Tell this cold-weather newbie what to wear in cold weather

August 24 2016 | meggyfin
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Reasons why Megan is smiling in this photo: 1. Found a TARDIS in the UK. 2. Found a rain jacket right before a rain storm.
Reasons why Megan is smiling in this photo: 1. Found a TARDIS in the UK. 2. Found a rain jacket right before a rain storm.
I'm an Aussie (from one of the warmer, sunnier parts of the country) who has just moved to the UK and am having a clothing crisis!

I always knew I would have to get a proper winter wardrobe when I got here, but I wasn't expecting to be so overwhelmed by options. I have no idea where to start and don't want to waste hundreds of pounds on clothes that turn out to be completely impractical. I've never even owned a winter jacket before, so some advice would be really really appreciated…

What are your winter staples? What should I look for in a jacket? And shoes (boots?)? Please help! -Arlina

I feel your pain so hard, Arlina! I recently took a long trip to the UK, and this California girl was ill-prepared and often soaking wet… until I finally went shopping for a proper rain jacket. I probably needed something more substantial than the thin jacket that I got, but I decided to just layer my clothing, instead of invest $$$ in something I wouldn't ever need, once back home.

But what happens when your home becomes a much much colder climate than you're used to?

Homies who live in colder climates, what would you recommend to a cold weather newbie?

  1. I grew up in an area with cold winters, but I haven't been in the cold for a while. A lot of dressing for winter is like dressing for summer–personal preference. Certain body parts on you will get colder faster, and by your second or third winter, you'll probably have adapted and need less clothing when you go out.
    A few tips from what I remember:
    1. Start out buying cheaper quality, lower cost goods so that you can find what works for you. Once you know what you like (and what you need), invest in higher quality that will last. Find a good tailor who can replace broken zippers so that you can keep your clothes longer.
    2. Dress for the water as well as the temp. Snow becomes water and it's coooold and no fun. Waterproof boots are amazing.
    3. If you're around snow, buy more socks than you think you'll need.
    4. Many coats have smooth lining (so that it moves easily past your clothing). If you hate that lining (as I do), finding a coat without it will be a challenge. It's possible, but not easy.
    5. Layers. Sweaters are my favorite thing in the world.

    5 agree
  2. I live in a place that can go between 95 degrees and -40 degrees Fahrenheit (because it's in the US and no one uses Celsius for weather)(35 C to -40 C).
    What I've found to be true is that once you get used to the cold, you find yourself needing less than you'd expect.
    In the spring everyone wears just a sweatshirt once it hits 40 F (Snow is melting, sun is shining). But in the fall when it goes down to 40, everyone bundles up.
    After that advice, I defer to someone who lives in your specific climate because I'm not sure my winter and yours are the same level of intensity.
    I do love my waterproofing sprays to protect cute shoes during puddle and slush seasons! Check carefully with suede textures.
    Also! Static cling and build up happens! I killed two watches that were not on a metal band just taking off a synthetic "wool" coat.

    4 agree
    • Are you from Buffalo, Lizzie? 🙂 That sounds like our weather. As hot as our summers are, we're known for the ridiculous amount of snow we get in winter (which is only partially true–Syracuse gets more snow than Buffalo annually but they don't have the reputation for it).

      Definitely layer up, I always wear a camisole under everything I wear in the winter, then a thin longer sleeve shirt, then a sweater. This is for everyday (if I wore underarmor under everything I'd be sweating in the office), but if you're going to go skiing or sledding or be outdoors all day then you need more/better layers. As for outerwear I have lots of coats that are so cute & stylish but not altogether practical… I keep warm with my accessories: long thick scarves, hats & gloves. My extremities are what gets cold the quickest & I find if I keep my head, chest & hands warm then I'm okay.

      1 agrees
      • Sounds like my area too! I'm in Canada, but an hour from Buffalo.

        I actually can't picture what I'd tell the poster, because chilly with rain isn't the norm here.

      • Haha. No. I'm in Duluth, MN!
        We make the national news every once in a while for the windchill factor.
        One day we had the temp drop 20 degrees just from a wind shift! (80 and calm to 60 and windy is very different).

        1 agrees
      • From Buffalo as well. I need to say waterproof boots. There are lots of cute winter boots but most are not waterproof. The first time you step in a slush puddle you will regret it. Quality socks are important too. Not just for warmth but so your boots don't pull those socks down as you walk.

        3 agree
      • They aren't infallible. They won't make something into a full-on puddle jumper, but it keeps your feet dry longer. I've noticed that even with the spray things like seam stitches get road salt crawling up, but then everything is easier to clean off with a damp cloth or paper towel.
        I usually get mine at an outdoors/sporting goods store, but even Journey's (fashion/youth shoe chain) has a non-aerosol one that I bought when I got my Chucks last year.

        • I also don't know if your winters are bad enough that salt is used on sidewalks and roads to make ice go away…. that may be a uniquely "severe winter" region thing.

          • The UK use does use salt on roads and paths to melt ice! Up in the north of england, it's quite common to see salt sprayers around the evening before a cold wet day. There are also large containers of salt in most residential areas for people to spread on their paths and driveways.

            1 agrees
  3. Layers! Given that you're used to hot, a raincoat with fleece lining but I prefer non lined and wearing vest/long sleeve top/cardigan/cotton type scarf most of which will need to be shed as soon aa you step into our central heated buildings (which is also something people forget about if they're not used to it). Oh gloves too

    Shoes… Boots always, thin and long socks for layering if you need to. Loafers and deck shoes good, pumps less so as they are ruined by any wet 🙂

    Oh despite the stereotype, very few English people wear a coat length mackintosh type coat as ny foreign husband thought! Usually long jackets whether it's a warm layer or a waterproof layer

    1 agrees
  4. Megan looks like she is in my home town of Glasgow!!

    My suggestion would be layers! In Glasgow, we have known to have 4 seasons in one day.. It can be freezing cold one minute and warm sunshine the next. Make sure you pack a brolly for the rain but for the rest I would recommend scarfs as they can always be taken off.

    3 agree
    • I was just in glasgow, Ive spent august in edinburgh for the festival and am completely in love with scotland. I experienced my very first complete white out foggy day last week and that was so surreal and creepy and amazing. Who knew something other than sunny could be so beautiful 😉 I have acquired 3 scarves since being here – theyre my new favourite accessory!

