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Where Bloggers Live: How I Stay Warm in Winter

Welcome back to the monthly edition of Where Bloggers Live! I am lucky to have joined a terrific group of bloggers who give a peek into the places and spaces where they spend their time.

Where Bloggers Live

Happy 2024! I am back from my a-bit-longer-than-expected blogging break and ready to tackle today's topic...How I Stay Warm in Winter. This topic is both a great one for me - because I live in one of the coldest states in the US - and a bad one for me - because I run warm and don't experience the cold as much as other people do. Nevertheless, I am happy to share my thoughts!


It's funny - people often think of Minnesota as being a very snowy place, and it is snowier than most parts of the US. We routinely get snow starting in late October, running through April.

October Snow - St Paul MN - 10/31/23
October Snow - St Paul MN - 10/31/23
April Snow Foolin' - St Paul MN - 4/1/23
April Snow Foolin' - St Paul MN - 4/1/23

But compared to the northeast parts of the US, our snowfall is really quite reasonable and manageable given the infrastructure we have in place (the Twin Cities averages 51"/130cm of snow in the winter). What you experience in a Minnesota winter is truly cold weather. I have developed a concept of "too cold to snow" living here (and though there is no real point at which it literally can't snow, as it gets colder, snow does become much less likely; it's very unlikely to snow at -10F/-23C or colder). To give you a sense of what constitutes cold here, St Paul Public Schools calls off school due to the cold when the air temperature is below -25F/-32C or the wind chill is below -35F/-37C. If it's "only" -22F/-30C, we expect our kids to be able to stand outside and wait for the bus (and they do).


Staying warm outdoors is so dependent on where you live and what the weather is like. In Minnesota, we take our warm underlayers, coats, boots, hats, and gloves/mittens very seriously! The best piece of advice I got on dressing for Twin Cities winter weather was from Minneapolis writer Sally McGraw at her old style blog: Wear as long a coat as you can! And seriously, wearing a short coat/jacket that doesn't cover your rear end is a BAD IDEA unless you are engaging in major outdoor activity like cross-country skiing (for which you want to make sure you are appropriately clad in snow-resistant pants, moisture-wicking layers, etc.). For your commute, for running errands, for taking your dog out, for taking a stroll...wear a long coat that ensures good coverage past your rear end or you will regret it.


I'm going to focus on staying warm indoors for this post because (1) that's where I spend most of my time and (2) indoor winter temperatures are not as radically different regionally as outdoor ones.


My first stay-warm-in-winter tip is not going to be actionable for most people, but it makes a HUGE difference: Live in a multi-unit building like an apartment or condo, especially one with good insulation. I get it, your single-family home as all kinds of wonderful advantages, but come the cold weather, you will be feeling the cold through your exposed walls on every side. My apartment (which has excellent insulation) is a corner unit so we have two exposed sides, but the other two sides are not only not outdoor-adjacent, they grab heat from our neighbors and the hallways.


As an example of how this plays out, it is 18F/-8C outside as I write this blog post, and I don't have my heat on. In fact, I have windows open both in this room and the living room to keep the temperature in here around 63F/17C. (Luckily my husband's computer area is in a spot away from the windows that is always several degrees warmer than the places I hang out.) I realize that's quite cold for indoors to many people, but with the windows closed, it would be about 66F/19C in here without the heat turned on. It wouldn't take much use of the heater to get the temperature up to a balmy 70F/21C.


But since nobody is going to move into an apartment building to stay warm in winter, let's look at something more in my blogging wheelhouse: dressing warmly indoors; I'll share my top 5 tips. (That this also gives me the opportunity to share some OOTD I haven't posted before is a bonus. Consider this some extra winter outfit inspiration.)


Tip 1: Wear a Scarf


Too many people think of scarves as merely outer wear, but they are clutch for indoor wear as well. While I will wear scarves of different types/ties year-round because they are a cornerstone of my personal style (#1 here), there's no denying that winter is THE TIME to wear them! A scarf is like the ultimate adjustable turtleneck sweater. Some fashion scarves are very lightweight but even they will provide some warmth if worn closely to the neck. And you can certainly up the warmth by choosing a scarf a heavier, warmer fabric. You can wear your outdoor scarf indoors, of course, but you can also buy more fashion-oriented scarves that work wonderfully in cold weather. I have some scarves (and pashminas, which are just scarves made from a particular type of wool) that I only wear in the winter because they are very warm.


And if I want to wear a scarf that isn't warm enough on its own, I will double it up with a warmer scarf, as I did here: pairing the thicker solid navy scarf with the lightweight owl print scarf. I tied it here in the simple "overhand knot with other end pulled through" technique (method #1 here), but the European loop (method #2 here) would be even warmer.

