Last winter I was very cold. My husband and I traveled up to New England for two weeks in December to see my family, and in addition to migrating from mild DC to the Great Frozen North, it also happened that we got hit with an unusual cold spell. I’m talking single digits every day. For two weeks. It was miserable, and to make matters worse, my wardrobe was seriously not up to the task.
I’ve struggled to improve my winter wardrobe more than any other part of my closet. Until this year, it was mostly made up of acrylic or poly-blend sweaters that made me sweaty despite not being adequately warm, and items from warmer seasons that really weren’t appropriate for cold weather. I had some performance-type clothing from my days in the field as a geology student during Western Massachusetts’ winters, but nothing stylish or wearable to the office.
The primary reason my winter wardrobe is struggling now is because winter stuff is just more expensive. More material, more insulation, more technically advanced fabrics – combine all that and consider the premium on ethically-made goods, and, well, you see my problem.
So, what’s a broke, cold girl to do? My strategy is two-fold: I thrift as much as I can, and I look for a good deal. (I also carefully curate my brand partnerships so that they match up with my actual wardrobe needs, but I recognize that most people aren’t moonlighting as Instagram influencers and so it’s not really worth counting that in my advice here.)
I pretty strongly prefer consignment shops and online outlets like Poshmark, Ebay, and Etsy to true thrifting at places like Goodwill or Salvation Army. The reason for this is because the selection at consignment shops tends to be very well curated and of higher quality, and shopping online allows me to filter for the exact item that I’m looking for (and I do mean EXACT – down to brand, size, and color). I’m not hating on thrift stores, it just takes a lot more time and effort to find a gem in those types of places, and I am lazy.
My best thrifted find this year was at a great shop in the Woodley Park neighborhood of Washington, DC called Via Gypset. As I was browsing the racks, I came across an Everlane Cashmere Square Turtleneck in my size for $40. It currently goes for $150 on Everlane’s website.
Wearing the Everlane Cashmere Square Turtleneck, Heather Grey, Size XS ($150)
I’ve worn it more times than I can count in the few weeks that I’ve owned it, and I have to say, I honestly would pay full price for it if I had to. The cashmere is thick and sturdy, and so warm and soft that I just want to recede into it like the reptile-woman that I am. I especially like that they’ve doubled the ribbed part at the wrist, which keeps the cold air out and the cashmere close to your body.
Some people don’t love the thick bottom hem because it prevents you from being able to get a good front-tuck, but I am not a front-tucker, and I think the thick hem is a cool visual detail that helps the sweater keep its boxy, structured shape.
LOOKING FOR A GOOD DEAL
It can be tough to find good deals on ethical fashion, especially when it comes to quality winter-wear. Small makers are rarely able to offer the same types of discounts as bigger retailers, so those of us with small budgets have limited options.
I personally recommend the route of Googling for discount codes. I mean, you can’t scroll through Instagram for five seconds these days without pausing on an influencer desperately peddling her discount code (myself included – save 15% on your first Tradlands order with code goblinshark15 heyyyyyy).
I also try to take advantage of big sales like Black Friday and end-of-season clearance. It seems silly to buy cashmere sweaters and wool coats at the end of March, but that’s when small shops really need to get rid of their winter inventory and will be offering it at better prices. If you don’t mind being decked out in last-season’s colorways (and tbh if you do, this is probably not the blog for you…), then end-of-season clearance is the way to go.
And, of course, there are ethical clothing retailers with more palatable price points, like Everlane. I know I’m basically just an Everlane fan-blog at this point, but hear me out. I buy Everlane clothes again and again because I find the quality to be great and the price to be right. I’ve thrifted some pieces, bought some with my own money, and have been gifted a few, and save one item (a white tee that didn’t work out) I’ve loved every single thing. So, with that aggressively long introduction, let’s talk about the $100 Cashmere Crew.
At $100, the price is right for this sweater. It does feel like it should cost $50 less than the square turtleneck – the cashmere is definitely thinner and a little less warm – but I do think it’s softer and more wearable for every day. While the cashmere square turtleneck is firmly a winter garment, the crew would easily work from early fall to mid-spring.
Wearing the Everlane Cashmere Crew, Frost Donegal, Size XS ($100)
I think that what I was lacking the most in previous winters were good, warm and comfortable base layers, and I’m finding that the crew really fills that niche. Although this one was gifted to me, at $100, this is a garment that I could actually afford to buy one or more of per year, and in fact, I went ahead and picked one up for my husband when Everlane’s cashmere truck was making its stop in DC.
Speaking of the cashmere truck – I had an opportunity to touch the cashmere rib mockneck in ivory, which didn’t seem that impressive on the website but was SO NICE in person. If the cashmere truck is coming to a city near you, I highly recommend paying it a visit just to go and touch everything.
My winter wardrobe isn’t quite perfect yet – I’m still rotating out old fast-fashion as I acquire better, more durable garments – but I’m happy to report that I’m already a lot less cold than last year.
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