With the “bomb cyclone” of snow, ice, rain and strong winds wreaking havoc on the East Coast — and a few week’s worth of subzero temperatures already slamming the U.S. like an ice cold slap in the face — the essential winter wardrobe of snow boots, parkas, hats, gloves, scarves and all other cold-weather ephemera is here to stay.
Sure, for those who have the luxury of staying at home during a snowstorm, there is a whole industry of hygge-worthy apparel at the ready, from floral kimonos and silk-satin pajama sets to expensive Aspen-approved Southwestern-style knits and cozy-but-impractical furry slides and slippers. They’re all perfect for gazing out the window while holding a cup of gramworthy matcha.
But for those who must venture out into the snowy abyss, the provisions are less than thrilling. Each excursion is preceded by an intense exercise in layered dressing, requiring combinations that always feel like an unsolved equation: Socks over tights under pants. Base layer turtlenecks under sweaters. Thick socks over regular socks. Fleece zips under parkas. When all is said and done, there is either a patch or two of skin left exposed to wind and snow (which melts onto the skin in moments of pure agony) or the final look matches that of the kid from A Christmas Story, buoyant arms and all.
Is it possible to look chic in a blizzard? And is there any point trying? A look back at some of New York Fashion Week’s snowiest days shows a divided approach: Either pretend it’s not happening and pose for street style photographers in heels while shivering (and then find the nearest bathroom for a hand dryer) — or surrender to the practicality of clunky Sorel boots, thick parkas and a head bent down to the snowy, slushy sidewalks.
Chicness is not all lost in the storm, though. Consider how Jennifer Lopez does winter, with fur-lined everything (a massive hood being the key component, all achieved either with the real thing or faux versions), a chunky white turtleneck sweater, her favorite Timberland boots (sub in a Moncler, Sorel, Ugg or North Face waterproof version) and a good pair of sunglasses.
The key is to owning the look is taking a playing-dress-up approach: Make like Liz Taylor in après-ski Gstaad and throw on a ridiculously-oversized fur hat, or don a pair of Carhartt’s overalls (a cult-worthy item for farmers and ranchers and Brooklynites alike). Both options will make the look for playful and, at the very least, amuse fellow commuters, even the stoic, all-black-clad subway riders of New York.
But whatever you wear on top, one rule holds true: Wear a real snow boot.