I was procrastinating on the internet a couple of Fridays ago, as one does, and came across a Cup of Jo post about how real women dress professionally. The outfits were cute, but the point came up in the comments: what about us ladies living in cold weather cities? Now, I’ve been a somewhat-professional office-worker for almost a decade in a northern county. And, I haaate being cold. So welcome to (my) definitive guide on how to dress professionally in cold weather:
If you take away one thing from this entire post it’s this: wear practical boots, and change into work shoes when you get to the office. It’s so much easier to keep your entire body warm if you have warm and dry feet. Plus your work shoes will last longer if you aren’t exposing them to salt and slush.
Some of my favourites are:
- The classic Sorel boot
- The practical Columbia boot
- The Blundstone (or a more refined chelsea boot) is great if your climate doesn’t get much snow. Paired with a wool sock they’ve been keeping my feet warm for 3 winters (note: I don’t suggest these boots if you have to wait for a bus in -10 degree weather).
But don’t think you have to go too pricey on winter boots. End of season sales usually offer deep discounts (and happen before real winter hits) and cheaper brands can offer some good alternatives. Now these boots won’t look overly professional, but stick to a neutral colour and change into regular work shoes once you’re at your office.
So many companies sell great winter coats. A good coat should at least hit mid-thigh, fit well for maximum warmth and ideally have a deep hood. While you can go for wool, down (or a synthetic alternative) will provide greater warmth and is much lighter. For a professional look stick to a neutral colour and a minimum number of zippers, toggles, and accessories. Have a look on Kijiji, Craigslist or your local buy/sell/trade facebook page for a deal on a good winter coat. Many people grow tired of their coat before it even shows much wear and you can an amazing discount on an almost-new coat that would have been $400 originally.
Coats I like:
- Aritiza has some great ones. You will get your money’s worth in terms of warmth.
- I love the look of this North Face coat (would I pay full retail price? No.)
Gloves: go with lined leather gloves for a professional look, but if you dislike leather, fleece gloves are warm and cheap and in a neutral colour won’t draw attention. Do you have a long commute in the cold? Then just go with your warmest pair of mitts and slide them into your pockets when you get to the office. Don’t freeze for fashion.
Scarves: wear an oversized blanket scarf or a fine knit wool scarf. Pick something in a flattering colour and keep it wrapped neatly around your neck. Pick a scarf with a lot of volume (like the blanket scarf) for dramatic and contemporary look.
Hat: If it isn’t too cold you can often get by with a winter headband and a hood to keep your head warm. But for those really cold days? My mum was right, your mum was right: wear a hat. There are a multitude of options out there (beret, slouchy, cashmere, and more); you’re sure to find something flattering.
Inside the Office
Is your office freezing? Mine is. Thin wool sweaters are my winter office-wear of choice (easy to find secondhand as well).
But the easiest way I’ve found to stay warm? Wear a scarf. I’m not sure why it works so well, but keeping my neck warm is the easiest way to stay cozy and classy indoors. There’s scarves out there for every style.
Also, check out Christina’s recommendations on what to wear in the office in the winter.
Stay toasty friends,