From Sunshine to Snowfall: 5 essentials for a Midwest Winter from a Californian

For my first winter in Evanston, I was really not excited about the freezing winters, considering I can get chilly in 70º F weather. California’s lack of a winter definitely didn’t prepare me for winter weather at Northwestern, but here are five essentials (besides the obvious coat and snow boots) that have been getting me through the winter warm and happy!

  1. 1. Flannel-lined jeans

    While it took me a while to find a pair of flannel-lined jeans that didn’t seem like they would make me look like the lady lumberjack of Wreck-It Ralph’s dreams, the search was definitely worth it. With more and more of the clothes we buy being cheaply made and/or relatively thin (especially from California), a lot of the jeans I own just won’t cut it in an Evanston winter, even on a relatively warm day. I got my flannel jeans from Carhartt, and they keep me super warm, even on the colder days here. Since the coat I use daily doesn’t cover too much of my legs, this was a necessary investment for me.

  2. 2. Fleece-lined leggings

     If flannel-lined jeans aren’t enough warmth for you, you can definitely opt for layering fleece-lined leggings under your jeans. I knew about layering sweaters and coats, but I have never had to layer my pants in winter before. But for someone who exclusively wears baggy jeans like myself, the wind here will whip that cold air right up your legs. I make sure to wear some sort of thermals or fleece-lined leggings under my jeans, especially on cold days. I bought my favorite pair of fleece-lined leggings new from Goodwill, and they’re super warm and thick enough to wear on their own, but also perfect for wearing under baggy jeans.

  3. 3. Humidifier

    Winters here are DRY. Only days after I arrived on campus my once-dormant allergies snuck up on me as my sinuses dried out. I did some research and ended up buying a humidifier to prevent my room from getting dry, and it has really helped me. It also provides some soothing white noise which is a plus. You can buy them on Amazon or get them in-store at your local Target!

  4. 4. Extra moisturizing hand cream 

    I have dry skin, and even during winters in California my hands will get dry and crackly. Couple that with extra hand washing and sanitizer use due to the COVID-19 pandemic and extra dry air from Evanston and you’ve got some really dry and damaged skin on your hands (literally). Unless you take care of your hands and keep them moisturized. I’ve learned that for my skin, a daily drug store lotion won’t keep my hands soft, so I use O'Keeffe's Working Hands hand cream, which is specifically meant for extremely dry and cracked skin, and it’s worked wonders for my skin. 

  5. 5. Rechargeable hand warmer

    Unless you want to drop extra money for disposable hand warmers which only last for a few hours before becoming unnecessary waste, I suggest you buy a rechargeable hand warmer to keep your hands toasty. I’ve noticed that even my thickest pair of gloves really doesn’t hold a candle to the wind here, and while I could wear mittens everywhere, it’s not really that practical. I prefer to carry rechargeable hand warmers with me, as they charge quickly and provide a lot of warmth. You can get them on Amazon in a variety of colors!

While some of these essentials may seem unnecessary to those who grew up in colder climates, I came from a place where leggings and a sweatshirt could be a fitting outfit for the coldest day in the year. So if you occasionally find yourself cold in room temperature like me, these essentials will prevent you from freezing during Northwestern winters. And for those who are from the Midwest, recommending these tips to your friends from warmer climates could save you from hearing them complain about how cold it is all the time!