12 clothing items everyone needs to buy for winter
Take it from a naive Nashvillian turned hardened Northerner.
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Having been born and raised in Nashville, my body was in for a rude awakening when I moved to Boston and learned that winters aren’t all 40-degree days. Winter is serious business—especially in New England—but there’s something so delicious about bundling up from head to toe during the winter months.
Sure, I could do without the ice and snow shoveling, but if it’s cold out, you can generally find me outside building a snowman or inside under a blanket—both of which I enjoy immensely. However, you won’t find me outside without at least 10 layers of clothing, and this Nashville-native-turned-Northern-warrior has learned quite a few ways to layer up over the past six years.
With that said, here are my recommendations on several must-have clothing items for the cold winter months. If you need more recommendations, check out our guide to the best winter gear you need to prepare for the cold months.
1. A knitted hat to keep your head warm
Hats are absolutely essential for the winter, and while baseball caps may keep your head covered, there’s something heartwarming (and head-warming) about a knitted cap that perfectly hugs your noggin.
Warm materials—like wool or alpaca yarn—feel amazing and keep brisk breezes from chilling your scalp. You can find plenty of knitted caps on Amazon—like this Loritta Slouchy Beanie Hat—or you could track down a homemade option by hitting up a craft fair, art shop or your grandma’s closet.
2. Gloves that cost more than $5
Gloves aren’t difficult to come by during the winter—in fact, I usually get a new pair every Christmas in my stocking. However, just because you can get three pairs for $5 doesn’t mean you should.
Low-quality gloves may withstand your commute to work, but they won’t last long when shoveling snow or during an aggressive snowball fight (both of which happen frequently at my house). Instead, invest in gloves that can withstand the elements, like the OZERO Thermal Winter Gloves, which are waterproof, insulated and made from thermal cotton. They’re only $20, and reviewers say they hold up in cold temperatures and even subzero conditions.
3. A scarf you can wrap up in
Just like knitted caps, scarves are another essential worth grabbing from grandma’s closet. Fashion scarves won’t cut it during the winter—unless you figure out how to layer several of them together without looking silly.
You’ll want to opt for a heavy fleece, bulky cotton or burly wool scarf that you can wrap around your head and tuck into your coat to prevent the wind from breaking into your cocoon of warmth. This cashmere scarf from Amazon is deliciously soft, but make sure you wrap it around your neck to achieve that level of warmth you need for the winter.
4. A lighter coat that you can layer up
No matter where you live, you’ll want to invest in a winter coat that can withstand temperatures below 40 degrees. Peacoats and light down jackets are ideal for these temperatures, especially when the wind starts picking up.
It’s also a good idea to opt for a coat you can layer, especially if you pick a lighter fabric. This way, the coat will last you from the beginning to the end of winter, all you have to do is add (or subtract) layers depending on the outside temperature. This fleece jacket from Columbia is ideal for wearing on windy fall days or layering on top of a light jacket during harsher winter days.
5. A heavy coat to handle snow storms
Picture me as a wise old man with a luscious gray beard and an inexplicable limp, leaning close to your face as I warn: “You won’t survive in these here parts without a heavy winter coat.”
If you live in an area where winters tend to be milder, you can probably get by with a lighter winter coat only, but if you live anywhere that gets heavy snow and super-cold temperatures, you’ll need to invest in a heavy-duty coat.
For your “snow emergency coat,” choose a fabric like wool or down, and look for one that goes past your knees and has a hood large enough to drape over your cap and scarf, like the Vaulker Women’s Down Coat with Fur Hood. This puffy coat is water- and wind-resistant, and it comes with a faux fur hood to further protect you from the elements.
6. Snow boots to help you trek to work
You know what’s worse than feeling your socks squelch when you’re walking through the rain in sneakers? Having your socks soak through in freezing temperatures.
If there’s a place you don’t want to skimp when buying winter gear, it’s shoes. Your boots will help you trek through sludge, sleet, snow and ice, so find a high-quality pair suited for your location.
In New England, my boots have rubber soles so I don’t slip and break something, and they’re also leakproof, because I’m not about that wet-sock life. In Nashville, my boots were also waterproof, because we dealt with frequent sleet during the cold months, but I didn’t need them to come up as high because we never got snow. Opt for a pair with thick rubber soles, like Columbia’s Ice Maiden boot, which also comes with a faux fur lining to keep your toes extra warm during snow storms.
7. Earmuffs for days your hair says ‘no’ to hats
My husband owns at least four knitted caps, which I know because I made them. However, he opts for earmuffs most days—not because my hats are terrible, but because they’ll mess up his hair gel during the morning commute.
He recognizes that having warm ears is much better than having frostbite, so he uses Tough Headwear Fleece Ear Muffs, which cover his ears and wrap around the back of his head to keep his ‘do in place.
8. Leggings to wear under your jeans
Leggings are the ultimate fall accessory. We all have days when we opt for leggings instead of pants or slap them under a dress and call it fashion. However, when it comes to winter, those leggings are just as important—despite the fact they stay hidden.
Days that dip below 30 call for extra layering, even under jeans. This is one of those winter spending areas where you can save a bit—an inexpensive pair like this one will get the job done just fine, especially since no one will see them.
9. Wool socks to wear 24/7
When I moved to Boston, my father gave me a pair of wool socks he swore by, saying they kept him snug while hunting in the winter. I scoffed, thinking, “It can’t be so bad that I’ll need wool socks during the day.”
You can probably see where this is going: Those wool socks became my best friends, blanketing my feet in a warmth so indescribable that you simply have to experience it for yourself.
There’s absolutely no shame in wearing wool socks to work, bed and everywhere in between. This multipack of DANISH ENDURANCE Merino Wool Hiking Socks is perfect for people who want to stay moving during the winter—they’re wool, but they’re not too bulky, so they still fit perfectly in snow boots and slippers alike.
10. Flannel pajamas to stay cozy at night
If there’s anything I love more than waking up at 6 a.m. to shovel snow, it’s getting the first heating bill of the winter. (Huge amounts of sarcasm here.)
There are a few ways to save money during the winter, and one of them is by investing in flannel everything—flannel sheets, flannel shirts and especially flannel pajamas. This fabric is ideal for winter; it feels like you’re sleeping in a wonderful blanket designed to keep you cozy without making you sweaty. This set from Angelina comes in a variety of fun patterns to choose from, helping you really lean into the playfulness of donning a full set of flannel pajamas.
11. Hand warmers for extra-chilly offices
If you’re always shivering in your office, take a cue from the ‘80s and pick out a pair of fingerless gloves to keep your hands warm. You can keep your palms extra cozy with a nice pair of hand warmers, too—it will make a big impact on your productivity. Trust me.
12. Face warmers for when a scarf just won’t do
Brisk winds aren’t enjoyable, especially for the tender parts of your face like your nose and cheeks. On particularly brutal days, you can wrap scarves around your head to stay warm, but if you have a long commute or spend a lot of time outdoors, it may be worth investing in a fleece face warmer.
The Original Turtle Fur Fleece Neck Warmer can be worn as a scarf, but it can also be slid up to cover your nose, cheeks and chin on high-wind or ultra-cold days. Plus, it has a turtle on it, and what’s better than turtles?
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.