  5. Layering is always a good option. It also prevents you from having to buy a bunch of one season items. I've lived most of my life in colder climes. Sweaters (cardigan style are my fave since they are easy to layer) or jackets are wonderful. If there is snow or really low temperatures where you live a good winter coat and gloves are important. Up to you if you want to go the hat or hood route. I opt for hats and scarves myself. Though if you get a thick infinity scarf you can skip a hat.

    My everyday winter garb includes

    -a sweater
    -a shirt (long or shirtsleeve depending on how thick the sweater and how cold I feel) underneath
    -knee socks and pants or leggings, socks, and a skirt.
    -boots (I highly suggest waterproof and with a slip proof sole)

    When I venture outside I add
    -A long (mid-calf) wool coat*
    -a thick scarf (I have a few back up scarves in case one gets too wet and because I like options)
    -hat, something that covers the ears
    -gloves (mine are touch tech so I can use the touch screen on my phone. Not a must have feature but I find it useful)
    -umbrella if it's raining and I remember

    *wool can really soak up the wet so a waterproof winter coat is probably a better option but I personally find them too bulky.

    Summer's where I live can be a bit cold as well. Again layering is the trick. I have several lighter jackets and shawls for summer. Regardless of the time of year I almost always leave the house with a scarf (a lightweight, wide one or a shawl/poncho) and boots. So even if I have in a tank top the scarf is a nice backup for if it is suddenly cold. And doubles as sun protection.

    2 agree
    • touch tech gloves – you genius! I think you just helped me find the perfect last part to my partner's birthday present

  6. I'm a big fan of a thermal base layer. Thermal gear is usually unnoticeable under clothing (depending on the outfit) and keeps you toasty warm all day.

    3 agree
  7. I sucked it up and bought some SmartWool under layers. It's pricey, but works extremely well and gives me a great extra layer of warmth. I have: a camisole I can wear close to the skin, a long-sleeved shirt, a thicker sweater, a couple pairs of socks of different thicknesses, a pair of gloves, and a pair of tights/leggings to wear under skirts and looser pants. They give me nice variety of options when it comes to layering for the cold.
    Figure out what you really need as you go along. To save on money too I would suggest trying on some things in stores, then checking online to find better prices. The REI garage website has some wonderful discounts on top brands.
    And happy adventuring! 🙂

    5 agree
    • I second SmartWool–for everything. I have always had their socks, but this past winter I invested in a long sleeve top and leggings because I was bike commuting. They kept me so happy! Wool anything is great because it stays warm even when wet–I also use an alpaca hat and alpaca leg warmers. Perfect when I was visiting England (guard your ankles from the slush!). I go overboard to stay warm, so I also have an Arcteryx ski jacket that is the most lightwieght, yet WARM, and easy to move in. And it has a built-in avalanche tracking thingy in case you are buried alive, so you know. You're safe from that. These are all expensive but MADE for the cold–high performance gear for winter expeditions. I collected mine over time, and they are worth it.

      1 agrees
  8. I'm a Canadian who just spent two years on the UK celebrating the lack of any real winter to speak of. I saw snow twice. The locals freaked, the park was closed and the trains stopped. I laughed and laughed…. Of course if you're not used to it, I guess you'll need real winter attire. I spent most of the "winter" in a sweater, rain jacket and scarf.
    Canadian smugness aside, I suggest you invest in decent footwear. Dry warm feet are how we survive at -25degrees Celcius. Cold wet feet are the key to the most miserable winter ever.

    7 agree
  9. I was canvasser for years and worked outside in all conditions. Given, in Vancouver, Canada, so not the coldest weather,but I am a baby in the cold. The greatest discovery I ever made was winter under armour. you can get it from any work wear store and the kind with wool fiber tends to be the best for wet climates. Get a long sleeve top and leggings. They are tight, so you can throw your clothes onovertop, and they are soooo warm!!

    1 agrees
  10. I have lots of ideas!

    1. CuddlDuds are a line of long underwear that are super soft and super thin, plus they come in a lot of different styles: v neck, long sleeve, sleeveless, etc.

    2. Waterproof boots are a must. If you want really cute ones, look for snow boots, not rain boots. Amazon is great for this. My all purpose cold boots look like Uggs, but they're warm, waterproof, and were under $50.

    3. I saved the best for last: fleece lined tights. These things are incredible. They're not that expensive and they let me wear cute skirts in terrible winters. You can also very easily layer them under pants. Don't let anyone tell you leggings are just as good. The fleece is what really makes it. I prefer my foot less faux-cabled pair.

    Have fun!

    8 agree
    • I'm from Minnesota and I'll add my vote for fleece lined tights! They prevent cold ankles, and my favorites come halfway up my stomach so there's no chance of a chilly lower back either! Make sure your layers tuck into each other (tights under a camisole that's tucked into your pants with a top that comes down past your waistband). I think of it like a tower defense game, set up different rows of defenses to protect your toasty warm skin from the invading cold air and water.

      1 agrees
  11. Another thing you won't think of until your hands feel like sandpaper and you have nosebleeds is that heat dries out the air. Now I live in the States and that's been my experience in the colder places I've lived (Mid-Atlantic) and it may not be as applicable in the UK since I've only been in October and July. I'd invest in a humidifier for your home and a small usb one for my desk at work. This will cut down on the static (my wool rug and vacuum cause sparks on the regular) and aforementioned nosebleeds and sand papery hands.

    3 agree
    • In my experience in Lancaster, England, you need a DE-humidifier, especially for the bathrooms. Everything is so cold and wet all the time that nothing ever dries–the steam from the shower condenses on the ceiling and walls, runs as water, and turns to mold.

      3 agree
  12. Canadian here. My winters might be a little colder than the winters you will be preparing for, but like the people above me have said, good waterproof shoes/boots are a must. Spending the day in wet socks makes you and everybody around you grumpy. I also own 2 winter jackets (though this might be overkill in the UK) – one nice, professional looking wool one that I wear 90% of the time to work and out to social things and what have you (mine is bright fuchsia with an asymmetrical zipper and it's my favourite coat of all time); and one big chunky ski parka for when I'm out playing in the snow, or I wake up in the morning and it's -40C and a blizzard outside and I just say, "Fuck it" and throw the giant jacket on over my 4 other layers. I got a great deal on my ski jacket when a sporting goods store near my house had a closing sale.

