What to wear in a New York winter…

by Sasha Wilkins on November 29, 2013 · 10 comments

My very stylish friend Susie Tweeted the other day that she had been wondering what to wear in a New York winter, and had found a post from LLG, written way back in January 2009, when I had just returned to blogging after a break to return to magazine land. I went back to read what I had written, and it struck me as being as relevant then as now, so I thought I might give it a quick tweak for a re-run here.

(And, please forgive me for the extremely sporadic posting over the past fortnight: I have been head down in a special project on top of my normal workload, as well as having a dash to Barcelona for less than 24hours for a shoot for a project yet to be announced, and something had to give…)

There are no photos for this post, as back in 2009, I was just another anonymous blogger…but I have added a little shopping bar at the bottom.

Statcounter, known as Statstalker in my household, can tell you which keywords drive people to your blog. One of the most popular Google searches is something along the lines of “What to wear in NYC in the winter”. Judging by my experience in the inclement weather each winter in Manhattan the answer is simple.

Layers. Many, many layers.

It’s dehydratingly hot inside nearly every store and home and bloody cold outside. I feel like Lucy hopping into frozen Narnia from the nice warm, fur-filled Wardrobe every time I run an errand in the city.

In New York it’s not uncommon for the mercury dip to -20C (-4F), and there are frequently days when only one in ten rises above freezing (32F). [Look I do realise that if you are reading this in Wyoming or Nebraska then you will think me ludicrously wet. But bear with me: to a soft Londoner, used only to crappy perma-rain and one snow storm a year, Manhattan in the depths of winter is an inclement place.]

I so admire the precision of the weather forecasters in New York who, if they announce that it will start to snow after 9pm and will result in several inches by morning, then you will absolutely be wrenched out of snuggly duvet bliss at 7am by the sound of plastic snow shovels scraping across the sidewalks. This is not a sound I enjoy because it usually heralds a few days of klutz-baiting ice to look forward to. (I seem to spend a fair proportion of the winter on my arse.)

This is because it’s so bloody cold in Manhattan that the snow just stays around getting icier and more dangerous. Gah. I rely on my rubber Hunter welly boots to keep me both upright and warm, as they have deep, rugged treads and I can fit the holy trinity of woollen tights, woollen over the knee socks and my cashmere bedsocks inside them. Cosy Uggs & the like are pretty useless unless they have magic water-repelling qualities, & there’s no way I am ruining my beautiful bespoke black  leather boots in the salty slush.

As for the rest, my daily uniform in a New York winter usually consists of a camisole – not thermal as experience tells me you just roast once indoors, a cashmere twinset, a just below the knee black wool bubble skirt with petticoat underneath, a DKNY black merino Cozy wrapped Ballerina-style around my body and a knee length beige fur coat on top. The whole lot is topped off with those magic ear muffs that lie hidden under your hair, rather than sitting on top of your head like ludicrous furry headphones, and the biggest, softest, blanket-y cashmere shawl in my possession folded and wrapped around my neck and chin.

Oh, and cashmere lined leather gloves. With the silk liners that I use for skiing inside if it’s really parky. A hat is vital: I favour a tam o’shanter, specifically the cashmere N Peal one my mother gave me for Christmas a few years ago,

This all works beautifully: jeans & trousers get uncomfy, bulky & sweaty with tights etc underneath. Plus a skirt seems to trap more hot air and keeps my knees warm. Once indoors, all I have to do is remove my wellies and knees socks simultaneously, replacing them with heels or ballerines, unwind & discard my Cozy and hey presto: a normal outfit.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca November 30, 2013 at 02:40

I have a gap between the hem of my coat and the top of my boots that leaves my legs cold even when I have tights on beneath my pants. So I ordered a pair of big slouchy black leg warmers heat can come on and off in a snap, then roll up to throw in my bag.

I lived in New York for two years, and my first winter was the coldest they’d had in something like 37 years. Coming from southern Louisiana, it was a huge shock. But I was young then and still had some semblance of pride. Back in New Orleans again, I decided not to be concerned about what I looked like walking through ten blocks of the French Quarter at 11 pm on my way home from work. So I ordered a balaclava. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007BLGRFI/ref=pe_385040_30332200_pe_309540_26725410_item

I don’t *think* I could bring myself to wear it walking TO work in broad daylight, even on the coldest days…but I’m not making any promises.


Sasha Wilkins December 3, 2013 at 23:36

@Rebecca: oooo I like the idea of leg warmers. I often get that cold gap too. That balaclava is hilarious: go on I dare you! LLGxx


james December 1, 2013 at 03:02

Hey there
Well…you know,a funny thing happened on the road to global warming.After the winter of 2010,London weather is looking alot more like NY and NY like London.We are getting more rain and you more snow. I will never forget being in London during a sleet storm in October only to return in February walking through St. James’s park on a 17c Saturday. This happens alot here,anything from “unseasonably warm” to bone chilling teeth nashing, I want my momie bitter cold. That said,you can’t go wrong
with layers to add and subtract as the weather permits.


Sasha Wilkins December 3, 2013 at 23:35

@james: That’s certainly true about the snow… I didn’t have a white Christmas until two years ago in the UK! LLGxx


Angela December 1, 2013 at 08:17

Oh New York winter so brutal and yet I loved them when I lived there. Thank you for the trip down memory lane! :-)


Sasha Wilkins December 3, 2013 at 23:30

@Angela: Me too! I kind of miss the extremes of weather…LLGxx


Hilary December 2, 2013 at 17:46

I remember this post from the first time. Very useful! I find it hard to look remotely attractive in the cold.

What precisely do you mean by a ‘twinset’ and ‘petticoat’, LLG? I’m assuming you don’t mean a matching shell and cardigan – or do you? And where would one buy a petticoat these days?


Sasha Wilkins December 3, 2013 at 23:29

@Hilary: Hey there. A twinset is traditionally a cashmere or merino sweater and cardigan set.

And I have two petticoats/slips on the bar at the bottom of the post! I love them because they keep me warm, stop my undies showing, and I quite like the peek of lace! LLGxx


Kate February 7, 2014 at 08:04

Hi LLG. I just wanted to give feedback and say thanks! You gave me the confidence to strut the snowy streets of NYC last week in style (-8C/-18F). Here’s how I rolled: http://houseofgoals.co.uk/2014/02/fashion-when-youre-freezing.html


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