This is our third travel fashion advice installment for those travelling in Europe, now in the winter season, which is upon us!
Are you touring Christmas Markets, drinking hot wine and counting down to the new year? Or maybe you’re skipping the craze of the Christmas holiday travelling and going in January-February, one of the coldest months of the year. Either way, we’ve travelled quite a bit in the winter, and we are doing it again this year! We’ve made mistakes and learned from them and now are sharing those fashion tips and outfit suggestions with you!
I love winter, but I HATE feeling cold. It’s uncomfortable, unpleasant, and usually leads to colds and sinus problems. So, if you’re like me, you love keeping warm and toasty as much as possible. But if you’re very much like me, you also want to manage to look stylish and cute in your travel photos. Let’s figure out how to do both, because the beauty of winter in Europe is that you don’t have to choose between stylish and warm!
So grab a hot cup of cocoa, a warm blanket, and stay tuned for wardrobe ideas AND a brand new packing travel list that is perfect for this winter season that you can download for FREE!
TIP # 1: Layers
I feel like this is a standard tip, I mention it often, but it also can be applied in different ways. Unless you are going to Sweden, Denmark, Iceland or Russia, you won’t need very heavy and bulky layers at all. In fact, thin layers, about 2-3 (depending how far north or south you are on the continent) is usually enough. Now, if you’re coming from a warm climate with mild winters (like us here in Egypt) you may need another layer as your body adjusts to the cold. Trust me.
Besides your underwear, the first layer should be thermals, and can consist of the following:
- long-sleeve synthetic thermal shirt
- thermal tights
- thermal stockings
A synthetic shirt is good to trap in heat, like a workout shirt, while cotton is good to collect moisture. If you sweat relatively easily (which in the winter is hard to avoid as you go in and out of building of varying temperatures) it is not a good idea to wear cotton as your first layer, because it will become damp. Depending on how cold it is, you can settle for just the long-sleeve synthetic shirt underneath your outfit, or you can double up with the cotton shirt on top and then your outfit.
When it comes to the bottoms, you can either wear a warm, thicker pair of black tights (because, let’s face it, they’re comfy, they’re versatile, they don’t get dirty fast and warmer than jeans) or if it’s colder than -12 degrees celsius, you can opt for a thin pair of tights or stockings, with a thicker pair over top.
Don’t forget socks are very crucial. Woolen socks are some of the best to keep you warm and not make your feet clammy.
This is your outfit layer, which could consist of:
- warm knitted sweaters
- thick hoodies
- light sweaters
We all know that strangely satisfying feeling of wearing a soft cozy sweater on a winter’s day. Beware of loose knit sweaters that may not provide the warmth you’re looking for, also try to get woolen sweaters, although I have some acrylic sweaters that keep me quite warm as well, such as the cream one above from Vera Moda.
The downside to sweaters is that they take up quite a bit of space, so pack sturdy ones of varying thickness if you are visiting multiple countries. You will see my suggested packing list below.
TIP #2 : Legwarmers
All I can say is, never underestimate the heating power of legwarmers. I travelled a great deal in France with a simple pair of black legwarmers, and every time my friend would start complaining about the cold, I would say “My legwarmers are keeping me warm!”. It greatly annoyed them!
This is a great way to not only keep warm but look stylish too, since legwarmers are also an accessory. I had a wonderful pair in Russia, but sadly I left one behind on the overnight train we took to Saint Petersburg, it was quite heart breaking. It may seem ridiculous to add, yet, another layer but legwarmers don’t just keep your legs warm, but help keep your feet warm. It doesn’t matter how warm the rest of your body is, once your feet are frozen, you feel very uncomfortable.
TIP #3: Good Outwear
Having grown up in Canada, I know how mild winter is in Europe, but it is a very humid type of cold, which gets into your very bones if you’re not dressed well. That’s why layers is so important in Europe, but a good jacket, hat, scarves, gloves and boots are play a role as well.
You won’t need a thick and heavy winter jacket for most of Western Europe, a simple woolen coat (provided you have the right amount of layers 2-3) will be fine. If you’re doing a fair bit of hiking and outdoorsy activities, then a light winter jacket would be a good idea, should it possibly rain, and to keep the moisture out. I’m allergic to down, but if you’re not and you like the combination of warmth and moisture repellant, then it’s a good choice as well. A jacket or coat should be two things above all else:
- Actually warm (so don’t get a really cheap thin jacket)
- Long enough to go past your waist (for goodness sake, cover up your bum cheeks! Your butt will thank you for it)
Be sure to bring (or buy) a good hat, preferably one that covers your ears. Scarves also do a great job of trapping the heat escaping from you neck and chest, and they can be quite stylish as the same time. Gloves don’t have to be particularly thick, although I do recommend mittens, which keep your hands warmer. I know for us who take a lot of photos, mitts can be quite impractical to operate a camera with, but maybe a pair of mitten-gloves can be the right thing for you.
I recently bought some woolen gloves that I’m pretty excited about!
Your feet matter! Do not forget that you will be on your feet a great deal, and you may have to deal with puddles, or possibly snow. So keeping your feet warm and dry should be a high priority. I personally love commando-style boots, because they are heavy-duty soles, they lace up so you can add layers of socks if need be, and they go up higher than ankle boots to provide just that much more coverage. High knee boots are also amazing. Not only are they stylish and classy, but they provide a great deal of coverage.
A major suggestion when buying your boots for your next winter adventure is to buy a size bigger than your actual size. That way you can throw on a pair of fluffy socks, and your feet won’t suffer. What happens a lot is that people buy these great boots but wear thick socks and then stuff their feet into the boots and later their feet are freezing and numb. It’s not necessarily from the cold but from poor circulation due to the boot being too tight.
TIP #4 Colour Coordinate
Lastly, because it is winter, you have a great excuse to wear a lot more black than normal (unless you’re the kind of person that always wear black). Because winter clothes are bulkier, chances are you won’t be able to pack a huge variety of outfits (tights, tights, tights) so choose your colours carefully. I find winter outfits to be easier to coordinate since I am usually wearing black or grey tights, which are neutral colors and go with everything.
Outfits will likely be easy to coordinate, its the outer layer that may take some planning. Scarves, gloves and hats should all match, and your boots should be neutral – so either black, brown, grey or beige – and your coat can either be a neutral color as well, or have a simple pattern or solid color. It can be tempting to buy a very unique-looking coat with interesting detail, and if you do then your accessories all have to be solid and a matching or complimentary color.
Whatever your style, ornate or simple, keeping the colors coordinated is key to making your outfit work!
I hope you feel all warm and toasty just thinking about the sweaters, legwarmers and scarves you will be wearing as you stroll down cobbled-streets! If you are not already, you can follow our winter break travels on Instagram at @wanderlustandheart and see where we will be for 3 weeks! We are hitting up 5 countries!
If YOU are planning a trip this winter, I have just the check-list for you! Download my Winter in Europe packing list, if you have downloaded my general packing list before, you will see it is similar, but customized for winter specifically and it looks so Christmasy!
In other news, I am working on my first travel-related book! I hope to publish a condensed e-version by spring. Can you take a guess what it might be about? Here’s a hint: it will focus on a specific city!
Are any of you lovelies travelling about this winter holiday? Where will you go? Last year we went to Vienna, Germany and Russia! If you are going to any of those countries, be sure to check out our tips and advice! Cheers to the holidays!