McCormick first-years Genesis Kang and Julia Xhu show off their winter fits. Photo by Katherine Yun / North By Northwestern

I know, I know. Especially with the recent warm(er) spells, I’m sure we all desperately want to hang on to light fall jackets and pumpkin-spice-everything for as long as possible. Unfortunately, winters here are like an obnoxious distant relative: they show up on your doorstep unannounced and completely overstay their welcome.

That’s why this article is here: to arm you with the proper tools ahead of time so that you’re prepared to make this winter season a cozy one. So, without further ado, here are a few tips and tricks to help you romanticize the snow without getting fully snowed in.

Tip 1: Get a good winter coat!

This may seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how much of a difference the right coat can make. If you’re a first-year student hailing from warmer areas (godspeed), or you’re simply in the market for a new winter staple, here are two things to look for:

Water and Wind Resistance

Part of what makes winters here so brutal is the wind chill. Even if a coat looks warm, cold winds can easily pierce through knitted or fleece materials. Keep an eye out for labels indicating wind-resistance on clothing tags! Also, some materials like suede, cotton, or wool can get gross over the season when the snow melts and seeps into the fabric so keep an eye out for water resistance as well!

Warm Padding

Obviously you want a coat that’ll keep you warm, but be warned that not all puffer jackets are built the same. Look for a jacket that has sizable padding – a good rule of thumb is that it should feel a bit hefty when you pick it up! Another way to find sturdy padded coats is to examine the material: coats insulated with down or synthetic down is often your best bet.

Overall, winter coats can be quite an investment, so make sure you get enough bang for your buck. Practical, sturdy coats can still be very cute! Some reliable brands fellow students are stocking up on include The North Face, Patagonia, and Columbia. If you’re looking for a more sustainable alternative, websites like The North Face Renewed and Patagonia Worn Wear are great resources for second hand buys!

Tip 2: Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize.

When dressing for the cold weather, leaving your ears, ankles, or hands uncovered is a common mistake. There’s nothing worse than getting all bundled up and still feeling miserable because your ears are on the verge of freezing off.

Accessorizing doesn’t just add an extra flair to your winter outfits (although that is definitely a plus!) It can also be a great way to add some extra warmth to your wardrobe.

Consider investing in a good pair of earmuffs that can protect you from the chill and be the perfect finishing touch to a preppy winter look. Go for a practical look with 180-style earmuffs or experiment with sherpa fabric for a fluffier touch.

Other items you may have neglected in your winter shopping list:

  1. A good scarf: plaid is classic for a reason, of course, but consider experimenting with other fun colors and patterns!
  2. Leg and arm warmers: 2000s trends have been in the market for a while and warmers can be a perfect homage to that fashion era.
  3. Winter hats: you can never go wrong with a solid beanie. Bonus points if it matches the rest of your outfit!

Tip 3: More than Meets the Eye

This section is all about the underdogs of winter fashion: the hidden MVPs of keeping you warm.

One of my favorite examples is a good thermal undershirt. The brand Uniqlo offers great options with their HEATTECH line, with materials designed to conserve body heat as much as possible! Thermals are a hidden extra layer, perfect to wear under your outfit on days when even your thickest sweater just isn’t doing the trick.

Also, warm socks. They’re more than just an unwanted birthday gift. For those who brute force their way through the snow in their sneakers like me, a good pair of cozy socks is a necessity.

Consider seeking out small businesses and boutiques for added quirky charm. Who doesn’t love a fun pair of cat-patterned socks?


Don’t let these winter tips stop you from enjoying the remaining days of fall while you can. But when the snow inevitably arrives, stay warm and healthy, ‘Cats!