How to Do Business Casual in Cold Weather

How to Do Business Casual in Cold Weather | Corporette2017 Update: We still stand by this advice for how to do business casual in cold weather — but you may also want to check out our more recent discussion on how to dress professionally for the coldest days. (You may ALSO want to check out our Ultimate Guide to Business Casual for Women!)

What are the best strategies for staying warm during a wintry commute while still looking professional when you get to work? How can you look stylish and professional in the winter? Reader M has a question about how to do business casual in cold weather:

I’m graduating this year and moving somewhere cold, and I have no clue how to dress business/business casual in the winter. (I have tons of dresses and cardigans and skirt suits from my summers, but rarely any winter clothes.) Specially, I’m wondering — what kind of coat should I buy? What kind of shoes/boots should I wear under work pants? What do I wear to walk to work in the snow/rain? I know this is pretty basic question, but I’d love a post on this topic!

Great questions, M — business casual in cold weather can be tricky! Some thoughts for you:

Professional Coats to Keep You Warm in Cold Weather

Although puffer coats have come a long way, I still think the most professional outerwear is a knee-length wool blend coat. It looks good with skirts and dresses because of its length, and the “wool blend” aspect is important because a 100%-wool coat can be really itchy. (I’ve always preferred a wool/cashmere blend.) I would vote for practical features such as pockets and a buttoned neckline (as opposed to some of the deep-V coats we’ve seen recently). As far as fit, make sure you can wear a thick sweater or a blazer beneath the coat — this may mean sizing up a bit.

Cold Weather Boots for Work Outfits

This depends heavily on where you live and what kind of circumstances you expect to encounter on a) your commute and b) your quest for lunch. If you’re in tundra-like conditions you may just want to get a pair of proper snow boots to commute in (we’ve even talked about packable snow boots for interviews!) For NYC winters I’ve always felt that you can usually find a fairly clear path on the sidewalk if you have a short commute, and have always thought heeled boots or booties were the best. If you think you’ll encounter a bunch of snow or slush I’d recommend wearing a skirt (perhaps with fleece tights) so you can avoid getting your pant hems wet. If you’re worried about encountering ice, definitely go with flat shoes with a good grip (unless you’re a total pro in heels).

Commuting to Work in Bad Weather

I mentioned this above, but I’ve always found a heeled boot or bootie the best for commuting, albeit with a relatively low heel (1.5-2.5″) if you’ll be walking a ton. Some people prefer wedges for commuting, and depending on conditions you may want to look for waterproofed shoes such as La Canadienne or Aquatalia. (I’ve always had pretty good luck with waterproofing spray, but I wasn’t exactly jumping in puddles.)

Ladies, what are your thoughts on staying professional on your commute?What would you advise Reader M? 

Pictured: [no title], originally uploaded to Flickr by Nathan Congleton



N.B. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course we highly value all comments by our readers, we’re going to ask you to please keep your comments on topic; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. Thank you for your understanding!

How to Do Business Casual in Cold Weather


  1. I think this is overly conservative advice (unless you’re on the way to a Big Meeting, in which case yes, choose the most professional outerwear that’s reasonable for the weather).

    If you’ll be somewhere known for nasty winters, puffer coats, sturdy snow boots, and obvious “dressing for warmth” are fine for a walking commute. Even in Philly (occasional snowstorms but prone to more of a slushy mess than long-lasting snow mountains), I see a mix of puffers and the type of wool/cashmere blends that [email protected] mentions. I personally find rain boots more useful than snow boots because my biggest hazard isn’t typically ice – it’s icy puddles of unknown depth at the corner. I have never seen anyone wearing rain or snow boots/booties that have a wedge or heel!

    In any event, plan to either store at the office, or carry with you, your regular business casual footwear. Tuck your pants into tall boots on messy days so they stay dry. Scarves and hats make a huge difference in warmth, and pick up a pair of touchscreen-friendly gloves so you don’t have to freeze your fingers to check messages on the way.

    • Anon Worker Bee :

      I agree. I have worked in downtown Chicago for a couple of winters and I see a lot more long puffer coats than wool coats.

    • Killer Kitten Heels :

      +1. When I lived/worked in northeastern cities, puffer coats and snow boots were pretty much standard everywhere (except maaaaaaybe if you were going to a serious client meeting or an appellate argument or something similarly serious).

