28 December 2010

How to survive a Midwest winter

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Chicago, Fashion

Whenever I hear someone say it’s their first Chicago or midwest winter, I smile. They usually have a confused and scared look on their face and it’s so adorable, I want to hug them.

Because (depending where they’re coming from) they should be afraid.

No sh*t.

The east coast may have 32 inches of snow but Midwest winters are nothing to f*ck around with. If you’re not ready, it will cut you down like a tree and the winds will slap your face like you’re a red-headed stepchild. WHAP!

So, to help my fellow non-Midwesteners or Chicagoans, I’ve made a list of how to survive winter:

  • Invest in a good coat. Yes, it’s expensive and you feel ridiculous (aka Stay Puft Marshmallow Man,) but when it’s zero degrees outside with a wind chill, you will be glad you have it
  • Get a good pair of boots (Uggs or otherwise). It snows in Chicago, sometimes a lot, and you will have to go to work no matter what because snow days don’t exist (sad but true). So get boots that will keep you warm
  • Don’t worry about looking cute. The phrase around here is, “it’s better to be warm than look cute.” Trust me, no one is judging
  • Embrace it. It’s okay to complain about the cold but go with it because a) it’s not getting better right away and b) everyone else is cold right along with you
  • Get outside! It’s easy to hibernate and never go outside but make yourself do it. The fresh air (while cold) still feels good
  • Find fun stuff to do in winter. Holiday time in Chicago is one of my favorites because there is great things going on. This will help you achieve the previous bullet of getting the h*ll out of the house

So those are my tips, what about you? How do you survive winter?


  1. Grace says:

    eee so coooold! The only time I liked the winter in DC was when it snowed. That was really cool other than that I was just a little Popsicle. A warm coat and boots definitely helped though and lots of hot chocolate!

  2. Steph says:

    When I took a class downtown last winter I got this pull over your face armed robber mask and it was so warm. And I didn’t care what anyone thought!

  3. Mega says:

    Additional good tips include growing a beard and growing a beard.

  4. Stevie says:

    We have looooooong stretches of days where we don’t see the sun. There is a term that weathermen use called “Sun breaks” and most people who aren’t from here have no idea what they’re talking about. But we can seriously go for 2 months without seeing any sun. Everything is gray. And dark. And rainy. It’s AWFUL. There’s a reason Seattle has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. But there are also countless coffee shops and cozy pubs and bookstores that you can visit to try and revive yourself. It’s like you said, you just have to force yourself to get out there and do stuff.

  5. We bundle up and head out for walks.

  6. Akirah says:

    I eat a lot. And cry. And then eat again.

    Sigh. I hate winter.

  7. Paula says:

    I try to stay inside as much as possible. That’s my main survival tip for the winter as I HATE wearing wintery clothes and generally the weather is actually surprisingly mild in Glasgow.

    Unfortunately the past couple of winters have been pretty damn cold and I’m struggling to cope after 30 plus years of coasting by without problems. Maybe I should pretend like i’m in the midwest instead!

  8. UUUUUGGH!!! I hate winter! Haha! I would love to visit Chicago, but I guess I should probably aim for late spring/summer ;)

  9. good tips! waterproof/warm boots are key- i think i need another pair after destroying mine shoveling the past few days lol

  10. Allison says:

    good gloves too. Boots are so so important!

  11. Jen says:

    The problems with winters here in Boston is that they last forever. One day it is 30 and the next is 90 and there is no spring, a lot of the time. I will admidt it. I hate winter yet I have lived my entire life in cold weather – grew up in Boston, went to college in Illinois, lived 3 years in Rochester, NY then back to Boston.

  12. kimmy says:

    hahaha. that’s how i came to work today. when its really gross out, i wear my uggs to work and keep a pair of flats at my desk to change into. i live in Indianapolis and we have had multiple inches of snow on the ground SINCE THANKSGIVING. not the wimpy-melts-by-3pm snow. INCHES and INCHES and temps hovering around 20 degrees. all i say is layer, layer, layer. its supposed to warm up to 50 by friday though…woo!!!

  13. jen says:

    having grown up in the mid west and moved to the east coast, i have to say the mid west has harder, longer, colder, more snow, winters than the east coast.
    case in point the most recent blizzard, all the snow will be melting/melted by this weekend. whereas where i grew up, this amount of snow would be here until june.
    all those tips have been ingrained in my head my entire life, but sometimes when put to use out east i get glared at like i have two heads…just saying!

  14. April says:

    My only piece of advice to add is to get a really good hat/scarf/mitten or glove set. The ones that are knit and backed with fleece are the best – it adds a layer of wind protection to it! I ended up knitting myself a scarf because I couldn’t find one that was wide and long enough to really cover me up as much as I wanted! Before I moved here I never had an entire set of hat/scarf/mittens at one time! Now I have a ton of options.

  15. Lil' Woman says:

    I am of no use to this post considering I haven’t moved my butt from the couch for the last 15 hours. My ass is officially imprinted in the cushions :)

  16. Great tips! Being from MN, I totally agree! I have a Northface coat that I LOVE. In the worst winter temps, I can’t tell how cold it is, because it’s so warm. I just bought my first pair of Uggs this year and have no regrets. They’re super warm. They kinda suck when literally stepping in water, but for the most part- no complaints. And I completely embrace winter. I actually love it and prefer it over summer sometimes. I know- crazy!

    Stay warm!

  17. Heidi Renée says:

    You just made me feel all nostalgic.

  18. A Super Girl says:

    Such great tips. On an Uggs note, I did not get them under my Christmas tree this year :-( My mother was equally non-plussed by the lack of weatherproofing. If I’m going to drop a couple hundred bucks on boots, they better damn well stand up to weather!

  19. Kara says:

    I moved to Thailand and learned how to deal with the rainy season, also nothing to f*ck with!

  20. Erin says:

    There is a saying among runners that goes “There is no bad weather, just bad gear.” I think it applies equally to non-running life just as well!

    I got my first pair of Uggs for Christmas and now I’m wondering why I resisted them for so long!

  21. mandy says:

    So so true. Ohio winters are very similar. So bitterly cold and snowy. We’re tough stock, but I’ll be honest. The freaking cold almost broke me last week. Instead i just stayed inside and looked for jobs in Florida.

  22. Nice advice! I’m going to embrace it on my eurotrip because well it is going to be right around freezing in all the countries I’m going to and well I’m going to be outside a lot. I even broke down and bought Bear Paws (like uggs) after my mom kept going on and on about how warm they are even though I think they are the ugliest shoe ever! (but she was so right)

  23. lbluca77 says:

    Well as a Californian I survive winter by putting on a light coat or sweater. As nice as it is we don’t really have winter I would so love to experience an actual winter in my life. Snow and all. It just seems so magical.