Prev Next

What to Pack: Cold Weather

By Amalah

Dearest Wise and Wonderful Amalah,
I am writing to you in desperation from the other side of the world – Sydney, Australia to be exact.
On January 1st 2008 (as in less than month away) I am traveling to Atlantic City, and will be there for about 6 weeks. My reason for writing to you is that I have no idea what to pack – apart from very warm jackets! I have not traveled to the US in winter before, and I have received a lot of conflicting advice friends who have. Do you or your readers have some advice you could impart to a poor little antipodean traveler on what the basics are that I will need?!
The main problem seems to be what to take for below the waist. Some friends say jeans, others have warned of the dire consequences of wearing said denim (having them get wet and freeze on to your legs thus scarring them forever??), other again say skirts and thermal tights are best of all. Then there is the issue of footwear – what do I need to take for getting around? I have been told everything from waterproof snow boots to hiking boots to sneakers to gumboots and beyond.
Sigh.
At the moment, I am sitting typing in a light cotton dress, with flip flops and I am still hot (typical Sydney Christmas weather), so trying to shift my mind into cooler climate packing is proving too much!! I also know that I will shop when I arrive, but I will need some things to get me through the first little while.
If you could help, I would be so very, very grateful!
Merry Christmas to you and all your readers,
Cold Climate Clueless

Okay, so. While Atlantic City is indeed much colder than what you’re used to, it is also not Siberia. You may, in fact, not see any snow at all. Or you might, and on those days? You stay inside, mostly. If it’s actual, squalling blizzard-type weather, stuff gets shut down or delayed until the sidewalks and streets are clear.
So basically, jeans. Everybody wears jeans everywhere. Skirts and tights are totally fine (although I haven’t owned a pair of thermal tights since I was seven years old, but they might not be a bad idea for the first days while your body adjusts to the colder temps). But the thing with skirts? In a place like Atlantic City? Where you are going to see a lot of bad, bad fashion and sequined velour tracksuits? Unless you have an actual reason to get dressed up (like for work or a nice dinner out) you’re better off in jeans or pants.
Your friends with the dire warnings of denim freezing to your legs? Seriously? Again, you’re going to Jersey, not scaling Mount Everest. Unless you are out making snow angels and wading through snow drifts for hours on end and then like, drying your pants off in front of the air conditioner while you’re still wearing them, that’s not going to happen. If your jeans are on the long side and it’s wet outside, cuff them or tuck them into your boots.
chooka%20welly.jpgAnd yes. Boots. A very good idea, but I wouldn’t bother buying expensive waterproof snow boots unless you know for a fact that there’s a big snowstorm in the forecast and you will have to be out in it. A pair of rubber wellies will work just fine most of the time. (Added bonus: they are super cute these days.) You can tuck your pant hems into them in case of giant roving leg-eating puddles, and then toss your heels or whatever cute shoes you’d rather wear into your bag, along with an extra pair of socks in case of disaster. (Honestly, wet socks are much higher on the likelihood scale than frozen jeans.) (Yes, that warning is still bugging me. Seriously, so not going to happen this side of civilization. Your pants get that wet, you GO HOME AND CHANGE THEM.)
So we have jeans, wellies, plenty of socks (knee socks are a good way to sneak an extra layer of warmth under your pants)…what else? If you’re wearing skirts or a dress, knee-high leather dress boots are also an East coast staple. On regular non-rainy, non-snowy days (and I promise you we DO have them over here), you can wear whatever kind of shoe you feel like. Except, you know, flip-flops. But sneakers, pumps, loafers, cute little heeled ankle boots — whatever.
You’ll need a scarf. You wear a long skinny knitted one for casual wear; a pashmina or cashmere wrap-type one for dressing up. And here’s how to wear a pashmina. (Uh, the “noose wrap” part. Please don’t wear your pashmina around your hips. Ew.)
You’ll need gloves. Again, I wear funky colorful knitted ones when I’m going casual (I have this AWESOME pair of mittens that actually flip open to become fingerless and thumbless gloves, which are great for when you actually need to DO anything with your hands and don’t want to yank your gloves completely off), and then I wear leather ones (lined with Thinsulate or wool or something similar) when I’m dressed up. The whole casual/dressy thing? Totally just depends on your coat and whether you’re wearing a ski jacket/parka or a wool dress coat. Oh! And you can alway layer on a thin zip-up fleece under your coat. We are ALL about the layering over here, since otherwise you get inside where the central heat is blasting and you’re sweltering in your gigantic wool sweater.
Oh, and then there’s a hat. A hat I can’t really help you with because I only wear hats when I’m, like, skiing. (HA! I don’t ski.) I just don’t bother with them, no matter how cold it gets. If it IS super cold and I need to be out in it for longer than say, the time it takes to walk a few city blocks, I prefer earmuffs since they don’t ruin my hair.
And now I’ll turn this over to the peanut gallery. Readers? What other cold-weather essentials does she need? What are your winter fashion dos and don’ts?

