Friday Open Thread: What Do You Wear To Stay Warm All Winter?

lead photo from Shutterstock

Hello Autostraddlers! How’s your week going? I hope you are feeling warm, fed and loved.

Winter is coming. Winter might have already come. Maybe a little, maybe a lot depending on where you are at (I see you Midwest). I have a hard time with the cold. and become fairly insufferable once the balmy west coast dips below 10 degrees. I know, I know, it’s not actually cold. But as far as temperate rain forests go, it’s practically glacial around here. My typical sartorial antidote is GIANT ASS SCARVES. Every winter I try to find the widest, longest, thickest knits and wrap myself up in an almost mummy-state so that I can keep from crying.

Maybe I’m a touch over-dramatic, but being all wrapped up will make the next four months bearable.

I'm bundled and trying not to cry...

I’m bundled. Trying not to cry…

Some current favourite scarves to get into: a cozy chunky knit and giant, doubles-as-a-cape scarf.

All this talk of scarves has me wondering… How the heck do you dress to stay warm? Are you more of a “layers are best, even if they render me immobile,” or “I’ll just wear thin layers of heat retaining garments that are practical and futuristic?” Somewhere between the two? I tend to get a little frivolous with my winter clothes and somehow I end up in a thick knit sweater, faux fur collar with a giant coat and fuzzy earmuffs. I want to know what you are gonna wear/thinking of wearing/into wearing, ‘cause we’re about to get chilly.

Minions from Giphy (PS Hannah, this is for you)

Minions from Giphy (PS Hannah, this is for you)

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Lydia Okello is a feminist, body positive, queer personal style blogger. On her website Style is Style, she showcases her panache for bright colors and power clashing. When she isn't pawing over Samantha Pleet collections on Tumblr, she's dreaming about havin' a kitten of her own one day. You can find her on Twitter, Tumblr and on her personal blog.

Lydia has written 64 articles for us.


  1. As a librarian, its kind of the law that I wear lots of cardigans. Also I’m just all about the sweaters. Cardigans, pullovers, thick knit, thin knit all the colors I fucking LOVE sweaters. Also wool socks and lots of layers since outside is cold and my work is usually boiling.
    Also just never getting out of bed unless completely and utterly absolutely necessary is my general strategy for the winter.

  2. Okay sooo I have a curiosity as what people call certain clothes or articles of clothing and why.
    Is it a generational influence? Regional? Both?

    Indulge Me:


    Is this a sweater, a coat, a hoodie or sweater that is a hooded?


    Is this hose, pantyhose, stockings, tights or leggings?


    Leggings, tights, or both?


    Footless stockings, footless hose, footless panyhose, tights, leggings, or footless tights?


    Is this a sweater, a sweatshirt or a jumper?

    Stuff I want in your answer:
    Age group, general region from which you hail and what country too and if English isn’t your first language is your English closer to UK or US English. Any thing else that seems like an influencing factor.

    I’l do me as an example I guess

    18-25 US, metropolitan southeastern Louisiana
    #1 is sweater to me, but easily also a hoodie or hooded sweater. #2 is a pair of stockings and specifically pantyhose stockings. #3 is tights to me or leggings. But #4 I want to call footless leggings or footless tights because of ballet even though I’d only call them stockings due too their thinness. #5 is a sweatshirt to me, never a sweater.

    Play my little game?

      • #4’s more an accessory than clothing option if you’re not a dancer.
        Hose is what my East coast hailing relations say, all of them in every age group.
        I should get a survey monkey thing for more data before proclaiming hose an Eastern thing.

    • #1) Hoodie

      #2) Leotard tights

      #3) Footies (footless tights)

      #4) Peter Pan tights

      #5) Sweatshirt

      I’m 29, from Western Quebec/Midwest USA. As you can see, “leggings” lever entered my vocabulary growing up :D

      • …I see that

        Also I’ve heard of footies but only in reference to a type of women’s ballet tights (stockings/hose)

        Image because describing them as convertible doesn’t do their wonderful oddness justice.

    • 1) Definitely hoodie.

