Lea Clay has a BA in Comparative Literature from New York University, where she focused her cultural and literary studies primarily on theology and Spanish while simultaneously fulfilling pre-med requirements. She is currently a freelance writer and contemporary dancer and will begin medical school fall of 2015. Born and raised in suburban Minnesota, she has always had diverse passions, from dance and music to literature and medicine, and enjoys the challenge of bridging the boundaries between these interests in her daily life.
Having grown up in an often-frostbitten Minnesota, I approached the start of college at New York University with a bit of an ego. How wrong I was, thinking my thin pea coat and little red felt cap could get me through the season. Little can compare a first winter in New York City—that sensation of powerlessly being propelled this way and that by unforgiving wind tunnels so strong they whisk your hat right off your head, sending you on wild goose hunts to reclaim your own dignity. All the while, snowflakes are continuously pelting you in the face like a swarm of angry bees. Something had to change. From that moment, I approached the following winters in New York with a purpose of finding a new sense of fashion—one that would be both sensible and weather-durable.
College, one of the best times of our lives, is also one of the hardest. But don’t let those unavoidable daily outdoor treks across campus be an added difficulty. Here are a few of the things I have learned in how to maneuver even the coldest of winters with style, warmth and individuality.
My most important piece of advice is to have a quality coat. The better the coat, the less layers you need to wear and the less likely you are to end up looking like a giant marshmallow of puffy fabric. The material, which resembles foil, is designed to reflect body heat. It results in the sensation of feeling neither too cool nor to warm and works wonders against subzero temperatures. When choosing the right size for you, make sure to pick a coat size that will leave enough room for a sweater on the days that you need added warmth.
Once you have a good coat, the fun begins. When going to class, it’s best to wear layers, as classrooms tend to be unpredictable in terms of heat. You never know when your English Literature room, generally balmy and warm, will drop down to temperatures comparable to the Arctic. According to Styles Weekly, many of the looks for winter, 2014-2015, feature tribal prints or an “irregular geometric pattern.” Play around with your own style to see what works with you. I find that mixing a soft sleeveless shirt with a grey or earthy-toned oversized pullover or long cardigan and a pair of brightly-colored skinny jeans can be a great way to add some spice to a blustery day without being gaudy or loud. Pull in some quirkiness with a patterned scarf to add a print to your look as well as warmth. Once you arrive to class, you can evaluate based on the room’s temperature which layers to keep and which to discard.
Top off your outfit with a pair of cozy boots. The length of your coat can help to dictate how high you want your boots to go. Over-the-knee boots, which are widespread at DSW and Macy’s, are extremely warm and a fun fashion topic for the year, but tend to work better with shorter coats. For longer coats, try a pair that reaches to mid-calf level in order to still protect against snow and rain. DSW and Macy’s both offer weatherproofing sprays and rubs for boots in order to keep them lasting throughout the season and hopefully through next winter.
And never leave the door without a hat and gloves. It’s a wonder how much of a difference these two essentials can make on a cold day. Moreover, hats are a great way to express your own individual look! Try something funky like a droopy beanie or go more sophisticated with a soft beret. Touchscreen gloves, which are available in drugstores, department stores and websites, are a fun way to keep communication both convenient and comfortable.
Last but not least, indulge yourself in a warm cup of hot cocoa. It will warm your body and recharge your mind as you prepare to hit the books for a great second semester.