Photo by Lexie Boren

Smitten with mittens: Winter wardrobe guide

By Kendall Arlasky

This may come as a shock to some of you native Oregonians and Californians, but Portland is not that cold. It’s really not — I promise. I grew up in the Midwest, specifically Chicago, and when winter arrives back home it’s like a sixth ice age has begun. It’s so cold that we are required to go to school unless it is 12 below zero. So you could say that I know how to deal with winter or, more specifically, how to dress for it. Here are some great tips to survive and thrive when temperatures drop.

The first and arguably most important thing is to find yourself a nice hat. The material is  crucial when it comes to accessories like gloves, scarves, thick socks and hats. Your nose, ears, toes and fingers are most vulnerable to the cold. Don’t be afraid to invest in some warm fabrics like wool, velvet and fleece. These will keep you warm and allow your skin to breathe. Cotton will be your enemy here, as it absorbs moisture and sweat, therefore taking all the heat away from your body. Berets, beanies and newspaper caps are all in season during winter. If you want to save some money and learn a new skill, join knitting club. You can make a hat or mittens for you and everyone you know. Simultaneously, you can save on Christmas presents as well as all those hospital bills you’d rack up after getting frostbite.

The second thing I’d recommend is to learn to dress in layers. Layers are going to be your saving grace when it comes to the winter season. This also means it’s a perfect opportunity to repurpose your summer wardrobe. If you need inspiration, watch what the upperclassmen wear; they have been around for a hot minute and probably know what they are doing. Make sure once again that the material you put under your clothing as your first layer is warm, and then you can layer with something like cotton or polyester. I would suggest beginning with a turtleneck or a long sleeve. Then put a short sleeved item over that. For the third layer, add a button-up sweater or a light jacket. The last layer should be your winter coat, which should be more functional than trendy. The key is lots of thin layers instead of a few thick ones. But before you drop all of your mediocre service job’s paycheck on a new wardrobe, remember that as much as Portland is the city of roses, it is also the city of thrift stores. So get your hipster self to the Bins.

Finally, I would be careful what you put on your feet. While some of us like to rock the socks and sandals look, it is not always practical. Instead, opt for some closed-toed shoes that can fit over those thick socks you’ll be sporting. This is especially important if it snows, because one thing is worse than wet socks: frozen socks.

Those are the basics. The great thing about winter clothing is that you can be as creative with your clothes as possible and justify it by saying, “hey it’s f*cking cold.” While this may not be the Arctic tundra, it is still going to get colder. So, remember to stay warm, Lewis & Clark.

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