      2) Tights.

      3) Leggings.

      4) Footless tights.

      5) Sweatshirt.

      Also 18-25, US, always lived in cities in the South.

      I like this game! And right now I want to be wearing the “hoodie” from #1 with the “leggings” from #3.

    • 1. Hoodie
      2. Tights*
      3. Leggings
      4. Footless tights
      5. Sweatshirt

      26-35, US, northeast. *I called these “nylons” until college, when a dorm mate called my use of the word quaint…and I realized the rest of the world knew these as either tights or pantyhose.

      • Interesting and a strangle little aside my mother calls knee highs and thigh highs nylons but uses all the terms I list for #2 with the exception of hose.
        Nylons was the common term starting not long after nylon became a common material and began to wane around when synthetic fabrics were no longer the coolest, bestest thing ever.

    • 18-25, from rural-as-fuck Upstate NY USA

      1. hoodie all the way. Could see someone calling it a sweatshirt on a rare occasion tho.
      2. My first instinct was tights, but i wouldn’t bat an eye if someone called it pantyhose (though that person would probably be in my mother’s age).
      3. Leggings would be how I refer to them, but I’d also accept tights as a way to address that item of clothing.
      4. I really don’t know? It could be anything except footless stocking and footless hose because I’ve never heard anything called those things. But I’ve also never seen an item of clothing like this so maybe it could be one of those things.

    • Hey there! So I’m 18-25 and from Southern California.

      1. That’s definitely a hoodie. I’ve never heard those described as sweaters or hooded sweaters before.

      2. Those could be pantyhose or tights I’ve heard it both ways. Stockings are totally different because they’re essentially thigh high socks tho made of the same material.

      3. I prefer to call them leggings, but some people call them tights. And I saw someone else call them footies, but hell no. Footies are one-piece pajamas. Altho the usual term is “onesie.”

      4. wtf are those? I never even knew those existed before today. I guess footless tights?

      5. That’s a sweatshirt because they’re made of the same material as sweatpants.

      As for the hats:

      1. A baseball hat if it has a baseball logo or wtvr on it. Otherwise it’s a snapback. Altho now that I think about it, I would never refer to it as a snapback if an older person was wearing it. Huh. Probably a generational thing.

      2. Technically they’re trucker hats, but no one around here would call it that unless they were being silly and imitating truckers. Weirdly specific scenario I know.

      Regional slang is fascinating!

  3. 1. Seriously large down jackets, hood to ankles (oh, Canada, oh Canada… you know how to do cold.)

    2. Wool socks. All of the wool socks, to the knees, over the knees. Do laundry before you run out of clean wool socks. This is very important, particularly if you have to shovel a car out of a snow drift in the dark. And then you have to shovel out a parking spot in the dark.

    3. Cashmere sweaters/scarves/shawls. Wool is acceptable when used cashmere is unavailable, but cashmere is preferable for seriously cold days. (My mother has a the nose of a truffle pig when it comes to cashmere sweaters in used clothes shops.) A pashmina-type thing is versatile indoors but more difficult to wrap around the face under a tightly buttoned coat.

    4. Insulated heavy, leather, knee-high, sturdy riding boots (not for shows, but for the barn/practice). Way better than the snow boots (all rated well) I’ve ever owned.

    5. Lightweight gloves (so you can just wear gloves when you need dexterity) under heavy, felted mittens.

    6. Long underwear. I like silk or wool, depending on conditions and clothing.

    7. All that hot tea mentioned above.

    8. Large fuzzy dogs who lean on you.

    I don’t like being cold, and it was a rough winter last year. Can you tell?

  4. Guys,
    Nursing is hard.
    Girls are difficult to figure out.
    Work is solid.
    Recovery is ongoing.
    And this is how I am staying warm this winter:

    Actually, Minou is living with a neighbour now, so I kidnapped her for a sleepover, and took her to the vet for some shots and flea treatment. :)

    Layers are the secret to warmth!

