Timeless Winter Style: Canada Appropriate Coats, Boots and More (Women’s Edition)
When the temperature drops in Canada, we have two choices: to stay inside until March, running from a car to a workplace, or embrace the cold weather and even enjoy what it has to offer. To feel warm and comfortable when choosing the latter option (which includes Christmas markets, and snowfall walks), all you need is a set of proper winter clothes. While a ski jacket and snow pants could do the trick if you are spending a weekend in the mountains or playing with your kids outside, more fashionable winter looks require a more thought-through approach.
To be fair, most fashion tips about dressing up for colder weather either suggest a complete bundle up in Sorel boots and Canada Goose parkas (both are essential in Canadian winter) or offer advice that if followed one would end up with frosted toes and fingers. Hence, in this article I am about to combine comfort and style, two of those factors coming together able to keep you warm, yet looking fashionable.
Typically, those two definitions do not interlace. However, following a few simple tricks on choosing the right clothes and styling techniques you surely can get away with wearing an oversized wool coat, colourful accessories and your favourite jeans and Chelsea boots.
Besides useful prompts to keep in mind when you are getting dressed for cold winter mornings, you will find suggestions of some of the best thermal layers, coats, boots, sweaters, accessories and other cold climate clothes.
The Best Thermal Layers
First, layering starts with thermal leggings and a long sleeve top:
Thermal layers are no longer part of outdoor sports gear only, but everyday winter dressing as well. As useful base layers can be during hiking or running as much warmth they can provide during your commute to the office, Christmas shopping or a city stroll. Besides, proper thermal layers are designed to wick moisture and keep you dry and warm no matter the activity.
Before you buy a set of your own thermal layers keep in mind a few factors. Merino wool base layers are made with finer gauge than regular wool, so it won’t be as itchy. The material antimicrobial, which reduces odour, and can absorb up to 30% of its own weight before it starts feeling wet.
At the same time, merino wool and synthetic blend are more durable than pure merino layers.
Synthetic thermal layers, most often high-performance polyester or polypropylene fabrics, are known for their ability to wick sweat, dry quickly and last longer than merino wool sets.
Lastly, my main suggestion if you are planning to wear during your city commute, aim for the thinnest fabric out there. While you can get away with fleece-lined leggings underneath snow pants on a ski slope, wearing something underneath your work trousers or jeans should create as little bulk as possible.
Altitude Sports Merino 250 Baselayer Crew Boxed
The Merino 250 Baselayer by Smartwool from Altitude is a soft, moisture-wicking crew neck top known for its ultimate comfort whether you wear it underneath a blazer or a hoodie. It also provides thermoregulation and odour resistance for those days when you decide to wear Smartwool Merino 250 for hiking, climbing or biking.
A satisfied customer who has multiple Smartwool Merino 250 base layer tops noted that they are beautifully soft, cozy and flattering. A simple and classic crew means they look as good in the backcountry as they do in urban settings. She wears them year-round: they do not stink (after multiple days of wear), and feel cozy and look flattering.
Altitude Sports Merino 250 Baselayer Bottom
Sports Merino 250 also offers matching leggings, made from the same material as the previously mentioned crew neck top. While they use heavy wool to ensure warmth and comfort of your body, those leggings are thin enough to wear underneath a pair of jeans. They are made of breathable fabric which provides body temperature regulation and moisture wicking.
Another customer noted that although she wears these as a warm but lightweight base layer with jeans, hiking pants or ski pants, they are comfy enough to wear around the house as well and during travelling.
Uniqlo Heat-tech Leggings
My personal favourite thermal leggings are Uniqlo Heat-tech. They are thin enough to wear even underneath tighter pants, bio-warming and moisture-wicking.
Two other satisfied customers noted they have always been a fan of Uniqlo’s Heat-tech line because they are super thin yet warm to wear during cold season. The leggings fit perfectly and are warm enough for Canadian Winter, they added.
Overall, Uniqlo offer a few different thickness and warmth levels, yet what makes this particular model different is the soft, high-density brushed fabric on the inside.
Uniqlo Heat-tech Scoop Neck T-shirt
Check out this scoop neck top to match heat-tech leggings. Made with high gauge, soft knit fabric, this Uniqlo thermal layer is ideal for wearing it jogging as well as office setting. It is thin enough to fit underneath a cashmere sweater: a low neckline easily hides under cozy tops and blazers.