Plus size winter outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 11/15/21

Tip 2: Wear a Skirt + Tights + Boots Instead of Pants


Dresses and skirts are great with bare legs in summer, but I think they are even better in winter...when worn with tights (or leggings) and boots! If you live somewhere that gets snow/slush/rain in winter, you have probably experienced the horror that is getting your pants wet at the bottom and having to sit around in those freezing pants waiting for them to dry. UGH. Dresses and skirts (that are not maxi length, anyway) are a practical alternative to pants in any kind of wet conditions.


There are so many kinds of tights, you guys. If you haven't looked at your tights options in recent years, you might be surprised. I wear a lot of moderately thin tights, but I also have thicker leggings and fleece-lined tights/leggings that I pull out for the coldest weather. Tights as a category are just strangely warm! I have easily stood outside for 15 minutes or longer waiting for a bus or waiting out a fire drill in a skirt + normal tights + boots combo.


You may be saying, Why should I believe you that this is warm enough for me, given that you run hot? Fair. So I will say that in my experience, tights + boots is warmer than almost any kind of pants, including corduroy pants. Wool pants can be warmer than thinner tights, but they aren't warmer than the fleece-lined ones. And if you are committed to pants (or worse: jeans) and struggle with cold, you can absolutely wear tights under your pants!


Here's an example with normal tights + suede leather ankle boots and a just-below-the-knee corduroy skirt. I do reserve this skirt for the colder 6 months of the year.

Plus size winter outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 3/8/23

Here is an example with thicker tights + tall leather boots and a knee-length stretchy skirt. This skirt is one of the many 365-days-per-year skirts in my wardrobe.

Plus size winter outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 12/12/23

Tip 3: Wear Easy On/Off Layers


Whether the fluctuating temperatures you feel are due to internal or external factors, the struggle to keep warm but not too warm is real. For these situations, it's hard to beat easy on/off layers. I already mentioned the convenience of scarves that can be worn different ways and added/removed as needed. More obvious layering pieces like cardigans, jackets, etc., are also key players here.


In this example, I was expecting my cardigan to be on/off during the work day, so I made sure I was happy with the outfit both ways. I started with a top and skirt in similar shades of teal as my simple column of color base with a plaid scarf for interest. Then the long striped cardigan (and this one is a very snuggly option) can be added on the top. This outfit incorporates all 3 tips so far: scarf, tights + boots, and cardigan for layering.

Plus size winter outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 2/22/23

Tip 4: Wear a Quilted Vest/Puffer Vest for Indoor Layering


If you've been around my blog a while, you'll know that I am a big fan of the indoor quilted vest (for all the reasons listed at #6 here). You absolutely do not have to relegate these vests to outdoor wear only! If the quilted vest is too sporty/casual or too bulky for you, there are so many other vest options available, though not all of them will add warmth the way the quilted/puffer vest does.


In this outfit, I'm wearing the vest with a blouse and jeans for a pretty casual Friday/weekend look. Because the vest has no sleeves, the gorgeous print of the blouse is still featured nicely in the outfit rather than being covered up. It's a nice way to add warmth to the outfit formula of print blouse + jeans + scarf + loafers.

Plus size winter outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 12/2/23

Here's the same vest worn as part of a wintry "twin set" with a cowl neck top in the same color. I like how the silver zipper on the vest becomes a feature of the outfit, creating a mixed metals look with the gold necklace. Even if you aren't enamored of the modern twin set color formula, don't overlook the possibilities of including items traditionally considered "outdoor wear" in putting outfits together; in addition to quilted/puffer vests, think about your jackets and even lightweight coats that could do double duty for cold indoor spaces. Fall is a short (but beloved) season in much of the US, so wearing your lighter-weight fall outer wear as winter indoor wear makes a lot of sense from a cost-per-wear/sustainability perspective. It's another way to get more use of the things you already have.

Plus size winter outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 12/9/22

My long quilted vest in a pretty blush pink color works marvelously with slim-fitting pants and skirts, such as these skinny knit pants. This sweater is a bit heavy with a drop shoulder that is too bulky to wear under most jackets, but it's perfect with the sleeveless topper.

Plus size winter outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 1/30/21

A simple quilted vest in a neutral color can be a lot more versatile than you might think! I routinely wear mine as a layering piece over one of my favorite winter outfit formulas: Pullover sweater + skirt + scarf + tights + boots. This is a formula that can easily veer to the dressy side, so the vest works well to give the overall look a bit of a more casual vibe.

