The Freezing Femme Does Holigay Hotness

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m real femme. What you definitely haven’t noticed (because we totally haven’t hung out in ages) is that I’m freezing cold. Yup, right this minute. How could I not be? I live in New England and it’s the dead of winter. Not just that, it’s the dead of winter and everyone expects me to be displaying my holiday splendor in a series of teeny-tiny blingy-shiny crimson red dresses. Sure you can wear a winter coat, but what does that do for my legs? What about my toes?! You know how cold my toes get! So yeah, I’m fucking freezing out here. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t filled with jealousy toward’s my butch date’s wool suit, tie and sweater. She’s not cold at all.

So how the hell am I going to tackle Christmas and New Years without subjecting my toes to the Fourteen Degrees But Feels Like Five Degrees With Windchill air? Well I’ve got four tips that will keep you just a bit warmer no matter what holiday you’re celebrating.


 

A Warm Dress is a Happy Dress

For too long we have been at the mercy of thin dresses. Who decided that all holiday dresses should be unlined satin or barely-there?! I don’t know, but they deserve a good slap. There are so many great dresses to be found in the world that are lined, velvet, wool or fur trimmed. I particularly like the idea of a wool dress that is covered in sequin. Between the wool and the plastic you’re bound to be toasty. Alternatively, if you’re going someone more casual, a sweater dress is always a great balance across both the casual-fancy and the warm-sexy lines.

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VIA LOOKBOOK.NU

Sleeves are the often ignored middle child of the dress world. Ever since that whole Royal Wedding situation, designers have been showing lace long sleeves. Besides the fact that this looks totally glamorous, it’s one of the easiest ways to make your outfit warmer. You can also find a good deal of long sleeve shift dresses that look so effortless they give you instant “oh this old thing” credit.

While many of us picture wedding dresses the instant someone says “long,” the maxi-dress is making a big comeback. I particularly love maxi-dresses because I can hide thermal leggings underneath. Plus, they’re usually pretty loose from the bust down, allowing me to gorge on holiday appetizers without feeling like I’m supposed to spend the whole night sucking in my stomach because I chose to wear a spandex bodycon. Most importantly, a long dress in the winter looks outrageously romantic in a way that short dresses just can’t approximate. This is a good time to take pictures.

Fancy Pants

It took me a long time to embrace the amazingness that is femme pants. I thought as a femme it was somehow my duty to wear a dress for every special occasion. Plus I was damn near convinced there weren’t any women’s dress pants that looked good on me. This is a load of shit. The coveted secret is the power of high waisted pants. As soon as you start tucking a loose, flowy shirt into pants up to your waistband people know this is your fucking fancy pants look.

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Another super secret is to ditch the goddamn belt. I always end up playing with them all night or worrying they don’t match my shoes well enough. So fuck it! Particularly if you can find pants without belt loops you just don’t need them.

I usually choose a good wool-spandex bland for a wide-leg fancy pant. You want the pants to curve up to the fullest part of your butt and then go straight down in back. For a tight pair of pants, I particularly like a stiff brocade. For a dressy tight pant you want to make sure the pants end just at your shoes without crunching up the way skinny jeans do. Additionally, they should lie flat across the front of your pelvis without pulling at your crotch (because that’s just awkward). Remember to have any fancy pants hemmed to the hight of the shoes you’re going to wear them with.

Cover Up

I wish I could go back in time to every winter cocktail dress I’ve ever suffered through and paired it with a little black blazer. Specifically a little tuxedo blazer. A black tux jacket can basically go over any holiday dress and warm you up in no time. Plus, a tux jacket gives you that hint of queer you’re always looking to add to your femme looks.

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Similarly, never underestimate the value of a cardigan. A black, white, red or gem-tone cardigan is a great way to incorporate a sleeveless or strapless dress into a winter outfit. I particularly like crew-neck cardigans button-up in the middle or V-neck cardigans hung loosely open. A cardigan is a particularly awesome accessory because there’s a great chance you already own one! Plus this is the perfect opportunity to finally wear one of those cardigans with The Fancy Buttons your mother keeps buying you.

A long wool or faux-fur coat is an unbeatable investment. While I normally tromp around New England in some rendition of a puffy downcoat, I have one beautiful black knee-length designer wool dress coat that I bust out just at special occasions (and sometimes first dates). I think I’ve had this jacket since I was approximately 19, but I wear it so rarely that it’s still in great shape. Plus, long black wool coats never stop looking nice or go out of style. It’s a great investment.

