I chose to live in Chicago, and I’m dealing with the consequences of that decision right now. So today I focused my winter blues into a rethinking of my winter gear—and the result is this capsule wardrobe for extreme cold conditions. Have no worries; I left my winter shorts out of it!
Where to Shop:
J.Crew: I should just make jcrew.com my home page. It’s the first place I look when shopping, and it’s usually the last because they have what I want and I buy it—game over. J.Crew’s winter clothes game is strong. And don’t forget about Factory for even better deals.
Nordstrom: As if an incredible selection of top brands and consistently low prices wasn’t enough, Nordstrom has the best customer service and easiest return process on the internet. This stuff matters!
Extreme Cold Capsule Wardrobe
Flannels and plaids. Plaids and flannels. There’s a reason that cold weather dwellers from coast to coast look like they’re wearing a plaid flannel uniform. It’s warm! I recommend layering with a stretchy mock neck or henley under a warm flannel. Bonus points if it’s sherpa-lined.
The unspoken truth about extreme cold living is that your coat will be the only piece of clothing anyone sees for six months of the year. It’s also the single most important component to staying warm. I use three coats throughout the winter: The lightweight and surprisingly warm Nano Puff, a vest/rain jacket combo for wet winter days, and a heavy parka for the other 80 percent of the winter. Two great options here and here.
I use three varieties of boots throughout the winter. These waterproof Ugg Chukkas are super warm and comfortable—like wearing slippers around the city. I’m a Bean boot maximalist, but only recently discovered this Shearling-Lined pair which takes the whole experience to the next level. For snowy conditions, I love both these Bean Snow boots and insulated Sorel boots which can handle anything but are still sharp-looking enough to prevent me from looking like a 12-year-old getting off a school bus.
From hat to socks, reliable accessories can make or break a winter wardrobe. And in addition to scarves and beanies, this year we get to rock surprisingly warm face masks around all day. What fun! I’m a mitten guy, and when necessary, I opt for these convertible mitten/gloves that make it possible to send a text or take a picture without removing the whole glove. Also, shout out to these super comfy moccasins which I’ve taken to wearing around the house all winter.
We live in a miracle world where after a few quick keystrokes on your computer a friendly person will bring flannel lined pants to your door. I suggest a pair of lined chinos, cabin pants and jeans. And, because I learned this lesson the hard way this week, a nice pair of waterproof briar pants should keep you dry and toasty if it snows two feet overnight.
It goes without saying that a solid sweater collection is essential to any winter wardrobe. I’ve grown a real appreciation for wool this winter, and today I’m recommending woolen fisherman sweaters, crewnew sweaters and shawl cardigans. I can also say that on truly cold days, adding a simple hoodie as a layering piece works great.
I’ve mentioned it a few times already in the post, but layering pieces are the most important part of any extreme winter wardrobe. I’m a huge fan of quarter zip pullovers (as you can tell from the above selection) as they work great under a parka outdoors or as a top layer indoors. These selections are all wrinkle-free and impenetrable. They also have a satisfying zipper that you can obsessively zip up and down all day which is nice.