What To Wear During Wisconsin Winters

I met a fellow yesterday that looked completely out of place in the 10° F weather. Turns out he was from Los Angeles and was absolutely new to the whole snow & cold thing. Having just arrived he didn’t have a proper winter coat. He noted that there isn’t really any advice for what to get for winter clothing unless you are an athlete or planning on spending a lot of time outside. “Sounds like a blog post to me,” I commented.

Here’s are my suggestions if you’re new to the upper Midwest winters and don’t want to freeze upon your arrival here. This is also very guy-centric, given my point of view.

  • A good winter coat which goes down past your waist and has big pockets for your hands, gloves, and hat. Coats insulated with down are nice but can be very puffy. Wool is also an excellent material for a coat, with a liner, and looks nice. Carhartt makes relatively inexpensive and warm coats and you’ll look like you belong at a Packers game, which is a good thing in Wisconsin. Whatever you get should block wind, and be big enough that you can wear layers of clothing underneath without being constricted. ($75 – $200)
  • A stocking cap. The hat you pick doesn’t need to be fancy, just needs to be big enough to also cover your ears, and it’s handy if you can put it in your coat pocket for storage. ($5 – $15)
  • A pair of mittens or gloves. I like fingerless glove/mittens, such as those from Fox River Mills. If you get gloves get something with a bunch of Thinsulate in them. ($10 – $30)
  • Two or three pairs of warm socks. These CANNOT be cotton. Cotton soaks up moisture and makes you cold, and cold feet are the quickest way to being very uncomfortable. I have a bunch of Smartwool socks that I wear around. ($5 – $15 a pair)
  • A scarf. A wide one is more useful in keeping the wind off. ($5 – $20)

Additionally, a pair of shoes that can handle slush is a good idea, as is dressing in layers. My thoughts on the uselessness of cotton in winter extend to shirts and pants, too. If you are planning on breaking a sweat in the cold you need to avoid cotton (remember sweatshirts are all cotton) and also invest in a set of synthetic long underwear you can layer underneath.

4 thoughts on “What To Wear During Wisconsin Winters”

  1. Thanks! I was planning on attending a funeral in Beloit, WI. I’ve lived in Orlando my entire life so I have never dressed for a Wisconsin winter before. I’m so glad you included price info; I seemed to have far underestimated the cost of winterwear.

  2. Hi! Thanks a lot! I’m planning to have a vacation in Wisconsin this March up until June.. what do you suggest for me to wear during those times? I really don’t have any idea and i don’t want to bring in clothes that i wouldn’t be using.. it would save me on baggage costs.. thanks!!

  3. I’m planning a trip to appleton the first week in November. I am from South Florida and don’t handle the cold too well.

  4. The first week in November won’t be too bad, but you’ll be cold if you’re acclimated to FL. Bring layers, and any non-cotton underwear/first layer stuff, like an Under Armor workout shirt or something. A jacket that blocks the wind will be important, too — wind-blocking fleece is good. You can always pick up a cheap stocking cap or scarf if you decide you want one.

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