    My husband also swears by long underwear and thermal undershirts all winter, but he does work outside.

    1 agrees
  13. Canadian here (from Montreal). One thing that I haven't seen spelled out anywhere yet is that there are different kinds of cold. The clothes you'll wear in -35 C plus wind are different than what you'd wear in -5 C with slush. As others have said, layers are useful and will help you deal with a variety of conditions. Given that you're gonna be in the UK, which means you won't have SUPER-low temperatures, here's what I'd suggest for you:

    – Some sweaters, cardigans, or polar fleeces that you can wear indoors when it's chilly.
    – Long underwear for if you want to go outside for extended periods of time. A single pair is probably enough unless you're planning on being outside a lot, and for long periods.
    – Do *not* wear jeans if you're going to be outside for a long time. The cotton in jeans is awful in the cold and it is hard to get dry once it's wet.
    – Invest in a good winter jacket. Ideally one that goes down at least to cover your butt, even better to your mid-thigh. Lots of people will have lots of Opinions ™ about what makes a great coat, but honestly anything sold in the UK as a winter coat will probably be all right for you. Make sure you have full range of motion and it's loose enough that you can fit a sweater underneath it.
    – Also invest in good boots. Waterproof is a must. I personally prefer winter hiking boots because they have good ankle and arch support, but honestly the choice is up to you. Do *not* go with your normal spring / fall boots – get boots that are specifically made for winter.
    – A good winter hat, wool or synthetic works best. You may not need it all the time in the UK, but it'll be handy when the temperature dips below -5 C or so.
    – A wool or synthetic scarf, neck-warmer, etc. Essentially you want something that will prevent the heat from leaving from your neck. If it gets very cold, you'll want to be able to cover your lower face as well, but that probably won't be as much of a concern in the UK.
    – Gloves or mittens. Mittens will keep your hands warmer, gloves will give you more diversity in what you can do. Some gloves have built-in pads on the index fingers so you can use your smartphone. (But beware – phones don't generally like the cold very much and you may find your battery life affected significantly.)
    – Good socks, preferably wool. You may not need them all the time, but they'll be handy if you're outside for extended periods of time, or if it's chilly inside your home.

    That's more or less what you need. If I were gonna prioritize, it would be like this:
    – Absolute musts: coat, boots, at least one sweater
    – As soon as you can afford them: gloves, scarf
    – When you get a chance: hat, long underwear, extra sweaters, wool socks

    Good luck!

    4 agree
  14. As a UK resident I’d second layering! The trick is to go for multiple thinner layers to make up a base layer, (singlet or vest) a middle layer (t-shirt and long sleeved top of some kind) and top layer or outer shell (jacket or coat).

    Obviously cold is a relative term but it doesn’t get that cold here in the UK by which I mean unless you are in are in Scotland in the absolute depths of winter you won’t generally be needing to protect yourself against life threatening cold in the UK, what you will mostly be needing to do is, during early spring, late autumn and the whole of winter, is manage the contrast effect when you go from outside to inside.

    For those colder months it is tempting to go for complete thermal base layers (thermal top and leggings to go under your clothes) but these are really for working outdoors long hours, wear these in a big city and you’ll have a meltdown if you go into a shop or on public transport. On the other hand if you expect to spend a long time in a poorly insulated old house in the winter (horribly likely here I’m afraid) thermal base layers are good! Obviously the elderly and those with poor circulation or other cold sensitive conditions like these too.

    I wouldn’t panic too much initially about a big winter coat for your outer layer (at least not for a few months!). I live in a city in the North of the UK and I do have a big padded winter coat which comes to just below my bottom and is waterproof but I only get that out of storage for Dec, Jan and Feb really and I certainly don’t wear it every day of those months! It’s great but I have to take it off the instant I get indoors and it takes up loads of room when off and on the back of chair so I save it for the worst.

    A better first purchase is a long sleeved fleece jacket and lightweight rain jacket (sometimes you can buy these as one item, ie a rain jacket with zip in/out fleeces inside which are great). The fleece is great when indoors over regular outfit for a boost or for slipping under a lighter rain jacket when outside. Make it a thinner microfleece and you’ll reduce bulk. For both these items I like to go to camping/outdoor activity shops:
    Some flecces:http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/womens/clothing/fleeces-and-midlayers
    Rain jackets or shells: http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/womens/clothing/coats-and-jackets/waterproof

    You can also up the warming power of an outfit by making sure there are no gaps for drafts, ie: thin vest (singlet) under clothes tucked into skirt or trousers, thick socks coming up into trousers (or thick tights with skirts) go miles. It’s always worth trying this first before adding another bulky layer. If you have this already covered you can then get away with a lighter outdoor layer especially if you add a scarf, hat and gloves which are great for making an autumn weight jacket last a bit longer. (pro tip, you can finesse this even further by having two weights of gloves, scarves and hats.).

    Above all, the thing to be prepared for is that there won’t be a sudden tip from summer into winter (or other way around) but a very gradual change which kind of goes back and forth a bit before the season properly changes, confuses everyone and is talked about a lot!

    4 agree
  15. It kind of depends where in the UK you'll be and what you'll be doing! I'm from near Manchester and have lived in Middlesbrough and am currently in Aberdeen

    Winters are wet here and often summers too. so a good waterproof jacket that you can layer, and has a hood, is a must for me, but I walk a lot and often work outside. Hats, gloves and (many pretty) scarves are good too.

    If you're city based, layers are the way forward, if you're rural, more substantial clothing will be your saviour. For non-vegans, wool is the go-to.

    The UK is quite temperate, we don't venture to far in to the minuses, Take your cues from those around you. In all the places I have lived in the UK, Jeans and hoodies are worn year round, just with various layers added or subtracted. 🙂

    4 agree
  16. As a California girl who spent a year in Germany, my best advice goes along with what many others have said here: layers! Secondhand shops are great for finding thick winter coats or items to layer. My usual was tank top, long sleeves, T-shirt, and a sweater if it was particularly cold, all under a snow or wool coat.

