Look, I know. Minnesota is cold. I get that you want to hide away in 100 layers and a big puffy parka. In the icy months of winter, it’s natural to want to give up and swathe yourself in dumpy layers. Don’t! Looking good makes you feel good, and a positive outlook keeps you going from January to April. Here, from a born and bred North Dakotan, are 20 of my favorite ways to stay stylish and sane when it’s cold outside.
1. Accept that winter boots aren’t attractive. Your Sorels, your L.L. Bean duck boots, your Uggs — they’re not cute. Trick your brain into thinking they’re adorable, though, because you have to hide your favorite flats and leather boots for a few months until the shoe-eating salt and slush are washed away. Pretend you’re a winter explorer on a very important quest. Don’t sacrifice your shoes to these wicked winter gods.
2. Find a good shoe repair shop. That said, you will get salt on your favorite shoes, and you will be sad. I like the father-daughter team at Skyway Shoe Repair in downtown Minneapolis.
3. Tuck skinny pants or leggings — only — into your boots. Please. Lumps and bumps aren’t cute.
4. Buy tights in bulk. Get a few pairs of opaque tights in black, plus a pair of fleece or wool ones for when the temperature dips into the single digits.
5. Check out Uniqlo HeatTech. It’s essential for dog-walking in February, because it traps heat and wicks away moisture, but the best part is that garments made of Uniqlo are actually flattering and stylish. The Japanese retailer has infused everything from tights to sweatpants to dresses with the technology. One day Uniqlo might deign to grace the Mall of America, but for now you can find it at uniqlo.com.
6. Buy a huge blanket scarf. Snuggle it up around your neck all Pinterest-y, or wear it as a wrap.
7. Thrift it. I get 99 percent of my cashmere sweaters that I don’t swipe from my mom from the thrift store. Just toss them in the bathtub with gentle soap, or shampoo them before wearing. Cashmere is one of the warmest fabrics, and the softest to cuddle up with.
8. Collect coats. Stacy Larson, owner of Covered boutique in Uptown Minneapolis, said she depends on a “rad collection of coats” during the winter months so she doesn’t get bored. Spend your money on a super-warm coat from North Face, Columbia or whatever floats your boat.
9. Go goth. The best time to wear all-black clothes is in the winter because we’re all in despair from soul-crushing cold. You look far more stylish and New York-y in all black, and your outfit will always match your coat.
10. Cinch your waist. If you’re in the market for a new puffy coat, look for one with a cinched waist so you have a semblance of silhouette. The human Hefty bag look is best left to Missy Elliott’s “The Rain” video.
11. Fill up your glove box. There’s a reason it’s called a glove box. You know those days when it starts out all warm and lovely and then suddenly Mother Nature’s like, “OK, time to test their mettle” and dumps down snow or freezing rain? Keep a beanie hat and an extra pair of gloves in your car at all times. This is also helpful if someone hits you at an intersection on the coldest day of the year and you have to wait an hour for the police to come — not that that’s ever happened to me.
12. Buy a few cans of Static Guard spray. “Tights stuck to your butt” is not a good look, but it’s real life in the dry, cold days of winter.
13. Turtlenecks aren’t just for moms anymore. A black turtleneck is totally layerable under a shift dress or a cozy vest, and it plays well with your favorite skirts or skinnies.
14. Fingerless gloves. They add a little toughness to any outfit and you don’t have to put your phone down. Fingerless gloves are Bluebird Boutique owner Sacha Martin’s favorite winter accessory.
15. Embrace the Minnesota chick look. There’s nothing wrong with skinny jeans, snow boots and a puffy vest.
16. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Dry, cold winter air zaps all the moisture out of your skin. Develop a daily routine of lotion, oils and hand creams, even if you’re my brother and think you’re too manly to wear lotion. Keep a hand lotion and super-emollient lip balm at your side 24/7.
17. Exfoliate regularly. Scrub off all that dead, nasty stuff and reveal fresh, soft skin.
18. If you’re pale, book a spray tan. Even if you’re not escaping to the tropics, you can pretend you are with a little bronzing.
19. Bad hair day? No big deal. Beanie hats have moved past simple accessory and are now the topper to a really cute, tomboyish ensemble. I like mine in black or heather gray, with a little bit of wavy hair peeking out.
20. If all else fails, pour yourself a drink before you go out. I’m only saying that I happen to handle the cold better with a teensy pour of Jameson. If you’re not a drinker, you know what you have to do — put on your lipstick, grin and bear it. It’ll be over soon.
Kara Nesvig is a freelance writer and beauty blogger living in Minneapolis. Find her writing all over the Internet, especially at xoVain.com.