First time in cold weather? Here’s how to dress from head to toe

By Gemini Quintos | Photos by Becca Tapert, Inna Lesyk, and Quinten de Graaf/Unsplash

You may think that choosing the thickest, heaviest, fluffiest clothing is the way to go, but in reality, these things are bulky and uncomfortable, and difficult to move in. Which means, layering is key to dressing warmly.

You may be surprised how easily you can heat up—walking into a shop or restaurant, getting in a car or onto public transportation, and even just running around sightseeing in a new city can get you warmed up enough to shed a layer or two. This is another reason why several layers get the upper hand versus large singular pieces. So, where do we begin?

Head

Pick a hat that’s warm with lining. Many knit caps are cute, but without lining, the cold air seeps right through the yarn, exposing your head to the cold. Choose something that covers your ears and forehead, and fits snugly enough to stay put even in windy conditions.

Torso

This is the part of your body you’ll want to layer the most, as it holds all of your most crucial organs. From inside out, a good way to go would be: a long-sleeved thermal; a t-shirt or shirt-dress; a zip-up sweater or sweatshirt; a winter coat or jacket, preferably knee-length. Choose pieces that are thin and movable, but warm.

Forgo wearing a turtleneck as your innermost layer. Should you get too warm or uncomfortable, removing your base layer is a pain in the butt. Instead, wear a sweater that zips up to your chin, so you can adjust accordingly, and add a scarf.

Your outermost layer, your winter coat, can be as big and heavy as you want it to be—it’s your main line of defense, and it’s easy to shed if you get too hot. Make sure when choosing a size that there’s room for layering, but not so much room that wind and cold air can get inside. Choosing a knee-length style provides extra coverage for your butt and thighs, which helps a lot, especially when sitting on cold surfaces.

Legs

Again, layering! The simplest way to go would be an inner layer of thermals, tights, or leggings, and then jeans on top. Jeans are a great go-to because the material is sturdy and warm; if you choose to wear something different, make sure it is similarly so.

Feet

The key here is waterproof footwear. Lots of styles out there are warm and cozy, but once they get wet, it’s frozen toes for you (I’m looking at you, Uggs!). Go with a style that’ll keep your feet dry, and something you can tuck your pants into, to keep your ankles warm. And warm socks! Keep in mind that warm doesn’t necessarily mean thick; choose something that’ll let your feet breathe inside your boots.

Hands

Gloves are a personal, trial-and-error preference, but some nuggets of experience: knit gloves aren’t warm enough; leather gloves are annoying. Go with thin wool or fleece that fit the contours of your hands. And while smart touch gloves seem cool and convenient, you may find that removable fingers (or even just removable thumbs) saves you a lot of time, effort, and frustration (and expletives) when handling your smartphone in the cold.