By Rachel King, Staff
Texas winters are nothing if not unpredictable. It could be 70 degrees and sunny one day and the next morning you could wake up to pouring rain and temperatures below freezing. Cold fronts are constantly coming and going. The past several years we have even seen some very severe winter storms. Entire towns and cities lost power during these storms. Many people had their pipes freeze and did not have access to working plumbing for weeks after the storms.
Texans are ill equipped to handle cold weather not only in their architecture, but also in their wardrobes. For many of us it can be a struggle to navigate dressing for such low temperatures while still being ready for a drastic change in weather at any moment. Here are some of our most valuable tips and tricks when it comes to dressing for these lovely Texas winters.
First thing first, the base layer. Upon waking up to 30 degree weather our first instinct is typically to grab the thickest clothing item we own and live in that until further notice. While this seems logical, there are a few other steps that need to be taken before throwing on that impenetrable sweater. Your first layer (aka your base layer) should be thin and tight. The purpose of this layer is to keep away moisture and keep you dry. This is of utmost importance when it comes to fighting off the cold, or worse, hypothermia. Ideally, this layer would be made of some sort of polyester or spandex material. You want to try and avoid cotton blends because they will soak up moisture and stick to you, which does not help you out in any way. The main thing to remember for this layer is that it’s purpose is not to keep you warm, but to keep you dry. It does not need to be super thick. That will come later.
Next up is the insulation layer. Unlike your base layer this one is intended to retain your body heat and keep you warm. This is typically looser fitting and made from materials such as polyester fleece, down feathers, wool or wool-blends. This could include that insanely thick sweater we were talking about earlier or that puffer vest you bought last winter because it was trending on Pinterest. Depending on how thick your insulating layer is you may need to add an extra layer on top. This could mean the sweater and the vest or a hoodie and a flannel. Pick your poison; just make sure it’s able to retain your body heat.
Lastly we have our shell layer. This layer is designed to keep your body heat in and keep all the rain, snow and wind out. Unless you’re out climbing mountains or exploring Antarctica this layer can consist simply of some sort of wind breaker. Ideally you want it to be loose fitting, wind resistant and waterproof. Shell layer jackets can get pretty expensive so don’t worry about buying a super thick one if you don’t already have it. Just make sure if you’re going to stick to a thinner one that your insulating layer is thick enough to make up for it. The most important thing to remember for your shell layer is that it needs to be waterproof. You cannot use any sort of cotton blend for this because if you get wet you will not be able to remain warm.
For your bottom half, you can never go wrong with a good pair of jeans. Not the ones with holes in them; the ones you could wear to family Christmas without any snide comments from your Grandpa. If you think it's necessary you can layer up down there too. Leggings or long underwear under your jeans or sweatpants is a great way to create a simple base layer for your lower extremities. The same rules apply. Try to keep that layer thin and tight. Spandex or polyester would be ideal. If you are going to wear leggings make sure you have something over them. Your Lululemon attire will make a great base layer, but it is definitely not where you should stop. Make sure you have sweatpants or jeans of some sort on top.
And now we move on to the “accessories” portion of our wardrobe. At the top of your body is your head so we will start there first. Everyone needs a good beanie in their collection. Ideally, you want one with acrylic, synthetic fibers or wool to maximize warmth. You also want to make sure your beanie is covering your ears because the ears tend to get cold the easiest and are extremely vulnerable to frostbite because of how small and thin they are. Scarves are also a good way to keep your face and ears warm. Try to avoid ones made from cotton and as expected thicker is better. I know you are dying to debut that scarf you hand crocheted over the summer, but in terms of a snowpocalypse that velvet yarn is just not going to cut it. Same thing goes for gloves and mittens. Avoid cotton like it’s the plague. Try to find waterproof and/or windproof options. Fingerless gloves may make you feel cute and fashionable, but for practicality reasons you’re going to want something more durable.
For shoes, I’m sorry guys but those Crocs you’ve been wearing since the seventh grade are just not going to cut it. Same goes for the checkered vans you bought in 2019 (sorry skater boys). Dryness is key!! Doc Martins or Air Forces can get the job done 90% of the time, but if you plan on doing more than walking to and from class you are going to need some snow/rain boots with at least 75% waterproofness.
At the end of the day, dressing warm can also be fun. Pretend you go to fashion school in New York or something and incorporate your own personality into whatever you wear. Just remember to stay warm and dry. And to that one kid who thinks he’s immune to cold and can wear shorts every single day, you are not fooling anyone; put some pants on, it is not that deep. And remember, you live in Texas, there’s no telling what could happen tomorrow, winter never lasts very long here so enjoy it while you can.