How To Feel Fabulous When It’s Frigid Outside: My List Of Winter Essentials!
Winter is coming to New York City. It’s not even December & somehow, we’ve already had our first dusting of snow for the season! All signs point to the fact that it’s going to be a cold one this year.
When I first came to the U.S.A., I’d never really experienced winter. New Zealand’s winter, while chilly, is nowhere near as brutal as what North America is lashed with every 6 months. We don’t just get a light sprinkle of snow here on December 25th, no, no! There are blizzards, “Snowmageddons”, black ice & filthy slush which ruins your favourite pair of boots. It can be savage, but this of course only intensifies the need to properly outfit ourselves for the oncoming carnage!
It’s that time of year where we start to search through the depths of our closets & dressers to locate our winter woolies. When you go through your stuff from last season, you’ll discover whether you made smart purchases or not! If you have a closet full of old cheap, flimsy things, DON’T be tempted to go back to your favourite super-cheap retailer & stock up on a whole lot more of the same. Instead, make your money go further by investing in pieces that you’ll wear all the time. You don’t actually need that much in winter, & your coat is the only thing that will be on display 80% of the time.
Start with a great coat, & work backwards from there. A couple of good cashmere sweaters, some thermal underthings & a few pairs of wool stockings should definitely have their place in your stash, as well as the other things outlined here!
Being cold in winter is no fun, & one of the easiest ways to stay cozy is to wrap something lovely around your neck. I have always been a huge proponent of scarves, but I think I’m a bit over it. They’re always too long & tying them in a way that doesn’t look scraggly & messy is difficult. My new obsession — the cowl — is even warmer, looks cleaner & can be pulled up over your mouth & nose when it’s really, really freezing out!
The best ones come from Etsy, & are knitted by cute girls in their living rooms in Montana or Ohio or somewhere in the middle of the United States. Just have a look & see what’s available! I recently bought a chunky indigo cowl from Trisha in Colorado (SEE?! Totally knitted in the middle of the U.S.A.!), & it’s a little treasure!
Another way to spice up your neckwear is with colour. Instead of going for something which you think will coordinate with all your clothing (like, for example, black), why not pick a colour that complements your eyes?
If you have brown eyes, try green, gold, bronze, brown, plum, purple or blue!
Blue-eyed babes, go for a cowl that is grey, violet, purple, deep blue, brown, rosy pink or silver.
For green-eyed girls, experiment with brown, purple, pink or light green.
If you have hazel peepers, try teal, gold, pink, lavender, plum, khaki green or deep warm brown.
These colours will make your eyes POP & also add a great accent to an outfit!
Look… It’s cold. I used to think UGG boots were truly hideous, but then, I had never experienced a real winter. Once I’d had my first taste of snow, ice & sub-zero temperatures, I quickly changed my tune! I’ve had a pair of classic UGGs for a few years, & even though the shape still doesn’t really stoke my sartorial fire, I wore them for dog walking & quick errands because they really do keep you warm.
This year, I decided to go for an upgrade. After some deep & meaningful research on Zappos.com, I got my hot little hands on a pair of UGG Jillians. Unlike a lot of the other UGG styles, these boots are a tailored riding boot style which give your leg a bit of shape. They’re black suede with MILES of shearling inside, they’re extremely cozy & I’ve already worn them to death. I love ’em!
If you can’t afford to splurge on a bit of shearling, don’t be sad! You can snap up a pair of wool insoles — which will fit in any pair of shoes! — or an UGG inner (which I have heard about, but couldn’t seem to find anywhere on the internet?!). Thick socks are also a great thing to have. I like really massive wool ones!
…Or you can just DIY your own furry sock — see above! — & call it a day!
Leather pants are effortlessly cool, & they make you instantly bad-ass. They also happen to be pretty damn toasty!
I was very fortunate to receive a pair of Ted Baker leather pants last year, & let me tell you, they barely left my body last winter. The same will be true this year, I’m sure. If you get a close-fitting style, they can operate as leggings under dresses or oversized sweaters, & slide easily into a pair of motorcycle boots. They’re an extremely versatile piece of clothing.