    For shoes, I survived in Doc Martens with thick socks, or doubled thin socks. The non slip soles were awesome on ice too!

    My final advice is to get a nice scarf! I had never really worn scarves before my winter in Europe, but quickly became a huge fan! Even a light decorative scarf can make a huge difference.
    Hope that helps and enjoy Europe! I had a friend from Australia that I met in Germany! She arrived in January, so came straight from her summer into the middle of a German winter. To top off the intense snow, they drove home ridiculously fast on the Autobahn, on the opposite side of the road that she was used to! Talk about culture shock….

    2 agree
  17. Life-long New England-er here 🙂
    Layers are your best friend, and make it easier to NOT spend a ton of money and all of a sudden have a million more pieces of clothing (who has space for that?!)

    1. Rain coat. You need a waterproof (not water resistant, waterPROOF) rain jacket. It doesn't have to be lined with fleece necessarily, since you can always layer a sweater underneath.
    2. Rain boots. Have the right footwear; don't have the weather be an excuse to not go outside.
    These are important for the parts of the year where its chilly/cold and WET, but not quite freezing and snowy yet. It sucks to have to go out when its raining and 40 degrees (F).

    3. Winter snow coat. Some people like ski coats, but perhaps a less expensive version. Others prefer a woolen pea coat, it really depends on your style. You want some insulated and able to stand up to freezing temps and wind.
    4. Snow boots. Having warm, dry feet is awesome.
    5. Pair of insulated mittens or gloves. I prefer wool mittens because they keep my fingers warmer. My mom swears by leather gloves with fleece on the inside.
    6. Hat that will cover your ears.

    That's really it (I like to keep things minimal). Layer with an extra sweater or fleece if you're cold. Maybe get a couple long pairs of thick socks. I'm also someone who spends a lot of time outside. Some people just don't go out much in winter, and get by without having boots, but I just could never do that.

    1 agrees
  18. The UK is all about layers. Not only does the weather tend to change repeatedly during one day, but we generally don't go in for things like central air (or even decent central heating) so buildings and public transport are often a different temperature to outside. Go for stuff that's easy to take on and off, and can be shoved into a bag without wrinkling.

    Cardigans are my go to for layering, because you can throw them over t-shirt, blouse or jumper (sweater), and still fit a waterproof jacket over the top. You'll probably want one light jacket and one big coat, depending on when you're here for. Cute hats and scarves fill the gap between the two.

    Fleece tights, as mentioned by Lauren, are amazing. Wear them with skirts, shorts or playsuits, or even under trousers if you happen to be out on an actually proper cold day (you'll know when that happens because it'll be on the news, rather than the weather report).

    Speaking of the weather reports, they tend to be super London centric, so if you're outside the capital be prepared for them to be wrong. When I lived in York, the actual weather was always a day out from the report (which was sort of handy, because you got a day to prepare). Everything's in Centrigrade, so you'll need to learn that. If it's below 10C, people around you will complain about the cold. If it's about 20C, people around you will complain about the heat. If it's between 10C and 20C, people around you will complain about the rain, or be confused that it isn't raining. It doesn't actually rain as much as we tend to think it does, but this summer's weather is all about the short sharp shower, so it's been sundresses and umbrellas ahoy!

    4 agree
    • I am learning that about the weather conversations – I was lucky enough to be in london during this summer's "heatwave" of a few 30C days in a row which was a laugh. Im surprised by how easily obsessed Ive become by the weather since getting here so I think I must be adapting to the local culture ;P

  19. I'm from Québec, and we have brutal winters here. It's not that rare to have snow in May still. From what I gather, UK winters are more on the wet side than the "tons of snow and absolutely freezing" kind. My best recommendation would be to get Bogs (http://www.bogsfootwear.ca/shop/girls-winter-snow-boots) as your winter boots. They are absolutely water proof and made of neoprene, which conserves your body's warmth. I usually get a girl size 6, which is like a lady size 8 in their sizing (weird, I know, but also cheaper than the same size in an adult boot). Rain, snow, -30 C weather, you'll get through anything with those. They rarely get too warm, even if it's hot outside, because they maintain your own temperature.
    Once your feet are ok, just use layers for the rest.

    3 agree
  20. Welcome to the UK! 🙂 First things first: don't believe the hype that British people are always perfectly poised with appropriate layers and a glam raincoat. We don't know how to dress in the varying weather either. We get wet and cold and overheated all the time. It's okay. We are in this together!

    Here's my main tips:
    I get the impression from travel and the internet that in parts of the US it's normal to wear wellies (do not call them rain boots, you will probably be mocked) when it rains. I've also seen online advice that says you must purchase wellies if moving to the UK. Whilst this might seem logical, in the UK people generally don't wear wellies unless they're in the countryside, or at a festival (or a small child with those duck wellies because they are adorable). Go for riding style boots instead, or just ankle boots.

    If you can afford to get a Barbour jacket and don't mind the 'landed gentry' aesthetic, GET ONE. My Barbour waxed coat changed my life; they are waterproof, warm, have a thousand pockets and are completely indestructible. You get a guarantee so you can always send the coat back into the manufacturers for servicing, and they're made here in the UK. They literally last your whole life and there are people out there wearing their grandfather's Barbour. Tip: I got mine for Christmas after a really good black Friday style sale at House of Fraser.

    Layers are good: if I'm going out/away and the weather is uncertain I bring a cardigan in my bag whether it seems unnecessary or not. I have also learned the art of the Emergency Scarf. Always pack a light-ish pashmina style scarf in your bag as it won't take up a lot of room but is a godsend if it suddenly gets dark/cold/windy.

    For cold snaps: Despite the UK's reputation for bad weather, as a previous commenter said it's mostly temperate. You probably don't need special fleece-lined or thermal anything, unless you really feel the cold, in which case get thee to Millet's and stock up to your heart's content. A hat that covers your ears is a good idea, and a couple of pairs of gloves – one woolly or fleecy for practical purposes, and a leather or suede pair for being a bit smarter, because nothing ruins a fancy-evening-meal outfit more than fluffy gloves! I recently came across someone online from a warmer climate who didn't realise anyone in the world wore gloves 'anymore' as if they were just something from Jane Austen!

