It happened. Chicago turned into the arctic tundra I know it to be, with frostbite blasts, black ice, and knee-deep slush puddles in every intersection. This may be an exaggeration, but it doesn’t feel like one. When winter comes here, it comes hard. The world puts on it’s groutfit and bumps your around a little more than usual. My afternoons of waiting at the playground for the kiddos I nanny just got way rougher.
All the cold has gotten me thinking a lot about cold-weather gear. I find myself studying the people I encounter all day, considering the merits of their parkas and boots, trying to discern what I like, what I don’t, what’s worth it, what’s not. In the cold, your gear is either a recipe for a good, normal day or a rotten, frozen one. I’m finding myself with a parka that isn’t quite warm enough, boots that let the cold in, and unruly scarves. It may be the time in my life for a slow, steady upgrade, with well chosen items thoughtfully purchased. I’m not a very splurgey gal, but I’m also never one to run to target and grab whatever scarf I see first. I like things that are both beautiful and functional–multitaskers that I can see myself still wearing in five, ten, fifteen years. If I were to upgrade my Chicago arctic tundra gear right this second, these are the things I’d be adding to my shopping cart.
- Fjallraven Down Cape. I understand that a cape is a strange choice, but let me tell you that I tried on this particular down cape recently and it was a revelation. It’s like being surrounded by a huge down comforter, but not being impeded by it. I’m all about the cape life. They’re body heat machines. Pricey, yes, but highly recommended. Also, all of Fjallraven’s parkas are top-notch too.
- Saint James Striped Hat. I’ll be honest, I’m usually a pom pom girl when it comes to winter hats. It makes it cuter and less snowboard-y. BUT, lately I’ve been trying to put my hood up over my pom pom hat (for maximum warmth reasons), and I end up with a cone-head look that I’m not interested in. A flat hat may be the way to go. Sorry pom poms. I’ll always love you.
- Sorel Tivoli Boot. I’ve been extensively comparison shopping the winter boot situation for the past few days. There are a lot of un-cute options out there and only a few decently stylish options around. Happy to report that I saw clog-mom rocking some gorgeously neutral Sorel boots like these guys the other day. If that’s not a flat out endorsement, I don’t know what is. Love you clog mom! Thanks for being my beacon of hope and style! Glad you weren’t wearing your clogs in the snow!
- Leggings by Outdoor Voices. Winter is the time to embrace legging life. Sure, they’re not real pants, but -11 windchill is not real air, so it all evens out. I’ve had my eye on Outdoor Voices for a while. Pretty cool outdoor/active gear overall if you ask me.
- Neck Warmer. When it’s really, really cold, all I want is a huge muff to surround my neck and mouth. It’s not worth going with a long scarf and trying to maneuver it into the perfect wrap. Trust me. Muff it.
- Grey Leather Gloves. Leather gloves are gorgeous and worth the investment in the long run. They provide more dexterity than a mitten and some timeless style.
- Sunnies. Glare gets real in the winter. The world seems like 500x brighter when covered in snow. And there’s something sort of fun about wearing cute sunnies with your winter gear. Don’t put them away at the end of the summer.
- Chup Smartwool Socks. I will forever preach the smartwool. Dry feet are happy feet. Pair these with some great snow boots, and your feet will be the coziest part of your body.
- Oatmeal Mittens. Phalanges are the first to go in the frostbite situation, you guys. I love mittens, especially balling my hands up into fists inside to stay even warmer. Mittens in the pockets, a double layer of protection, is the way to go on the coldest days.
Stay warm, friends. Winter’s weird and hard and special. Enjoy the sparkle snow while it’s around and the deep quiet of the time of night when the wind dies down. Bundle up, take night time walks when the snow is falling gently, and don’t get stuck in a slush puddle. You’ll make it through.