It happens at least once every winter. The day you check the “feels like” temperature on your smartphone weather app and consider calling off work and crawling into bed with a down comforter, flannel sheets, and a space heater. Our roots are in Wisconsin, so we get it. But the dog needs walking no matter how cold it gets. And there’s the commute to the office, or the grocery store, or gym, or wherever else you may have to go during winter. Thankfully, those harsh winters have also taught us a thing or two about layering for the chilliest of winter days. In this scenario, the ol’ shirt-sweater-jacket combo just isn’t going to do it. You need to think about how to winter-proof yourself from head to toe, with as many layers as it takes. So let’s dive right into layering for cold weather, shall we?
Even if you may have balked at long underwear in the past, you’ll appreciate it when you discover it comes in silk. Yes, real silk long underwear. Even synthetic long underwear is an amazing find. The lighter, flexible fabric provides warmth, wicks away moisture, and actually regulates your temperature better.
In addition to warm undergarments that will keep you warm, depending on the temperatures, you may also want a base layer on the bottom, like leggings or Long Johns. This is especially important if you'll be spending time outdoors in the snow for longer than half an hour. On top, look for warm base layers that are form-fitting and really hug the skin, and also designed with a material that will wick away moisture and prevent it from contacting your skin. You want to keep your body insulated with thick, base layer materials.
Once you’ve slipped into the pants and shirt of a long underwear set, consider pulling on snow pants rather than jeans and chinos. Even if you aren’t planning on wading through a snowdrift or skiing down a black diamond, the insulation provided by a pair of snow pants will do your lower half good. Any time you plan to go for a longer winter hike, take the kids sledding, or go on a ski vacation, snow pants are going to be your best friend. Not only are they going to keep your legs nice and toasty, high-quality, waterproof snow pants will also keep out wet, cold snow.
We can’t forget the feet, of course. Spring for the warmest boot socks you can locate. They don’t need to extend all the way to your knees, but look for a good blend that includes wool. Then, step into a pair of warm, waterproof boots—the higher, the better. If the terrain is snowy, a good rubber outsole with lots of traction is a must.
Up top, skip the tee with your flannel shirt, and go straight for the turtleneck sweater. The extra coverage it provides around the neck is key to keeping out cool air and locking in warmth. Wearing it above your base layer rather than a conventional shirt also leaves room to skip the flannel and layer on a fleece half zip, which will prove much warmer in the long run.
In case you haven’t been counting, that’s two layers below and three layers above. All that layering will give you some extra flexibility when it comes time to choose the final layer—your winter coat. If you’re still a little wary about facing the outside world, pull on your most weather-ready parka. But if you’re getting a little more confident, you now have the flexibility to wear a lighter piece of outerwear like a down parka or a quilted car coat.
There's no point in bundling up in multiple layers and snow pants if your head and hands are going to be exposed to the elements. Invest in a high quality wool hat that provides full coverage for your head and ears. If you're anticipating strong winds and freezing temps, you may want double the protection by layering a faux fur-lined hood over a cozy wool winter hat. Your hands should be protected by thick (preferably waterproof) winter gloves, especially if you plan to engage in winter sports and activities. Finally, you may or may not need a winter scarf too. If you aren’t wearing a turtleneck, wrap your neck up in a soft women’s scarf. If you are wearing a turtleneck, there likely won’t be a need for a scarf.
Once you’ve mastered how to dress for cold weather and even how to dress for -20 degree weather, the rest of the winter won’t look so scary! Shop Lands’ End to find the essentials that will help you know how to dress for winter weather.