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:

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Reader mail: Boots for suits?

La Canadienne - Doreta (Black Leather) - FootwearToday’s reader question has to do with boots for suits:

Spending a lot of time in cold, wet Washington the last few weeks has convinced me I have got to find boots that I can wear with a suit.  I don’t want to be Sarah Palinesque, and as much as I love my Frye Harness Boots, that is clearly not the look.  What advice do you have for boots with a basic conservative suit (think Lafayette)?

Santana - Flora (Black Suede) - FootwearThis is a great question, as — you’re right — the Harness boots probably aren’t the look.  We would argue that, on casual days, you can probably wear things like Hunter rain boots beneath your suit pants while traveling to/from the office, provided you switch into pumps once arriving at the office — but then, Hunter boots aren’t the best when it’s freezing.  (And, lest you make the same mistake we’ve made:  The classic Uggs are not waterproof.  Yes, they are both ugly and nonfunctional.) We’ve always heard great things about the LaCanadienne brand: supposedly ridiculously comfortable, fashionable(ish), and waterproof. (Pictured at top:  La Canadienne – Doreta (Black Leather) – Footwear, on sale at Zappos for $199 (formerly $250).)  We would probably stick with this kind of boot to wear with suits — mid-calf, so it won’t look too odd beneath your pant leg, with a reasonably low heel that you can walk in if it’s icy and cold.  (You might want to think about what kind of socks you’ll wear with it when you buy it — e.g., the thicker the sock, the larger the size.)  If even that one looks too high, you may want to try a wedge boot (particularly if your suit pants are hemmed for heels) or something lower, such as these “Flora” boots by Santana (pictured at right.)  (Santana – Flora (Black Suede) – Footwear, available at Zappos for $124.)

If you don’t care about fashion at all (or heel height), we’ve had good luck with the inexpensive waterproof shoes and boots from Land’s End.  For example, try the “Weatherly Shoes,” now on sale for $19.99.

Readers, how do you survive the cold, rain, sleet, and snow?

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