As many of you have been speculating about in my DMs for months, yes – I moved back to Minnesota!! My home state has been calling to me for a few years now, and after more than a decade in Los Angeles, I decided it was finally time to make the Twin Cities my new home. Starting now (well, technically I moved last week), I’ll permanently be two hours ahead of the rest of the C&C crew. The support I’ve received from the team has been incredible, and I’m tripping over myself with gratitude that I get to move across the country and keep a job I love. I’ve been prepping for this move behind the scenes for a few months, and seeing that I have apparently lost my mind and decided to move to one of the coldest places in the country in February, one of the most important things on my moving to-do list was reacquainting myself with appropriate winter attire.
After spending New Year’s Eve in Minneapolis, a surprise change in plans meant that I was stranded in Minnesota for almost an entire month with just a carry-on full of clothes. I’m being dramatic… but have you ever been to Minnesota in January????? The first day it hit sub-zero temperatures, I looked at my boyfriend with a deer-in-the-headlights expression and told him we needed to head to the mall, or I might never leave the house again. The following items comprise what I’m calling my “winter wardrobe survival kit”: a must-have list for anyone else out there who is moving to (or often visiting) a much colder place and wants to stay at least somewhat sane while there. Although many places are moving into spring weather already (one of my last days in LA was a glorious 80 degrees), it’s currently snowing as I type and brands are putting their winter clothing on sale, which makes it the perfect time to stock up.
The most important component of my winter wardrobe is my Fjallraven Singi parka. It was also the toughest decision I made, and the biggest investment (dollars-wise) in my winter survival kit. One thing I really excel at before making a big purchase is internet research, and I did a lot of it in December and early January before deciding Singi was the coat for me. My quality of life went up by approximately 1000% after acquiring this coat, so much so that I often gleefully ran outside when the temperatures went below zero to “test” it out some more (or was it mostly to make myself feel better about dropping $600 on a jacket? You decide!).
Before taking “the one” home with me, I tried on six options recommended by Outdoor Gear Lab. The Fjallraven Nuuk parka looked absolutely hysterical on me (bulky, unflattering, too large even in the smallest size available; the kind of thing that actually makes you laugh out loud when you look in the mirror), the REI Norseland parka had an absolutely awful hand-feel on the outer layer (although I later regretted not buying it before I went to Fjallraven, given the $199 price point and cozy fleece lining–it seems to go in and out of stock online quite often) and the Canada Goose Shelburne parka looked and felt amazing. But was I ever actually going to buy a $1,275 jacket? I was not.
After nixing the North Face Arctic parka (I probably should have bought the random one at REI that was my size and on sale for $150) and the Patagonia Down With It parka (warm but looked a little like a sleeping bag?), I bought the Rab Deep Cover parka online. When it arrived, it was undeniably too big, and I cursed the one online review that had led me astray with the sizing. My boyfriend then insisted we go to Fjallraven, where the #1 coat that had the highest score from Outdoor Gear Lab was from (I had tried on the Nuuk at REI) to see if they had anything similar. I decided that wasn’t a terrible idea, and I walked out with the Singi.
I could write an entire blog post (love letter?) about the Singi parka, but let me leave you with this: I asked the sales person to point me towards the warmest jacket in the store, and he immediately pointed to the Singi. Although the fit was a bit snug at first (I ended up staying true to size but considered sizing up), I did laps around the store for approximately an hour and then decided my search was over. I value function first and style second when it comes to surviving Minnesota winters, but with this parka I think I got the best of both worlds.
Kelly's Pick: Fjallraven Singi Down Jacket
When it came to finding a puffer jacket for slightly warmer temperatures and a bit more fun, I really only had eyes for Patagonia’s Silent Down jacket. I first tried it on in a Patagonia store in LA, fell in love, and then tracked down literally the only light blue one in my size available on the entire internet, and bought it on the spot. It has an impossibly soft hand feel that rivals petting a chinchilla and is so warm it makes me want to burrow deep inside it and never resurface.
Kelly's pick: Patagonia’s Silent Down Jacket
Y’all, I looked everywhere for Sorel boots and couldn’t find what I was looking for in a physical store. If I could have located them I probably would have ended up with the Caribou boots. However, I needed snow boots BAD, and couldn’t wait to buy some online. I happened upon an UGG store at the Mall of America, and walked out with the only size 8 of an extremely well-rated pair of deep winter boots. The real test came two weeks later on a trip up to the north shore: I traipsed around in almost two feet of fresh powder for almost an hour in these bad boys and my toes stayed warm and dry with just a regular pair of socks. Incredible.
Kelly's pick: UGG Adirondack III Boot
Other option: Sorel Caribou Winter Boots
My fingers spent several weeks in agony in December and January before these mittens arrived in the mail. I lived in Minnesota for 18 years before I left for warmer weather, and they are the most impressive mittens I have ever owned. Although these were the pair I kept finding in online reviews, the sherpa mittens are so soft and warm they make me want to nuzzle them, and are therefore the winner.
