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How to Tackle Slush, Ice and Snow in Style

An icy wipeout changed how this beauty editor dresses for winter weather


spinner image a woman in snowy weather pulling down her knit hat and smiling
Westend61/Getty Images

You need a “dress-for-it” plan to survive winter. I learned this the hard way one frosty New York day. Striding to work in chic knee-high boots with kitten heels, I slipped on an icy sidewalk, breaking my 65-year-old pelvis and slamming my freshly blow-dried head into a concussion. Forever after, I’ve made it a seasonal priority to dress with snow, ice, slush and freezing rain in mind. As a fashion editor and personal shopper who knows the drill, I have six tips to stay safe and stylish till spring:

spinner image D-Groee Winter Knit Cuffed Beanies in Purple; Turtle Fur Women’s Ear Muffin Faux Fur Lined Earmuffs in Smoke; Redess Slouchy Beanie Hat for Women in A2 Light Grey
(Left to right) D-Groee Winter Knit Cuffed Beanies in Purple; Turtle Fur Women’s Ear Muffin Faux Fur Lined Earmuffs in Smoke; Redess Slouchy Beanie Hat for Women in A2 Light Grey
Walmart; Target; Amazon

1. Keep your head warm, ears protected.

Sorry, but hats that don’t cover your ears, including berets and baseball caps (even wool ones), are pointless when it’s freezing. Here’s why. Ears lack protective fat; they are especially vulnerable to cold and are the first body zone to react to it with pain. If you wear hearing aids as I do, know that moisture can damage them, so protecting ears and the devices from rain and snow is another reason to wear the right hat. Cozy knit beanies such as the D-Groee Winter Knit Cuffed Beanies in Purple, Orange or Royal Blue ($9, walmart.com) and the Redess Slouchy Beanie Hat for Women in A2 Light Grey, A9 Black ($10, amazon.com) fully cover the ears and are fashionably cool. The chunkier and slouchier the better since thicker, looser, puffier knits offer less compression, which is the secret to keeping hair of every length and style from going flat. What about fluffy earmuffs? For those who find hats trigger headaches or just hate wearing hats, these are a good choice for short hops outdoors — going from car to store or running errands. Try the Turtle Fur Women’s Ear Muffin Faux Fur Lined Earmuffs in Smoke, Ivory, Black ($28, target.com) with a furry part on the inside and a no-pressure band at the crown.

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spinner image Oliumt Winter Neck Gaiter for Women in Rose Pink; ZLYC Winter Knitted Hooded Scarf Balaclava for Women in Solid Red; H&M Women Ribbed Balaclava in Dark Gray
(Left to right) Oliumt Winter Neck Gaiter for Women in Rose Pink; ZLYC Winter Knitted Hooded Scarf Balaclava for Women in Solid Red; H&M Women Ribbed Balaclava in Dark Gray
Amazon (2); H&M

2. Fill neckline gaps with less drama.

This year’s turtleneck trend is one solution, but who wears a turtleneck 24/7? In truth, a long cozy scarf is still what most people reach for to fill necklines in cold, windy weather. Although great in theory, scarves are often too hefty to wear easily with puffers and tailored coats. One simple solution is a neck gaiter, which is essentially a knit tube you pull on over the head for an instant turtleneck effect and coverage. Styles such as the Oliumt Winter Neck Gaiter for Women in Rose Pink, Navy or Light Gray ($14, amazon.com) are ribbed knit outside, fleece-toasty inside and can be worn scrunched or extended for extra lower face coverage from snow, rain or wind. Another multitasking option is a knit hood — also known as a balaclava — which protects head, ears and neck. Styles range from voluminous and chunky — the ZLYC Winter Knitted Hooded Scarf Balaclava for Women in Solid Red, Solid Tan or Solid Black ($20, amazon.com) — to the sleeker H&M Women Ribbed Balaclava in Dark Gray or Black ($20, www2.hm.com/en_us).

spinner image Lands’ End Women’s EZ Touch Screen Cashmere Lined Leather Gloves in Black; All In Motion Puffer Mittens in Black; Isotoner Signature Women’s Stretch Fleece Overlap Water-Repellent Gloves in Black
(Left to right) Lands’ End Women’s EZ Touch Screen Cashmere Lined Leather Gloves in Black; All In Motion Puffer Mittens in Black; Isotoner Signature Women’s Stretch Fleece Overlap Water-Repellent Gloves in Black
Lands' End; Target; Isotoner

3. Stock up on cozy mittens and gloves.

The truth is mittens are warmer than gloves. The enclosed togetherness allows fingers to generate more heat than when separated. However, mittens are sporty while gloves give hands a more “adult” look. Both can have a place in your wardrobe, but choose those that provide dexterity for using devices. For wet weather, try touch-screen-compatible duos such as the waterproof All In Motion Puffer Mittens in Black ($22, target.com) with elastic cuffs to block wind and the Isotoner Signature Women’s Stretch Fleece Overlap Water-Repellent Gloves in Black ($50, macys.com). No need to remove either to answer your cell or send texts. For a dressier situation, try the Lands’ End Women’s EZ Touch Screen Cashmere Lined Leather Gloves in Black, Dark Cameo Gray, or Cognac ($72, landsend.com) with touch screen forefinger and thumb pads.