    For at home, indulge and get yourself a nice pair of cosy winter pyjamas or a fluffy robe and fluffy slipper boots. I recommend Marks and Spencer. If you feel the cold at night, go to Primark and get one of their £5 super soft blankets, they are LIFESAVERS.

    Lastly, it may be cliche but you really cannot go far wrong with a decent waterproof black or beige trenchcoat. Oh, and get one of those handbag sized umbrellas.

    Good luck and if all else fails and you have an outfit vs. weather disaster, just complain about it to someone and you'll fit in right away 😀

    5 agree
    • Hehehe! My post (below) sort of contradicts you on wellies, macs and umbrellas but I guess that just proves your point about us Britons not having a perfect solution.

      Wellies – for very wet days, not standard attire.
      Macs – only if waterproof or for a light shower only.
      Umbrellas – Very unwieldy in the wind.

      • Haha we're agreed that wellies are not standard for rainy days! Umbrellas and wind is also a lethal combination that should not be attempted. Better to get wet with a facial expression that communicates how disgruntled one is at the situation 😛

        1 agrees
  21. The UK in Winter (depending on where you are) tends to be wet, chilly and changeable. Occasionally we'll have a extra cold patch, but it rarely gets far into the minuses for very long. A reliable weather service is your friend, but still view what it tells you with a touch of pessimism!

    I live in a city (Leeds) halfway up the country. My winter walking to work gear includes:
    * Footwear for heavy rain days: Slightly oversized wellies (with good grip for snow) and thick socks (to keep my toes warm). These can be cheap and double up for wet summers too. I leave a change of shoes in my office and switch at my desk.
    * Footwear for normal (showery & cold) days: I have a collection of leather knee/calf height boots that work with skirts and under/over trouser legs.
    * 80 denier black tights are my standard – My knees may get cold and damp but they dry quickly.
    * For really heavy rain I've a pair of waterproof lined walking trousers (but usually I catch the bus).
    * A warm and long waterproof coat with a hood, preferably in a neutral colour so I can…
    * Accessorise with variety of hats, gloves and scarves (seriously I have a box for each!)
    * A large waterproof shopping bag – This makes it easier to stash my coat, hat, gloves & scarf when I head indoors, but also allows me to cover my handbag if the rain gets too bad.

    Other things to remember:
    Cotton macs and suede boots are really for days you're pretty sure it won't rain.
    Hoodies are not waterproof.
    Umbrellas are not fun in high (or any) winds.
    Long trouser legs may get soggy and wonky paving slabs WILL shoot cold dirty water up your leg.
    If you are in Scotland, Northern England, coastal or rural areas these suggestions may not be the best.
    Likewise if you work outside or like to go on long walks then you'll need to invest more heavily.
    Speak to co-workers and friends living nearby and see what they recommend (they might also be able to lend you something to trial!).
    As other people have said – Snow or walking boots are great, but can be expensive so be sure they are waterproof, warm and have good grip.

    Enjoy!

    2 agree
  22. So nice to see other UK folks coming out the woodwork!
    Fleece lined tights, scarves always, hoodies as they fit under coats well, boots (cute biker boots or waterproof Chelsea boots if your not in the countryside), fingerless gloves/ones with removable mittrn bits for practicality, buy a pair of boots that are a little large and some bed socks/thermal socks. I live in the town but used to be a gardener and layers saved my life. Lots of thin long sleeves and vests. I wore 9 layers one day but I'm a cold wimp! Aldo, welcome!

    3 agree
  23. I think one of the most important things to remember, as some have pointed out, is that you're in the UK not Canada. So while it can be bloody baltic there's also no need to go crazy. I'm Irish and currently live in London so this is the climate I've been working with my whole life (minus a couple of "winters" in southern Spain).

    I have a raincoat. It's a gross green colour, I think it's north face or some similar outdoorsy brand, it was about £35 on Amazon. It has a removable fleece and it's just great. I use it when it's legitimately lashing rain or from about October onward (fleece goes in about November) going to work. It's ugly but it keeps me warm and dry waiting at the bus stop. That's the only proper piece of kit I own. Like I said it's not Canada. This is only for going to work. On the weekends I sacrifice waterproofing for actually looking presentable.

    For the Autumn/in-between time I just use my summer jacket (current one is from promod) but instead of putting it over a tshirt I have a cardy or jumper on too. I usually add in a scarf.

    When it gets properly cold I have a proper winter coat. I buy a new one maybe every second or third year. The one I have right now is a thigh length navy tailored looking one form Wallis (or Oasis maybe) that was abut £60. You probably won't even see this sort of thing in shops for another few weeks. My no. 1 tip is buy something that's casual enough to wear shopping on Saturday but fancy enough to wear for most occasions. Otherwise you'll spend a fortune. It's not waterproof, it doesn't have a hood but it is super heavy and warm. Pair it with a wooly hat, finger-less gloves, a scarf and the ever present umbrella and you're good to go from November to March.
    What a weird post to write while it's currently hot as balls here!

    3 agree
    • Ha! As I wrote out my epic novel above about British cold weather wear, I was sweating at my desk in t-shirt and shorts!! ……….and today I'm back in jeans, socks and long sleeves, in August for God's sake. There is a reason why Brits talk about the weather so much, it's because it constantly outsmarts us….

      A related topic to clothes to cope with the swings of British weather is bedding to cope with the same……..(I have the duvet equivalent to the flexible jacket with removable fleece, a super lightweight summer duvet, and a mid weight spring/autumn one which can be combined to form a fabulous depths of winter one! )

      1 agrees
      • Seriously, yesterday was so, so hot, and today I've got my SAD lamp on at my desk because it's so grey and wet. This country!!

        1 agrees
        • Oh, this is a thing I definitely need too. Im bipolar and get worse depressive dips even during the relatively mild oz winter so I need to keep on top of it here – does the lamp help?

  24. 1. Layers. vest tops, short sleeve, and long sleeve tops that can go over each other, cardies in all the colours, hoodies and blazers can go over for variety of smart-ness. lots of thin layers keep you warmer over all and can be removed when the sun suddenly come out as it will definitely once you've left the house all bundled up. The reverse happens if you leave in just a tshirt.