The top has also been updated with a lower armhole opening and roomier sleeves for more comfort.
BALEAF Women’s Fleece Lined Water Resistant Legging
If you are looking for a pair of leggings to wear on its own with a bulky sweater and chunky boots, check out this budget-friendly Baleaf option from Amazon. Those leggings are fleece lined for warmth and water resistance if you decide to wear them during a skiing retreat or hiking.
Besides warmth and durability, those Baleaf leggings come with gentle compression for tummy control to prevent sliding down, which is crucial during intense outdoor activities.
My favourite part, however, is the back zipper pockets. You can use them to keep your phone and credit card secure on days when you do not take a purse.
The Best Wool and Cashmere Sweaters
Second, there is no better second layer than a cashmere or wool sweater.
While sheer, sparkly blouses have a space in our closets for festive celebrations, they cannot provide the same soothing protection from winter chill as a fine cashmere or chunky wool sweater. Previously exclusive and expensive cashmere fibers now can be found at a lower price. The main difference between a Lora Piana cashmere and Everlane sweaters (besides hundreds of dollars) is the length and fineness of the goat’s fleece (the longer it is the finer knitting turns out) and the skill and precision with which it is collected.
The most expensive and desirable cashmere hair is hand combed. Carefully sheared from the cashmere goats (typically during the spring), skilled cashmere processors are capable of retaining the longest hairs from the goat’s undercoat.
However, with modern technologies, and an expanded territory of raising cashmere goats in regions of China, Nepal, Australia and other, you now can find a quality cashmere sweater for under $300. The reason I stress so much attention on cashmere is that unlike bulky wool sweaters (that deserve space in your winter style for snowy walks) is because thin cashmere turtlenecks and crew neck tops are the most comfortable to wear to work or even going out. They do not add bulk, can be easily paired with skirts and trousers, and are comfortable to wear all day long.
Reformation Cashmere Crew
I cannot imagine a better sweater to wear to work, a date or an art gallery (paired with off-white leather pants, a pair of blue jeans or trousers) than this Reformation cashmere crew. It features a relaxed, yet elegant fit, and soft comfortable fabric.
Reformation works with virgin cashmere, sustainably produced, something that goes into a higher price tag, yet makes you feel good about spending your money on sustainable cause.
Hudson North Cashmere Tunic Sweater
This cashmere turtleneck sweater from Hudson North is more oversized than the Reformation model, yet it is a style that would perfectly pair with leggings or on top of a slip dress. With a relaxed silhouette, protected neck, ribbed trim and silky soft material, what else would one want from a winter sweater?
Saks Fifth Avenue Collection Wool-Cashmere Sweater
Saks Fifth Avenue has a signature cashmere line where every sweater is crafted of a plush cashmere-wool blend and finished in a relaxed silhouette. Those sweaters are typically available in a variety of colours and lengths. (And during sale season you can bargain one of those for just under $100.)
What made this particular sweater appealing to me is the 10% wool in the fabric content. Such a combination of fine cashmere yarns and thicker wool threads make this top feel warmer and heavier on the body.
Frank and Oak The Wool Crewneck Sweater in Cream Melange
Frank and Oak is a Canadian brand that strives to produce its clothes as sustainably as possible. This particular sweater does not only feature a relaxed fit but also recycled fibres and cruelty-free wool. As they say, “the wool is sourced from farms that have adopted a holistic and ethical approach to managing their lands and their animals’ well-being.”
Other than sustainable production, the ribbed seams and cuffs, and classic length make this Frank and Oak sweater a perfect working element in a winter wardrobe. Layer it over a T-shirt, or a dress and pair it with flared pants, jeans or even sweatpants.
Extreme Cashmere n°255
Extreme Cashmere sweaters might come at a steep price, yet counting CPW (cost per wear) I believe they are worth it. Based in Amsterdam this brand focuses on designing the ultimate cashmere wardrobe filling it up with pieces that would never go out of style and quality that would last seasons after seasons.
They do not work with collections, instead, Extreme Cashmere focuses on a variety of colours and unisex fits. For instance, consider this turtleneck oversized style. It can be a gift to a boyfriend or a husband, that you can borrow later and it wear yourself, bundling up in soft, warm fabric, styling it with jeans, trousers, and skirts.
