Fashion & Beauty

When the Weather Outside Is Frightful

January 11, 2022

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Clockwise from left to right: Under Armour long-sleeve shirt, retro mittens, Smartwool crew socks, an oversize check scarf from Cos and Bogs Arcata slip-on boots.

By Janet Kelly

BLAME IT on climate change. But you can bet your bippy that extreme temps like the ones we’re currently enduring will continue. “It’s 14 degrees today,” announces my husband, who must think he’s being helpful.

Staying inside all day drinking cocoa is one way to cope with frigid weather, but going out and inhaling fresh air is essential for the soul. And if dog walking is one of your twice- or more daily to-dos … . To combat the cold, we’ve concluded we must concur with a common Scandinavian saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Layers! Hat! Scarf! Socks! Mittens! Don’t give away your ski underwear even if you no longer hit the slopes. You’ll be glad you still have it. When considering new purchases, pay attention to points of vulnerability, such as between the end of a sleeve and beginning of a mitten, and the base of the neck. Coats with storm cuffs keep wind and snow from finding their way up a sleeve. And, although wearing a scarf with, say, a shearling or warm puffer, may seem superfluous, coats often don’t seal in warmth around your neck the way a scarf will.

For ways we’re dealing with what’s beginning to look like the polar vortex, vintage 2022, see below.

LEFT: You know what they say about heat escaping from your head? No? Walk outside with your head uncovered for 20 minutes in below-20-degree weather. Then you’ll know. For such heady stuff, I defer to MyLittleBird co-founder Nancy McKeon. She swears by her trapper hat with the caveat that you may need to sacrifice good looks for warmth. However, this Plush Trapper Hat in fleece, a result of a collaboration between Eddie Bauer and California label The Great looks pretty darn cute. The seven-inch ear flaps fasten under the chin with a snap-close strap.

RIGHT: Patagonia with a Swedish accent, Fjallraven knows a thing or two about coping with cold. When the Fahrenheit dips to frigid, don this Nordic Heater ($79.95, Moosejaw). The faux fur keeps your head warm and cozy and the wind- and waterproof fabric repels snow and fierce winds. Folding ear flaps with holes underneath make it possible to hear your walking companion.

LEFT: Under Armour’s HeatGear Compression Long Sleeve  is a light layer that fits easily under a bulkier shirt and sweater. It wicks sweat, dries fast, has enough stretch for good mobility and odor-repellent technology. It sells for $35.

RIGHT: I’ve kept my Marmot fleece top and hat for years. Not only are the hat and sweater warm, they don’t look like they’re ski-only wear. And that’s why I think their Polartec Base Layer Tights ($84.95, Backcountry) would be a good investment—for wearing under clothing— but also just on their own. They wick moisture, dry quickly and promise to keep odors at bay.

LEFT: If my neck is not swathed and coddled, I’m cold, so for me, a scarf is a non-negotiable part of my cold-weather-apparel arsenal. Frankie Shop’s generously sized Nieves merino wool scarf (68 inches long-by-10 inches wide, excluding fringe) comes in lovely colors—teal, asphalt, dusty blue and tobacco, including violet (shown). And, at $66, it’s not a budget buster.

CENTER: Like Frankie Shop’s and Cos’s (below) and most self-respecting scarves these days, & Other Stories’s mohair and wool-blend Blanket Scarf (75-by-20 inches) is trimmed with fringe. But it’s that ice-cream-colored pistachio hue that offers a lift from the winter doldrums. It’s $99.

RIGHT: Wrap your neck in Cos’ Oversize Check Scarf (78¾-by 23½ inches), and you’ll still have plenty of cozy mohair to drape around your shoulders over your coat.


LEFT: I like the look of sleek gloves as much as anyone else, but in cold weather, they’re worthless for keeping your hands and fingers from freezing. Mittens to the rescue! A few years ago I was in Montreal during a snowstorm that dumped a couple of feet on the ground and followed it up with zero-degree temperatures. How grateful I was to have my shearling mittens with me. Similar to my own vintage pair are these Hestra Sheepskin Mittens ($149.95, Backcountry). With a lambskin suede outer and a lambswool lining, they’ll keep your hands happily ensconced.

CENTER: Charmingly retro-looking, Snowflake Knit Mittens offer warmth with a thinsulate (a synthetic alternative to down) lining. Available in seven different color combinations, they’re $17.99 from Amazon.

RIGHT: Hestra’s aptly named Moon Mitten ($79.95, Backcountry) has a shell to slough off snow and such; insulation to trap heat even when wet; a lining and elastic, close-fitting wrists to keep cold and wet from creeping up sleeves. You can easily slip them over a pair of gloves, too.

LEFT: These Smartwool Popcorn Polka Dot Crew Socks are made from itch-free merino wool, which, by the way, helps prevent foot odor. Cushioning offers support and comfort, while spandex helps retain their shape. They’re must-haves to keeps toes toasty, and they’re reduced from $24.95 to $14 at Orvis.

CENTER: Even if you never have hiked and never plan to, Smartwool’s Hike Classic Crew Socks ($19, REI), available in mauve or twilight blue, support feet with a cushy bottom while an elasticized arch ensures a good fit.

RIGHT: When you want to pamper your feet, slather them in moisturizer and slip on Z Supply’s Plush Heart Socks at bedtime. Wake up with velvety tootsies. Keep a pair for yourself and gift the other to a favorite friend for Valentine’s Day. They’re $24 for a pack of two.

LEFT: Of course you have warm winter boots already, but in case you’re on the hunt, this knit boot promises function with a side of style. Waterproofing keeps out the damp stuff and seals in the warmth, while a rubber lug outsole provides necessary traction on slippery surfaces. They’re $159.99 from Backcountry.

RIGHT: Who doesn’t like variety? Fully unzipped, the Tristan Faux Fur Platform Sneaker Bootie can be worn as a sneaker, partially unzipped as a cuffed boot or totally zipped as a full-fledged bootie. They’re selling for $106.80, reduced from $178, at Nordstrom.


Pro Tip: Check Mountain Steals by Moosejaw for discounts of 60 percent—for the next three days—on cold-weather accessories, including long underwear, socks, mittens, boots, scarves and hats from brands like Polarmax, Hot Chillys, SmartWool, Columbia and North Face.


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4 thoughts on “When the Weather Outside Is Frightful

  1. Janet Kelly says:

    I get cranky, too, Nancy. No fun at all to be cold.

  2. Nancy G says:

    Since I get really bitchy when I’m cold, covering every part of me with efficient warming clothing is essential to the comfort of everyone around me as well. Warm, non-itchy socks are always on my radar. I also still have, and wear, my fleece neck gators and ear bands from our skiing days. Not as good looking as these scarves or those really cute hats, but my neck and ears are warm. Great finds, Janet!

  3. Elizabeth Seamans says:

    A good one. I want it all. Great price points, too.

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Thanks, Elizabeth. It looks as if we’re going to need it all this winter.

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