    • Anon in MA :

      Rain boots aren’t helpful if its cold. You will be frozen. Even if you add a lining, at which point you might as well just buy waterproof snow boots because that’s why they exist.

      • I do wear my fleece liners with my Hunters once it gets below 40, so point taken — however, this combo enables me to avoid purchasing snow-specific boots in addition to my rain boots.

    • +1. I wear a black puffer coat on the sleeker style (widely available these days), and have 3 levels of winter boot (cute wedges with shearling if it is just cold, a more commuting ugg-ish super-cozy boot when it is really cold and I knew it was just going into and out of the office, and a full on waterproof winter boot when it is wet, snowing, slushy). Waterproof boots are the best advice, because as Cat says above, it’s those icy puddles of unknown depth that just kill you. I can trudge through anything in mine, which is the most helpful thing in winter. When I get to the office I just peel off the coat/earmuffs/scarf, etc., and change shoes. Poof, ready for work.

      Also – when it was really cold I’d just wear leggings under dresses/skirts. Forget tights. No one blinked an eye (since I wasn’t wearing them as pants).

      • Also, just in the realm of interviewing or arriving at big meetings or whatever in terrible weather – I had an interview last year during one of the worst blizzards in NYC. I still showed up completely bundled up, and just showed up a few minutes early to change and leave my big coat and boots with the receptionist. My feeling is, if it’s that important to them that I show up in heels and an elegant coat when its in the negative temperatures and most of NYC has a snow day, then that’s not a person I want to be working for anyway.

  2. lost academic :

    Like Reader M, I recently relocated to a city with Winter. I need a professional wool blend coat that’s ACTUALLY long enough for me in the arms – not all talls have sufficiently long arms, though some do. Please, Hive – recommendations? I would prefer it be black and button high as Kat recommended.

    • Lands End

      • lost academic :

        I was leaning this way, but would want to replace the buttons with something black. At least I could do that myself…

        • I’ve actually had pretty good luck with Banana Republic coats (in the past). They have some limited Tall options, but one of them should probably be in black.

          But yes, if the buttons are the only thing holding you back, that it a pretty easy fix.

    • JCrew Lady Day. Size up. It runs one size small.

      • lost academic :

        Those don’t come in black for the tall people (they look great though!)

    • JCrew! I’m 5’11” with pretty long arms and I can actually get away with a regular instead of a tall. It’s been a while but I totally struck out at department stores when I was first looking. The sleeves were so short! Then try Banana, Landsend, Eddie Bauer. They all offer talls.

    • I second the J.Crew tall coats. Make sure to pick one with the Thinsulate lining, as that is a gamechanger and size up as MJ mentioned.

    • A wool cost like the j crew lady day usually has enough fabric to let the sleeves down…even if the tailor has to face the lining. I’ve had this done with many wool coats and Blazers.

  3. Etsy Shopper :

    Reader M, you’re overthinking this. What would you wear if you were walking in the snow/rain/slush if you *weren’t* going to work? Just wear that and switch your footwear at the office.

    • Anon in MA :

      YES! How is this a question? I’m wearing my knee length puffer coat because.its.warm. I wore a wool coat for years, then puffer coats came back in stylish ways that don’t look like the marshmallow man, and I wear one. because its cold. Because that’s why it exists. Because everyone else wears one. Because when its truly cold, I’m wearing a hat, scarf, gloves, hood, and you can only really see my eyes, and no one is judging me on the street for wanting to stay warm.

      Is it professional to wrap a scarf around my mouth so I don’t die of exposure? Is it professional to wear a hood and cover my head?

      • Hahahaha, is it professional to die of hypothermia? What kind of lipstick goes best with blue, chattering lips?

    • Yes. Shoot, I wear my shin-length puffer coat AT MY DESK, because it’s effing freezing in my office. I wore leg warmers while I had a partial outdoor commute. It’s winter, people get that you need to be dressed appropriately for winter. I really don’t think this should take that much thought or anxiety.

    • This is a question because when you have never walked through snow for anything other than an occasional vacation and have no concept of how winter-wear works, it is really hard to know what to buy. I didn’t read this question so much as a “is this professional” as a “what should I buy that will work for work and life.”

  4. Anon in MA :

    OMG seriously? Are snow boots professional? Is a thermos professional? What if it has my college logo?

    When its cold, WEAR WINTER ATTIRE! Wear snow boots. Tuck your pants into your boots. Bring your shoes in your bag. Change at the office. Be a normal person and dress for the weather.

