A Southern Girl's Guide to Winter Essentials

Image taken from twostitchknits.com

Brace yourselves: winter is coming. Many students at Williams know what it’s like, but a lot of us don’t (Texans and Californians, I’m looking at you). Hint: it gets cold here. Not “cold” like 30 degrees—cold like below zero, Fahrenheit. Here are ten essentials to make the Berkshire mountain winters a little more bearable.

1. Fleece-lined leggings. Also fleece-lined tights. They’re like regular leggings, but warmer, so they provide the same protection from the elements as actual pants to, but with twice the comfort and half the effort. When it gets really cold, you can layer them under pants for true coziness (pro tip: the tights are easier to get under the pants without bunching up, plus they make socks optional).

2. Really warm socks. It’s important to keep your feet warm. Just make sure your socks are made of a natural fiber like wool or cotton—a synthetic fiber like polyester will make your feet sweat, which can get smelly at best or make your feet a lot colder at worst. Trust me, you really do not want wet/damp feet in cold weather.

3. Really warm waterproof boots. These can take the form of Bean boots (which you’ll want to waterproof with a spray to prevent water damage to the leather) or similar footwear, or they can be snow boots (because Bean boots and the like just aren’t gonna cut it when the white stuff really starts to pile up). You don’t have to shell out a ton of money for foot warmth—I got my snow boots from Kohl’s, and they’ve gotten me through a very cold and snowy Minnesota winter with no trouble. Just make sure your choice of footwear will keep your feet warm and dry, and you’ll be fine.

4. A really warm coat. I should really take my own advice here—my “winter coat” is only intended for temperatures between +10 and +25 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can get a lot colder than that here. I’d recommend checking out Land’s End or L.L. Bean, since they usually give an ideal temperature range for every option. This is the kind of item that you could get away with spending more on—it’s important for your coat to be warm enough, so it’s better to invest in a high-quality coat that will keep you warm and last for a really long time (thus saving you money in the long run) than to go for a cheaper option that might not be warm enough and might wear out sooner.

5. Cocoa butter/lotion/other moisturizer, and lots of chapstick! In the winter, skin dries out, and in our über-winters, skin über-dries out. Depending on exactly how dry your skin is usually prone to being, you’ll want to get lotion, cocoa butter, or another product to keep your skin moisturized. Also, stock up on the chapstick, because it’s super necessary and super easy to misplace, and it really sucks to go for your much-needed chapstick, only to realize that your only tube is in your other jacket.

6. Chunky knitwear. This is more of a fashion preference, but it still serves to keep a person warm. I could be a fan of chunky knits for their aesthetic alone, but the chunkier your scarf or other article of knit clothing, the more air it’ll trap and the more insulated you’ll be, so there’s a bonus. You don’t have to accessorize with chunky knits per se, but you do need gloves or mittens, a scarf or two, and a hat or two (hats go under hoods, for my fellow southerners). Your gloves/mittens probably shouldn’t be chunky if you want to move your fingers at all, but hats and scarves can be as chunky or fine as you want them to be, and none of it has to be knit. I just think chunky knits are super cute and add texture to an outfit that’s dominated by a winter coat.

7. Flannels, sweaters, and other warm tops. There’s a reason the stereotypical New Englander wears these—they’re pretty much necessary. T-shirts won’t cut it here. Again, when looking at sweaters, try to go for natural fibers so you don’t sweat more than you ordinarily would (again, wet clothes are not good in winter). There are plenty of different stylish warm clothing options, so you don’t have to go full-on lumberjack unless you want to. Also: it’s really nice to have fitted tees, tanks, long-sleeved shirts, and the odd turtleneck to layer under tops when it gets really cold.

8. Slippers, warm pajamas, and a warm robe. Even with the heat on, it’s a little cold to be walking to the shower and back in just a towel, especially after you’ve gotten wet. Also, non-carpet floors in hallways and common rooms are really not fun to walk on when you’re barefoot and they’re cold. As for the pajamas, who doesn’t love to be warm and cozy in bed? Flannel is a favorite material, but you do you.

9. Hair dryer. DO NOT GO OUTSIDE WITH WET HAIR! It can freeze and break, plus your head will get super cold, and you could get sick. Wet stuff in the cold is one of the major winter DON’Ts, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. The hair dryer is especially important for people who shower in the morning and during the day, but it’s nice to have if you’re a night showerer too (as it helps prevent extreme bedhead and keeps your pillow dry).

10. A sunny attitude! The winter seems to drag on forever here—even after the cold abates somewhat, it stays gray and chilly for a really long time before finally warming up in the spring. Just remember, it will get warm again. Spring is on the way. You will see the sun again. Don’t let the winter blues get you down!