Recently, a reader got in touch with me after reading my 9 (Super Easy) Ways to Tie a Scarf post and said this:
“These are all really nice, but I want to see how one is supposed to wear a blanket scarf in winter in Chicago with their heavy sweater and their puffer coat. Show me a style for that. Show me how to wear it to keep warm in REAL winter weather and still be able to move through the streets of Chicago, not just meet friends for brunch. I have not been able to find any posts on that.” – Kristin
Kristen, you’re in luck. I empathize whole-heartedly with your desire to find tutorials that are practical in the real-world, not just some mythical brunch-land in which the weather is perfect, the sun is always rising or setting and giving everything a rose-tinted glow, and everyone seems to be confoundingly model-thin while scarfing down mountains of donuts. I hear you. Chicago is cold and unpleasant for much of the winter, and fashion should embrace and work with that fact. In that spirit, I’m sharing two tutorials on how to tie a scarf with a winter coat in ways that are both stylish and tailored to keep the icy air away from your face and neck. I’ve also thrown in a few other tried-and-tested tidbits on how to stay warm in the winter.
Before we start, let me qualify my recommendations. With humility, I would like to assert my expertise in cold commutes. I am well known amongst my coworkers for walking to and from work everyday, no matter what weather I’m facing. My commute is a 2.2 mile walk from Chicago’s West Loop to my job downtown. The following methods have kept me sufficiently warm even on sub-zero days.
The Blanket Scarf Method
1. First, lets talk about your base-layer. It should include:
- A thick, warm, knee-length sweater dress with long sleeves
- Tights. The type of tights you need depends entirely on the weather. Here are some general guidelines:
- >30°: Any old tights will do.
- 15° – 30°: Blackout tights, or tights with a very high denier.
- <15°: Neoprene leggings (a.k.a. Under Armor leggings or running tights)
- Warm winter boots that are waterproof, thermal, and heavily treaded for walking on icy surfaces.
- Wool socks underneath those toasty boots–prolonged cold requires serious foot protection.
2. Toss on your winter coat, preferably a down parka. See my guidelines for down coats. Put the coat on over your hair and leave your hair tucked in.
3. For this tying method, you need a square blanket scarf. Take your blanket scarf and fold it diagonally in half, so you have a triangle like this.
4. Tuck the middle of the fold under your chin, then cross the ends of the fold behind your neck and pull them forward.
5. Bring the ends across your face and tie them together. Where you tie the knot determines how much of your face will be covered. On really cold days, I tie the knot over my nose and just leave my eyes peeking out above the scarf.
6. Fluff up the scarf and the knot around your neck and face for maximum warmth.
7. To finish the ensemble, add on a warm hat and pair of gloves or mittens. If you’re purchasing a new pair, always ALWAYS go for something fleece-lined. Plain knit is not warm enough to protect you from the Chicago wind.
8. If it’s really cold, flip your hood up over your hat. This also helps hold the scarf in place next to your neck and face. Trust me, you’ll feel fully swaddled via this method.
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The Cashmere Face-Wrap method
1. Start with the same base-layer used in the blanket scarf method.
2. Put on your parka over your hair, leaving your hair tucked into the coat. The more out of the way you can keep your hair the better. I like to sweep my hair back before putting on my coat.
3. Put on a warm hat, preferably fleece-lined.
4. Grab a rectangular scarf. I like to use a cashmere scarf for this method for maximum warmth. You can find cashmere scarves like this at reasonable prices all over the place–mine is from Macy’s Charter Club house line.
5. Place the center of the scarf right behind your head.
6. Wrap the ends of the scarf across your face, leaving only your eyes above the top of the scarf.
7. Bring the ends of the scarf behind your head and tie them together if the scarf is long enough. If it isn’t, simply tuck the ends back there. I find that cashmere scarves tend to stick to themselves enough to make tying the ends unnecessary.
8. Flip up your hood and laugh at the cold. Tell winter to do its worst.
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