    Tights and skirts in snow? I’m in Boston. It was low 40s yesterday, I was wearing a skirt and tights, and I was cold. LOW 40s. There’s absolutely no way I’m wearing a skirt and tights with snow on the ground or below 0 wind chill. Insane. I’m wearing pants and long underwear underneath.

    • Yes, you are smart, but many new women entereing the business market simpley do NOT know the answer’s to these questions, and that is why we are here! We ladies have the benefit of both haveing gone through professional schooleing, and then in the working world where we learn by out mistake’s. So now that we are older and wizer, it is up to us to counsel the young women just comeing up.

      As for the substance of this p’ost, I think you have to stay warm and dry at all costs. If you are sick, your cleint’s will NOT appreciate your blowing your nose and snotting all over the place all b/c you came dressed fashionably rather then warmly. For this, I recomend staying warm from the ground up with either LLBEAN boot’s or Timberland boot’s with tread that limit you slipping on ice or poopie. As far as your leg’s go, if you can get away with it, I recommend warm legging’s (that you can take off once you get to work) coupleed with a cashemere sweater that is BOTH warm and fashionabel. Again, if you can, get a down vest that you can use as a layer and take off when you get to work. Finally, to stay warm, I recommend a nice wool coat from Lord and Taylor, but easily substitatel (if your manageing partner says it’s OK) with a 90% down lined coat (3/4 length FROM patagonia). Try and stay away from labels like the NOrth Face b/c it is NOT profesional to advertise their label (unless you are representing them).

      My manageing partner is very supportive of me wearing whatever I need to stay warm b/c he let’s me change when I get to the office. His onley weakness is that he does NOT want me wearing pants suit’s b/c they do NOT look good on me (tuchus is to big, he says).

      So all the best to you as you negotiate your first winter as a new young legal profesional ! YAY!!!!!!

    • Meh, I live in a city that’s significantly colder than Boston and I wear skirts pretty regularly through the winter. Wool and/or fleece tights with high boots do the trick, as long as the high is going to be above freezing. It’s much easier than dealing with slush and pants.

      I do wear a puffy coat, though (well, Patagonia Tres – so sleeker outside, but all puff on the inside).

    • TO Lawyer :

      I live in Toronto which gets really cold in January and February (or at least has over the last 2 years) and I exclusively wear skirts and dresses in the winter. I wear tights normally and when it gets really cold, I wear two pairs of tights which does a great job of keeping me warm. That and knee high boots.

      I usually wear a heavier wool coat until it starts getting frigid and then I wear a sleek puffer jacket.

    • I’m also in Boston and I wore dresses/skirts and tights through last year’s ‘historically snowy’ winter. Plenty of people did – they are simply acclimated to the weather here. If you’re cold, bundle up – but it doesn’t mean everyone else is cold and/or crazy without the extra layers.

      Once it’s around 20-25 out, I wear Hunters or Uggs during my commute – but flats are still fine for now. I thought it was nice out yesterday and just wore my suit jacket when I went out to pick up lunch.

  5. lucy stone :

    I have lived in the upper Midwest all my life. I currently work one block from a Great Lake and went to law school in Minnesnowta. Wear your puffy coat, wear your big pack boots, wear a hat and scarf and gloves – it’s fine! Everybody looks like the Michelin man walking into the office, and then we take off our layers and put on regular shoes.

  6. MABlizzardVeteran :

    I highly recommend J. Crew #2 pencil skirts in double serge wool :

    They are very warm, a professional length and cut, easy to wear. The added bonus is that they come in a variety of fabulous colors. Wear them with fleece-lined tights and boots (and yes, a long puffer coat to combat crazy-cold days)

    • Anonymous :

      I second this recommendation. I have two of them, and they’re well made and stylish.

      How do you wash them, though? I tend to get things dirty far more often than I’d like to dry clean, and with my other wool skirts, I wash them in cold water in a lingerie bag on the gentle cycle and then lay flat to dry. Is that a bad idea with this heavier wool?

      • Wouldn’t recommend it, anonymous! I tried that with an older double-serge wool skirt from J.Crew and it was never the same. Even though I have had decent luck cold-hand-washing other dryclean-only items (even wool), that was one that did not work out. It shrunk only a bit, but the fabric puckered enough that it didn’t lay flat or look polished anymore.

        I expect you could spot-clean very selectively and carefully with water. But I would stick with Dryel or something similar.

