Staying chic in a Chicago winter

Helen Lee, Columnist

I’m from Kentucky, the state that’s basically only known for two things: horses and University of Kentucky basketball. We’re not known for frigid temperatures, but during my time at Northwestern, I’ve adjusted to the weather well enough to rack up some tips on how to stay warm during the winter months:

1. Add a hat, warm headband or earmuffs — Hats are perfect when you need to cover everything. If your hairstyle doesn’t allow room for one, wear a warm headband or earmuffs. Your forehead (and mom) will thank you later.

2. Keep handwarmers in your pockets — If you’re like me and your gloves aren’t warm enough to protect you from -30-degree wind chill, consider investing in handwarmers to stuff in your coat pocket. If people give you strange looks, it’s probably because they’re unbelievably jealous, not because you’re hoarding what look to be tea bags.

3. Wear a vest — Vests are great because they keep your arms mobile but add serious warmth to your chest. Make your outfit pop with a colorful vest or add some edge with a fur vest. If you’re looking for the former, look into J. Crew’s vest collection. For the latter, Forever 21, H&M, Zara and other similar stores have a variety of fur and printed vests. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

4. Layer thermal leggings under jeans — Don’t forget to add a layer on the bottom! You can find great deals on thermal leggings on Groupon and Amazon. My favorite retailer to find thermal leggings is Anthropologie for its wide selection of fleece leggings of all different colors, prints and designs.

5. Pair thick tights with your nicer outfits — Lobster-like red legs can ruin your gorgeous cocktail dress and also lead to a long, miserably cold night. Thick opaque or sheer tights, available at virtually any clothing store, easily fix this. If you’re not sure about what to buy, remember that simple is better and can be matched with more outfits. Also, be a smart shopper and look for quality tights rather than tights with an appealing price tag. If they’re inexpensive, they’ll rip easily.

6. Invest in high-heeled boots — Sometimes your go-to heels are not your go-to, like when it’s muddy outside or your tights don’t go well with your peep-toe stilettos. When you’re in this situation, pull on some sassy high-heeled boots.

7. Wear wool socks — People don’t just wear wool because it’s super cute; they wear it because it’s also super cozy. Wear a long pair underneath water-resistant boots and you’re good to go.

8. Purchase snow boots — Shoes with traction will save you from some embarrassing falls this winter. Popular snow boots can be found at L.L. BeanSorel, North Face and other outdoors retailers. Buy in advance! Many of these brands go out of stock very quickly.

9. Understand ski masks and gloves are your new best friends — When you wear a ski mask you don’t look like you’re about to rob a bank. You just look warmer than the rest of us… and we’re all really jealous. Ski gloves may not be the most fashionable thing you own, but they’re definitely more fashionable than dry and flakey hands.

10. Wear long underwear —Go forth and take on the winter one pair of long underwear at a time.

11. Hide your face in a chunky scarf — Scarves protect your neck and lower face from the biting wind and spice up your outfit at the same time. Pair it with a simple cashmere sweater for maximum warmth and comfort. If you’re looking for cheap and chic, Charlotte Russe is the place to go.

12. Stock up on oversized sweaters — These make up the perfect lazy day outfit. Don’t be afraid to shop in the men’s section at times. Surprisingly, what you find there could be cuter and less expensive. If you’re shopping on a budget (aren’t we all?), consignment stores are a wonderful place to find what you’re looking for. An added bonus: Your sweater may or may not have belonged to a cool grandpa at one point.

13. Wear big, printed cardigans — These are a staple. They allow for layering over light, long-sleeve shirts and can be worn with almost anything. Dress it up with a statement necklace or dress it down with a chunky scarf.

14. Buy a peacoat — Dress up in your coziest neutrals and top it off with a pop of color with a warm but fashionable peacoat. You’ll look like you walked straight out of a J.Crew catalog.

These tips should help warm you up as you tackle these next few months.

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