I still remember a conversation I had years ago on a Beacon Hill corner, when a shivering young woman asked, "How do you stand this cold?" She was from Alabama, here caring for a hospitalized family member.
Tip #1 Silk or Wicking Long Underwear
My quick answer was, "Silk Long Johns and layers of cashmere." When the traffic light changed and we parted ways, I realized just how true that quip was and what a difference those items have made in my cold weather walks.
Unless you are oblivious to the cold (like the guy in the photo above), you will likely feel the sudden change in temperature this week.
Silk, long underwear (or one of the wicking fabrics, if you are exercising) is a great first layer for a personal insulation system. Not only will it help when you're outside, but it also will allow you to drop your thermostat a few degrees at home.
It keeps you warm, but also breathes, so it's not uncomfortable when you're in a warm place. There are dozens of types with shorter lengths that work for dresses and skirts as well as slacks.
Tip #2 Cashmere
Gilda Radner once said, "I base my fashion taste on what doesn't itch." I like that thought and I like cashmere because it doesn't itch. What's more, layers of cashmere seem to keep me warmer than the bulk of other fabrics.
Years ago, I bought a cashmere, zippered cardigan for Ed. He raved about it as a warm layer. Looking for something like that for myself, I found a black cashmere hoodie. I've added to my cashmere collection over the years. Those sweaters are a treasured part of my winter defense. I wear hoodies over cashmere turtlenecks and zip or unzip it to suit my needs throughout the day. On a very cold day, I'll pull up the hoodie and put a hat over it.
Tip #3 Hats, Scarfs, and Gloves
I also had a warm hat on the day I spoke to the shivering woman. She didn't. I wear hats so often that one neighbor said he almost didn't recognize me without one. If my hat doesn't cover my ears, (here's a style that can) I wear a pair of 180s as well. (They even make 180s with headphones built in.)
My cashmere wardrobe continues with thin cashmere gloves that not only are perfect for these early season days, but also will fit under mittens when the weather becomes totally unreasonable. And my coat collar is held in place with a cashmere scarf that I can pull up over my face if needed.
Yes, cashmere can be expensive, but I shop sales and take care of the items I buy. What's more, I don't have the time or space to deal with a big wardrobe. I prefer having a few good, classic items to having the latest clothing fad.
Tip #4 Waterproof Boots
My choice for early morning walks is Merrell Waterproof Hiking Boots. You may have your own favorite brand that fits your feet and makes them happy.
Tip #5 Wool Socks
Inside those waterproof boots, I wear warm wool socks. My choice is 30 Below Thermal Winter Socks made of merino wool.
Tip #6 Handwarmers
See the well-dressed-for-the-cold gentleman with the dogs in the photo above? That's Dan, and he's a dogwalker in Boston. I interviewed him to get his best tips for walking dogs in the cold.
Tip #7 Walking Stick
While the stick won't keep you warm in and of itself, it may help you stay upright, dry, and moving at a better pace – and that will keep you warmer. Here's a post we did on that topic, Do You Use a Walking Stick in Boston When It's Icy?
Naturally, you can use what you already have to layer and choose warm footwear to keep from taking a cold fall. If we missed your favorite tip, add it in the comments below.
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Words: Penny Cherubino
Photography: © 2008 - 2016 Penny Cherubino