What to wear for Winter Weather!
By Ella Seltzer
Even though I can attribute a majority of my weather bias to being from California, and having enjoyed temperate weather for most of my life, this all over the place weather since we have come back from break is downright inexcusable. To go from 70° on the first day, to snow, to insane wind, and back again, feels like experiencing the worst part of every season, all in the span of a week. The worst part of it all is when you have all those aspects combined into the span of a the day. So, as a newly self-proclaimed expert on East Coast/Mid-Atlantic weather, I have done my best with my newfound education, to compile a guide for how to dress when the weather goes from Sahara, to the Arctic, to a flash second of Spring, and then back to frozen again.
One of the biggest lessons I had to learn, and subsequently come to terms with upon moving to D.C., was the concept of a jacket. As stupid and trivial as this may seem, I was spoiled by California climates to the point where I forgot that you cannot just get dressed in what you want to wear for the day, and just leave like that. After some trial and much much error, it has come to my attention that past a certain point of winter, a jacket is necessary to be worn over anything upon leaving, no matter how warm you may think your sweater is. With this invaluable knowledge, I now both understand and appreciate jackets for all their many, although annoying, benefits to an outfit. As such, I can fully grasp how indispensable they are for both the one day of the crazy weather week for freezing temperatures, but also for the insanely cold air you have to battle on the way to a grossly early class. For those days where it inevitably heats up in the afternoon, having a good coat with you in the morning means you can practically wear any outfit underneath, so you have the warmth you need, but also an easily shedable layer for later in the day. Also, the right kind of light jacket is an amazing item for when you are just a bit too cold to wear your outfit sans jacket, but do not want the added heat, weight, and hassle of a full-blown winter coat. My personal favorite for these are the packable, light Uniqlo down jackets, which are not only cheap, but unbelievably warm considering their light weight. The best part about this is for those insanely bipolar weather days so that when it heats up mid-day and you do not want to look insane carrying around a jacket you no longer need, you can squish these away into pretty much any tiny space, fully adapting to the now desert-like afternoon temperatures.
In my still-developing knowledge of this foreign weather, I have come to the realization that I despise layering. To me, there is no purpose in wearing eight different layers to walk to class in the unerable cold, only to be sweaty and overheated the second you step inside. Although maybe not the most practical at times, I have conquered my hatred of jackets to actually appreciate them as a salvation against layering. In the wardrobe of a typical climate-challenged and weather-spoiled Californian, I own a lot of long sleeve shirts that, in this weather, are equivalent to wearing tissue paper as clothing. Refusing to wear anything under them for added warmth (yes, including bras, which does not bode well with Winter) I have realized that I can still wear my favorite, impractical shirts if all I do is pair them with a sweater or winter coat, just depending on the weather of the day. Maybe my deep personal interest in the power of jackets over layering comes from only just recently buying my first ever winter coat, but knowing I do not actually have to curtail my outfit for the day is the best feeling.
Another aspect of my wardrobe I completely overlooked until my first DC winter was cropped jeans and leggings. The effect of an exposed ankle/partial calf in the dead of winter is something I had previously laughed off, even after someone explaining it to me while refusing to crop a pair of my jeans any further, for fear of me wearing them during winter. Several shivering occasions later, I can say I have actually grasped the severity of the cold with something as small as cropped bottoms. Luckily, I have also found the solution. On those days where you’re either just dying to wear those adorable cropped leggings, or know a full length pair of jeans becomes too suffocating in the heat of the late day, the right pair of light ankle boots solves it all. Those low black or brown Chelsea-style boots everyone seems to be wearing are the perfect way to have shoes for the weather, but also mask the exposed bit of leg that is unavoidable with anything cropped. Most of those style boots are light enough that in the warmer days, they are not suffocatingly hot, but also with the right pair of warm socks are the best shoes for colder days. I have such an obsession with these style of boots that I just ordered a second pair of ones I already had, that I wanted in a different color so badly, I ordered the last pair which was not even my size, but as a DC weather expert, I just knew I had to for this already long and temperature-bipolar winter.