  7. I was in Maine in the winter and I saw a guy argue a key motion in federal court wearing mid-calf LL Bean snow boots with his suit. He won.

    Also, I think there are a lot of “puffer” coats now that are tailored and stylish and if it’s cold enough for it you should just get one of those in a solid dark color and you will be FINE. Same with wearing regular snow boots and changing when you get inside. ESPECIALLY if the standard is “business casual.”

    • Were his slacks tucked into his boots or out of his boots?

      If you wish to wear heeled boots, a wool coat, and a skirt to work in Canada in the winter (like some of my Torontoian friends claim to do above), of course feel free, but I would wind up in the morgue if I pulled that stunt here in Ottawa due to hypothermia. In my law environment, we wear puffer coats and practical boots on our snowy commutes to work, and then change inside to appropriate shoes and lighter blazers once indoors. (I will say, I have never seen an LL Bean mid-calf boot in court, most women here carry appropriate shoes for court appearances in their tote bags, and change their shoes in the lounge accordingly before appearing). Still, in my experience, no one would dream of commenting on a student wearing an appropriate coat for -22C weather conditions on her walk to work. Wear your coat my dear, and don’t freeze!

  8. Can we just examine the premise of the question? Why does one need to look professional while commuting? The commute is personal time, not professional time. I can see if you’re going directly to a client meeting or to court or something. But if you can hang your coat and change your shoes within minutes of arriving at work, what you wear while commuting is all about what is practical and comfortable for the conditions.
    Now, if you want to be *stylish* while commuting, that’s a valid question that might not involve moon boots and puffer coats, but if you care about that you probably already know what you want.

    • Anonymous :


    • heatherskib :

      +1! Trust me if someone tries to tell certain Floridians that flipflops are inappropriate commuter shoes, there will be a war.

      • Or tell Californians that they are not appropriate business casual shoes!

        • heatherskib :

          Well, one battle at a time. Heck in my city any bar/restaurant that doesn’t allow for shorts in the dress code won’t last a year.

      • Baconpancakes :

        Flip flops are definitely not good commuting shoes for winter. They just don’t look right with puffer coats, and have no traction at all for ice.

    • Anonymous :

      The question is not just about commuting but about winter workwear in general, with one aspect being the commute. As someone who grew up in a warm climate, this is not obvious, and looking put-together and staying warm takes practice.

      My advice:
      Layers. That means tights; tights under wool skirts; tights under pants if they’re not thick. Put a shirt on of some kind under your sweater. A collared shirt under a sweater is a classic look. I think the silk button ups layer better than the cotton/more stuctured button-ups. Also get some fitted shirts that you can layer under sweater without showing.

      Coverage. You’d be surprised how much warmer you will be if no little peak of ankle/wrist gets out there. Scarfs, socks, hats, boots instead of heels.

      As for shoes, a lot depends on exactly what’s involved in your commute. For super snowy/slusky/icy, swap out like the others have suggested. Otherwise, I like an ankle boot with a low, block heel as they are very versatile, look professional with skirts and pants, but also warm and sturdy. If they are leather-soled, get a cobbler to put traction on the soles. These are my current go-to when I have client meetings in a cold climate and need to run from the airport, to the meeting, and maybe to a site visit in one outfit:

      For a coat, I like a classic wool, thigh-length black coat. Works with business attire. Works with casual wear.

  9. Anon for this :

    How do you avoid having a deal made over your birthday at work? For various personal reasons related to childhood issues, I dislike my birthday. This is my mom in tears because she couldn’t afford to even buy me a card for my birthday despite my assurances I was ok without it, and memories of sitting next to hospital bed holding her hand when she was dying kind of issues.

    I don’t object to getting older, I’m honest about my age, etc. I just dislike having my birthday recognized or frankly even remembered because I have so many negative memories associated with it. I’m so mum about it that my husband didn’t realize my actual birth date until we got married.

    The personnel staff have everyone’s birthday on record, and maintain an office wide monthly updated birthday list. So for the weeks leading up to today everyone’s been all over asking me what I’m doing for my birthday. My general P.C. answer is “it’s a tight time for people time and money wise, so I usually don’t celebrate my birthday.” However, this has led to the very well intentioned card signed by everyone in the office. So more people are aware that today is my birthday and want to wish me well. I recognize that I’m blessed with great coworkers who are so sweet and kind, but I’d rather this day fall off the calendar. Anyone have any advice on how to get off the merry go round? Or do I just grin and bear it.

