How to Dress for the Dreaded Winter Commute
Every fall without fail, there arrives a tipping point when excitement about cozy sweaters and cute boots slides into exasperation over dressing for slush and snow. This is particularly true for anyone who relies on public transit and knows that getting to work means navigating a series of wildly divergent microclimates. The journey goes something like this: Bundle up for icy sidewalks and frosty winds, cram into a sauna-like subway car, walk back out into the winter weather (by now, swampy inside your puffer coat), and take the stuffy elevator up to an office that may be freezing, tropical, or temp-controlled, depending on the day. Oh, and try not to look like a sweaty, frazzled mess in your morning meeting.
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Sound familiar? If you answered yes, please accept our solidarity and deep sympathies in these trying times. The good news: We got some expertsNYC stylists Liz Teich and Samantha Brownto share their tricks for staying warm and stylish while minimizing sweat en route to the office. The struggle to pull off the perfect wardrobe strategy for a winter commute is real, but these tips will turn you into a pro.
Cold, wet days are the worst when it comes to choosing footwear. Teich, whose alias is The New York Stylist, is on team keep a pair of shoes at work. While a style like the Zelda Boot might be perfect for slush-free weather, you might want to wear rain or snow boots while youre on the way to work to spare yourself the salt stains and damp toe potential. A sleek pair of loafers can stay stashed under your desk along with a pair of back-up heels.
Socks are just as important as shoes when it comes to staying warm. Having a cozy sock with some breathability will keep dampness from sticking around your feet, says Brown, so if youre going to wear a rainboot its best to have something to change into when you arrive because that rubber doesnt breathe and it can actually make you colder to have moisture trapped inside the sock.
Your Legs and Your Core
During the frigid, windy winter months in New York City, I always see people throwing on a puffer coat and thinking theyll be fine, says Teich.But while she personally finds that shape unflattering, her objection here is that there are simply more efficient ways to keep warm.
Wherever youre walking that day, temperatures might swing between 20 degrees and 50 degrees, and the best approach is layers, says Teich. On especially chilly days, layering tights underneath pants (were a huge fan of Commando) or heat-tech apparelis a good way to keep warm without adding bulk. Her recommendation: The Lagarde shirt is a great base to start withits machine-washable and breathable. From there, add a sweater like the Morandi, which you can easily take off if you start to feel hot.
Its important to bemindful of materials. Yes, there are plenty of irresistibly trendy styles on the racks at fast fashion stores. But because they are often made with cheaper materials, they may not actually be up to the challenge of keeping you warmor they might be made of synthetics that will trap heat and make you sweat. While fabrics closest to your skin should always be the most breathablethink cotton, wool, cashmere, and natural fiber blends, explains Teichits also important to be conscious about fibers as your layers build.
If you put a polyester shirt underneath a wool blazer thats lined with another synthetic fabric, youll be extremely warm, but youll sweatits like being trapped in a sleeping bag, says Samantha Brown. An example of a better way to go about it: Start with the Winfrey top, add the Hoffman blazer, and then layer a fitted overcoat on top of that.
Your Head and Neck
We lose heat through our heads, explains Brownwhich means that area of our bodies can also be considered kind of like a temperature control dial. Wear a hat on your walk to the subway to stay warm; pop it off when you get on the train car to cool down. The same rule applies to scarves.
Both Teich and Brown suggest acashmere option, noting versatility, elegance, and temperature-regulating qualities. Its a great fabric, because it breathes so muchits kind of magical, because it adjusts to what you need, says Teich. Brown agrees: She recommends a big, oversized cashmere scarf to clients because they can wear it to stay comfortable during the commute and then drape it over their shoulders if the office is chilly for a look thats chic and intentional.
Vests are another fashionable solution for fluctuating temps. They keep that extra layer of warmth around your torso, and theyre amazing layered under a big jacket or even over a moto jacket or blazer, says Brown, depending on the style. Add a stretch pantsomething skinnyto keep the warmth close to your body and youll be cozy, chic, and put together for work.
A Final Note: Sweat Happens
Youre not always going to make it from front door to desk without getting a little dewy. But there are ways to contain the crisis. Patternswill always camouflage sweat better than solids. Darker colorslike black, navy, and charcoalare much better at that than lighter, brighter colors, says Brown. A hack she regularly recommends to clients: underarm shields, which absorb sweat and also minimize stains. Brown also encourages people to look for washable versions of their preferred fabrics, including silks: That way, if you do sweat, its not always a trip to the dry cleaner every time you wear it. Weve also got to give it up for Polygiene, an anti-odor finish on many of our silkier items that doesnt hold smellsmeaning you can wear the item multiple times without washing.
One final piece of wisdom? Being chic is important but not more so than being safe or practical. Luckily, with this knowledge (perhaps literally) under your belt, you dont need to sacrifice either element this winter.