gilets can be hard to wear, or at least they are for me. I think it's ultimately about how broad-shouldered you are. My shoulders are quite wide, so when I wear a gilet, I look a bit football player-esque. It doesn't stop me from loving them, though. This gilet is fab, and I love pairing brown with black these days.
Now, I know that not everyone wants to swaddle themselves in wool when it gets cold. Not to worry: there are some truly excellent sweatshirts on the horizon! These stars and spots sweaters by Illustrated People are really cute, and kinda perfect for low-key weekend activities.
Whenever I visualize a "low-key weekend," I end up picturing someone who looks like they stepped out of a J.Crew catalogue strolling around a farmer's market and taking perfect Instagram pictures. I know people like that exist, but I am not one of them.
Hahaha, I love this parka with leopard-print ears. OF COURSE.
LEATHER. Gimme! I think everyone should own a Schott Perfecto, they're immensely versatile and the leather is about as soft as it gets. (Before I finally coughed up and made the investment, I bought a vintage leather jacket off eBay. It was seriously like wearing cardboard. Awful. The Perfecto is worth the coin.)
But also, leather skirts are one of the best things about winter. While a leather mini is a total wardrobe staple -- I have a black one and a pink one -- an a-line leather skirt is a good thing to have, too. I love this pleated leather skirt. You will get so much wear out of it! (It's a great length, too. Sometimes I am truly astounded by the length of the skirts I see online. I am clearly a granny at heart.)
Studs are not dead. This sweater is acrylic, but it's a chunky knit, so who knows, it might keep you warm! Just do some smart layering underneath. I just started watching "Sons of Anarchy" and this sweater is totally what one of SAMCRO's old ladies would wear if the temperature ever truly dropped in Charming.
Hello PURPLE LEATHER JACKET! This is so Prince I can't stand it! Ugh, I wanna be your lover.
More ridiculous/awesome jackets: a blue sequin bomber. Buy it NOW and wear it continually for the next couple of weeks, before it really gets chilly. It would be worth it.
Dagmar do marvelous knitwear, and this dress is unapologetically excellent. It's not inexpensive at $350 (and four cents), but it is 100% merino wool and I'm telling you, in this little number, you'll be as snug as a bug in a rug. (Like the Peter Jensen dress above, this dress also comes in a sweater version.)
Merino wool is my favorite, but then I would say that, because I am from New Zealand. Any Kiwis reading know the truth! Whenever I go home for a visit, I go to Glassons, which is their biggest high street retailer, and stock up on merino wool long-sleeved tops. They're cheap as chips (as they say), warm as fuck (as I say), and last forever. They are a major staple of my winter wardrobe.
If you're not sure how to get your hands on a bit of merino, Uniqlo's HEATTECH product line is genius. They make everything, from camisoles to long-sleeved tees to knickers to leggings, and they're not in any way thick or bulky. The best thing about this stuff is that if you cannot be bothered, or cannot afford to stock yourself with a few wool items, you can layer HEATTECH pieces underneath what you already own. So wear one of the Uniqlo long-sleeved tees underneath a dress and add in some of their leggings. Put a cardigan and a coat over that and you're done.
If you have not yet experienced the delight of wearing a beanie, please don't delay any longer. They are a staple for me once the temperature drops, and they make your ears really happy. What is more sad than having cold earlobes? NOTHIN'. I am pretty fond of the pom-pom beanie you see above, but if you are Too Grown-Up for that, you have other options.
You will, of course, need a good pair of gloves (if you don't already have a pair). When I lived in New Zealand and Australia, my favorite thing in winter was a pair of fingerless gloves: You could show off your manicure and use your phone without much interruption. Unfortunately, when I experienced my first North American winter, I realized that a pair of fingerless goddamn gloves was just NOT going to cut it. So you need something with fingers attached, preferably in wool, or even more preferably, in leather and lined with something fabulous like cashmere.
The Jo Gordon pair above, with the wonderful pink thumbs, are 100% wool.
Okay, so I know a lot of these items are expensive. Yes, of course, buying a bunch of poly/cotton mix is definitely easier on the wallet, but what's the point if you're turning blue with cold? Save your pennies and buy a couple of REALLY EXCELLENT warm things, with a high percentage of wool, cashmere or angora in the mix. You really and truly are paying for quality, and it's totally worth it.
Better than that, you will be able to wear these pieces next year, and the year after, and the year after.
Alternatively, you could move to Aruba and live happily ever after!