  5. It’s super hot in Brisbane today so I’m happily in air-con.

    This week (and every week for months) I’ve been obsessed with the game Neko Atsume. Anyone else love this game? I’ve created a Neko Atsume Facebook group if anyone wants to join ^_^

  6. Okay, I usually go with: leggings under my pants when it’s really cold outside; long sleeved shirts under my flannel shirts; lots of tea and soup; hats and scarves although that can be really irritating because then you have to take them off as soon as you go inside; and this obnoxious set of fleecy pajamas that my grandmother gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago that I think were actually designed for 9 year old girls.

    Oh, and I live in Tennessee, so anyone who lives in an actually cold place, feel free to laugh at how much of a baby I am about the cold :)

  7. TBH the Southern California weather has been non-wintery and barely-autumny most days, so there aren’t many people rocking stylish layered fashions around here. Although I hear that the weather is going to start dipping next week. We’ll see then.

    As for ME, since I’m underweight (I’m working on it!) I’m pretty susceptible to the cold. I also have what a dentist once called “petite veins,” so I have a really shitty circulatory system too. I wear layers almost all year round, usually just light cardigans and hoodies.

    When it’s colder than my normal wardrobe can handle, I wear sporty undershirts like Champion and Underarmour (even tho I don’t play sports or do any kind of exercise at all) and leggings under my pants. I’m a huge fan of Superdry which will also keep you Superwarm (badum-tiss) although there aren’t many stores in the US. Less than 12 IIRC. I have their Arctic Windbreaker and Fairisle sweater (that’s actually way too long on me but idc) and they’re AMAZINGLY warm. And I wear my long Boy Scouts socks (Venturers REP!) with my floral or Chelsea Doc Martens. I need more boots and I’m saving up for riding boots atm.

    OH! and I have just learned the magic of flannels this year and stole my brother’s. He doesn’t care he just wears the same hoodie everyday cause he’s boring (Bro:I’m Consistent!).

  8. I usually go for many layers, but to avoid becoming immobilized, I skip out on the big jacket. Some people spend lots of money buy huge-ass coats, but you can’t layer with that kind of coat. That kind of coat is best in places where it only gets really cold once in a blue moon. I usually have on an undershirt, t-shirt, long-sleeve shirt, hoodie, scarf, gloves, and coat. It sounds like a lot, but it’s pretty practical and even when I get inside I usually don’t have to take off more than the outermost layer.

  9. I’m really bummed that I left my go-to winter jacket at my apartment when I moved this spring. It wasn’t super warm by itself but it was big enough and pretty and broke the wind like a FUCKING CHAMP. (not like “broke wind” farting, but acted as a windbreaker) . It was also a jacket that I had since 8th grade so I’m feeling its loss. I’ll have to visit the local ski/snowboard shop and try to find a similar one to replace it with. Unless I’m not as much of an idiot as I think I am and it’s actually packed away somewhere. That would make my holiday season if I found it because I love that jacket so much.

    I also recently invested in a patagonia nanopuff jacket AND IT’S SO GREAT HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS. I need my old windbreaking/waterproof shell jacket to really seal the deal but so long as it wasn’t precipitating or super windy the nanopuff is GR8. And it fits perfectly under my drysuit for those winter boating days.

    But honestly mostly I’ve been chilling in my union suit. It’s basically a fleece onsie but the softest fleece you can imagine. The only downside is needing to use the bathroom because due to sizing things I got a men’s size and while the whole flap situation is super compatible with my pee funnel (I was really happy to find out last weekend while boating), I don’t typically use said funnel indoors, and like, sometimes you don’t just need to pee and then it is HARSH AND COLD to do your business.

  10. I am broke and don’t have a car, so I spend about an hour and a half of my commute every day walking in the cold. So let me tell you how to get through that.

    I lived in Finland for years, and now live in Scotland. That means I know how to dress in serious subzero weather (Finland), and also in horrible, 100% humidity freezing damp weather (Scotland). These require TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF CLOTHING.

