Thanks. I do the best with what I’ve got. I’m not a huge fashion guy, so I do recommend taking a look at what Laurence, Nico, and Tommy have to say on the matter before you take any of my advice. I basically shop for utility and price. That being said, 10 must-haves for me this winter.
1. A really warm coat. I currently have an Old Navy peacoat from last season, which served its purpose pretty well, and a giant shell coat that used to belong to my grandpa. I love the L.L. Bean Heritage Wool Duffel Coat, but it’s pretty expensive at $225. I live in Michigan, so winter can be extremely harsh.
2. Quality boots. When it snows here, it really snows. If you’ll be spending any time outdoors and want to keep your feet warm, you’re going to need good boots. Last year I survive on a pair of steel-toe work boots, but they were pretty ugly. This year I’m probably going to invest in some boots from L.L. Bean. The Winter Warmer boots are only $70 and the high-end Shearling Bean Boots are $149.
3. Good gloves. An important but often neglected part of the body is the hands. Your body is warm and your feet are warm, but your hands need to be kept toasty with something that doesn’t inhibit your ability to function and at the same time isn’t too thin. I’ve got a multitude of gloves for different purposes: acrylic-lined leather gloves for driving and looking cool, big bulky fleece Thinsulate gloves for when it’s just really damn cold, and some thinner wool gloves for late fall, early winter. I picked them all up at Kohls or something during a sale, so the cheaper, the better, but don’t skimp on quality.
4. A decent scarf. This is obviously optional. Some people don’t like scarves and some people don’t need scarves, depending on their coats. With a peacoat, or any other outerwear that leaves any part of your neck exposed, I recommend a soft, warm scarf. Again, if you aren’t trying to make it onto The Sartorialist, I recommend a comfortable, cheap option from a department store like Gap, Target, or Kohls. You’re always warmer if you keep your body heat in.
5. A hat or something to at least cover your ears. I usually only wear hats when my hair looks like crap or I’m at a baseball game, but winter gets so entirely frigid that sometimes I just have to cover my head to save a little heat. A simple, plain knit beanie or watch cap are an easy-to-find and generally cheap answer to this predicament. I don’t recommend anything patterned or with the little ball on top, but if that’s your thing, go for it. I also have a pair of those 180s things that wrap around the back of your head and cover your ears, but they fit weirdly and usually just piss me off.
6. Denim. I wear jeans all the time. Sometimes, when I’m daring, I wear them in summer. The cold seasons are when denim is perfect; it’s generally warm and thick, so wind won’t bother you and a few flakes of snow won’t seep through your pants. You should probably already have some good jeans, but as I’ve stated, I’m not big on spending a lot of money, so I wear a few pairs of Levis 514s and a pair of Gap jeans I got on sale. If your jeans are still kind of thin and it’s extra cold, try pairing them with some long underwear, unless you’re wearing skinny jeans or something.
7. The bottom layer. Fall and winter are perfect for layering; it may start off at 10 degrees, warm up to 20 when the sun is out, and hit 0 by midnight. All of these are pretty cold, sure, but you’ll most likely be going outdoors, indoors, back out, and back in. For my bottom layer, I like to stick with a plain (white or heather grey) t-shirt, depending on what you’re wearing on top. I might also skip the t-shirt and go straight to a thermal or long-sleeve henley, especially paired with a button-down or flannel. I mostly wear Hanes plain tees, some CK v-necks that I buy on the cheap, and t-shirts that I already have.
8. The middle layer. The aforementioned button-downs and flannels are an important part of cold-weather layering. Most of my wardrobe comes from Gap, where you can generally find some good stuff on clearance. I’ve also done some thrifting lately in an effort to save even more cash, so I recommend checking out your local shops, if you have any. Depending on how cold it is, you can stop at the middle layer, skip the middle layer and go straight to the top layer, or add the top layer.
9. The top layer. Sweatshirts, hoodies, and sweaters comprise the average top layer. If you have a warm coat, you can complete a pretty solid look with a plain white tee underneath a button down shirt, underneath a simple crew neck sweatshirt or cable-knit cardigan. I’ve started to shy away from hoodies a bit when I’m trying to look a bit more adult, but they’re great for hanging around the house, watching football on Sundays. I have a few nondescript cardigans, some thrifted, some from department stores, and a few sweaters (v-neck and crew neck) from Gap and Old Navy. If you have a few button ups and a few sweaters, you can mix and match different looks the entire year and still look fresh and, more importantly, stay warm.
10. Accessories. I’m lumping these things all into one category because they aren’t the most important, but you’ll often be kicking yourself without them. I recommend having a pair of sunglasses on your person at all times; snow is white and highly reflective. Wind also hurts your face. I also recommend lip balm, which I keep on me all the time, 24/7/365. Winter air is dry and crisp. Your face will thank you later. Finally, I recommend that you wear socks. I hate socks, but in the winter, you may need them. Depending on the warmth that your boots and shoes provide, you can probably just wear regular socks, but if your footwear is letting in water and air, buy some wool socks from anywhere, because they’re socks; who cares where they’re from?
I hope this answered your question. If you were looking for more specific answers, like a single specific shirt or pair of gloves, I’m the wrong guy to ask. Look for deals on attractive, quality, useful stuff and you’ll be set for life.