Leather pants are typically pretty expensive, but sometimes you can luck out & get a reasonably-priced pair. I bought a pair from Victoria’s Secret which I loved & wore for a while, until one day I jumped out of a cab in them & split them up the front. Classy! Thankfully, I was wearing a long sweater which covered the HOLE in the crotch! If you do go the less expensive route, you might like to take them to a tailor & have someone reinforce the seams… Just to be sure!
ASOS has leather pants for $179, & they come in either cobalt, silver or black. Fantastic! Have a little browse around & see what you can find.
Nothing is worse than cold ears. Okay, a few things are worse, but cold ears are definitely on my shit-list! While hats can definitely help you combat this problem, the very very best thing is to invest in a pair of cute earmuffs.
Again, I think the best ones come from Etsy. A cursory glance around will show you the infinite possiblities… Unicorn earmuffs? Pink candy earmuffs? Enormous panda earmuffs? How about white with pink bows, pink & white polka-dots, or blingy crystal pandas?!
See?! The choices really ARE endless, & you’ll surely find something to keep your ears icicle-free!
Something I always battle with in winter is dry skin, & this only gets worse when I have a cold & am constantly blowing my nose! Those aloe vera tissues help a little bit, & drinking as much water as possible to rehydrate does too, but sometimes your skin needs a little extra help!
Skin Drink moisturiser by Lush Cosmetics is the best thing I’ve ever found to treat really, really dry skin. It’s loaded with beautiful, rich, hyper-hydrating oils & butters, & it’ll make all those flaky, scaly, not-so-beautiful bits disappear like magic!
I keep a pottle of it in the house at all times because you never know when you’ll have a Dry Skin Emergency ™! You can rub it into parched elbows, knees, hands & feet, too. It’s a wonder balm!
P.S. If you can’t afford to splash out for a whole pottle, next time you’re near a Lush Cosmetics store, go in & ask for a sample! (They’re usually pretty generous with their samples!) Just a little tip from me to you!
I don’t know how people function in cold weather without hats. I always suffer from the dreaded Frigid Ear ™, which is something I’ve invented, but basically results in a horrifying headache from too much really cold wind rushing past your ears. If you experience this too, you definitely need hats… & ear muffs.
You should start out your hat collection with a couple of good, solid knit beanies. The two I wear most often are grey & black, because they go with absolutely everything I own, are comfortable & are perfect on bad hair days. I love knit hats because they add a finishing touch to an outfit, while at the same time dressing down something fancy. They’re a great accompaniment to sequins, a snazzy fit & flare dress, or a crisp white tuxedo shirt. Meow!
Take a peek inside my hot pink steamer trunk, though, & you will see hats stacked towards the heavens. I am a bit of a hat fetishist, you see. I have all kinds, from fedoras to bowlers to cloche hats, from fascinators to bunny ears to headbands embellished with enormous bows. They all serve their purpose & they are all fantastic in their way.
My two knit beanies actually came from Urban Outfitters, & I’ve had them for years, but in my experience, you can get great hats from Etsy. Etsy does vintage hats especially well; if you’re looking for something original & beautiful at a reasonable price, it is definitely the first place to check. When you search, set a price limit of $20. It may sound low, but you’ll find a plethora of treasures!
They’re so much more chic than wearing a real dead animal draped over you, & just as warm. If you ask me, faux fur coats never go out of style, though thankfully the high street is embracing them in a major way this year. Pretty much every major clothing chain has their own take on the trend, from dalmatian print to leopard, & they’re all pretty damn fabulous.
Having said that, go vintage if you can. The construction is usually better & the styling tends to be more timeless.
I’d also recommend going for a different colour than you usually wear! I bought a chocolate brown full-length faux fur coat last year, & while I was a little unsure about how I’d wear it, it turned out that I wore it ALL THE TIME, with EVERYTHING. It’s easy to go all black, sure, but adding in some brown or grey or blue (or whatever!) adds dimension & makes your outfit a little more interesting. I have a great wide stretchy belt with a beaded clasp that I always use over the top to give my coat some shape, too. It helps you feel chic when you’re wearing a million layers!