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

icon icon
chat bubble icon

Comments

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Amy also
Guest
Amy also

Definitely bring or buy a hat! I have a sort of knit wool beret-shaped hat that is super toasty warm and doesn’t ruin my hair (I have straight, fine hair, which almost all hats crush flat, but this style doesn’t). If it is cold out, you will be much much much more comfy with a warm hat on your head. Plus Atlantic City is on the ocean, so: windy.

KatieMick
Guest
KatieMick

I cannot recommend bringing tights along more highly. Bring at least three or four pairs of black (and maybe a pair of brown) opaque tights, or, better yet to save on packing room, pick them up here (they’re pretty cheap) and then toss them when you leave. They will work under skirts AND, more importantly for cold days, serve as a great extra layer under pants. Once the temps go below 40 degrees Farenheit here, I wear tights every day. And, if you get ones that have a control top or a shaper (if you need that, and basically who… Read more »

BridehoodRevisited
Guest

I live about an hour from Atlantic City in Philadelphia. Your friend is full of crap about the freezing jeans thing. If it’s that cold you would have gone into shock with hypothermia. That might be something I’d if you were heading towards areas in Canada. Trust me, you’ll be okay. You’ll be just fine in jeans and cotton pants with a few sweaters and long sleeve shirts. You’ll also be fine in skirts with tights. Since you’re only going to be here for a few weeks, I’d only buy things that can be double duty, like plain wool black… Read more »

BaltimoreGal
Guest
BaltimoreGal

I just want to thank you, Amalah, for the Giant Sweater link. I almost died when it was on the first time!! That is me every time I wear either a sweater or a turtleneck in the wintertime.

Isabel
Guest

I love this topic! Mostly because I’m out in the cold a lot. I love tights and knee highs. Sometimes I wear both under my sassy boots. And I ALWAYS wear a scarf. There are so many cute options out there right now. (Gap striped scarves, I’m talking to you!) I also love knitted hats. But yes, they do mess up the hair. I usually only wear them when it’s pouring down rain and the “hat hair” look is better then the “wet hair” look. Or when I’m done with the day and know I won’t need good hair. And… Read more »

Francie
Guest
Francie

I also live near Atlantic City and it’s not that cold – it may get down to 30 at the coldest (Fahrenheit, that is). Clothing-wise, anything goes – you’ll see a lot of velour sweatsuits and other pajamas-in-public-looking clothing. Also, AC isn’t a stroll-around-town kind of place – you’ll spend most of your time indoors. The most time you spend outside will probably be walking between casinos or walking between stores at the outlets. Have fun!

Meghan
Guest

I’m in Chicago, not Atlantic City, but it’s currently 25F outside, so if the temps will be in the 30’sF in AC then what I do will probably work well for you too. I have to wear scrubs to work every day, and while my nice winter coat is keeping my upper half toasty the bottom half has nothing but a very thin piece of cotton for protection. Enter my two favorite items: Smartwool socks and Keen footwear. The SmartWool Stripeuccino socks are my favorite, I pull them up high and they keep my legs nice and warm. I never… Read more »

heels
Guest

For boots: Do you already own Blundstones? Those with wool or Polartec socks will do your feet just fine. Not fancy, but they’re dry and comfy.

TasterSpoon
Guest

I’m a big fan of packing thin (silk or synth) long underwear, no matter where I travel. Because it’s thin, it’s unnoticeable under most of your ordinary clothes, but you’re that much warmer, and it scrunches up in your suitcase into almost nothing. Actually even if I’m going somewhere warm I bring a layer in my carry-on, it’s that convenient. I think it’s an American brand, but I favor Cuddl Duds, some of which have a nice camisole-looking chest part so it’s even okay if they peek out a little. http://www.cuddlduds.com/warmunderwear/ Hmm, the outlet store there doesn’t have the cute… Read more »

Anne Glamore
Guest

I LOVE my wellies and as Amy said, they are great whether it’s rainy or icy or snowy.
Call me nutty, but I went out on a fashion limb and bought white ones because everything else I buy is black black black and I wipe them with 409 when they get gnarly from street gunk and set off again.
I add wool socks when it’s cold.

qwyneth
Guest

I’m in Baltimore, which is just a tad south of AC. Yeah, your friend is crazy with the jeans thing. If you’re planning on going skiing, I would plan something other than jeans or pick up some watertight snow pants. Otherwise, jeans should be more than sufficient. I loathe tights and never wear them, but they’ll certainly add a toasty layer of warmth under pants and skirts. Silk long underwear will also do that, as will , though that’s possibly more than you’ll need. Honestly, layering under your clothing is probably more than you’ll need unless you plan on being… Read more »

erin
Guest
erin

I definitely agree with most of what everyone has said. Tights and knee-highs will definitely serve you well – I wear them under my pants, too, on really cold days, especially in my cold office building! I think you’ll use them a lot, especially as you’ll take some time to adjust to the cold. Same deal with light long sleeved shirts (t-shirts) – I layer them under sweaters. I agree with Amalah, a light fleece layer would be great also under your coat. Also, Atlantic City WILL be windy, especially if you’re near the ocean/boardwalk/casino areas at all, so you’ll… Read more »