Coats, boots and more: Here's your go-to outerwear guide to keep you warm this winter

Erica Chayes Wida
·13 min read

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As winter approaches, I've been facing the reality that this season will be different than any other. With experts recommending any intimate gatherings or sporting events be held outside, outerwear is looking like the new WFH loungewear.

I happen to be a sun-loving creature who basically hibernates from January to March because I dislike bundling up. But 2020 hasn't defeated me yet and I don't plan to let it in the coming months. Thus, I shall brave the cold.

To equip myself with knowledge of how to properly stay warm for long durations this season, I put on my research cap and hunted for outwear that works in various temperatures and conditions. Winter gear can be a big investment (aside from a few budget-friendly Amazon puff jackets) and right now trying on coats in-person has its complications, so hard-won research is all the more important.

Take your time before spending a good chunk of change on a wardrobe for hours-long evenings al fresco. Which coats will keep you covered in dropping temperatures? What's best for a wintry picnic date versus a day watching the kids play ice hockey in sludgy snow and sleet? Are down feathers right for you or would faux Sherpa be better? Does anyone really understand how "down fill power" translates into protection in freezing temperatures? I listed temperature guidelines for each option.

From wool dress coats and extreme-weather parkas, furry snow boots to chunky chelsea boots, here's a curated guide to keep everyone warm, cozy and cute throughout winter.

City slickers and winter walkers

Whether you're commuting, window shopping or just taking in the city streetscapes, city dwellers need to be prepared for winds sweeping through the tall buildings and getting hit with surprise flurries or a weather change, even if just popping out from a virtual workday to grab a coffee.

Tna The Super Puff Long Jacket

Tna The Super Puff Long Jacket

Tna The Super Puff Long Jacket $350.00 at Aritzia

Durable in temps: Up to -14 degrees

Available in five fabrics (like crinkle-tech, cotton-tech, matte or high-gloss) this plush puff jacket is the Vancouver-based brand's bestselling coat. Incredibly warm and cloud-like, it's made to withstand harsh Canadian winters and will hold up for years in any city. For a long down jacket, it's a moderate price point for folks who don't want to splurge on something more expensive.

Anthropologie Suede Platform Chelsea Boots

Anthropologie Suede Platform Chelsea Boots

Anthropologie Suede Platform Chelsea Boots $160.00 at Anthropologie

Super stylish but heavyweight for those icy days, this solid rubber chunk platform chelsea boot is versatile to upgrade any outfit and looks cool with oversized coats. Size up if you plan to wear really thick socks, as these thick suede boots hug the feet nicely.

Canada Goose Aldridge Fur Trim Hooded Down Parka

Canada Goose Aldridge Fur Trim Hooded Down Parka

  • Canada Goose Aldridge Fur Trim Hooded Down Parka $1,395.00 at Saks Fifth Avenue

  • Canada Goose Aldridge Fur Trim Hooded Down Parka $1,395.00 at Bloomingdale's

  • Canada Goose Aldridge Fur Trim Hooded Down Parka $1,395.00 at Canada Goose

Durable in temps: 5 to -13 degrees

For those who want invest in an incredibly warm coat with a little edge, this one is it. Canada Goose's pricey jackets surged in popularity several years ago and for good reason. Created and tested by scientists in the Arctic, their weather-proof designs have you covered down to minute details. This parka, for example, has fleece-lined pockets, extra storage fabric sleeves that cover your palms like fingerless gloves and a built-in, down-lined neck warmer on the collar. The fur trim is detachable and the inside has thin backpack straps in case the sun comes out and you need to wear the coat home.

Sorel Joan of Arctic Next Lite Strap Puffy Boots

Sorel Joan of Arctic Next Lite Strap Puffy Boots

  • Sorel Joan of Arctic Next Lite Strap Puffy Boots $164.95 at Zappos

  • Sorel Joan of Arctic Next Lite Strap Puffy Boots $190.00 at Saks Fifth Avenue

  • Sorel Joan of Arctic Next Lite Strap Puffy Boots $190.00 at Sorel

These versatile sneakers are perfect for charging through a commute or enjoying a long walk on an icy day. Lightweight with a chunky, flexible rubber sole, these puppies are lined in fleece with an exterior that protects feet like a waterproof down comforter. The fact that they look amazing with any outfit, from workout clothes to a satin dress with a slouchy sweater, is an added bonus.

