My Closet Essentials for a New England Winter

wearing my winter essentials

Hello readers! Happy New Year! I can’t really say that I’m back to the blog in a meaningful way, but I felt like posting today and so today I will post.

Many of you know that this fall, after 7 years of residing in the Washington, DC area, my husband and I packed up our apartment and headed north to the great frozen state of Massachusetts. I grew up in Rhode Island and lived in Massachusetts all through college, so New England is a familiar animal to me, but it was still a really rough transition. I miss DC all the time, and to everyone who has asked me “how do you like living in Massachusetts??” I’ve answered that I love being close to my family and friends, but that Massachusetts itself is not my favorite place in the world. One of my friends on IG, a Massachusetts native herself, said it best when she described the Boston area as having an ambient hostility about it. I’ve felt that way since we got here in September, but ironically enough, it was the harsh New England winter that finally melted my icy heart.

Massachusetts, as hostile and frozen as it is, knows how to do winter. This is a cozy state. We have our snow and our long underwear and our Irish pubs and our library books to keep us warm. I keep my house warm with cooking and baking and company, hot toddies and cups of tea. I was thoughtful about building out my winter wardrobe, and so even when it’s cold and bitter outside, I stay pretty comfortable.

Moving to a place with harsh winters really prompted me to be more thoughtful about my cold-weather clothes, so I thought I’d share the pieces that have made the biggest impact in my wardrobe so far.

Insulating Layers

Close-body layers are my winter secret weapon (this is obviously not a a secret, it is basic science, but it somehow took me 30 years to figure it out for myself). Once the weather started cooling off, I bought two Uniqlo Heattech Ultra Warm Long Sleeve Crew Necks, and as soon as I got them I was immediately obsessed. I wear one of these alone around the house, or layer on a cardigan or a fleece jacket for going out into the cold, and I feel perfectly protected from the elements. My husband even bought a few for himself after a few weeks because he was so jealous of mine. I highly, highly recommend them.

My other pick for a good close body layer is the Everlane Pima Micro-Rib Turtleneck I bought one of these last year and I love how thin-yet-warm the ribbed cotton is. So comfy against the skin and so easy to layer under sweaters and jackets. This is the turtleneck I’m wearing in the cover photo for this post (the photo is from October – I have bangs and a new phone now!).

Sturdy Shoes

In honor of moving to Boston, I bought myself a pair of Birkenstock Boston Clogs almost immediately, and I wear them every. single. day. If the temperature isn’t in the single digits and there isn’t snow on the ground, these are what I’m wearing. They’re comfortable, they have a solid grip on the ground, and they make taking the dog out so easy and fast since I can just slip them on. They come in narrow sizes now, something new since I was in college, so I find they fit my small feet very well. I usually wear them with wool socks.

When the weather calls for it, I wear my L.L. Bean Main Hunting Shoes. I bought my current pair in 2010, when I was a baby geology student traipsing around the forests of western Massachusetts looking at rocks in remote locations regardless of the weather. They are still, after 12 years of consistent wear through rain and snow and ice and hiking and city streets, in perfect shape. I will concede that they are not fashionable, but they are definitely worth the money.

Cashmere Accessories

Leaving the house to go anywhere in the midst of a New England winter is always a lengthy ritual of scarf, hat, gloves. Last year, I upgraded these three accessories from poly-blends to 100% cashmere and my life is so much better for it. Cashmere is soft against the skin and insulating against the cold. All of my cashmere accessories are from Quince. This is my hat. These are my gloves. They don’t make my exact scarf anymore, but it’s fairly close to this one. I’ve been extremely impressed with the quality of Quince’s cashmere – in addition to my accessories, I also have one of their cashmere crew sweaters, as does my husband, and most of our friends and family got Quince cashmere pieces from us for holiday gifts this year.

A Big Puffy Coat

This is my third winter in my Everlane Renew Long Puffer and I am still super happy with it (full review here). A long, down puffer is an absolute must in Boston. I think next year I might upgrade to the Eddie Bauer Superior 3.0 Down Parka because in addition to being ridiculously warm, it’s also waterproof and windproof, two features that are sadly lacking in my Everlane parka, as much as I like it. We got Matt the men’s version of the Eddie Bauer parka this year since he really needed something warmer for school, and let me tell you guys, when I put that thing on, I feel like I’ve never been cold before in my life. As the Scandanavians and also my relentlessly positive mineralogy professor would say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

So, there you have it. A collection of things that have been keeping me warm as I settle into my new life in a new (cold) place. I hope to be around this space a little more in the coming months, but as I do not have the best track record for keeping my blog promises, I won’t be making any.


This post contains affiliate links.

6 thoughts on “My Closet Essentials for a New England Winter

  1. Ambient hostility, lol. I just got screamed at on the street by a neighboring landlady and it helps to know it’s just the New England vibe.


  2. Ahhh, I’m so glad to see a post from you!!

    I have several Quince pieces in my cart (one of my many full carts around the internet); maybe this is the sign I need to check out…

    I’m so happy to hear you’re finding things to love about living in New England, even if the people are less-than-friendly. I hope you’ll be able to find the time and energy to share more here as the seasons change!


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