For health and safety, families and “framilies” across the nation are adjusting their expectations of holidays and celebrations that mark the late fall and winter seasons. Selecting a few people with whom you will solely socialize is difficult, and can be painfully exclusive. One loophole in festive gatherings is keeping people out-of-doors, where fresh air and gentle breezes provide healthy natural ventilation, and, when paired with a mask and physical distancing, offer the greatest safety.
At the same time, cooler weather is upon us. While we can hope for more sunny days and perhaps some unseasonably mild weather, we should also all plan on socializing outdoors even in full winter weather. Other cultures—Russia and Scandinavia come to mind—have outdoor socializing and recreation in weather far colder than even Wisconsin or the Dakotas usually see. With the right outerwear wardrobe and accessories, you can go outside and stay outside in comfort and in style for much longer than you may have previously thought. Let us help you consider the kind of outerwear pieces you need to add to your outerwear wardrobe so you can embrace outdoor socializing all winter long!
The most obvious key pieces to building a flexible collection of outerwear that you can mix and match for any outdoor event are jackets, winter coats and vests. You will want an everyday-wear puffer or wool coat depending on your personal style. Having both is even better, because you might prefer a wool coat for looking snappy and elegant and a puffer for throwing on over your joggers or jeans when you’re just having a short playdate—outdoor playdates are a terrific social distancing activity for kids! If you live in an area with truly cold weather, or you get real snow, it’s important to have a women’s winter parka. Some parkas are entire thermoregulatory systems unto themselves, and can offer you rain protection and several levels of warmth with the use of zip-in/zip-out linings. This is a great choice for flexibility! We also strongly recommend a fleece jacket or puffer vest for everyone; they preserve core warmth, allow great freedom of movement, and when styled properly can look more like an ensemble choice than a practical necessity. Build your outerwear collection around these basic pieces to ensure you can embrace socializing outdoors the whole season through!
We hope you’re prepared for cold weather with an appropriate scarf-and-gloves set, but this year your cold weather accessories may also be part of your overall look if you’re socializing outdoors in the cold. Consider a few sets of scarf-glove-hat combos that complement your coats and vests. All the better if they will mix and match well! For gloves, cashmere-lined leather is a personal favorite, and this elegant choice is now available with touch-screen technology so you can keep your fingers warm while you check your messages. Fleece gloves for casual looks and extra-warm water resistant gloves for snowball fighting and snowmobiling—which are great outdoor socially distanced activities—are a must! Scarves might be sophisticated cashmere pieces or practical fleece, but they do keep a person warm, so wear one! If you want to mix it up with a fashion scarf, they will function perfectly well in all but the coldest weather to give you more options for expressing your taste and style. Hats are key to keeping warm; you can often get away with lighter clothing on your body if you wear a hat and gloves. A beanie, a knit bobble hat, and a wool fedora are all good options to include in your outerwear wardrobe. They can take you just about anywhere for many different occasions. Remember that you can merchandise your accessories, too, especially if your outfit is under wraps! A brooch on your coat or hat is a great way to show your flair when your coat is covering your favorite sweater.
We’re not afraid to talk about long underwear here! Being based in Wisconsin gives us leave to speak frankly about cold-weather necessities that those unaccustomed to spending time out in the cold may not have thought of. Layering is important to keeping comfortable, warm and dry. Thermal socks and thermal underwear provide a base layer to keep you warm with less bulk, so that you can socialize or pursue recreation longer, in greater comfort and safety. Thermaskin™ pieces are just about the best thermals on the market, literally generating heat from your body’s moisture. If this is the year you want to try skiing, snowmobiling or winter hiking so that you can socialize outdoors more often, these are a must-have.
You probably have some fashion boots you love—men generally own a Chelsea or a hiking boot, and women love their tall stretch boots! However, if keeping your feet warm for a day at the zoo or watching an outdoor hockey game is your goal, fashion boots aren’t the best choice. A well-made snow boot with proper insulation and water proofing is necessary for those occasions, even if there’s no snow on the ground. This is about keeping your feet well away and insulated from the frozen ground. The happy news is that there are now plenty of true cold-weather boots that are cute enough for everyday wear.
It might feel strange to accept an invitation to a bonfire in December or a BBQ in January, but they are creative ways to safely socialize with our family and friends! Whether you plan, as I do, to layer your cashmere and tweeds to remain faithful to an elegant aesthetic or are going all out with a trapper hat and long parka, now is the time to build your outerwear wardrobe so that you can embrace outdoor socializing this winter. The cold can’t last forever, and the need to carefully guard our health can’t last forever, but your connections with your loved ones can! Make plans for getting together safely and outdoors, and keep creating memories that will make this challenging year warmer and more loving than we thought it could be.