    2. A WATERPROOF jacket. ask in the shop because plastic and shiny doesn't neccessarily mean waterproof, and 'showerproof' doesn't mean shit. Buy a size bigger to fit in the aforementioned layers.

    3. Leather boot/welly with good grip in your preferred style. Woolen or double socks. Take an extra pair of socks when you go to buy them, to make sure they fit comfortably still.

    4. I am a fan of the motorcyclists headband. It's a thin fabric tube which can be a light scarf, headwrap, hairband, it's great for windy days and not too warm (I don't like itchy wool scarfs) and if it gets to some weird russian 6-foot-of-snow winter (unlikely) then you can even wear it underneath a big fluffy hat for extra warmyness.

    1 agrees
  25. In addition to jacket, during the winter I always have a pair of basic GLOVES, simple flannel SCARF, and knitted HAT. They can prove essential when standing out in the cold a little too long, and can all be stuffed into the hat and thrown into my bag. I also am a fan of a small UMBRELLA to keep off rain or snow (as long as it's not windy); damp clothes equals getting colder faster.

    1 agrees
    • Oh, also, consider the temperature at your destination. My office work place is usually on the warm side (in my opinion). Sweaters and thick tights may keep me warm on the commute but leave me sweating at my computer. During the winter I often wear wellies to walk to work and then switch to flats I keep under my desk.

      I guess in summary, it's gonna take some experimenting. Hope you enjoy your new home! 🙂

      1 agrees
  26. I'm in Italy, so our winters are probably not as rainy, but can get quite cold!
    I'm lazy when it comes to clothing, especially in winter. My basic rule is to never put anything synthetic in contact with my skin, since it makes me sweat (and subsequently freeze. And stink.) I'd normally wear a cotton camisole, long sleeved cotton t shirt (my current ones are almost all from h&m and they're cheap and decent quality) and a sweater. It can be thicker or lighter, cardi or pullover, according to the temperature. I try to get wool or a blend with as little synthetic as possible.
    I like to wear jeans or other cotton trousers of comparable thickness. When i wear a skirt i wear thick microfiber tights.
    Otherwise, just cotton socks just below my knee.
    I try to get good quality leather shoes – no need for boots unless it's raining very hard.
    I have a down winter jacket that i wear from November to March normally, and a couple lighter ones for spring and autumn. The winter one should be long enough to comfortably cover your butt when you sit. It's really uncomfortable to sit somewhere cold.
    I prefer to have a hood instead of wearing a bonnet, and i always keep gloves in my pockets. Leather ones are great. Poly blends unfortunately make my hands sweat quite often.
    Lastly, a piece of advice from someone who studied in Venice: when it rains and you have to walk, preferably wear skirt, tights and boots instead of long pants. Pants can get wet up to your knees and get very uncomfortable. Tights dry quicker and you can always keep a spare pair with you if you're out all day.

  27. I live in the Highlands of Scotland and it does get pretty darn cold and snowy (not like New England/Canada, but the Scottish version 😉 ) in the part I live in. Hey just had our two days of summer too , hitting a high of 23C and feeling hot as hell because we're just not used to any heat!
    So yeah, the damp cold is gross and yucky. Me, I like thick cardigans and thick socks. I love my waxed Barbour jacket. I like my Gore-tex waterproof shoes from Hotter. I like my really colourful hat that I bought at a festival that I think is just woven wool, but it's waterproof. I love slippers in my house. I love snuggling up to my radiator of a husband at night so I don't need a hot water bottle. But if he's not there, I love my hot water bottle. And well there's always whisky to keep me warm 😉 . Oh that's not clothing. But you can carry it in a hip flask!

    2 agree
  28. Looks like most things have been covered, but a couple more good tips:
    1. Wool! it will keep you warm and dry without being too bulky. I love wool blend socks, mittens, and scarves. But wool anything is good.
    2. Convertible mittens. This is a preference thing, but mittens are warmer than gloves, and I love the ones where the end pulls back to get your fingers out. Great for phone use, obviously, but who can handle anything small (keys? hello!) with mittens on?

    2 agree
  29. My advice is – ask the locals! I recently moved from one cold part of Canada to a completely different cold part of Canada and found my winter needs to be very different.

    In the prairies where I grew up, it's a dry cold that goes down to -35 Celcius, so you need bulky, down-insulated gear and boots up to your knees to keep the snow out.

    In Toronto, on Lake Ontario, the cold is less extreme and there's less snow, but it's a damp cold and I quickly learned that wool items, as every Torontonian advised me, were the best way to stay warm. That, plus waterproof footwear because it's likely to be slushy a lot of the time.

    TL;DR – the locals know what they're talking about.

    2 agree
  30. Something waterproof – the weather here doesn't get that cold on global terms, but the damp, combined with a horrible temperature wavering between -1 and +5, can make you feel freezing no matter what you're wearing, unless the damp air cannot impregnate it!

    Religiously check the weather forecast for the day on some app or other when you get up. This way you are unlikely to get caught out without your umbrella when you need it, and won't have to take it with you just because 'it looks like it might rain'. FYI, in certain parts of the UK it looks like it's going to rain 345 days of the year 😉

    Get yourself two different weight scarves. One woollen (or woollen-type) thick one, and one lighter woven/chiffon one with length to it. I lived in Montreal for over a decade before moving back to the UK, and so am used to much colder climes. I therefore find that I rarely need the thicker scarf type, but crikey I'm happy to have it those days when I do! Lighter one can be wrapped around neck, or draped over shoulders, or used to protect from light rain on the day you forgot to check the forecast 😉

    If you're planning on going for long rambling country walks, invest in a pair of wellies (wellington/rubber boots). You don't need a fancy pair with a posh name and branded welly socks. However, welly socks are pretty ace in the winter, so a browse of Amazon will nab you a cheaper option. Otherwise, if you feel you may want boots for general wear and work/uni/socialising, check the thickness of the lining with your fingers before you buy. Some boots may look great but be really thin – and unless they're made out of something amazing, that thinness usually equals colder legs and feet.

    You will fall in love with tights in a way you never thought was possible. M&S have a lot of good ones that can last a long time. Loads of shops have their own ones too, with patterns and colours and denier galore! (Higher number = thicker weave = warmer, though there are some that use your bodyheat to keep you warm too.)