Columbia Archer Ridge II Full Zip

Columbia Archer Ridge II Full Zip

Columbia Archer Ridge II Full Zip (Amazon / Amazon)
Columbia Archer Ridge II Full Zip (Amazon / Amazon)
  • Columbia Archer Ridge II Full Zip $110.00 at Amazon

  • Columbia Archer Ridge II Full Zip $109.95 at Zappos

  • Columbia Archer Ridge II Full Zip $110.00 at Columbia

Durable in temps: Mild to cool

In climates with tepid winters or for folks who want a jacket that's good from fall to winter to early spring, this vegan zip-up looks and feels like Sherpa. While it may look like the material would get matted in the rain or snow, it's actually rain-resistant and has waterproof lining so your skin stays dry, even if the outside isn't. It's thin enough to wear under a bigger winter coat if you'd rather layer than invest in jackets crafted for the Arctic (and don't worry, they're on the list, too).

Sorel Cate Waterproof Lace Bootie

Sorel Cate Waterproof Lace Bootie

Sorel Cate Waterproof Lace Bootie
Sorel Cate Waterproof Lace Bootie
  • Sorel Cate Waterproof Lace Bootie $189.95 at Zappos

  • Sorel Cate Waterproof Lace Bootie $190.00 at ASOS

  • Sorel Cate Waterproof Lace Bootie $190.00 at Sorel

These leather boots are waterproof, incredibly durable and a total gamechanger. The modest wooden heel and "strappy" lace-up front are fashionable while the thick, grippy rubber sole makes trekking through wet, sludgy or icy sidewalks simple. If the temperature starts dropping below 30 degrees, put on some wool socks and you'll be snug and ready to go. To note, Sorel carries women's sizes 5 through 12 to accommodate all shapes and sizes of feet.

Mountain women and adventure seekers

When you're ready to get some exercise in nature, like hiking, running and skiing, these versatile coats have some major perks. Whether you're climbing up a mountain or shredding down it, here are some items worth a spot in your closet.

Canada Goose Hybridge Base Jacket

Canada Goose Hybridge Base Jacket

Durable in temps: 32 to -5 degrees

Great for outdoor activities where your body temp may be rising, this Canada Goose jacket protects you from all the elements but doesn't trap in body heat so that you won't be drenched in sweat. Worth the price for a long-term investment that'll last for years, this coat hits at the hip, is lightweight and thin yet pillowy and has a hood that can be snapped into the fleece-lined collar for dryer days. The fleece-lined pockets keep your hands warm and the fashion-forward camo jacket is made tensile-knit, which means it's super flexible — in case you're in the mood for some snow yoga.

Sorel Joan of Arctic Next Boot

Sorel Joan of Arctic Next Boot

  • Sorel Joan of Arctic Next Boot $250.00 at Sorel

  • Sorel Joan of Arctic Next Boot $249.95 at Zappos

Waterproof, fur-lined and tasteful, these snow boots have a noticeably thick rubber sole to stomp through snowstorms and a tall shaft to keep your legs warm. They come in a wide range of sizes and colors.

Columbia Alpine Crux Jacket

Columbia Alpine Crux Jacket

Columbia Alpine Crux Jacket
Columbia Alpine Crux Jacket

Durable in temps: cold to brutal

This killer Alpine Crux jacket is for the person who wants to feel toasty but doesn't like being bogged down by a weighty parka. It's made with an Omni-Heat thermal reflective, which you'll see in the coat's shiny, silver lining (that's not a pun: the lining is actually silver). This seals in the heat created by your body without out using any heavy material. If you're on West Coast slopes and sun warms you up enough, the whole jacket can be packed into its own pocket to lighten your load.

Columbia Slopeside Village Omni-Heat High Boot

Columbia Slopeside Village Omni-Heat High Boot

  • Columbia Slopeside Village Omni-Heat High Boot $120.00 at Columbia

  • Columbia Slopeside Village Omni-Heat High Boot $119.99 at Backcountry

  • Columbia Slopeside Village Omni-Heat High Boot $119.99 at DSW

Columbia also applies it Omni-Heat thermal materials to its shoes, which is perfect for folks who want to charge onward through. feet of snow. Neutral colors and thick soles protect your feet while the fur lining keeps them cozy.

Patagonia 3-in-1 Snowbelle Jacket

Patagonia 3-in-1 Snowbelle Jacket

  • Patagonia 3-in-1 Snowbelle Jacket $399.00 at Patagonia

  • Patagonia 3-in-1 Snowbelle Jacket $399.00 at REI

Durable in temps: Warm to brutal

Active nature lovers love this California-based brand for its environmental initiatives and Fair Trade Certified sewing practices and materials. Their outerwear is uniquely designed to accommodate specific outdoor activities and this 3-in-1 in coat is ideal for those who want to spend a lot of time hiking, skiing or snowboarding this winter. The best part is you pay one price and get three coats. An insulated Thermogreen jacket liner is reversible and great on its own for more tepid environments. The shell is fully waterproof and lightly insulated so it can also be worn as a rain jacket through all seasons. When zipped together, though, the coat becomes the ultimate winter coat for the great outdoors.

