Winter Sucks -- How To Stay Warm AND Cute

I'm NOT a winter person -- but I've lived WAY up north most of my life. So I'm pretty much an expert.
Publish date:
November 22, 2013
clothes, shoppables, winter

Read more from Kara on xoVain!

It’s getting cold. I feel it in my fingers. I feel it stroking my bare legs; I’m still in denial that it’s time to wear tights under my dresses. I feel it in the cold, crackling leather of my car seats when I get in it, in the engine's wheezy complaint when I start the ignition. Winter is coming.

I am decidedly NOT a winter person. I’ve spent my entire almost-26 years in North Dakota and Minnesota, waaaaay up north just a few hours from Canada. I have battled mountains of snow, ice storms, floods, temperatures dipping to -30. You name it, I’ve been through it.

I’m basically Laura Ingalls. We never had a Halloween where we didn’t have to wear parkas and snow boots, which totally sucks when you’re trying to be a princess. Minnesota law states that schools cannot open when it’s below a certain temperature. I had classmates who snowmobiled to school. Ugh, winter sucks.

Sure, the sun sparkling on snowdrifts is a pretty sight. But walking to class when the wind chill freezes your nostrils shut isn’t. Thank God I don’t do that anymore, and bless my car’s former owner for adding AutoStart.

Are you from a chilly state too? How do you stay warm when going outside is a necessity? Maybe you have a dog to walk or something. Don’t let them languish inside!

Keep your head warm. Heat escapes through your head, or at least that’s the old wives’ tale I’ve always been told. (Don’t go outside in winter with wet hair is the other one, and that one is totally true. Plus frozen wet hair is gross.) When I was little, I rocked a bright purple Mad Bomber hat, but now that I’m a lady I can’t do that.

My favorite beanie this year is from Plush, manufacturers of the famous fleece leggings. They’ve sewn a fleece lining into a simple, flattering black beanie so it’s extra warm and cozy and magically doesn’t make your hair staticky. It’s roomy enough to play with, but not so large that it flops all over the place.

Layer up. If you’re planning to be outside in frigid temps for an extended amount of time, layers are a must. Leggings or jeans won’t keep your legs warm enough. When I was a football cheerleader in high school, we wore thermal leggings under cheap Old Navy sweats, which we then wore under our regulation black Russell cheer pants. Sexy, I know, but if you fell down, it didn’t hurt!

In college, I often wore two pairs of thick tights under dresses with American Apparel over-the-knee socks when I refused to submit to the cold and wanted to look cute. Otherwise, the aforementioned fleece leggings/tights (mine are Plush, but you can get them anywhere at a variety of price points and colors) under skirts or jeans will keep your lower half warm. They’re super cozy and opaque.

Invest in a great looking coat. The store I work at started carrying Canada Goose parkas last year and though I was skeptical at first due to their high price point (about $650), I’m convinced now. They’re the warmest thing I’ve ever worn. They’re made of four kinds of ethically-sourced down (no live plucking!) with a bendable, adjustable hood and a cinchable waist so they give you a little shape.

I love Lumpy Space Princess, but I don’t want to look like her in my winter coat. Their coyote fur comes from Canada, where the fur trade is regulated by the government. They’re water-resistant AND they cover your butt, so it’s wins all around. If you live somewhere with extreme winter weather for a good chunk of the year, I think a Canada Goose is a worthy investment. If I decide NYC > Los Angeles, I’m getting one. I like the Kensington and Trillium styles best.

When I was in college, I bought a vintage fur coat at a thrift store and wore that out to the bars. It wasn’t very well kept, so it eventually fell apart, but it was warm, cute and I didn’t pay much for it so if I left it somewhere, it wasn’t a huge deal. I don’t know your feelings about fur, but I have a few vintage fur coats (including one ankle-length Kid Rock stunner!) and they’re about the warmest things I own. It’s an idea if you’re willing!

Take care of your hands. Ever heard the saying “Cold hands, cold heart?” It’s true. Cold hands are the worst. In cheer and college, we kept those magical heating squares in our mittens called Hot Hands! These are good for ice-skating, dog-walking and going to football games outside.

Since we’re all constantly connected to our iPhones nowadays, glove companies figured out how to make touch screens work while our cold hands are hidden in their product: texting gloves. Isotoner’s aren’t the cutest ever, but they’re warm and they’re coated to give you a better grip on your phone.

BOOTS! BOOTS! BOOTS! Boots are the most important part of winter-wear here in Minnesota, where snow will be melting one day and icing over the next. You might need a few pairs in your arsenal.

Uggs are warm, but they aren’t snow boots. I own and unabashedly LOVE my Uggs. They’re so cozy and I don’t need to wear socks with them. Socks are my enemy. (I own no socks: two pairs of hunting style and a pair of knee-high Juicy socks.) However, Uggs were developed for surfers in Australia, not girls trudging through melting snow. I wear mine when it’s icy cold and there’s no chance of snow melting, but when snow turns to slush, you must wear something rubber or risk the dreaded wet, soppy Uggs and cold feet.

Most of my coworkers got the SOREL Joan of Arctic boots when we carried them; I missed out and I’m sad about it every day. They’re cute, right? They’re comfortable enough to wear on the sales floor all day if you forgot your actual shoes and they’re roomy enough to wear a thick sock with. I really like the Conquest Carly style because they don’t scream “SNOW BOOTS!”

I want to hear all your winter-survival tips! Did I forget anything important? Did you read my winter beauty guide on xoVain?