Kelly's pick: Carhartt Sherpa Insulated Mitt
Other option: Carhartt Quilts Insulated Glove
If you’re looking for a cheap beanie that’s very warm, while you’re at Carhartt buying the sherpa mittens, pick up a knit beanie for $16.99 while you’re at it. I bought light blue, which was probably silly because my other favorite winter hat is a kids-sized Powder Town beanie from Patagonia with a pom-pom on top, and it is also blue.
Kelly's pick: Patagonia Youth Powder Town Beanie
Other option: Carhartt Knit Cuffed Beanie
I told a friend that I bought fleece-lined leggings and her response was: “Do they even make those for adults?” Touché. But I regret nothing. Going outside when it’s -5˚ in my regular Lululemon Align leggings (which I wear year-round in LA) versus while wearing these is equivalent to the difference between a GREAT DANE and a CHIHUAHUA, okay? Make fun of me all you want, my legs are warmer than yours.
Kelly's pick: Plush Fleece Lined Leggings
Other option: All Access Pro Fleece Center Stage Legging
In a sudden lightbulb moment that occurred on a day the “feels like” temperature was -23˚, I bought wool leggings to wear underneath my jeans, and let me tell ya, it’s kind of a game changer. While my fleece-lined leggings are thick and meant to be worn on their own, these fit snugly under my jeans (even tight ones, somehow?) and I forget I’m wearing them. Except when I realize that I can still feel my legs, and then I remember and thank them for keeping me alive. I considered the Patagonia capilene leggings, but ultimately went with Smartwool’s Merino 250.
Kelly's pick: Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Bottoms
Other option: Patagonia Women's Capilene Midweight Bottoms
Yes, I bought a turtle to wear on days (like today, as I type this) that the wind is whipping in such a violent way I feel like I’m in the Wizard of Oz. I picked this one for the brand name, which is “turtle fur”, and at $16.95 with a name like that I think you need not shop any further.
Kelly's pick: Turtle Fur Original The Turtle's Neck Warmer
Other option: GAP Recycled Neckwarmer
A cozy fleece from Target is all you really need in LA, but in Minnesota, I wanted something with a little more performance. I love my Patagonia Synchilla fleece that I bought four years ago at the gigantic outlet store in Reno, but this year I became obsessed with the brand Cotopaxi and made my first purchase last fall: the Abrazo hooded full-zip fleece. I love that it’s made with recycled materials and works underneath my Singi parka on days I’m feeling like a Californian, or on its own when I’m inside working from home.
Now that my wardrobe has reached survival capabilities, I’m doing a lot of online shopping for other things to make winter weather a little more fun, and very much looking forward to spring ahead:
GANNI Recycled Rubber Rain Boots: Emily and Jess both love GANNI, but I have yet to take the plunge. I tried on these boots in a size too small at Nordstrom and decided that once the weather gets a liiiittle bit warmer (and wetter), I may need a replacement for the Hunter boots I’ve had since 2009…
The Great + Eddie Bauer The Plush Fleece Timber Jacket: I have never purchased anything from The Great, but I love the unexpected color combo in this fleece jacket. I also weirdly love the pockets on this longer fleece jacket, too?
Teca Calido Hooded Jacket: If you love color, get Cotopaxi in your life already!! This jacket is too light to wear in Minnesota right now, but if I still lived in LA, I would have snatched it already. The color is called “Video Tape” and I don’t even get it but I LOVE IT.
LAST Ella Boots: I’m a sucker for Scandinavian footwear (see: anything Swedish Hasbeens). I loved this brand’s Rocky boots that I bought last fall so much I’ve been plotting to buy another pair, and fell in love with these off-white lug sole boots.
Lisa Says Gah Lauda Cardi: My best friend is obsessed with checker print, and I think it’s finally rubbing off on me… help!
Fanm Mon x Harling Ross MUSCARI Handmade Beanie: Help me, can I pull this off??? This handmade floral beanie has been in my cart for over a week and I can’t make a decision. Please DM me if you have a strong opinion.
Target Women’s Sherpa Jacket: Every time I walk into a Target, I have to take a wide berth around the women’s clothing department, lest I be sucked (yet again) into all the delightfully fun winter wear. I’ve had this $40 colorful fleece in my cart a few times, but I can’t seem to make a decision on which color to buy…
Target Checked Raincoat: This any-season raincoat is only available in plus sizes, but it’s so cute I couldn’t not share! For $40, this is one of the cutest raincoats I’ve ever seen???
If you think we have similar style and there’s something really good that I’m missing, DM me! I’m looking forward to injecting a little cold weather style into this blog, and appreciate all the help I can get.