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spinner image Clarks Women’s Roseville Aster Bootie in Black; Cougar Duffy Faux Fur Trim Waterproof Bootie in Draft Suede; Blondo Valen Waterproof Boots in Black Suede
(Clockwise from top left) Clarks Women’s Roseville Aster Bootie in Black; Cougar Duffy Faux Fur Trim Waterproof Bootie in Draft Suede; Blondo Valen Waterproof Boots in Black Suede
DSW; Nordstrom; Zappos

4. Choose indoor/outdoor ankle boots.

Did you know there’s a difference between winter boots and snow boots? The former have indoor/outdoor versatility and keep feet dry and snug; the latter are designed for walking in heavy snow and icy, wet weather (see tip number 6 for more). Sturdy-soled ankle boots such as the Blondo Valen Waterproof Boots in Black Suede ($138, zappos.com) with lug sole and dual zippers, the Cougar Duffy Faux Fur Trim Waterproof Bootie in Draft Suede, Pewter Suede or Black ($100, nordstrom.com) with contoured insole and rubber platform and the Clarks Women’s Roseville Aster Bootie in Black ($90, dsw.com/en/us) with faux fur lining are all in the “winter” category. They keep tootsies from going numb in bone-chilling temperatures and look stylish with any pants or jeans. Consider them your winter sneakers. A word from the wise: Wear these even when it’s crisp, cold and sunny — ice can lurk beneath smooth minimal snow and what appears to be a shoveled walk or driveway.

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spinner image A New Day Women’s Flat Fleece Lined Tights in Brown Heather; Baleaf Women’s Fleece Lined Thermal Winter Leggings with Pockets in Black; Old Navy High-Waisted Fleece-Lined Leggings for Women in Blackjack; Berkshire Women’s Cozy Fleece-Lined Tights in Dark Gray
(Left to right) A New Day Women’s Flat Fleece Lined Tights in Brown Heather; Baleaf Women’s Fleece Lined Thermal Winter Leggings with Pockets in Black; Old Navy High-Waisted Fleece-Lined Leggings for Women in Blackjack; Berkshire Women’s Cozy Fleece-Lined Tights in Dark Gray
Target; Amazon; Old Navy; Amazon

5. Add fleece-lined leggings and tights to your wardrobe.

When temperatures drop, your new best friends may be a pair of opaque leggings or tights with a sherpa-like lining. Buttery soft on the inside, silky sleek on the outside, they’re much warmer than their unlined buddies yet stay breathable. The leggings were originally designed for winter sports, but like tights have slipped into everyday wear as a stylish antidote during a cold snap. No, they don’t amplify curves or add heaviness to thighs and calves (in case you’re wondering), and they are amazing for travel, chilly movie theaters and workplaces. Try swapping your usual at-home/weekend, runaround leggings with an insulated pair such as the Baleaf Women’s Fleece Lined Thermal Winter Leggings with Pockets in Black ($35, amazon.com), Old Navy High-Waisted Fleece-Lined Leggings for Women in Blackjack or Panthers 1 ($13, oldnavy.gap.com) or A New Day Women’s Flat Fleece Lined Tights in Brown Heather and Black ($13, target.com) to wear with snow boots, cushy sweaters and puffers. Slip the opaque Berkshire Women’s Cozy Fleece-Lined Tights in Black, Chocolate, Dark Gray, Navy ($13-$15, amazon.com) under all your midi dresses and as an extra layer of warmth under wide-leg pants or jeans. Best colors to snag? Black and other dark neutrals such as brown, gray and olive green.

spinner image Sorel Women’s Whitney II Tall Lace Boot in Quarry; Skechers Women’s Easy Going Snow Boot in Black; Dream Pairs Women’s Winter Waterproof Mid-Calf Snow Boots in Maine Black; Bogs Women’s Arcata Dash Boots in Black
(Left to right) Sorel Women’s Whitney II Tall Lace Boot in Quarry; Skechers Women’s Easy Going Snow Boot in Black; Dream Pairs Women’s Winter Waterproof Mid-Calf Snow Boots in Maine Black; Bogs Women’s Arcata Dash Boots in Black
Sorel; DSW; Walmart; L.L.Bean

6. Choose “grippy” treaded snow boots.

Swap your fashionable leather boots for those with the warmth, traction and waterproofing to deal with ice, snow and puddles. There are plenty of serious snow boots around, but most women just want to navigate everyday urban and suburban lifestyles and activities safely without looking like Arctic explorers. Shorter snow boots in ankle and mid-calf styles are the answer. They feature the essential rubber soles and deeply grooved treads but in more practical designs. Yes, the toes are still round and snubby, but wiggle room is necessary for warmth and a pair of extra socks when desired. For those who want a more secure and adjustable fit, try laced booties such as the Bogs Women’s Arcata Dash Boots in Black ($165, llbean.com) with pull-on peepholes or a mid-shaft style such as the quilted Sorel Women’s Whitney II Tall Lace Boot in Quarry or Black ($150, sorel.com) with a sweat-wicking micro-fleece lining. For on/off ease and extra comfort (especially for those with circulatory concerns), try zip-up styles, including the Skechers Women’s Easy Going Snow Boot in Black ($80, dsw.com/en/us) with arch support and the Dream Pairs Women’s Winter Waterproof Mid-Calf Snow Boots in Maine Black ($30, walmart.com) — the laces are just for show — with a faux fur lining.

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