Style vs. Snow: 7 Rounds
Much of the Eastern seaboard is now knee-deep in the stuff, thanks to old man winter. We got maybe half a foot at most, and spent the day in with a fire going and like eight brand new puzzles I happened to find hiding in a hall closet.
Speaking of closets, dressing for the snow can be a challenge if you still want to look cute! New England is a harsh teacher, but I've figured some things out along the way. My #1 tip is to build warmth from the inside out, not the other way round. Clunky snow boots are a choice, not a given. Ditto for heavy parkas and puffers. I know everyone gets to a point where they stop caring (and hey, I've been there), but this post is a guide for femmes who want the best of both worlds!
#1: The Cape
Capes are great since they're easily dressed up or down. If it's brutally cold, your cape should be on the longer side, as in it had better cover your bum! Earmuffs are also a delightful option if you're wearing a cape and the hood isn't going to cut it on its own. For brisk fall days or ones like last week, where I ventured outside and thought, "Huh, this isn't bad at all!" (it was 38ºF out; M came home from a work trip to SF and was like, "You're a sicko" and I was like, "You've been back home for too long!"), versions like this one should be okay as long as you just need something for getting to and from places.
While you can certainly tuck your arms inside a cape for warmth, it's usually more practical not to, so pockets are a huge plus — gloves, long sleeves and layers are a must! This plaid shirt is 100% wool and there's a long-sleeved cotton shirt underneath. You'd be even toastier in a base layer from Uniqlo. High boots, long socks and hefty skirts help a great deal, too! More from this post here.
#2: THE ANORAK
Anoraks and parkas are often used interchangeably, which is totally fine, but traditional anoraks are pullover and don't open in the front. This clearly isn't the case here, but it's drawstring waist, fishtail hem and massive, face-protecting hood push this toward the former.
It's sleeker and sportier than a parka, but still filled with down, and plenty long. The shearling lining in the hood (which is also trimmed in faux fur) is a warming touch! You're not going to feel altogether lost in something like this, which makes it a good bet if winter coats tend to overwhelm or take over your frame.
For this outfit, I stole M's little oatmeal-colored knit cap from Asos and wore a knit sweater from Zara with a pair of Paige jeans. Definitely one of my more tomboyish winter getups, but it was warm and comfortable and super put together. More here.
#3: THE CAMEL
There's something so sophisticated about a camel coat on anyone, no matter the gender or cut. The length and color just translate to an easy elegance, but the tone makes it wearable with just about anything, so it stays one of the more versatile options, too. That's pretty much what we're all looking for when it's freezing and everything seems and feels extra difficult!
They come in every imaginable cut at every possible price point. Yours can be wool, leather, suede or even pure, luxurious cashmere. I love this double-breasted number because it's ultra-feminine, heavy and long without feeling like either thanks to a sharp, tailored cut. The collar is all the way up and buried under a little magenta fur collar, but it looks great unbuttoned and flapping around in the wind! These babies will instantly pull together whatever you're wearing! More bikes and tomboy here.
#4: The PARKA
Hands-down the most no-nonsense choice for the worst winter days. This Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply snorkel parka has a lot going on but its most important feature is that it's filled to the gills with real down, has a massive hood and a million pockets. It's almost hysterically bulky, which is the point, I think. Better to just go nuts and overdo it rather than try and toe the line between sleek and marshmallow man, because that tends not to work.
With something this crazy warming, you can afford to shed some bulk elsewhere — I'm only wearing a t-shirt here, paired with Uniqlo leggings pants in a festive plaid and Juicy Couture riding boots in a rich, supple leather. (This isn't cheating, either. It really snowed earlier that day but nothing stuck. See more from the post here.)
#5: POPS + PATTERNS
These are more of a spirit and soul brightener than anything else, but a good pop of color goes a long way when the winter's getting you down!
The bright scarlet coat above has clean, tux-inspired lines and is a thick tiered woven blend that feels soft and felted.
