11 Pieces to Turn Your Summer Wardrobe Into Legit Polar Vortex Fashion

Publish date:
January 7, 2015
style, coats, hats, cold weather fashion

I stupidly agreed to head to the east coast for a quick wardrobe gig today, just in time to partake in a repeat of last year's epic polar vortex. I realize there's a good chance this won't even be read by half the country until their frozen carcasses are unearthed 50 million years from now, but I'm taking a chance anyway because a publishing schedule is a publishing schedule, ya know?

Words fail to describe how NOT READY I am for wind-chill factors that will make the temperature feel like 30 degrees below zero in most parts of the country. It's 68 degrees ABOVE zero in California right now, and this is my "brrrr very cold weather" fashion:

I'd just rock this look the entire time I'm in the frozen end of civilization, but when people hire you to be a stylist, they foolishly expect you to be somewhat stylish. I don't mess with sweaters and fleece in the land of eternal sunshine, so there's no point in buying them just for a 3-day trip. I'm going to just figure out what to wear with the summer clothes I already own, instant frostbite be damned.


Years of snowboarding taught me that A) I am hella uncoordinated and B) for ultimate warmth, silk long johns are where it's at. They have the perfect bulk-to-warmth ratio, and Wintersilks makes the very best silk long underwear that Monopoly money can buy. All of their styles mercifully come in black instead of just dullard white and dildo beige. (If the Wintersilks are a little too rich for your blood, I think Cuddl Duds come in a close second.)


A coat with Thinsulate by 3M will stop wind chill in its tracks, even if you're only wearing a swimsuit underneath it. When I custom-made a coat for one of my actors to wear in the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade a few years ago, I made sure to use the very same lining to keep her toasty warm. (Also, attention hausfraus: slightly nerdy brand L.L. Bean also makes a few styles with Thinsulate lining.)


A packable puffer jacket is boring yet brilliant. You can layer it under almost any coat for double the warmth -- or just wear it around the house and even to bed if you are a never nude, perma-cold person like me. When I eventually sleepwalk into a swimming pool one January, I'll be wearing my "house puffer" -- I'm sure of it. I wash mine in cold water with a mild detergent, then stuff it in the dryer with a tennis ball to help keep it's shape whenever it gets grimy.


I snagged (yes, that means stole) this fake-fur vest from a styling job last month, and it's CRAZY WARM -- plus actually kind of cute over dresses and T-shirts. I am cold ALL the time but still get schvitzy armpits, so it's perfect to just pop on once I reach my indoor destination.


Listen, I'm not looking to go full-on Lenny Kravitz style, but I am packing a scarf long enough to wrap around my neck, head, and face multiple times -- if only to drown out the comments of actors who ABSOLUTELY NEVER LIKE WHAT THEY ARE WEARING, EVEN IF IT'S GUCCI, DEAR GOD PLEASE BE QUIET.


I've written about fleece-lined tights here ad nauseum, and while there are $10.00 fleece tights out there that will do the trick, you really should check out Plush Apparel's holy-grail version. I wore two pair of them at once out of desperation when I forgot my pants on a trip, and it was like wearing an actual pair of pants!


These nerdily-named "Darn Tough" socks are warm without being too bulky -- plus the heel NEVER SLIPS DOWN, even when wearing them over tights. They are made in the USA and have a lifetime guarantee, so if you manage to wear them out or put a hole in the toe, Darn Tough will replace them -- for free. My Wolverine toenails are for sure going to take them up on this challenge.


I always associate leg warmers with ballerinas, but they are actually an integral part of the three-pronged attack necessary to successfully wear a dress in the winter. That means a combo of fleece tights or leggings, toasty warm socks, and a pair of leg warmers to tuck down in or over your boots.


I'm packing a pair of boring Sorels, for sure, but I'm also packing these slightly slutty heeled combat boots by Guess. They remind me of something Snooki would be proud to wear, which is a decent enough filter to run all fashion decisions through. They have a seemingly sturdy rubber sole with a fair amount of traction -- so let's just hope I don't wipe out in the snow like the weather noob I really am.


Since every hat ever made start hurt my head after about only 10 minutes, a pair of earmuffs will have to do. Plus, earmuffs don't crush your bangs, and my post-holiday face needs all the framing it can get.


I've always laughed off "texting gloves" as millennials hastening the end of civilization with their constant Instagramming, but -40 degrees plus constant phone calls from producers means they are a necessity. Alternatively, you could just grab a bottle of this "Touch Tonic" paint for some gloves you already own and turn yourself into a fashionable robot.

Any final bits of life advice from you cold-weather cuties? I'm over here chattering my teeth in anticipation. (J/K, I'm already on a plane seated next to a toddler wearing a tiny Burberry coat.)

I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison