How to Look Professional During a Polar Vortex
“Baby, it’s cold outside” never sounded so true.
If you’re in the same boat as us East Coasters, you know just how frigid this winter has been and how cold it’s is going to continue to be (unless you’re living in southern California, in which case I’m very jealous).
And you’re facing the same problem: How do you head to the office looking sleek and professional when all you want to do is pile on the long underwear, puffy down coats, and Uggs?
Fear not: I have some great ideas that will keep you toasty warm on your commute (even in -15 degree wind chills) and in the office—without looking like Randy from A Christmas Story (“I can’t put my arms down!”).
The #1 Trick for Everyone: Make Heattech Your BFF
If you’ve never heard of Heattech from Uniqlo, I’m about to change your (winter) life. Heattech shirts are sleek and lightweight but keep you astoundingly warm. The technology actually adjusts to your body temperature and absorbs perspiration (so you don't feel overheated once you get to the office).
All in all, these are the perfect basics to fill your closet with for the winter—they can be added to almost any outfit for an extra bit of warmth. Layer the long-sleeved shirts under blazers, sweaters, and blouses before topping off with your coat. Slip a t-shirt or cami underneath another shirt or sweater to keep your core extra toasty. The brand even makes leggings and socks to keep your bottom half from freezing!
Tips for the Ladies
Use Hidden Leggings or Tights
Although wide-legged pants usually aren’t the best choice in cold weather (because it’s easier for cold air to get between the pants and your skin), they’re actually a smart choice when it’s below freezing because it’s easier to hide extra layers under them without looking bulky.
What extra layers am I talking about? Well, beyond pulling out the old long underwear (hey, desperate times call for desperate measures), throwing on a pair of tights or leggings can add just enough warmth. I like to go the extra mile and go with a pair of fleece-lined leggings (like these gems from Anthropologie). Whatever layer you choose, put it under your favorite wider-legged dark washed jeans or work trousers, and you’re ready to face the day.
Wear Two Coats in the Same Color Family
A great tip for staying toasty on top is to double up on your coats by layering a short, lighter-weight jacket (that you may have thought you could only wear in spring or fall) with a longer, heavier coat in the same color family.
I generally like sticking with black because it’s easy to match and always looks good, but experiment with different color families for variation. Then keep the rest of your outfit cohesive. So, if you choose a neutral color for the coats, like camel, keep the rest of your outfit to different shades of camel.
Belt Your Puffer
While puffer coats aren’t the most professional-looking outerwear option, they’re just so warm—and it is possible to wear one and look chic.
The trick is to find a belt that works well with your coat (usually wider will be more flattering) so that your waist is accentuated and you look more put-together and intentional. This may seem like an unnecessary step, but consider this: If you run into your company’s head honcho the minute you walk in the office door, you’ll look like a respectably dressed employee rather than the Abominable Snowwoman.
Tips for the Gents
Learn to Layer Right
While guys have it a bit easier in the layering department, there are still a few tips that’ll help you look ready for that important client meeting right as you walk into work from the blustery cold.
Start with an undershirt (perhaps Heattech?) and then put on your normal tie and dress shirt. Then—and this is the key—layer a sweater over that. Get a nice cashmere one if you can—it’s lightweight while still being super warm. Put on wool trousers (if it’s really cold, throw on long johns under them) and finish off with a classic wool dress coat and a cashmere or wool scarf.
Double Sweater All the Way
Another easy layered look? Put on a patterned button-down, then layer a lightweight pullover sweater with a slightly heavier buttoned or zipped sweater over it (both of these should be solid colors to offset the patterned shirt). Finish with some dark wash jeans (with a warmer layer under, if needed) and a classic pea coat, and you’re ready to go!
Photo of winter commute courtesy of Shutterstock.
Hailing from the Peach State, Hannah Baker is a recent transplant to NYC via DC and has worked in television and social media. An obsessive pinner, she loves decorating, finding the best eats (and drinks) in her new neighborhood, and entertaining her goofy dog, Leon. Follow Hannah on Twitter @hanfranbabebake and Pinterest at HFBAKER.More from this Author