Have you ever searched “winter style inspiration” on Pinterest? I did, and I got photos like this and this. I mean, they’re amazing outfits… If you live in L.A. But wear those in Quebec, mid-February, and you won’t make it back from the grocery store.
Winter here is like a five-month long remake of Cast Away, Siberia edition. We all become versions of Tom Hanks trying to survive until the end of this very long movie. Snowstorm, ice storm, -13ºF, black ice, slush. Year after year. FOREVER. Can you tell I hate winter, haha?
But one thing is for sure. Those agonizing months go by much more smoothly when we’re dressed properly. The downside: functionality tends to take a serious toll on style. It’s like we have to choose between freezing but looking great or keeping warm but looking like an old sleeping bag.
What if I told you you could have both, warmth and cool winter style? I did a bit of research, flipped my closet upside down, and put together 3 real-winter outfits along with some styling tips to prove that it can be done. Ready?
1. Good Warm, Waterproof, and Anti-Slip Boots
There’s nothing revolutionary about this, I know. But they make a world of a difference in a country that (too) often feels like the North Pole.
Speaking of which: a couple of weeks ago, the How It’s Made fan in me had the chance to visit Anfibio’s boot factory in Montreal. Pina Passarelli, CEO, and Peter Cappello, business development and marketing director, walked me through every stage of their very artisanal process, from leather quality control to sewing the actual boots to glueing the outsoles. Even the metal punches, used as patterns to cut out the skins, are made in the basement by a seventy-something man and his apprentice.
A significant part of this know-how was passed down by Pina’s father, Vincenzo Passarelli. Born in Italy and a cobbler by the age of 9 (!), he moved to Canada and worked for Anfibio (formerly known as De Luca Shoes Inc.) his entire life, right when it opened in 1968. Then, in the 90s, he bought the company. Pina recently took over after his passing a couple of years ago.
What’s great about a Quebec company making winter boots locally is that they’re very aware of the climate they’re dealing with, leaving no detail to chance. Their Italian leather is pre-treated (meaning very little upkeep), seams are sealed, linings are either in genuine wool or shearling, and their anti-slip outsoles are made with thermo-rubber. So yeah, bring it winter.
FYI: Anfibio has a beautiful little boutique in Villeray with a pop-up space, an educational room dedicated to leather and knitted accessories made in collaboration with String Theory. Check it out, it’s super nice.
2. The Wonders of a Light Down Jacket
You know the one I’m talking about? The super thin one, often made with down, that you wear underneath your coat for extra warmth. Mine is from UNIQLO and honestly, it kind of changed my life. I wear it underneath my fall coats and it instantly makes them cold weather-ready. (And if ever you know of smaller-scale ethical brands making light down jackets, let me know in the comments! I’m curious and I’m sure many people are.)
3. Lay On the Layers
This trick is great because it’s serves both functionality and aesthetics. A turtleneck underneath a blouse, with a blazer on top. Or a shirt underneath a sweater, wrapped in a big cardigan. It’s a great way to mix different colours and textures together, hence serving your mission for great winter style, while protecting you from harsh cold winds.
4. Socks that Don’t Suck
Aaah, that infamous gap between the top of your boots and the hem of our pants! So many times I left it bare and vulnerable, not knowing what to do with it, much to the horror of my mom. But since last winter, I’ve adopted the what is known as the “socks are part of my outfit” technique. Just get yourself some nice socks, wear them either under or over your pants, and wave goodby to ankle cleavage-induced pneumonias.
5. Wool is Cool
Natural wool boasts amazing insulating properties! How? The crimped nature of the wool fibres creates thousands of little pockets of air, trapping in the cold and hence creating a powerful shield between your skin and freezing temperatures. Merino, cashmere, alpaca, whichever one you choose, you just can’t go wrong.
Do you have any tips on how to stay warm and still have great winter style? Share away in the comments :)
Joëlle Paquette is a sutainable fashion and clean beauty blogger and copywriter based in Montreal, Canada. After 10 years of working as a journalist for different media outlets, she now specializes in writing conscious content for brands built on strong environmentally and socially responsible values. She also pet a corgi once—a very special day she will never forget.
Follow her on Instagram to make sure you don’t miss out on anything @veryjoelle 🌼
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Great tips. Lovely photos.
Thanks so much :)