Plus size winter outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 1/8/20

Tip 4: Layer Under Your Sweaters


Wearing a layer underneath your sweater has two nice benefits: (1) it adds warmth and (2) as long as your underlayer has sleeves, it allows you to wear the sweater multiple times between washes. You can go with the traditional collared button up shirt or blouse, but a T-shirt is also a good option. You can wear a shirt with the intention of it being a visible element of your outfit or, as I did here, as an underlayer that doesn't show. I actually have a few tighter-fitting and shorter Ts (both short and long sleeved) that I keep exclusively for layering under sweaters because sometimes a top that fits well for normal wear is either too bulky/wrinkly or too long to work well as an underlayer. Of course, I only do this in situations where I know I won't be removing my sweater. In this outfit, the quilted vest functions as the easy on/off outer layer.

Plus size winter outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 12/15/23

Tip 5: Layer Over Dresses


Basically, a dress is just a skirt with a built-in top, so there's no reason not to layer over it (and/or under it, for that matter, depending on the style/fit). If you live in a climate with relatively short winters, buying a slew of dresses just for the cold seasons isn't necessarily a great option when you can layer with your fall and spring ones. When I see dresses layered for cold weather, the trusty cardigan seems to be the go-to, but you can do so much more. For the coldest part of winter, I love a sweater + quilted vest + warm scarf to top my dress (with tights + boots, of course). There is also much to be said for a comfortable blazer, such as a sweater blazer or the ponte knit blazer I'm wearing in this outfit.

Plus size winter outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 2/16/23

Here's a close up of the pashmina I'm wearing - isn't that a gorgeous shade of blue? I think all or almost all of my heavier scarf were purchased secondhand at a thrift store or ThredUp. My pashminas cost between $2 and $10. To wash before wearing, I simply soak them in Soak no-rinse liquid detergent and then let them air dry {not an affiliate link}.

Plus size winter outfit idea for women over 40

Thanks for joining me in sharing some of my tips for how I stay warm in winter, sartorial edition.


Next month's topic is What's in My Refrigerator...and thinking about this topic is making me hungry!


In the meantime, visit these lovely bloggers as they share their tips for staying warm in winter:


Bettye at Fashion Schlub


What are the winters like where you live? Do you have trouble staying warm indoors in the cold seasons? What do you do to stay warm (in terms of clothes or otherwise)?


Blogs I link up with are listed here.

29 Comments


Amazing Galaxy
Amazing Galaxy
Apr 02

Yes! Always interested in how people stay cozy in the winter. Can't wait to hear your tips besides the usual layering advice. Spill the tea on your favorite winter hacks!

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Esme Slabs
Esme Slabs
Jan 26

What a beautiful pashmina. Love it Thanks so much for participating and sharing at SSPS 294. See you again next week!

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
Jan 26
Replying to

Thanks, Esme! Sometimes a beautiful color is what we need on a winter day, and what better way to do it than with a lovely scarf.

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Rosemary
Jan 19

I find this so interesting, as to how we all dress differently for the climates in which we live. These facts are great to know, especially we travel extensively.

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
Jan 19
Replying to

Packing for travel in the winter is always tough for me, partly because winter clothes are so bulky! I'm glad you found this helpful.

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expatg
expatg
Jan 19

I love reading about how bloggers dress in different weather. The cord skirt, tights and ankle boots combination is one of my favorites for winter. Thermal tights are so cosy. I love your nonchalance about cold weather. You mentioned minus 8 as the current temp. If it was -8 in London you'd never hear the end of it. It was -3 this week and that's as low as it generally goes. I don't mind cold weather, I like layering up. Thanks for linking!

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
Jan 19
Replying to

Minnesota definitely teaches nonchalance about the cold! My town has our outdoor winter carnival from Jan 25-Feb 4, which is usually one of the coldest weeks in the year. Winter is great for those of us who like layering, though I wouldn't mind if we skipped the abominable cold period this year!

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Em at DustandDoghair
Em at DustandDoghair
Jan 18

Oh my goodness, you really keep it stylish in the cold!!! I am SOOO impressed by your many cute cold weather outfits! But then I got to your accessories!!! Holy moly...you really knock it out of the park with your choices. Very nice!!! I may have just underscored my position as the frump of the group with my slippers and sweatshirts post, haha.

I was just listening to the radio yesterday and someone was talking about your weather and "snow/cold days.". Your students are a sturdy bunch! -20degrees is the usual school closing threshold here for a cold day...snow days are a different animal.

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
Jan 18
Replying to

Thanks, Em! We all have our slippers and sweatshirts days...even me, I just don't tend to share them, haha.

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