When you're bundling up with a lightweight coat, layering is your BFF! In this case, it's a cardigan over a long-sleeved button-down, a heavy pencil skirt with nearly opaque tights and faux-shearling lined booties with a ton of tread on the soles.
If a big block of bright color isn't your style, you can do a striking print or pattern to help stand out from a sea of black or camel. I've always loved this mod little plaid coat from H&M! I've had it years and it's still in pristine condition somehow, even after tons and tons of wear.
It was perfectly suited to most chilly SF days or nights, but only really cuts it here when the sun is shining and temps are well into the double digits. Still, with the right layering and lots of rays, these lightweight options are totally up to the task every now and then.
#6: THE CLASSIC BLACK WOOL COAT
I've (really aggressively) downsized my coat collection and still can't bear to part with two black wool coats. They are winter's quintessential go-to, and I feel like both are incredibly different and perfectly suited to different occasions and outfits! I've got down to four coats and jackets total — a black leather moto jacket from Zara, the houndstooth cape I got for Christmas and the two wool coats. One is incredibly chic, tailored to the most perfect fit in straight masculine lines, which don't normally work for my figure. The lining is dark red textured satin, the narrow little notched collar is thick greenish black velvet, and it's very warm. That's the one I've got on here.
The other one (pictured above) is a heavyweight maxi with a dramatic, massive hood. It's really, really feminine and really, really, beautiful. But most importantly, it's so warm. SO WARM. Commuting during the brutal winter last year made me realize that I needed something serious, and this was a slam dunk. That makes it very easy to wear, especially since the length means I can skip the bulky silk underwear and/or HeatTech tights under pants or wrestle myself into 10 pairs of tights if I feel like wearing a skirt or dress. How could I give it up?! I'm not ready to, even though my fingers are crossed that I'll never live anywhere this cold ever.
The lesson here should be when it comes to choosing this most basic of winter staples, it doesn't have to be basic basic! Look for heft without bulk, thick but gorgeously cut wool, detail that makes you feel happy and like you are living your best wintry life.
#7: THE VINTAGE FUR
I don't know any group of more avid and passionate vintage fur wearers than femmes. Some of us have a real soft spot for the old-school glamour and IDGAF vibes they throw off, like they're full-body femme talismans.
Estate sales, hand-me-downs and thrift shops are inexpensive, cruelty-free ways to get your hands on one (it's how I've always gone about it; I'm not a total monster). Still, these aren't the most practical choice, but they usually are toastier and less delicate and fussy than you'd think. In fact, the less you dwell over how you're wearing yours, or what you're wearing it with, the better off you usually are! Faux fur versions like the vintage leopard print below are good alternatives but a little less warm.
BONUS ROUND: NO COAT AT ALL!
Sometimes thick tweed skirts, double-layered tights and tall boots do the trick! Pop on an ultra-thick velvet blazer over a cashmere sweater with a scarf, cashmere-lined gloves, make sure there's a hunk on your arm, and you're all set. We were out galavanting on Walden Pond for over an hour and aside from the silly choice of footwear, we weren't freezing our tailfeathers off!
When all else fails, remember that in March or maybe April, it'll all melt away. It really will! You'll be able to get away with bare legs and cashmere, bust out your high heels without risking a broken back, and then you'll blink and it'll be summer all over again. Hello, sundresses! Hello, sandals and pinafores and the sweet, sticky smell of sunscreen and Mai Tais!
I still prefer my snow where I can drive to and from it at my whim and leisure, when the goal is fun and games and you can ski in your t-shirt looking out over a sparkling crown jewel of water that stretches on for 22 jawdropping miles that never gets old. There's nothing like it. Still, this winter's been almost shockingly merciful so I'm not minding it overmuch. It is our last, after all. You wouldn't believe how close it's getting! I can't say I'll miss it, but I am trying to enjoy it while I can.
Stay warm, dry and safe out there, my loves! I'd love to hear about your favorite winter coats!