Lands' End Insulated Sherpa Duck Boots

Lands' End Insulated Sherpa Duck Boots

Lands' End Insulated Sherpa Duck Boots $65.97 at Lands' End

Fully lined with soft sherpa fleece, these wool, leather and rubber duck boots are great for walking, hiking or slipping on before you change into ski or snowboard boots.

Will freeze for socialization

Enjoy a day date picnic with some spiked mulled cider or brave the cold at your favorite restaurant that kept its patio open. Parents can opt for extra play time (even on snowy, sleety days) for kids on screens for school or sit through that ice hockey game without needing to hide in the car with the heat on. Winter 2020-2021 doesn't mean we forfeit those cute outfits we wanted to wear for the holidays. No! Instead, we look to form and function to ensure we're cozy but chic for our one social outing this month.

Canada Goose Lorette Parka

Canada Goose Lorette Parka

Durable in temps: 14 to -4 degrees

With a lifetime warranty from Canada Goose, this coat is durable enough to work on a winter farm (a Canadian horse veterinarian swore by it in the reviews), but has the look of a more formal peacoat, which makes it perfect for a wide-range of activities, from date nights to socially distanced sporting events. Most of the brand's coats that have a Thermal Experience Index of three to five (ideal to wear in temps from 14 to less than -22 degrees) have a concealed wire in the hood so you can mold it to your head when the wind picks up.

Silent D Rareful Ankle Boots

Silent D Rareful Ankle Boots

Silent D Rareful Ankle Boots $138.00 at Anthropologie

For the animal lovers, cold-weather comfort doesn't mean you have to wear wool or leather. These Silent D boots have a synthetic upper and lining, no heel and a durable soles. They're pretty tight, so size up if you're planning on wearing heavy socks but with thin socks, they're transitional through the seasons. The best part is the 6-inch shaft that covers the ankle and lower shin so you can rock them with your favorite cropped jeans. They also come in velvet with a higher heel if you're upping the dress code.

Wilfred The Cocoon Coat Long

Wilfred The Cocoon Coat Long

Wilfred The Cocoon Coat Long $378.00 at Aritzia

Durable in temps: Up to -14 degrees

Made from Italian wool and cashmere with a unique high collar to protect your neck from wind, this Aritzia coat is perfect for dressing up or just thrown over your favorite sweats for some casual errand running (aka, the most exciting event this week). The cut is interesting: it really is shaped like a cocoon, slim and boxy up top with a bottom that curves out around the hips and thighs.

Silent D Samara Velvet Ankle Boot

Silent D Samara Velvet Ankle Boot

Silent D Samara Velvet Ankle Boot $138.00 at Anthropologie

The thick terra cotta velvet and tan leather lining on these tasteful boots from Anthropolgie's winter line will rake in compliments from strangers six-feet away. They're comfortable for indoor and outdoor wear and are so cute you might just have to find an excuse to kick your heels up during the Zoom holiday party.

Canada Goose Mystique Parka

Canada Goose Mystique Parka

Durable in temps: -22 and lower

Saving the warmest for last, this forever parka is for the lodge bunnies and summer lovers who are charging forth into new territory this winter. With that said, it's also for experienced winter adventurers, as it was literally tested by scientists doing all-day outdoor expeditions in the Arctic. This coat is recommended for negative temperatures and will surely keep you toasty for outdoor New Year's dinners under the stars, sitting in the snow for hours with your children (seriously, do they ever get cold?!) and whatever else this season brings.

Sorel Women's Blake Lace Bootie

Sorel Women's Blake Lace Bootie

Sorel Women's Blake Lace Bootie
Sorel Women's Blake Lace Bootie
  • Sorel Women's Blake Lace Bootie $219.95 at Zappos

  • Sorel Women's Blake Lace Bootie $220.00 at Macy's

  • Sorel Women's Blake Lace Bootie $220.00 at Sorel

Typically, sexy 4-inch heels and durable snow boots don't go together, but Sorel made it happen. These boots have thick, rubber grip soles akin to running sneakers and hiking boots, and yet they look like high-fashion. Adjustable, colorful laces pop against the felt and waterproof leather shaft. So, when you're ready to step forward into your new life al fresco, step forward in good shoes.

Take that, 2020.