Guest Lecture: Winter Style Guide

January 26th, 2010 § 14 comments

This week is Tribute Week here at academichic and we’re excitedly looking to some of our initial sources of inspiration. Enter the fabulous and creative Clare of Between Laundry Days. Clare’s blog is one of the first that all three of us tuned in to and became regular readers of. Since we’re all getting a little bored with winter weather, we turned to this self-described ‘survivor of three Chicago winters’ for some inspiration on how to beat the wardrobe winter blues. Thanks for some great tips, Clare!

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Clare’s guide to keeping warm and staying cool

Okay, team, the gals here at academichic asked me to write a little post about staying stylish during these harsh winter months. I’m pretty psyched about this “assignment”, seeing as academichic is one of my favorite blogs. I also have not inconsiderable experience in the area of surviving winter weather, so I’m more than happy to share. This is my third winter in Chicago, and I spent the earlier years of my life surviving cold winters out west, so I think I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way. Listen and learn…

1. Layer, layer, layer

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I’m sure this isn’t exactly news to anyone, but the absolute key to staying warm in the winter is to layer. However, I think that people steer clear from the layering thing because all the added bulk gets pretty stiff and uncomfortable. And I jive with that, I do. I hate feeling like I can’t even bend my arm properly because I have so many layers of wool coating my arm. They key, I think, is light, thin layers. Invest in a pair of silk long underwear; that stuff is just a glorified, softer, second skin. It can be layered under anything. I also keep a pretty decent stash of high-quality but thin sweaters that provide warmth while easily layering over long underwear and under a blazer or other jacket. Also, never be afraid to layer to pairs of tights or legging. Sometimes, on the coldest days, I even layer my silk long underwear bottoms under my tights or leggings. I think the most important part is to be willing to invest in quality fabrics that don’t rely on bulk to keep you warm.

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2. Keep it interesting!

Now, all those sweaters and jackets and pairs of long underwear can feel pretty bland, pretty boring. I’m a big fan of stocking up on colorful layers, but sometimes even that just feels stodgy. Because it’s winter, and you’re cold, and you’re not wearing that leopard-print sweater because it has leopard-print, you’re wearing it because it’s warm. So I always try to add an accessory or two to each outfit that has nothing to do with winter. A necklace, a headband, flouncy earrings, a cute belt, a silk scarf.None of these items has any inherent use in the winter, but it does make you feel fabulously stylish in the dead of the cold, dreary winter.

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3. My secret weapon

I’ve mentioned this on my blog before, but I walk to work each morning. In January, this means icy sidewalks and frequent snow flurries. This also means that my typical walking shoes just don’t cut it. So I wear snow boots for my walk (no, that’s not my secret weapon), and heavy wool socks over whatever socks or tights I have on that day.

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However, when I get to work I want to take off those snow boots and feel cute again. So I always bring a pair of work shoes that I change into when I get to my office. But no matter how warm my office is, my feet are always freezing in the winter, so wearing my work shoes with bare feet is highly unpleasant. To combat this, I wear nude socks (secret weapon alert!) on the days that I want to wear shoes that might show more of my foot. These secret weapon socks are slightly thicker, and therefore noticeably warmer, than tights or pantyhose, and they are far more stylish than a pair of white athletic socks. Now, I know it’s not groundbreaking news, nor will it solve the problems of the world, but my nude socks are a pretty important element of my arsenal of winter wardrobe essentials.

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4. The Marshmallow coat

Obviously, the key to surviving winter is a decent outer layer. I had a plethora of heavy winter jackets growing up, but they somehow all got left behind when I moved to Chicago a few years ago. So I made it through my first two winters with a plaid wool peacoat. Now, I adore my plaid wool peacoat, but there is no way in hell that those things were designed to get you through a brutal Chicago winter.. For those of you who haven’t been to Chicago, it is damn cold. The city is filled with people in “marshmallow” coats. Those are the calf-length puffy down jackets that make their wearer look like a glorified version of the Michelin man. So I resisted the marshmallow coat for two winters, and then this year I finally buckled. I was cold and I buckled. And now I’m warm, and happy, and well padded. And the fur-lined hood is an added bonus (see tip #2!).

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Thanks to S., A., and E. over at academichic for asking me to do this feature post! I hope I was able to shed some light (and maybe warmth) on the topic of dressing for winter weather for you all. Feel free to send me an email ( if you have any questions (just FYI, I got my secret weapon socks at Target). And I hope you’ll swing over to my blog, Between Laundry Days, and check me out over there.

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§ 14 Responses to Guest Lecture: Winter Style Guide"

  1. Elena says:

    Great guest post :) I’ve lived in Chicago my whole life and have yet to get a marshmallow coat…but it’s time. Need to find one before next season…for some reason the cold is really buggin’ me this year. These are great ways to help combat it!

  2. Sally says:

    As a fellow freezing-climate-liver, I can attest that ALL of Clare’s advice is sound! Fab post, beautiful Clare. Keep toasty …

  3. Diana says:

    This is such a fantastic post on keeping warm and stylish during cold weather. I don’t have to deal with temps anywhere near as extreme as Chicago, but wearing lots of thin layers saved me a few weeks ago when Florida had a serious cold spat.

  4. The boots look fab! This is a great post. Lots of great points. ALL great points, I should say.

  5. cindykay says:

    Nude socks! Brilliant!

  6. mamichan says:

    I have a sock tip, for warm feel without the bulk of thick wool socks. SmartWool. Just discovered them but they are the warmest toastiest socks without the thickness. LOVE them.

  7. Christina says:

    Another tip! If you can afford it, cashmere is the best for keeping you warm. I’m not talking about like the 5/10% that you find in some stores, I’m talking about 80-100% cashmere sweaters. They make such a huge difference its not even funny.

  8. Jess says:

    Wonderful post! Can you share where you found those boots? I love them!

  9. Chelsea says:

    Awww I love Clare! One of my favorite bloggers for sure :) And this post is excellent… it’s fun to see her in her commuting outfit (those boots are darling!), and the advice on layering is perfect. I gotta keep in mind accessories when I’m dressing for warmth!

  10. I love Clare’s blog, and her sense of style! These tips are fantastic and oh so timely as it started snowing again here yesterday.

  11. Moni says:

    Great tips! I’m currently in my third winter in Michigan and agree with all the advice except the marshmallow coat! I’ll never give in! Mwahahahaha! :D

  12. jentine says:

    Oh winter…
    Those boots with the wool socks look so good!

  13. Dottie says:

    This is a great post that hits very close to home. I definitely have a marshmallow coat :)

  14. Silk long underwear and a hat are my secret weapons. Thanks for the post!

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