The Best Winter Trousers
Third, wear wide trousers or flared jeans to fit thermal underpants and feel no bulk on your legs.
It might be obvious to stick with winter clothes that provide more space, and allow warm layering, yet so many people still choose skinny jeans and tight tops. However, if you would ever switch to flared or wide jeans, straight or loose trousers and corduroy pants, (under which you could fit thermal leggings) you will never go back to tight clothes in winter.
Ecologyst Light Wool Pant
Those Ecologyst wool pants are sophisticated and comfortable alike. Made in Canada from 100% washable merino wool, they feel and wear like sweat pants.
The pants feature a high waist, wide leg and tailored look which would be appropriate for both an office setting (pair them with a blazer and a wool coat) and casual strolls (style with lace-up boots and a puffer).
The second-best part of those trousers, besides versatility, is that they are both machine and hand washable. Although I would recommend cold, delicate wash if you choose to go with machine wash.
Club Monaco Merino Wool Pants
Club Monaco is another Canadian brand that focuses on well-tailored clothes made of finely crafted materials.
Those pants, for instance, are made from soft, cozy merino wool and feature a wide ribbed waistband. They are easy to pull on and style with an oversized sweater and a tee during days off or elevate the entire look with a blazer and ankle boots.
Simons Semi-Plain Barrel Pant
Another well-tailored pant, yet with a relaxed attitude, which allows you to style it in many creative and casual ways. The black-and-white weave in a heathered effect makes Simons Semi-plain Barrel Pant look more sophisticated and elegant. However, when paired with a casual white sweater and chunky boots can be worn during weekend outings with kids or friends.
They are made of a supple wool blend that keeps your body warm, while silky lining reduces fabric rubbing tension when worn with thermal leggings.
The Best Winter Boots
Forth, winter boots do not have to look dull or outdated. Unless you are hiking in temperatures below –20C you can easily get away with your casual Chelsea or lace-up boots. I choose designs that feature thick soles with a proper grip, ankle length and enough space inside to wear them with cashmere or thermal socks. If you want to add extra warmth, simply add wool or fur insoles.
La Canadienne Braydon Chelsea boots
Designed by La Canadienne for Canadian climates, those Braydon Chelsea boots are comfortable, fashionable and essential. They are handmade of waterproof genuine leather and feature embossed non-skid rubber outer soles.
Yet, I want to bring your attention to the versatility of the style. It is no wonder Chelsea boots appear in every fall/winter collection, and long ago became a favourite footwear for many. They can be easily paired with dresses, skirts and when the temperature drops lower with wool trousers or fleece sweat pants.
Ugg Classic Short Boots
Although some might say that UGGs are back in style, I believe in Canadian realities they never went out of style. Casual, ultimately soft and warm, those short boots are easy to pair with jeans, sweatpants, puffers and wool coats alike. The Classic Short UGGs features plush Twinface sheepskin, a moisture-wicking interior and trademark moulded EVA outsole.
The only downside to UGGs is they do not take slushy, wet weather very well. Thus, wear them during dry autumn days or after snow settles and roads are cleared up from the slush.
Hunter Women’s Explorer Insulated Lace-Up Leather Commando Boots
Hunter makes boots for outdoor adventures, yet this lace-up Commando model perfectly fits into city sceneries. They are lightweight, waterproof and can be worn in temperatures as low as -20°C.
The upper of the boots is a mix of hardwearing leather and recycled nylon. The sole is made of a shock-absorbent midsole and a high-grip TPU rubber. Commando is finished with a cushioned collar and a modern, colourful design.
All those factors contribute to comfortable city walks on streets and parks. Those boots can be perfectly paired with wide-leg jeans and sweatpants. Add a puffer, a bright beanie and you are ready for a stroll.
The Best Winter Coats and Puffers
Fifth, it is useful to have a small collection of well-curated coats. Canadian winter climate varies from extreme cold to mild, rainy days and it is not a luxury, but a necessity to have in your wardrobe both water-repellent, windproof puffers, and oversized wool coats.
No one understands the need for a proper coat in Canadian winter better than Canadian brands. Frankly, no one else makes better coats for this climate than Canadian brands. For the versatility of styling options, I suggest having at least two winter coats in your wardrobe where one would be a spacious, oversized wool coat, and another one a puffer. While the former can be worn on warmer days or with more tailored clothes, the latter is great for low temperatures or pairing it with more casual outfits.
