One of the many joys of the chilly winter season is the clothes you get to flaunt, mix-n-match and snuggle into. From head to toe, there are so many categories of winter wear to pick from, so many fabrics, colors, styles, and patterns. It can be really exciting, or confusing, depending on whichever way you look at it.
Moreover, with so many sales and offers going on at the beginning and during the chilly season, there is always a cheaper, better-looking garment right around the corner. If you’ve been winter shopping since the stone age, you already have your shopping philosophy in place. Some strongly advise for the early season sale, while others swear by the midseason mega sale. What are the right clothes to buy? What is the right time to buy them? Will I get the best value for money? All perfectly good questions, but certainly nothing to worry too much about. Because the truth is, you can get budget winter clothing at any time, all during the season.
To help you out in your winter wear shopping this turn of the year, we have compiled a no-nonsense list of winter wear ideas that will help you save big this winter while keeping you warm & cozy throughout the season. So cover your ears and warm up your hands, ‘cause it’s time to dive deep!
The Base Layer
The base layer is your first armor of protection against the chilly winters. Women’s thermal underwear such as thermal shirts and leggings and can make the most important item in your clothing layer. Somewhat paradoxically, your base layer needs to be built to wick away sweat from the skin. This is because, with so much clothing on top, your skin will produce sweat, especially after some activity. This sweat can get trapped between your skin and the base layer, making you cold and clammy.
So, avoid fabric like cotton and go for synthetics like polypropylene and polyester. Thermals made of these fabrics do much better than your usual underwear. And very importantly, you can get them for very affordable prices. Merino wool is actually the best material when you consider thermal underwear for women, but it sure isn’t in the budget category. Base layers fall into two categories:-
- Lightweight underwear – If your area gets mild winters, moderate breeze and plenty of sun, go for light underwear. Alternatively, you can also choose them if you’re planning to wear thicker layers on top.
- Mid / Heavyweight long underwear – Built to survive colder conditions, these are best to wear if your winters are particularly chilly and if you’re planning to take a hike outside. Heavier women’s thermal shirt, in particular, can be used as a shirt indoors which makes them really versatile.
- Fleece-lined long sleeve shirts
- Mid-weight fleece-lined thermal shirt
- Ultra-soft thermal underwear sets for women
The Outer Layer
The outer layer is your last (or first) line of protection. It directly protects you from the cold weather and can have great wind and water resistance. Between the base and outer layer, you can opt for any mid-layer you’d like to throw on, such as sweaters, vests, sweatshirts, etc.
The outer layer is your “shell” with typically built-in insulation. Surprisingly, however, the most versatile and effective cold-weather shells are fully windproof and heavily insulated. That is why it is recommended to wear a thin outer layer in conjunction with thicker mid and base layers. It may take a few seconds more to get dressed, but it is a fantastic way of keeping yourself warm, well protected, and not having to shell out lots of greens in the process.
Outer Layers fall into three categories:-
- Softshell: Softer material that is primarily windproof and can be waterproof. Not very well built to withstand downpours or persistent rain, but is best suited for dry winters.
- Cold & wet: Fully windproof and waterproof. Made of breathable fabric, it is perfect for wearing in areas that get around the freezing point or a little below during winters.
- Cold and dry: For regions that get raging snow but no rain, waterproof materials can become very stiff and useless. So this is your go-to material for dry winters with very low temperatures.
- Extreme cold weather insulated parka
- Extreme cold weather insulated pants
- N-3B parka
- Military shell park (insulated or non-insulated)
- Expedition parka
These include your head, neck, hands, and feet. Layering up well but forgetting to cover up your extremities is a common mistake many make. Frostbites through hands and feet are public enemy number one when it comes to battling the cold. So be sure to have yourself covered from head to toe for complete protection.
Thick insulated soles are as important as insulated uppers. Since our feet are the ones closest to the cold, frigid ground, a lot of heat can be lost through them. Your best friends for happy feet are boots that are big, thick and have soft insulated uppers.
For the best budget options, go for:
- Snow/Extreme cold weather mukluks
- Extreme cold weather boots
- Winter mid-calf boots
- Trapper boots
One or two pairs of thick insulating socks or a thin liner pair over a thicker one can make all the difference. If you want to go for max protection under the best budget – wool socks are a clear winner. 70% wool mixed with synthetic material like nylon or polyester is the ideal durable, elastic, snug and warmth inducing combo for cold-free feet. Although cheaper, we recommend you don’t go for synthetic socks as they cause sweating and damp retention, which not only makes your feet cold but breeds an unpleasant odor too.
Hands can get very cold very quickly. This is because your hands have a high surface area for volume, hence lose heat rapidly. Cold hands can be very disabling, as they impact nearly anything that you are attempting to do. So keep your hands safe and warm with a multi-layer of thin gloves with a warm, thick mitten material on top. If you wish to use your phone or any touchscreen device, you can opt for sensor gloves on the inside.
For the best budget options, go for:
- Deerskin suede winter gloves
- Mitten shells with liner
- Trigger finger mittens
- Liner mittens with high cuffs for over sleeve
- Waterproof insulated polytex gloves
- Thinsulate water-resistant, windproof gloves
The head is your largest exposed uninsulated body part. While a simple beanie under a hoodie and parka can do well to protect your precious noggin in mild winter conditions, go for full-face protection and heavy insulation if you’re outside in raging winters. Opt for a close-fitting “Windstopper” hat with ear flaps, which is very portable to carry as well, or a badass balaclava, that can be both rolled up as a hat and pulled down to cover your face and neck. If you’re one for warmth, go for wool. If you prefer the best fit, go for synthetic.
Leaving your neck bare can be the number one outlet for losing your inner body heat, as warm air from your torso is pumped out and replaced with the cold air outside through the unprotected neck. Cover it with a scarf or a neck gaiter, and you’ll never have this problem. Tuck your scarf between your outer shell and middle layer for maximum restriction of airflow. Skip cotton scarves altogether and go all-in for a wool + synthetic combo for warmth and comfort.
We hope this all-inclusive winter wear list gave you some valuable insight for your next budget shopping spree. Wishing you a cozy, warm and sick-free winter!