Updated: 12/26/2023 | Chicago Winter Survival Kit
Thinking of living or visiting Chicago in the winter? We have to tell you that Chicago is no joke. The winters can get extremely cold to the point that your skin and eyeballs may freeze.
The good thing is that doesn’t happen too often. Maybe 2-3 days a year will be too unbearably cold to go outside. Other times, you should know how to dress properly just to get around town and continue having a social life in the Windy City.
Related: Chicago Travel Guide
While it’s tempting to just buy things just to weather the storm, we highly recommend buying high-quality brands if you decide to stay in Chicago long term. You want your apparel and gear to last for years to come.
Below we’ll share our tips on what you should wear to survive Chicago’s harsh winters.
What to Wear to Survive a Chicago Winter
Below are our tips and recommended gear to help you prepare for a Chicago winter.
#1 Get a Long Thick Puffer Jacket
A long and thick puffer jacket is a must. Ankle length is best to protect you from the wind and cold. You’ll also want something that will insulate and allow you to layer.
We recommend sizing up your outerwear so that you can layer and stay warm wherever you go.
Qualities to look for in a winter coat:
- I love the longer length, and find that it helps with keeping more of you warm especially against cold wind gusts, which if you don’t know, Chicago ain’t the Windy City for nothin’!
- It is 550 fill-down, which means that it ranges within medium on the warmth scale for winter jackets.
- Fitted silhouettes are best! I find that the more fitted your jacket is, the warmer it will keep you because the wind won’t be able to get inside.
Brands We Like include
- Canada Goose
- Aritzia – Their Super Puff Coat comes in three different lengths (short, mid, and long) and many colors. It’s a blogger favorite!
- Lolë – This Canadian activewear brand makes some of the best coats! They’re very insulated and lightweight.
- Mackage – We love how stylish Mackage jackets are. They have a huge range of styles for thick insulated parka and puffer style jackets.
- North Face – We love shopping for North Face products from Nordstrom. They have unique store exclusives.
- Eddie Bauer
Shop Winter Coats
#2 Fleece Lined Leggings and Tights
Invest in fleece-lined apparel. This gives you added warmth as you layer your clothing.
We love these fleece lined tights because you can wear them with skirts and dresses to still look cute during winter.
#3 Thick Touch Screen Gloves
Gloves are necessary for Chicago winters. We highly recommend getting touchscreen gloves so that you don’t have to take them off.
Pro Tip: Put your gloves on before you put on your coat. This will tuck the gloves into your coat and create a seal that will prevent wind from drafting into your jacket.
#4 Get a Few Chunky Scarves
Chunky scarves (also referred to as blanket scarves) are great for keeping warm because they can be worn around your body and layered around the neck to provide a lot of warmth.
I never leave home without a chunky scarf during the winter season.
I especially love the lululemon Vinyasa scarf. It can be warm in multiple ways and layered so that you stay warm all day long.
Shop Chunky Scarves
#5 Invest in Rechargeable Hand Warmers
I love my rechargeable hand warmers. They’re one of the best investments I’ve ever made during my time in Chicago.
They’re also great for snowsboarding, skiing and just in general being in cold weather.
#6 Get Tall Waterproof Boots
Waterproof boots are a must during Chicago winters. This prevents melted ice from entering your shoes.
We also recommend getting a protective spray for your shoes to further protect them from Chicago’s harsh conditions.
Winter Boot Brands that We Recommend
To stay warm indoors, we recommend the following footwear:
#7 Thick Wool Socks
In Chicago, you’ll want to wear thick wool socks. This may also mean you need to size up in show size so that you can layer extra socks to keep warm.
#8 Cover Your Ears with a Hoodie, Earmuffs, or Balaclava
You’ll definitely need headwear to help cover your ears, neck, and cheeks from freezing in a Chicago winter.
#9 External Phone Battery
#10 You Might Need Goggles
About one day a year, the weather can get so cold that it freezes your eyeballs. If you need to go out during this period, make sure you wear goggles and a balaclava. You do not want your skin or eyeballs freezing and causing long-term damage.
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If you're a brand and want to work with us, please visit this page to get in touch.