    P.S. I’ve graciously thanked everyone for the card, and am now hiding in my office.

    • Anon Worker Bee :

      Talk to the person who maintains the birthday list and ask that your name be removed. Many people are uncomfortable celebrating their birthday at work so I don’t think this would be an odd request. For today, can you say thanks and then immediately redirect the conversation, maybe asking the well wisher about their weekend/holiday plans?

      • Anon for this :

        That’s what I’ve been pretty much doing. That and “Thanks!” and dashing. Unfortunately this is a busy time of year for our office so I can’t just take the day/week off. That would be a much simpler solution!

        • Senior Attorney :

          I take the day off work every day on my birthday and it works really well. Failing that (and the excellent suggestion of asking to be removed from the birthday list) I think you just have to grin and bear it.

  10. Gail the Goldfish :

    Double-layering tights for cold weather is one of the greatest tips I ever got from this site. I layered regular tights over fleece-lined tights (this was also useful because the fleece tights had a tendency to slide down, and the regular tights on top kept them up). Ultimately I solved all these problems by moving somewhere warmer :-) If I never have to trek through NYC slush puddles again, I’ll be happy. (and on that, I agree with everyone above–it’s not the snow that’s the problem, it’s those deceptive slush puddles. They are ALWAYS deeper than they look).

  11. I’m with everyone above who said wear appropriate winter clothes for the situation, including puffer coats, hats, and snow boots if that’s what is called for. I walk 1+ mile each leg of my commute in NYC, and I bust out the puffer and snow boots all the time. Life’s too short to be miserably cold with frozen, wet feet and ruined shoes.

    Yes, if you have something very important, there may be limited circumstance in which you bite the bullet and wear a wool coat, etc. Still, I can’t think of too many. Most courts I’ve been in have anterooms with coat racks where I’d regularly see lawyers stashing their outerwear, and as noted, most places you’ll interview at will have coat closets in their reception area. Maybe go for looks over function/warmth for an outdoor press conference?

    TBH, when I see folks running around in inappropriate-for-the-weather clothes (like leather shoes and wool coats for a freezing, snowy day where that is not cutting it, warmth-wise), I think they’re idiots who are sending the wrong message: that they are vain to the point of stupidity.

    • lucy stone :

      I’ve had to give a few press conferences in blizzards and I’ll wear my wool overcoat and a scarf with leather gloves, but still have my puddle stompers on my feet.

  12. Wool peacoats are. not. warm. I hate them. I hate the expectation that we wear them if we’re trying to be more formal.They aren’t warm! I’m freezing wearing one if its less than 35 degrees. Fortunately Chicagoans know what’s up.. it’s cold and our winters are awful so no one cares about appearances when commuting. We care about being warm. I have one of the North Face sleeping bag coats and it was worth every penny and has shown no signs of wear after 5 years. I have Sorel boots that I absolutely love. I have Hunters but I don’t actually wear them often because my feet get so cold (circulation problems). I wear my Sorel boots walking to clients because it’s too cold and snowy. I get nothing but compliments on them because they wish they had boots as amazing as my Sorels. Chicagoans don’t mess around.

    I admit when I was in NYC last December there were a lot of peacoats instead of puffer coats but it was still pretty mild – not less than 30 degrees. Maybe NYC dresses up more idk.

  13. Chicago Lawyer :

    I hate having to change shoes in the office, so one of the things I’ve invested in are comfortable, waterproof boots that look professional enough that I can wear them all day. Nordstrom sells some Blondo boots that are excellent in this category. I have short ankle ankle boots to wear with pants and taller riding boots (which, I guess are a know-your-office thing, but I’ve never had an issue) that I usually wear with skirts. One thing to pay attention to if you’re looking for wear-all-day boots is the bottom of the shoe, which needs to have some tread so that you don’t go sliding all over the icy streets in bad weather, but not so much that it looks like a full-on snow boot. I also have a variety of winter coats that I wear depending on how cold it’s supposed to be. A long down coat is a must have when it gets really freezing (for me, below about 20 degrees), but I prefer to wear a knee length wool coat for most of the winter (20-50 degrees) and a lighter weight pea-coat for when it’s above 50. That said, I feel like people in Chicago wear puffy coats all the time, and no one thinks twice about it. If you’re moving somewhere cold from somewhere warm, your tolerance for cold is likely going to be relatively low, so I’d start with a knee length down coat in a silhouette that fits you well. Hats, scarves and gloves are also must-haves. Often hoods on coats are impractical and won’t stay up, or block my vision. I totally agree that skirts/dresses with tights (or leggings) and boots are ideal to wear when the ground is icky, but mostly because I always feel like my pants look ridiculous and baggy around the knees when I try to tuck them into my boots.