    Dry subzero weather:
    You need wool tights and LAYERS. The layers need to be thin and they should be wool or something synthetic that pretends to be wool if you are vegan. No cotton. Nothing plant-based. It will not keep you warm. I knit and I wear multiple pairs of tights, wool socks, docs, and then jeans. If it’s only something like -5C, you can get by with lots of wool tights, wool socks, and still wear a dress. I like to femme it up even when it’s really cold, just to get a break from slacks and jeans every day.
    You need mittens, and you need to wear two scarves – a thin cashmere type one around your neck, then put your good coat on, put the hood up, and then put a second scarf AROUND your neck and over the hood of the coat.

    Cold damp weather:
    Wool is not enough. You can’t just wear warm clothes – the damp gets in them and makes them pointless, and you will get sick. You can’t just wear a cool jumper and then a wool coat and expect to be warm. If it is DAMP, you need to stop the damp, and it will go right through your clothes. You need to get some kind of warm, insulated hiking jacket that is *waterproof*, and layer that OVER insulating layers like jumpers.

    Never forget mittens and a hat. The best mittens have fleece lined on the inside, and are knit on the outside. In a pinch, wear finger gloves underneath the mittens.

    In every place, Docs are good shoes. Just get them in a big size and wear lots of wool socks underneath them.

    If you are broke like me, there are a lot of different brands that work, and you will find wool and cashmere waaaay cheaper in secondhand stores than new. You need to look at the label of every single thing you buy. The shell of your coat can be nylon if it’s for Scottish-type weather and you’re wearing wool underneath, but if it’s dry, look for long wool coats. Long is key – it should cover your butt.

    Do not be afraid to wrap your head up in a scarf like an old-timey babushka. Sometimes you need to do it to stay warm. Make sure no cold air can enter any holes – tuck your clothes in everywhere so that the warmth stays in. Layers insulate, and you can remove them and wear clothing combinations depending on where you end up.

    Good luck, fellow living-through-the-recession queers. In Scotland, people die in their homes every year due to the cold – I hope everyone stays safe this winter.

  11. Hi everyone :)
    This is my first contribution to a Friday Open Thread since I signed up (it took me a while to get over my socially awkward self, but now I’m here :) )
    The first little snow storm of the season is just happening outside my window, and it’s really beautiful! I love this time of the year. It’s been snowing in the surrounding mountains for a while now, and we were just waiting for it to happen in the city.
    Where I live, we have about 0° Celsius right now (32° F, google tells me), and everyone’s preparing themselves for when it will go down to -10, -15 °C ( 14 to 5° F). At the moment, I wear lots of layers, with a big fluffy hoddie on top of it all. I have a super thick coat from bench, which I wear when it gets very cold. I also have a very nice fleece from them, which I usually wear when my job forces me to spend hours sitting in freezing churches. Oh, the musician’s fate around Christmas-time ^^” Tights under my pants and thick socks are a must, too :)
    Everyone stay warm and safe!

  12. Slightly late to the party (wow way to go Ari who let u be an adult) but as a knitter this thread is important to me on a personal level.
    I generate sweaters at an alarming rate (currently working on a teal and grey striped one and wearing an electric-blue one knit out of bulky yarn that sort of became a dress after the first time I washed it…in my defense I was not warned how much it would stretch) and own a truly ludicrous amount of scarves, hats, cozy socks, and other knitted accessories for keeping the cold at bay. (Interestingly my favorite scarf is not one I made but one my first girlfriend gave me for Hannukah my senior year of high school – it’s a peachy orange and big enough to basically be a small blanket).
    (I just finished knitting a really soft blue sweater for my friend for Christmas and I really hope they wear it cause it kinda feels like a wearable hug.)
    Also I am so not ready for snow yet. I live in Boston where it usually starts snowing around Thanksgiving and last year’s snowpocalypse fucked me up so bad that if it snows within the next month I might just lie down on top of a pile of snow and cry.

  13. I joyfully repurpose my blanket scarf as a blanket when the spring comes, and then joyfully re-repurpose it as a scarf in winter, meaning I am able to literally and legitimately wear actual bedding outside in the winter. I am quite small so I look ridiculous in a blanket scarf but this only instructively highlights in my opinion the unreasonableness of winter.

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