    Hat and/or earmuffs are also handy, as are gloves, but nothing too mental or your mitts will get all sweaty, which is not conducive to warmth!

    1 agrees
  31. Winter Silks!!! Those are a brand but any silk long underwear is a must; it's super thin to wear under your jeans, shirts, etc. I moved to a colder, wetter climate 5 years ago and they've been great. My job is often quite cold in the winter as well. The silk long underwear come in different levels of thickness. I run hot so I got the thinnest but I got my husband the "level 5" as he runs cold and he loves them. Just remember not to put them in the dryer, those sleeves will shrink up! Merino wool socks are great! They're also thin and can be worn in summer or winter.

    1 agrees
  32. I can't think of anything more to add, but as a yooper(a resident of Michigan's upper peninsula) and a lover of Michigan's fall weather I feel like there are so many more awesome opportunities to dress cute in the UK! Skirts/tights and nice jackets in the winter time?! I could get on board with that! Good luck!

    1 agrees
  33. I'm in the opposite situation — I moved to Southern California after growing up on the East Coast and moving to Canada for university! This is what has kept me warm and dry:
    – Waterproof winter coat with enough room for a thick sweater. I got my most recent coat at an army/navy surplus store and it has been great!
    – A bunch of scarves, because rain going down the inside of said coat even when it's buttoned up is no fun.
    – Everyone's gloves and mittens preferences are different, but when I go back, I usually end up using the super cheap stretchy gloves or convertible mittens. However, in colder weather, I go for mittens since they are a little warmer.
    – Get a hat that covers your ears, even if you are not a hat person, because it will keep you warmer on really cold days. I have a satin lined slouchy beanie that hasn't given me hat hair yet!
    – Waterproof boots, or ones that you can use waterproofing spray on. I always get flats because I am way too accident prone to be walking in snow and rain in heels.
    – Pants that you can tuck into those boots because anything long that skims the ground will inevitably get wet and travel up your leg throughout the day.
    – And then layer your clothes! Tights and leggings can go under pants if it's really cold, long sleeved shirts work well under sweaters, etc. Maybe get a bag big enough to carry layers in throughout the day too.
    Good luck in your new home!

    1 agrees
  34. Uk citizen here!

    Kristens list is good but you might overheat. On a cold winter its major if we go past -7, particularly in the city. The last bad winters we had were 2010 & 2011, but that was for about 2 weeks, max. Snow happens about twice a year, usually between jan and march (usually feb), and might last a couple of days in cities, bit longer in rural areas.

    Last year was really mild, we had about a week of snow (march this time) but the rest of the time it felt like september (I.e. not cold, no frost).

    Snow is not a major thing here (the snow you see on xmas cards or hear in stories is based on the little iceage which happened during dickens' childhood) , but rain is,definitely a thing.

    You will need:
    -decent shoes that dont leak (I have my leather ankle boots, which I have worn all year because it has been quite wet this year!) You can also get away with trainers (sneakers) most of the year. Also a bit of grip is useful if using trains or tube regularly-floors get really skiddy in wet weather, and the tube in particular is terrifying in these conditions (done it on crutches and I was scared!)
    – waterproof coat that you can fit a thick jumper (sweater) under
    – hat, gloves, scarf (cheap sets will be available in shops from september)
    – layers- (this is an all year round thing- the rest of the world have a climate, we however just get weather, which means sun, rain, wind, hale, all in a day, so always take a cardigan and a small umbrella with you everywhere).

    I wear summer clothes all year round (brightly coloured dresses) and just add a vest and a couple of extra cardigans for winter.

    Also, if you are going to travel by train/public transport NEVER wear themal underwear as they crank the heat up full- I have experience of thinking I was going to die of heat and not being able to take my thermals off because its not socially acceptable to strip off on a crowded train! I must add that this was in 2010 and I honestly dont think thermals are necessary in our climate.
    Best shops for layers are:
    Primark (very cheap, not great quality, you'll get a season out of them)
    Tesco/sainsburys supermarkets (alright, cheap)
    H&m- alright quality (better than primark), still fairly cheap
    Next or marks and spencer- good,quality, lasts years (I have a cardigan ive,had for 8 years from m&s)Hope this is useful, and just for reference, I live in the very centre of the uk, london will be warmer, and scotland colder

    1 agrees
  35. tl;dr version of what everybody else said: Keep your feet dry and your head warm. Everything else is details.

    2 agree
  36. Another UK resident here!

    firstly it depends where you are going to live. I moved from the sunny south coast to Leeds for Uni and my parents said they would buy me a winter coat once I needed it, they got the phone call a week later.

    Coats. (I may not be one to talk as I have too many coats…) I would go either a nice woollen coat or a waterproof lined padded coat (I had one in leeds I called my duvet coat). Make sure it covers your bum especially if you are going to need to sit waiting for buses. For Autumn/ spring/ warm winter days consider a Gillet. Fur round hoods gets minging and will stick to your face when it rains. I also have had amazing thick furry lined zip up hoodies which are good when it isn't quite summer yet/anymore.

    Accessories. Knee highsocks under any trousers will be super toasty, consider doubling up if it is really cold. Keep gloves in your coat pocket (I like leather ones with soft lining as they are waterproof). Scarfs, they are cheap, get loads, pashmina types are great as are woolly ones. I particularly love a thick knitted snood I have which requires minimal effort. Keep an umbrella in your hand bag. Hats or headbands which keep your ears warm are also great, but loosely knitted ones can be a bit drafty. I also love earmuffs.

    Shoes. In Leeds I lived in leopard print pumps. I also always had very cold feet. Get some nice boots ankle/ calf/ knee high and relatively flat, ideally with grip. Tuck your trousers in them when it is wet (or wear leggings/ tights and skirts). try and get some that you can dress up a bit or down. Ugg boots will get wet and be gross (although there is a Cornish company which makes waterproof ones I am currently lusting after). You probably don't need full on winter snow boots apart from maybe 1 day a year if you are somewhere cityish

    Layers. If your normal outfit is cold chuck a summer vest on underneath, cardigans are ace, as are thin knitted sweaters. tucking tops into trousers will make you way warmer. If it looks like nice weather, take some extra layers just in case!

