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How to Dress for the Cold in New York

We are in the midst of February, which means that we are smack in the middle of winter in the tri-state area. Here in New Jersey and New York, we’ve had two snow storms already, and it seems like they are not the last. I’ve lived in New Jersey for all my life, so I’ve had to live through my fair share of winters. But let me be clear: I hate the cold. I really do. I’d love to live in a place where summer is the only season. This article is completely biased because it is in the perspective of a person who hates the cold. In a way, that makes this article even more useful. I guarantee that haters of the cold will feel prepared to face winter in the tri-state area after reading this.

Since I get cold really easily, this guide will begin at 50º-40º Farenheit, the first stage of cold weather that you can probably find in the middle of spring and at some points throughout the fall. Also, whenever you check the weather app to see what the temperature is outside, do not listen to the first number that appears on your screen. Scroll down to “what it feels like.” You will get a more accurate representation of how you need to dress.

Sweater weather (otherwise known as warm-cold) (50º-40º F)

This is my favorite stage of cold, mainly because it’s the closest stage of cold to “warm.” I can show off my cute outfit without having my jacket cover it. In this weather, I recommend only wearing one layer of clothing. I do recommend taking a sweater or a jacket, especially if you are going to be out past the sunset. You have no idea how fast the temperature drops after the sun disappears. There’s no need for gloves or a scarf in this weather, and a stylish hat is always acceptable.

Pull out that warm jacket (40º-30º F)

Okay, now it’s time to put on a warm jacket. In mid-February 30º to 40º weather is lovely, but it depends on whether the temperature lies closer to 30º or 40º. I would recommend wearing double layers, especially if it’s windy outside, because wind lowers the temperature like 5º. When I say wear double layers, I mean wear a t-shirt and then a long sleeved shirt on top. Or wear leggings or tights and pants on top of that. I personally think wearing a hat is appropriate in this weather, but it is your call because only you know how cold you feel. Bring gloves, because even if you think you don’t need them, when you do, you have them in your pockets. 

Alright, time to layer (30º-20º F) 

This is where the cold starts to cross a line. Though the temperature may not look dangerous since you are still above 19º F, this cold is the type of cold that can get you sick. You won’t feel it immediately when you step outside, but if you are out for too long, you begin to literally freeze. I’ve gone out in this weather without gloves and at one point I was unable to move my fingers. It is so important that you layer in this weather. If you can, triple layer. So this means put on a t-shirt, a long sleeved shirt, AND a sweater on top before putting on your jacket. And this means putting on tights, leggings, and then your pants. I wouldn’t recommend spending an entire day outside in this weather.

Strongly recommend hat and gloves (20º-10º F)

Alright. If you are like me and you hate the cold, you wouldn’t dream of going outside in this weather. If I see the weather is below 25º, I don’t plan on leaving my home. If you are the kind of person who can leave their home in this weather: good luck. I’ve heard stories about people with wet hair going out in this weather and literally having their hair freeze and break off. Good luck treating those split ends. I’d recommend wearing triple layers, but make sure that every layer keeps you warm. Wear the warmest t-shirt you can find. Wear very warm socks and wear boots. Go put on that scarf, you’re gonna need it. While you’re at it, go make yourself a cup of cocoa for when you come back. 

Cozy up with hot cocoa (10º-5º F)

While I’m inside enjoying this warm delicious cup of cocoa, I really hope you are not thinking about going out in this weather. I have never been outside in this weather, nor do I ever plan to do so. Unless you need to do something important that has to be done immediately, do not leave your home when the weather feels like this. This is the kind of cold that makes your eyes hurt. I literally have no advice on what to wear in this weather because I have not been able to put on four layers of clothes. If it is possible, do it; but please consider not going out in this weather.

The last thing I can tell you before finishing this article is please be thoughtful when thinking about going out into the cold. I know I’m exaggerating, but New York cold can be brutal. Make sure you stay healthy and warm this winter season. Have fun and stay warm!

Izabella Lizarazo

Columbia Barnard '24

Izabella is a freshman at Barnard College, often found listening and/or singing along to show tunes or Latin jazz. She's a fan of journaling, organizing, and writing. She is almost always available to go out and talk over a bubble tea or ice cream with friends. Although she is undecided on what her college major will be, Izabella is interested in history, politics, literature, and Spanish and Latin American cultures.
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