Overdress Your Accessories

Whether you’re planning a barely there mini-dress or a full on parka, you’re going to want to double up on the warm accessories. The most obvious place to start is with your underwear. You might know of Spanx super-panties for their notorious “shaping” effect, but I have a pair because it’s literally the best way to keep your midsection warm without anyone knowing. Seriously, I’m usually burning up by the end of the night in these. Another great idea is wool stockings. Lucky for us, grey and black stockings are coming in huge this season and shouldn’t be hard to find. The great thing about long underwear and wool stockings is that if you go into a party and get too hot, they can be easily scrunched up and stuffed into your evening bag.

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Shoes are also a great place to look for extra warmth. You can always maximize your leg coverage with high boots. While suede or leather evening boots certainly aren’t as warm as your favorite snow boots, you can double up on the warmth by sneaking in some half-high ski socks that nobody will even see. If high boots wreck your look, at least treat yourself to some platform booties which still give you good foot coverage. Plus you can probably still sneak ankle socks. I understand, though, that not every look calls for boots. With this in mind, I would still avoid strappy sandals at all cost. Besides being out of season, when that tiny strip of leather is cutting into your freezing toe you’ll be really kicking yourself.

When shopping for your finishing touches, don’t shy away from faux-fur. White and black faux-fur is particularly glamorous and readily available this time of year. Lately stores have been showing little faux-fur stoles that can be worn outdoors and taken off once you’re inside. Similarly faux-fur trimmed gloves are always adorable. If faux-fur isn’t your particular style, there’s no reason to shy away from the classic pashmina or evening gloves. This is the holidays, after all.


 

The holiday season is stressful enough without having to negotiate what you’re going to wear. Maybe this all sounds like a ton of work. Maybe this just isn’t your year to invest in a whole new holiday look. Maybe you feel like you just want wear your dress from your cousin’s wedding last summer. But for heaven sake be kind to yourself and make a few cold weather style changes. Bundle up, because this definitely isn’t the year for frostbite. Happy holidays and stay warm out there.

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Lizz is a consumer, lover and writer of all things pop culture and the Fashion/Style Editor at Autostraddle.com. She is also full time medical student at Brown University in Providence, RI. You can find her on the twitter, the tumblr or even on the instagram.

Lizz has written 273 articles for us.

29 Comments

  1. Thumb up 6

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    My style is pretty feminine and last year I weathered a Scandinavian winter. Some tips:

    – Wear 200 denier tights. If you’re wearing boots, you can wear thermals under your 200 denier tights. You will be warm, and no-one will be any the wiser.

    – You lose heat at the extremities. Get a cute wool hat and lined leather gloves and good boots. Oh, and a scarf. Make sure they are good quality. Buy one set that will last you the whole winter rather than many sets that are cute but don’t add warmth. I don’t care how cute your ballet flats are. If it’s raining or snowing, you wear boots.

    – Layer. Like Lizz says, get a good wool coat. Or something more rain and snow proof if you need it. If you do get a lot of rain and snow, get something with a hood that will keep your cute hair dry. Wear another layer under that, a cardigan or a sweater even. Something substantial, not a lightweight spring cardi.

    If you do all these things, you should be able to walk around in snow in reasonable comfort, with a cute dress underneath that you can strip down to once you’re safe indoors. Trust me.

    Sincerely yours
    A lady who had never seen snow before last winter.

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      yup! I got a pair of 200 denier tights from H&M and they are thick, opaque, and keep me warmer than regular tights do, but they totally LOOK like regular tights and aren’t too bulky. I can wear them with short skirts which I don’t like to do so much with my fleece tights because of the awkward seams all fleece tights seem to have.

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    Fleece-lined tights are a miracle. I am wearing purple ones right now. With a long-sleeved two-toned blue striped skater dress and red doc martens. My color combination doesn’t make much sense but HEY I’M WARM AND MY FEET ARE DRY.

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    Lizz,
    Thank you for this article. I have recently felt like us femmes and our fashion were being ignored! I know that people can claim “all hetero fashion is for femmes”, hence the abundance of butch/boi fashion articles and blogs, but hey, I like to think femme style is different.
    Again, thank you for this. I feel included, recognized, and visible.

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      yes! femme style is not the same as hetero style. it’s making more of a choice to be feminine and it’s something we’ve really thought about. we use our style to reflect gender identity, while straight cis women tend not to think much about that.

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        I don’t understand the femme style/ hetero/ boi style thing. I didn’t even know there could even be a hetero style. ?? lol I mean I get what constitutes as femme, butch/boi, but I’ve always felt like it was for the sake of additional categories. I’m queer, and I honestly never really put much thought into this when it comes to fashion. I just wear what I like because it comes natural to me, and makes me feel good. It just so happens to be feminine, so I get thrown a label. I’ve always recognized things as simply feminine and masculine, meaning I think feminine can be for anyone regardless of sex or orientation. Someone looking at me, my personal belongs, my room etc would classify me as somewhat femme, but I feel like “femme” is just an additional label for me to tack onto myself. I see most people in the gay community embracing the various femme-butch labels and accepting it as a style, but I feel kinda isolated for not catching on. Additional labels have always made things cluttered for me, and the older I get, the worse it seems to get for me.

