When you hail from a city that has the word “hot” in its nickname as I do, cold weather is a passing thought. Before starting ND, the closest I’d ever gotten to snow was the half inch powderings we’d received once every few years. Meager as it may sound, it caused an uproar. Need proof? Google “snowpocalypse Atlanta.” My people aren’t accustomed to snowbound winters. This also means we don’t know how to dress for them. Unlike you, dear reader, I learned through trial and error. So here are a few necessities you should pick up to help you survive your first South Bend winter without compromising your sense of style.
1. Headband Ear Warmers
I’d always thought earwarmers were reserved for the intense runner moms of my neighborhood and little kids but after a year in the Bend I’m casting my vote for earwarmers to be named the greatest unsung hero of winter apparel. When the temps are hovering in the single digits and those pesky lake effect winds are the only force pushing you to your 9 a.m. your ears will be the first to go. So trust me – invest in a few in neutral colors like white, black, and brown and avoid a trip to St. Liam’s. Etsy offers a huge variety of them for anywhere between $10 to $100.
White Knit Earwarmer Headband $11
2. A good scarf
I love scarves. However, my thin stanbys from home didn’t hold up against the winter and I was forced to retire them for a while. Older and wiser now, I’m building a new, more practical collection. I’m a big fan of the infinity loop because they’re easy to store and wear (having uneven ends drives me crazy!). Most important is making sure that your scarf has weight. You simply won’t wear the ones that don’t keep you warm. Go for a tight knit (ie. with small holes), made of a wool blend. Scarves make a great statement piece so don’t be afraid of bright colors or a pattern! Again, Etsy is a favorite but these scarves can be found almost anywhere.
Blue handmade knit wool cowl $25
3. Parkas are a girl’s best friend
While I know a few hold outs who refuse to wear actual parkas on principle, I have fallen in love with mine. You’ll find that you feel a lot less dorky in your puffy coat once you realize 80% of campus is wearing one exactly like it. Why? Because they’re wonderful and many stores have coats that are practical but keep a trendy silhouette.
No matter what, I reccomend a coat with down lining, storm cuffs to keep wind out, a waterproof outside (because snow is wet), fleece lined pockets, and a hood. My coat has a faux fur lining which helps a lot with wind. If you’re firmly anti-parka, layering is key. But be careful not to over-do it as the buildings are generously heated. I found my parka for $85 through some careful Amazon hunting but be prepared to spend anywhere from $70 to $300. Remember: this coat is an investment.
Pro-tip: Make sure your coat covers your butt and, unless it’s a very unique color, NEVER take it to a party.
Sam Edelman Women’s Share Fur Trimmed Down Coat $137.57
4. Leggings, leggings, leggings
Many a fahionista consider wearing leggings to be a cardinal sin but I am firmly pro-legging. Leggings are versatile, comfortable, and low maintenance. You may love your denim and chords but come laundry day, you may have a change of heart. Not to mention, they’re much less miserable to layer and dry faster than denim. For winter I reccommend investing in a few pairs of fleece lined leggings. The fleece act as a barrier against the elements and somehow make the most comfy article of clothing that much comfier. As with all leggings be on the look out for a pair that is warm but not see through!
Fleece lined leggings $12
5. To snow boot or not to snow boot?
As practical as I am, I cannot bring myself to invest in a pair of real-life snow boots. However I hear they’re wonderful for stomping around in the snow drifts. Here at ND, the predominant footwear in the winter months is the ever-divisive Bean Boot which paired with a pair of ski socks seems to work wonders to keep your feet toasty warm. This year, I’m planning on investing in a pair of Timberland work boots. They’re warm, waterproof, and trendy again (finally!). No matter what your taste I have three boot tips. First, beware of ice. Make sure to buy a shoe that’s a little heavy with lots of traction (i.e. a thick rubber bottom). You’ll get a leg work out on your commute and are far less likely to faceplant on the various ice deposits around campus as I have done many times. Second, salt sucks. Make sure to waterproof your shoes and look into how you go about cleaning salt deposits off of whatever material you chose. Salt can and will ruin any shoe you truly love. Third, beware of sticker shock. These, too, are an investment.
Sorel Women’s Joan Of Arctic Boot $146.95
Good luck this winter!