However… The other day, I left my beloved coat out in the living room & Dolly, who is going through a major Terrible Twos stage, ripped a whole lot of the faux fur off, leaving it looking dreadfully mangey. Thankfully, I found a great replacement shortly thereafter. It’s a vintage, knee-length black suede coat, with quilting on the inside (read: very warm), faux fur around the collar & cuffs, & a built-in belt for easy cinching! Love it! (Vintage is really the best!)
When it gets this cold, simple cotton leggings just won’t cut it. You can’t have all that frigid air swirling around your knees; you’re just begging to “catch a chill,” as my mother would say!
Cashmere leggings are the answer. Honestly. I know this sounds very fancy, but they’re actually very inexpensive & my goodness, will they keep you warm! I buy mine from Victoria’s Secret, & have done for a few years now. (Their sizing runs a little large, so size down unless you want your leggings to bunch around your knees after a few wears!) They’re so comfortable, essential for lounging around the house & imperative for cold weather missions! I wear them every morning for walking the dogs, under dresses or a big faux fur coat. You can even wear ’em to the gym. Superb!
You can add glitter to your look in approximately 3 trillion ways: fantastic eye-glitters, sparkly hairspray & glistening lip gloss are 3 places to start, & that’s just on your head!
The good news for those of us who love a bit of sparkle is that this season it is IN, IN, IN! Of course, this means that we have a glut of glittery options to choose from. My advice? STOCK UP! From sequin Chuck Taylors to sparkling striped dresses, the options are endless.
A bit of sparkle can cure all kinds of doldrums, even if it’s just a mirrored bangle which flashes at you from time to time. Beautiful things are essential to the soul & the spirit, so don’t deny yourself!
I always think it’s lovely to wear a pop of colour in cold weather. An indigo hat, a mustard yellow peacoat, fuchsia stockings or an emerald green scarf make things so much less dreary!
In fact, I went back to pink hair in October precisely because I wanted something to ward off the oncoming cold! It’s hard to feel sad when you have raspberry locks, & the exact same theory applies to any brightly-coloured clothing you might own.
Don’t be afraid to be the one person in your office who wears red stockings, or a beautiful turquoise sweater! It will make everyone around you happy, & improve your mood too. Colour is powerful — don’t be too timid to use it!
You know, when I lived in New Zealand, I never needed anything more than a pair of fingerless gloves. Sure, sometimes my bare fingers were clutching a hot coffee cup for extra warmth, but you don’t need anything crazy to survive down there.
America is… well, different. Gloves with fingers are pretty necessary here. I can get away with a pair of black & white-striped fingerless gloves for about a month, & then I need to step it up a level! I’ve had great luck finding winter accessories at Century 21 though you do need patience (& nerves of steel) to deal with what can sometimes be an INSANE shopping experience. Anyway, I found a pair of Moschino gloves there, black with white hearts, & lined with cashmere. They’re pretty decadent & marvellous, & I’m really looking forward to busting them out in a couple of weeks time!
I also wanted to draw your attention to the Agloves touch-screen gloves, just in case you hadn’t heard of them. They are gloves you can wear & still operate your touch-screen phone (or iPad or whatever!). GENIUS!
Yes! A good ugly sweater should be a necessity in everyone’s life, & not in that silly “it’s ironic to wear something so unattractive” way. No, just wear it because it makes you smile!
I have this amazing (read: amazingly hideous) baby pink cardigan which is knitted with fuchsia flamingos. I mean, REALLY. I don’t even know where it came from, I think I bought it in a vintage shop in Los Angeles, but I love it. Whenever I put it on, Mike’s eyes get really wide. Other people have seen it & they have the same reaction… But either way, I absolutely ADORE it!
I strongly recommend going on your own Ugly Sweater Hunt (TM) before it gets really cold! EBay is an amazing source for these, too; just search for vintage sweaters!
There are few things as wonderful as surveying a bookcase bursting with fantastic tomes, especially when it’s cold outside! If you’re into books too, but you’re not sure what you want to read next, here are some ideas. These are all books on my Amazon wishlist!