However, keep in mind that a winter coat is an investment. While the price varies from $300 to $900 on average, by buying high-quality outerwear you are promised to stay warm and keep wearing it season after season.
Aritzia Babaton The Slouch Coat
Handcrafted with recycled camel hair and virgin wool, Aritzia Babaton The Slouch coat is my absolute favourite. I feel dismal when I have to put it away for summer and elated when I unpack it as soon as cold weather hits.
The coat is constructed to deliver warmth to -20°C, and along with functionality, this is a fashionable item that feels like wearing a blanket. The Slouch coat is oversized, double-breasted with dolman sleeves, dropped shoulders and a wide notched lapel.
WUXLY Union Parka
If you would never consider wearing a wool coat on a windy, snow-blowing morning, check out this calf-length parka. Wuxly Union parka features a regular fit (could be easily styled with suits as well as sweat pants) and a water-repellent surface.
Besides protecting your body from extreme cold, Wuxly parkas are made from used plastic bottles, plant-based fibres, and discarded fishing nets. They avoid animal-sourced materials, managing to design coats that are as warm and long-lasting as those that use goose down.
A customer noted that she ordered size L and it was a little big for her. She took the parka to a trusted seamstress to narrow a bit. The seamstress had to do quite a laborious job because, in her own words, she “had never faced such a well-made garment.”
Oak+Fort Long Belted Puffer Coat
Finally, to bring a line between a perfectly tailored coat and a casual parka comes a compromise in the image of a long-belted puffer coat from OAK+FORT.
This coat is designed to substitute a tailored wool coat on those cold days when you would prefer something more formal and elevated with your work clothes. Although it features a relaxed fit, the waist is nipped with a belt tie, making a silhouette more feminine and elegant.
The Best Winter Accessories
Sixth, do not forget to accessorize. Piles of snow, slower traffic and shorter daylight do not mean all neutral outfits (while whose do appear sophisticated and effortless), and neglect of accessories. In fact, the right accessories, colour and style coordinated, not only keep your hands, neck and head warm but can elevate the most casually looking black puffer.
UGG Women’s Classic Shorty Tech Gloves
You will not want to take those UGG gloves off. Made from genuine leather from the outside they protect your hands from windchill. Meanwhile plush shearling cuffs with wool-blend lining provide warmth and comfort.
The style of those classic UGG gloves is also chic, yet timeless. You will find yourself pulling those out every winter and matching them with any coat, from an elegant wool button-up to a casual parka.
(As per a review, gloves fit small, so it is suggested to go one size up.)
Frank and Oak Yak Wool Mittens in Purple
Another pair of hand warmers is this Frank and Oak yak wool mittens. Frank and Oak use yak wool sourced from small-scale farms located in the Himalayas highlands. The fiber is warm, pleasant on the skin and thick enough to protect from freezing temperatures.
Besides, if you are into dressing more neutral, purple mittens can become a stylish, colourful touch to your black and beige outfits.
Lululemon Ribbed Merino Wool-Blend Knit Beanie p
Protect your head and hair with this lightweight and trendy Lululemon Ribbed beanie. It is made of a merino wool blend which is naturally thermoregulating and soft against the skin. The beanie is available in eight colours so you can pick the one that would brighten up your winter outfits.
Acne Studios Checked Logo Wool Scarf
Acne Studio’s scarfs are made to last. The style, and the quality, although coming at a higher price, those plaid scarfs make a statement. This particular Acne Studios beige/rust red checked scarf is made of felted wool, and can become the main piece in your total black outfit. It is wide enough to be wrapped around your neck twice or thrown on your shoulders in case you need some extra warmth when sitting at your office desk.
Celine D-frame Acetate and Gold-tone Sunglasses
Sunglasses should not be disregarded even in winter. Snow and the bright sun not only make it challenging to drive, but also can cause harm to your eyes. Although you might already have your favourite pair of sunglasses, I wanted to feature those Celine shades in a timeless design. They are made from glossy black acetate with D-frames and dark-gray lenses, with a gold-tone ‘Triomphe’ logo on the sides. Such sunglasses can easily elevate the simplest outfit, be paired with beanies, tailored coats and puffers alike.
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