When it comes to pants, I’m with Homer Simpson (“don’t you just hate pants?”). They just don’t make me happy. Whenever I wear them, I take them off and throw them in a heap approximately 30 seconds after I get into my apartment.
In LA, pants were easy to avoid. But these days, I live in the Land of Always Winter, and my intense antipathy for pants and equally intense love of skirts/dresses means I need to be a little more creative to keep my legs from freezing off. While thick wool skirts like the one I wore in this post are an excellent start, I’ve found that they’re no match for a Chicago winter on their own. After some trial and error, I’ve come up with a few tricks and tips.
This is the face of someone who knows what'll happen once she walks out the door.
1) Thick Over-the-Knee Socks/Extra Long Leg Warmers Worn Over Leggings
Over-the-knee socks and a wool pinafore make 12 degrees with 20 mph wind liveable!
When it’s really cold and windy, tights alone won’t cut it, even if, like me, you have a long puffy coat. The freezing windy air will rip right through your skirt and by the time you get inside, your legs will be bright red and cold to the touch for a worryingly long time.
The key to avoiding this miserable situation is to layer on your legs as well as up top! If, like me, your hemlines are generally knee-length or longer, it will look like you’re just wearing rather thick sweater-knit tights. You, however, will know the secret, and instead of dealing with the discomfort of tights inside socks, you will have one manageable layer on your feet, inside your well-insulated boots (see #2 below!), but TWO layers on the exposed portion of your legs. Crisis averted!
Leg warmers are another great idea: their name says it all. Look for the thigh-length leg warmers made for ballet dancers. I also like faux-fur-lined boot liners, as they jazz up my boots a bit.
2) Tall Boots
This one is sort of a no-brainer, but my feet are always cold, so I figure it’s worth mentioning anyway. Look for boots with Thinsulate lining for the coldest days, look for waterproof boots for snowy and slushy days, and if you want sleek knee-high boots, go with genuine leather, as it breathes better and keeps your feet from overheating, sweating through your socks, and then freezing.
I’ve been quite pleased with my two new pairs of boots this year: this pair of Columbias for the snow and the deep freeze, and these Bogs (pictured above) for rainy days and regular wear. I have very small calves, and the Bogs are one of the few pairs of knee boots that I’m not swimming in.
3) Skirts Over Fitted/Bodycon Dresses
Accidentally pictured: the bottom of my shorts. It's really hard to see your shorts sticking out while lifting your petticoat and skirt to show the dress below. Actually, it's really hard to see anything below my hands when taking such photos.
This is a nifty trick I picked up from the lovely ladies of Pinterest. It’s a great way of making those bodycon/wiggle dresses do double duty, of course, but for me, it’s also a fabulous way to add another layer without adding too much bulk. I find that those Chicago winds cut right through all but my heaviest skirts when worn alone. While I think a petticoat is an excellent solution to this problem (see #4 below!), I have a number of skirts that don’t sit right over a petticoat, and there are some situations where a petticoat isn’t the most practical option. I was That Jerk in my biggest, longest petticoat on the bus one day at rush hour. Fortunately, I was sitting next to Jeff ;). A fitted dress, however, helps to insulate your thighs without encroaching on others’ personal space!
In winter, a petticoat (or two!) is a godsend. The layers of fluff trap your body heat and block the wind. They’re also super fun! ‘Nuff said.
See? Stylish and practical!
5) Bike Shorts/Pettipants Over Tights
For a run-of-the-mill cold day, bike shorts over your tights or foundation garments are a good option, of course. But for a terrifyingly cold day – the type of cold that freezes your mascara if you step outside for more than a minute – pettipants are the ultimate secret weapon!
Peak Ruffles: when your pettipants match your petticoat.
It’s amazing how much these Malco Modes pettipants do to keep you cozy and warm in subzero temperatures. It makes sense when you think about it, though – the lace ruffles help to trap more body heat than a simple pair of bike shorts will do.
Bonus: you can spin in your twirliest skirt with no risk of flashing any unsuspecting passersby!
Or you can just do your best Carmen Miranda impression in a public place.
All of the above methods can, of course, be combined to maximize your chance of surviving winter without resorting to pants.
How do those of you who live in an arctic climate deal with the winter? Inquiring minds want to know...