  14. Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

    I really struggle when I have to go to the east coast or midwest in the winter for work. I have never lived in a truly cold climate. I have a mid-calf length thinsulate-lined wool coat from J. Crew, and a somewhat dressy knee-length “puffer coat” from LL Bean that thank the lord has a “shell” so you can’t see the baffling. I hate baffling. The puffer coat has some rating to -30F, but meh. But the main issues is because I am from SoCal, these are things I wear when the highs are in the 60s. So when it is 20 degrees outside, I feel like I need something more, but aside from a sub-zero mountaineering suit (kidding, sorta), I don’t know what that would be. Do you just get used to being somewhat cold when you are outside and just not be whiny about it?

    • Anonymama :

      Hat, scarf, gloves, and under layers (camisole or long sleeve shirt, cashmere sweater, wool socks) make a huge difference in warmth, and are just as impactful as the coat you wear.

  15. It was 45 in Minnesota today and I wore only a sweater… I actually haven’t bothered to put a coat on all week. I’m a native.

    Let me first say: if the temperature is below zero, or the wind chill makes it below zero, you need to bundle up. Puffer coat, snow boots, hat, protective gloves. Especially if you have to walk more than 50 yards or get into a cold car at any point during the day. If your commute involves driving, you could go in the ditch and get stuck for an extended period of time. Do not be flippant, frostbite can set in in a matter of minutes.

    It sounds to me like you’re most confused about the in-betweens. Sometimes you just want to wear a cute, classy coat. Find one you love (I have a few J.Crew coats from a couple years ago, but I’m never certain about their quality anymore), and I like Kat’s advice above about wool blend. Thinsulate is a godsend if you’re going to want to wear the coat between 0 and 15 degrees. I’ve found I don’t really need it if the temps are just in the 20s, unless you’re going to be outside for extended periods – and actually, I’ve found I stay quite warm in knee-high boots with a knee-length coat. For a night out or going to a meeting, I only wear pumps or shoes with slippery soles if I know that no one will try to walk anywhere – to the bar down the street, or down the block to lunch, etc. Otherwise, well-kept up knee high boots are perfectly appropriate. Do take your boots in and have them cleaned, desalted and gone over regularly (I usually have mine done a couple months into the winter season, and again once it’s over and I’ve stopped wearing them).

    Finally, enjoy the outdoors if you have winter! Cross country or downhill skiing, ice skating, even running outdoors or just going out to build a snowman. There’s no need to stay cooped up inside :)

  16. As a person working in her second cold climate, on the coat front, I would heartily recommend a hood, preferably fur/faux fur lined. It keeps your head dry/hair in better condition for windy and/or snowy days!

  17. I am from California but moved to Utah for work. The best way to deal with cold weather is to change clothes at work. Get a good pair of ski pants and a quality puffer coat. I like Sorel boots the shorter ones like Tivoli 2 with a good pair of Smartwool socks.

    If you are the type who is cold at the office wear thermals underneath. I am more hot blooded so regular clothes are fine for me. Is it a pain to change clothes to and from work? Absolutely. Do not risk your health and safety for vanity.

  18. I’m Canadian – and not from Vancouver. I have a few categories of winter outwear:

    Mild winter – up to about -10C: Wool blend coat in a bright colour, black or grey gloves, hat (or earmuffs) and scarf, knee length suede boots.

    Real winter – anything colder than -10C: Puffer coat that comes to mid-thigh, thicker hat and scarf, mittens, waterproof heavy snow boots. I may also pull on legwarmers or warm-up pants, particularly if I’m in a skirt – and yes, I’ll pull the pants on underneath a skirt.

    Cold snaps, where the weather gets below about -30C and the air hurts your face: thick sweater or quilted vest, snow pants and ski jacket with a hood (or long johns and my puffer coat) waterproof heavy snow boots, lined mittens and hat. There is no pride at this temperature.

    Here, it’s all about wear what you need to arrive in one piece… carry shoes with you (or keep them at work), and strip off the layers once you arrive at the office.