Tips on how to stay warm in the North

Winter is coming. November 10th marked our first day of snow here in Eastern Canada. I’d love to show you a magical flurry filled city picture but it wasn’t the case this year. It was dark, rainy and extremely windy. Snow mixed with the rain became freezing rain pellets hitting my windows late at night.

As Canadians, you’d think we’d get used to it but each year, we surprise ourselves on how unprepared we can be. So I got a few tips for anyone who is thinking of hitting up Canada in the winter or is trying to get cozy for the real winter to come (I’m looking at you February).


Layers. Layers. Layers! Whether it be for tops or pants, it’s all the same ‘rule’.

Tops: Layer a thin breathable top underneath your sweaters if you have a tendency to get ‘itchy skin’. Avoid silk, cotton and moisture trapping fabric as they absorb the sweat and end up making you cold and uncomfortable. Choose moisture-wicking base layers, you can often find them at Costco, Uniqlo, Simons and any other store that stocks sports wear for winter. For sweaters, mixed materials with wools (alpaca, rabbit, regular wool etc) are fine in my opinion if you’re on a budget. If you can afford a bit more, merino wool sweaters is one of my favourite winter basics since it keeps me warm by pulling the moisture to dry into the air very easily. They are often on the thinner and lighter side so I don’t have to worry about stuffing myself into my winter coat.

Pants: I love jeans. All year round. However they’re not great when it comes to brutal cold winters as the wind cuts right through the fabric. If you’re adamant about wearing them like I do, always have a base thermal layer. I have my Paradox leggings from last year that I’ve bought at Costco, also available on Amazon CA. They’re mixed with 11% merino wool and are thin enough that you wouldn’t feel a difference in your jeans or pants, but they’ll make a difference when you have -30°C winds.

In my opinion, layers for pants aren’t necessary until it starts hitting -20°C, so you can stick with just layering tops and with a warm coat until then.


Outerwear: Generally, I don’t pull out a down jacket until it reaches below -10°C. So the famous Canada goose jackets you see on bloggers online aren’t used until it’s really cold. Here’s my temperature classification of outerwear:

× 10 to 0°C — Leather jackets, wool coats or thin puffers, single layers are still ok
× 0 to -10°C — Thick puffer or layer up with wool coat
× -10 to -OMG°C — Thick down coat with hoods, layers

I prefer down as it insulates really well but if you’re someone who is pro-animal rights, there are options with other brands such as North Face, Columbia who have made products with man-made materials only.

Last but not least…

Accessories: My must haves are gloves, wool socks, toque and scarves. Again I recommend the merino wool if you’re going to get gloves or socks. Particularly if you buy gloves, make sure the inner layer is either a wool layer or Thinsulate, otherwise you’re risking to have frostbite on your hands. Leather itself isn’t enough to keep you warm as it acts like skin so the cold seeps through. Neither are the cotton/polyester finger gloves that you get from the dollar store.

Toques and scarves can be to your own liking, I’ve tried a variety and never really felt that it made a huge difference other than in the thickness.

Boots: Unfortunately, you can’t always be cute when it’s extremely cold. I value my toes before my outdoor selfies. Waterproof waterproof waterproof!!! If your feet get soaked, guaranteed you will get cold, get a cold, and maybe frostbite if you stay long enough outdoors.  Also, make sure the outer soles have grooves to provide grip, nothing sucks more than having an unintentional concussion when you slip on black ice (invisible ice), or if you’re lucky,  you provide entertainment to all city folks as you “dance” your way down the street. Avoid boots with a flat sole at all costs. My brand recommendations are: Sorel, LL Bean, Cougar, Timberland, Kamik, North Face, Columbia.

Stay warm this winter lovelies! ⛄️

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