Allure by Diana Vreeland; Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel by Diana Vreeland; Everything Is Going to Be OK by various contributors; The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America by Daniel J. Boorstin; You Drive Me Crazy: Love Poems for Real Life by Mary D. Esselman & Elizabeth Ash Vélez; The Fashion File: Advice, Tips, and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of Mad Men by Janie Bryant; Be My Guest by Conrad Hilton; Tarot Diva: Ignite Your Intuition Glamourize Your Life Unleash Your Fabulousity! by Sasha Graham; Decoded by Jay-Z; My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living by Jonathan Adler; Shameless: How I Ditched the Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure… and Somehow Got Home in Time To Cook Dinner by Pamela Madsen; Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman; From A to Biba: The Autobiography of Barbara Hulanicki by Barbara Hulanicki; Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong: Why We Love France but Not the French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau; The Unfolding Now: Realizing Your True Nature through the Practice of Presence by A.H. Almaas; Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion by Joseph Campbell; Initiation by Barbara Haich; ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley; Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman; Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth; Cosmos by Carl Sagan; Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway by Cherie Currie; Team Rodent : How Disney Devours the World by Carl Hiaasen; The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life by Steven Watts; Mr Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream, also by Steven Watts; The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker; Legends of the Chelsea Hotel: Living with Artists and Outlaws in New York’s Rebel Mecca by Ed Hamilton; A Course in Miracles by Dr. Helen Schucman; Gypset Style: Jet Set + Gypsy = Gypset by Julia Chaplin; To India, With Love: From New York to Mumbai by Waris Ahluwalia, Tina Bhojwani & Mortimer Singer; The Cannibals of Candyland by Carlton Mellick III; Edie: American Girl by Jean Stein; I’m with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie & Let’s Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies by Pamela Des Barres; & Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes?: Bodies, Behavior, and Brains — The Science Behind Sex, Love, and Attraction by Jena Pincott.
Wow… That’ll keep you busy, huh?!
When I think about winter, one of the first & most obvious things to be happy about is all that enforced indoor time. Sure, at some stage, cabin fever may strike, forcing you to run madly around the block in the snow, screaming, wearing nothing but your knickers & a faux fur coat, but until THEN, lots of wonderful things can happen inside!
It’s a lovely time to embrace all that your television can offer you: namely, a selection of fantastic comedy movies which will keep you giggling, laughing & guffawing all the way through to spring thaw. If you have no idea where to start, this list of laugh-out-loud comedies is an excellent jumping-off point. You might like to read 33 Movies To Watch When You’re Sad, Glum Or Bummed Out, too!
Laughter is the ultimate medicine, you know! Be sure not to skimp on it this coming cold season!
Winter just isn’t winter without a hot beverage by your side, & at some point you might get sick of your trusty old favourite. When this happens, it’s time to take yourself on a research trip to see what might replace it.
I love flavourful (soy) milky tea, & I also love anything which tastes like a flower, so my new favourite thing is a Versailles lavender earl grey soy latte. &%*$^@^*!!! You cannot even imagine! If you’re in NYC, I get this magical concoction from Physical Graffitea in the East Village. If you ask me, it is the ultimate post-workout treat!
There are lots of delightful things to suit every palate, though. From peppermint hot cocoa to jasmine pearl tea, a hot vanilla malted to ginger-spiced hot chocolate, a little investigation & internet snooping should set you right!
Winter can be difficult for even the brightest & sparkliest of us. The best way to deal with it is to prepare yourself, make plans & give yourself things to look forward to!
Some other things which aren’t necessarily essential, but definitely great for winter, include…
Ugly/fabulous beaded or printed maxi-dresses for lounging around the house Maxi-cardigans to go over the top A humidifier for your bedroom (to keep your skin from drying out overnight!) Kimonos or fabulous bed-jackets, again for lounging Velvet everything Coconut water, for ultimate rehydration power! Colourful blankets & cushions, to keep you smiling Vitamins Scented candles (Ladurée candles are my new favourites!) Lots of wonderful bath products!
Additionally, I’ve never used one, but have heard marvellous things about those lamps for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). The NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light & Ion Therapy Lamp gets amazing reviews & people say it really does help them stay happy in winter.
Good luck, & stay warm!