    1 agrees
  37. I'm from NEPA where in recent years it seems like we only get two seasons: Super fucking hot, and super fucking cold with maybe a month of actual nice pleasant weather in between. (minus last winter which was fantastic and barely got below freezing at all).
    For super fucking cold season I'm a fan of layering. That way I'm cozy outside but not boiling when I'm inside. My typical work out for that time of year (Oct-March) is a pair of warm pants (ssh, they're technically sweat pants) and on top I generally do a long sleeve t-shirt underneath a sweater or a dress. Then I put another sweater on top, and if I'm going outside I do a light jacket under my winter coat, and always have a scarf, hat, and pair of gloves. Shoes are my downfall because I'm just not a huge fan of anything bulky so I'll wear tall socks and dress boots most of the winter but I try to leave a pair of actual waterproof snow boots in my car just in case I slide off the road and have to walk somewhere, or run into a shoveling emergency.

    1 agrees
  38. Hi, I live in Atlantic Canada, I love silk long underwear and a full rain suit from LLBean. I wear a parka by WOODS Canada. I live where it gets very very cold. I wear silk under wool sweaters and a giant layer of Down on the outside. Scarves and face protection are a must here. MEC is a company here in Canada with great all weather gear. I buy my sweaters in April-May for good prices. I buy my rain gear in December when it goes on sale. I buy coats for next year for the children in March when they are on sale…To get high quality gear at lower prices I shop in off season, it's taken years to get my all weather dog walking gear but I'm stuck here in the great white North, LOL. Layering is the best, you can even get waterproof gortex hiking boots. I like wool, merino wool long sleeve under a t-shirt or sweater….this may not help as I'm in a much colder climate…. https://www.mec.ca/en/gender/women%27s/products/clothing/base-layers-and-underwear/base-layer-tops/c/1055
    Have fun with it, Kate

    1 agrees
  39. Oh my goodness, you guys!!! I felt really silly asking this question, I thought if anyones going to come through for me it'll be my offbeat homies but you guys have outdone yourselves!!!
    After spending the summer travelling around it looks like we will be settling in the Bristol/Bath area so I wont have to worry about the coldest of the cold but all of this is really so helpful. I feel like I have a plan of attack now instead of groping in the dark.

    To put it in context for you- when I left home it was a typical winter week, low 20s celsius and occasional rain, and landed in london to summer temps in the low 20s with occasional rain. So if the UK summer is like winter back home… Im going to have some adapting to do 😛

    Im so excited to be starting a new life here and it means so much to have you all offer so much advice. If you know anyone in the Bristolish area who might want to befriend a girly punk and her comedian bf, or you just want to keep an eye out for pictures of me trying out winter fashion and seeing if I can actually survive the winter, you can find me on instagram as misslinadee. Feel free to get in contact. You guys are awesome!

    1 agrees
    • Welcome to the UK. I'm sure you've got loads of advice here, but speaking as a fellow immigrant (from Zimbabwe to the south coast), weather appropriate gear is amazing! Our winters were the equivalent of UK summers, so it's taken a lot of time to aclimatise. Buy slowly and seasonally, often you can pick up a deal or two at the end of a season or mid-season (obviously this only helps when you know you can survive the current season). We get particularly windy down here, so umbrellas are out, but ear-muffs are life-savers in winter (especially if the wind gives you head/ear-aches), lots of scarves, waterproof (and maybe lined boots – I live in my docs). Have a look at tkmaxx and outdoor shops for waterproof coats etc – there's often something that looks ok in the highstreet shops, but I've found coats and jackets designed to be worn outdoors while hiking etc are better at keeping the rain out. We're only starting to go into autumn-ish weather, so I also have a bunch of faux leather jackets that are warm, can layer a thin hoodie underneath and keep the wind out and tights are so much warmer and quicker drying that jeans or trousers, I have an assortment of 20-400 denier tights, which are cosy with a dress or skirt. And it might seem counter-intuitive, because I struggled with it for ages – but oversized and chunky doesn't always equal the most warm or dry. Good luck. Oh and get some weather proofing spray for your waterproofs (from coats to trainers) after washing, never tumble-dry them or use conditioner as it seems to destroy the waterproofing, and get dubbin for leather boots, I think you can find it in an outdoors shop like Mountain Warehouse, or a shoe cobblers. Good luck.

      1 agrees
    • Bristol – good choice! Keep your eyes peeled in case Matt's running his annual MattSetbackstock in January (birthday/club/gig-fest) – it's free & fun. Personally my winter staples are ankle boots and scarves.

  40. I'm Canadian and my favourite cold weather item is wool socks! I swear they keep my toes nice and cozy while I am out and about. The nice thing about them is you can layer them! I've often worn wool socks over regular socks (plus the wool socks with the coloured band look super cute with boots!).

    Invest in a good jacket, one that will hold up. I recently bought a wool winter coat, and while it's a thinner jacket, it keeps me pretty warm. I also have one that I got from Columbia last year. It's very thin and it packs really well (I can scrunch it up and fit it in my purse!), but it's super warm! I bought the longer style because I feel it keeps me warmer.

    Long sleeve shirts are also great, even if they are just cotton. They will keep you much warmer when layered under a jacket. You can layer them under a jacket, or if you are really cold under a sweater then a jacket on top.

    Leggings are also one of my go-to items because they can be worn by themselves or worn under pants if you are really cold. They even make leggings now that have fleece in them for extra warmth.

    1 agrees
  41. Buy a big soft scarf. You can wrap it around your face and head if it's particularly cold or windy, and it's easy to take off once you get inside. Plus bigger ones will keep the rain or snow from soaking you through or getting down your neck. Layers are your friend. Focus on sweaters and such that are easy to take off, especially because inside buildings there should be heat.

    My favorite piece for varying climates is a rugged coat I have — it has a waterproof shell that actually zips off the puffy, warm liner. It's great because the shell can be a perfect fall raincoat and then I zip the liner back in once it's colder.

    I'm actually in the opposite boat (originally from a very cold climate, now I just moved to California!) so I'm trying to pare down my wardrobe. Good luck!

    1 agrees

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