I wrote a bit about this before, but it’s about time I gave everyone some tips and tricks for surviving the cold. I’ve lived here for two and a half months, with the last two weeks as really cold days, so obviously I’m an expert in this.

Get out your pens and papers (or whatever kids take notes on nowadays), there may be a quiz on this later.

Dressing to go outside

Look, I’m not fancy. I don’t own a car. Mainly, I get around on my two feet or by bus/train. This means dressing to be outside, so here’s what you gotta do when you’ll be outside and it’s below -15 degrees (C) with a windchill of why the hell did you leave your house today.

It’s all about layers. Thin layers, but layers nonetheless. And to avoid looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man you have to make your layers count.

Layer One: Here’s where you put on your fleece or performance leggings. I got these bad boys at Costco a few years ago and they barely got any use in Vancouver. Sometimes I’ll switch it up (ahem, this basically means when I need to do laundry) and put on fleece lined tights that I got from Walmart. The first layer on top is a simple soft long sleeved top from Old Navy. This is simply because long sleeves are warm and the fabric feels nice against your skin.

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Layer Two: These are the ultimate in attractive clothing. You will never in your life look more attractive in anything you wear, and I’m sorry if the following photo is too much for you to take. I apologize that I made you feel inadequate right before Christmas, I’m an asshole.

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I’m 99% sure these are pyjamas, I bought them from the clearance PJ section of Joe Fresh last winter because I love a onsie/playsuit/jumpsuit/romper. Clothing where I don’t have to search for matching shirts and pants/shorts are the best. I bought this because I can’t resist a onsie, especially when it’s on sale and I am so glad I made this purchase. It is the perfect second layer, it’s thermal and warm and has a butt flap. Yes, you don’t even need to undress and freeze yourself (but why would you since you have a layer underneath?!?) to pee. But if I’m being real, you still do because trying to use the flap while you’re wearing three layers is a pain.

Layer Three: This is the layer that would be your clothes, the stuff you want people to see. Jeans are an option, but I find they don’t look as good when you have two more layers underneath. Here I’m wearing these thick leggings from Old Navy that I love (I bought new black ones this year and a print that you can find here, they’re perfect even if you’re not layering since they’re warmer and thicker than regular leggings so they kinda look like dress pants instead of leggings… also super comfortable).

I matched it with a warm Christmas sweater because once December hits I will wear a Christmas sweater whenever possible.

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Outer Layer: Now’s the time to put on your outer clothes.

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First off, not outer but important, put on your socks. I have two pairs on, the first pair is a thin dress sock and then wool socks over them. Shout out to my mom for this tip when I was complaining that wool socks were causing blisters. Another shout out to Dave for introducing me to Second Skin, which I was able to put on over my old blister to avoid aggravating it and wear my boots again. Oh yeah, my boots were back on and back in business.

No new blisters came today, but I did bruise my left shin (my right shin was bruised last time) and now I will once again warn you about the utter attractiveness you’re about to be hit with as a result of this next photo.

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That was a mere few hours later, I’m excited to see what colours this bruise is going to morph into. I will not apologize for the leg stubble, I did not shave my legs this week because leg hair keeps you warm. I regret shaving my legs last week.

Your outer wear should also consist of a parka, insulated and down filled is the way to go. Notice that there is no scarf here. I love a scarf, they’re the best. But not for this kind of cold. Wool scarves will freeze as soon as you go outside and cause your face to get colder. You’re better off skipping the scarf, pulling up the hood and zipping your jacket up all the way.

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You’ll also need a pair of gloves, which mine aren’t pictured here because I needed a hand free to take the photo. Get yourself a pair of tech gloves so you can still use your phone/device to text, listen to music, snapchat, etc.

As for the music, put your headphones in the jacket because frozen cords are the worst. The one thing I don’t like about this jacket is there’s no way to feed your headphone cord through the jacket so it stays warm in your jacket. Instead, I zip it in and feed it through the bottom of the jacket.

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On top, you got your toque. Two important things you should know about toques:

  1. They are toques. Not beanies or winter hats. Toques.
  2. You need the pom pom. This is a non-negotiable.

I made the one above using the Hudson Bay Lion Brand Quick and Thick yarn (shout out to Andrea for telling me about the Hudson Bay blend).

Once you get outside, walk fast. It keeps you warm. And if you’re waiting for a bus, check what time it’s coming via whatever app your bus company provides you and try to time when you leave the house with when the bus comes so you don’t wait outside. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can walk to stops ahead to keep warm if you arrive at your stop too early (one last shout out in this blog post to bus drivers in Edmonton who stop when they see people walking towards a bus stop and wait to see if you’re wanting to get on, I never saw Vancouver bus drivers do this).

Dressing for indoors

So now that you know how to leave the house in the cold, what about in the house? Well, you can crank the heat, but that’s not fair to the person you live with who is climatized and doesn’t want to live in/pay for a sauna.

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As you can see, this is when the scarf comes into play. You can’t see from that picture but I have a neck heating pad on under that. Plus I’m sitting under a blanket, wearing a long-sleeved shirt and a sweatshirt and sweatpants.

Heating pads are the best, at any given time I have two to three of them on my body. I sleep with one. They’re the key to survival.

And finally, what about when you sleep? Myself, I need to be warm and I love lots of covers. I also love to have the window open a crack but that sure as hell isn’t happening right now. But I refuse to not sleep in a tank top, I hate having sleeves on. Since I use a lot of blankets (and a heating pad), I like that I can throw my arms out from under the blankets to cool down.

My current sleep situation is this: fleece sheets, a comforter, a quilted blanket and then a second comforter that is pulled up and pushed down throughout the night depending on how warm it gets. The heating pad is on low and turns off after two hours. Flannel pj pants and a tank top. Follow this and I promise you you’ll get a great night’s sleep.

Fun fact: did you know memory foam turns hard as a rock when it gets cold? It does, so I get to have it re-contour to my body every night. This may sound bad, but it’s actually the best.

Well, I hope this helps keep you warm this winter. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’ll actually get me through the next six months of this Edmonton winter.

Have any tips or tricks? Share them in the comments! 

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