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    Urgh body temperature is a big issue for me over winter. Heh– #FirstWorldProblems indeed. I get SO cold outside and need to be warm, to the point where when I’m heading to a party, I sometimes wear pants over my tights, and under my dress en route, so it looks to people around me that I’m trying to bring back the “jeans under dresses” trend of 2005.

    BUT then I also tend to get really overheated inside. It typically means light dresses layered with cardigans. A heavy knit dress makes me sweat just thinking about it.

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      Noo, no more first world problems. I think it’s trying to say something like, ‘trivial problems’ but it’s short and literal and all it does is propagate that people in third world countries-what? don’t get cold in winter? are so consumed by what they lack or the general chaos that reigns ‘the third world’ (which is an antiquated term anyways) that we boast our privilege over theirs facetiously? It’s totally unnecessary and is a way we purposely alienate ourselves from those in developing countries and I am just so done with this meme yo.

      (sorry L I don’t mean to just go off on you, but this meme just gets my goat or whatevskys that idiom is).

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        I understand how that phrase bothers you, but I don’t think she meant it in the way that you thought she meant it. I think what she was saying was that in our society (not that we’re necessarily first-world) we tend to sacrifice our bodily protection from the elements for the sake of purely aesthetic means (aka FASHION). Whereas in other, more practical societies, people are less concerned with how they look and more concerned with whatever gets the job done. Hence how she was lamenting the fact that she needs to layer jeans under her dress just to be warm enough on the way there (only to take the jeans off when she gets there.)

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          have you ever seen the gentlemen of bacongo and the sapeurs subculture?

          http://www.coolhunting.com/culture/gentlemen-of-ba.php

          pretty fantastic dapper inspiration! people sacrifice practicality for fashion in almost every society and community across the globe yo (not that it’s a rule of thumb, but I mean), there are pretty amazing subcultures and fashions happening everywhere that we just don’t know about cause we aren’t openly exposed to it.

          clothing is one of the simplest ways to express yourself and people in lots of places take advantage of that, I feel like fashion vs practicality is a pretty average life problem that is not limited to developed countries.

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    More cold-weather fashion tips from a femme who spent four years in New England and is super sensitive to cold:

    When you need something to break you out of your seasonal depression because you just CAN’T wear pants or fleece tights anymore, you can wear patterned/textured tights with skintone sheer pantyhose underneath. These can be bought at a grocery store or CVS for like $3 and it doesn’t even matter because no one will really see them. (It’s not the warmest but it’s for when your legs are really bored) Also can be done with a different color of opaque tights under the patterned ones.

    Shearling-lined boots are the warmest. I know this because I stole my sister’s old Uggs last winter (purely for their warmth, not to wear in real life) and stuck them on without socks to go out for snacks with friends in the middle of the night and my feet were not the least bit cold. I’m allergic to wool so I don’t know why this wasn’t a problem for me. There are other shoes that have this feature besides Uggs (plus that company makes other, more attractive shoes, not that I can afford them).

    Cover yourself in as much fleece/fleece-lined stuff as possible. Fleece tights under pants SOLVED the problem of my legs being cold. I had no idea they could actually be warm while I was outside. (look up Plush brand tights)

    Cover your ears. A hat doesn’t have to have earflaps as long as it does go over your ears. I am loving certain earwarmers/headwraps that are in style now!

    I am still working on trying to find a scarf that is basically as long & thick as a blanket. If anyone has any luck with this, let me know (but no wool!). I am actually thinking about just getting a blanket and using it as a scarf/shawl. Maybe cutting it in half so it has scarf-like proportions. I get REALLY cold, you guys. So I could use some general staying-warm recs too!

    Obvs really thick socks are good too.

    I used to wear fingerless gloves when I’d be indoors at school but still freezing, but I always lose those. Now there are gloves with iPhone-sensitive fingers/thumbs too, if that’s a concern.

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    I am super into maxi dresses and skirts, especially tighter ones that hug your legs all the way down. They’re super warm too! The way mittens are warmer than gloves, a stretchy tighter dress is going to be warmer than pants.

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    I’d also like to put in there, buy consciously. Be aware that you may be supporting anti-equality conservatives through clothes bought in stores like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters. H&M is a pretty ethical modern store, as is American Apparel, but think about buying local too! <3

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