Moving to cold-weather climate! Help!
March 3, 2007 5:42 PM   Subscribe

Teach me how to transition to a cold climate. What clothes should I buy? Other stuff I should know?

Moving from Southern California to Austria. I hear Austria is cold. Teach me the ways of not being cold.
posted by sdis to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (48 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: And is there a way to stay warm AND not-itchy? As nice as completely covering myself with itchy wool or polyester things, do I have any less itchy options that still work (or are there different sorts of wools and polyester that don't itch, for example?)?
posted by sdis at 5:44 PM on March 3, 2007

Response by poster: *as nice as .... SOUNDS,
posted by sdis at 5:44 PM on March 3, 2007

Thermal under-layers, good boots, and hats. Hats hats hats.
posted by wemayfreeze at 5:54 PM on March 3, 2007

Layers Layers Layers.

Cotton T-shirt, some sort of pullover sweater. A fleece if you need it, then a leather jacket or some other overcoat.

Also, don't underestimate the powers of long-underwear (cotton or some synthetic).

Oh, "If your hands are cold, wear a hat." You lose a lot of body temperature through your head (that big brain of yours). See what the locals wear for headgear; otherwise, a Canadian-style touque is great. A former lab-manager gifted a former post-doc with a honest-to-FSM coonskin hat. He claims that it is absolutely amazing at keeping warm.

Even unlined leather gloves can help a lot; in climates that are cold and low-humidity, you'll want something to protect your hands from being chapped.
posted by porpoise at 6:13 PM on March 3, 2007

A tip that may sound obvious, but is easy to overlook:

When you're shopping for an overcoat to wear in the coldest weather, buy it a little big to accomodate the multiple layers you'll be wearing underneath. Cold weather is more frustrating when being warm requires being uncomfortably clothing-bound.
posted by desuetude at 7:35 PM on March 3, 2007

"Layers Layers Layers."

I'll 2nd that. Layers. Layers. Layers.

Here's the great thing about layers.

1.) You can remove layers or add layers to keep yourself at a perfectly comfortable temp inside or out.

2.) If you wear layers, you can still wear wool, just make sure its not the layer directly next to your skin,..and you shouldnt itch to much.

3.) Wool rules :)
posted by jmnugent at 7:38 PM on March 3, 2007

As someone who just did this after 18 years in sunny warm weather, I have learned a lot that other people just thought everyone knew.

1. First of all- when it snows, they pour salt all over it. This sucks because it seeps into your pants legs and leaves rings. If you can, tuck your pants into your boots and you won't have this silly ring that you have to wash out of your pants.

2. Get an ice scraper for your car! Its very important. If you end up without one for any reason, you can use a credit card.

3. No matter how incredibly uncool it is, wear legwarmers under your jeans. It keeps your legs warm and no one has to know.

4. Be really careful when driving! You have to go much slower than you think you do. It also helps to put some weights in your car so you don't fishtail. Its scary!

5. You will need a lot more lotion and chapstick than you did in the warm weather.

6. Make sure that you get boots that are textured on the bottom. Being from Georgia, my boots were not made for snow and made me fall on my ass on the ice.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 7:41 PM on March 3, 2007

Silk long underwear is your new best friend. It feels nice on your skin, isn't bulky, and dries quickly. There are a lot of women's styles with lower necklines so it won't show under your dressyier clothing. Get a pair in black and a pair in a light neutral color- then you can wear it under anything, even under flannel pajamas for bedtime.

Speaking of bedtime, having cold feet keeps me from sleeping well- some nice cushy socks for wearing to bed are a plus.
posted by ambrosia at 7:43 PM on March 3, 2007

are there different sorts of wools and polyester that don't itch,

Good quality merino wool doesn't itch, is lightweight so can be layered in all kinds of ways, doesn't get smelly, breathes, keeps it's shape and is wonderfully warm even when wet. You can get garments of all weights and in many styles. I don't know what its availability is like internationally but I've found the more sports-oriented stuff (rather than an expensive fashionable suit and whatever) works well into different lifestyles (Ice Breaker and Kathmandu are brands I like). In my fairly limited but reasonably recent travels overseas I found the reputation that Australian and New Zealand merino has for excellence was well deserved and our sporty stuff seemed much better than European.

I have various types of merino underwear (singlets, undershirts, etc) which are much warmer than cotton or polyester and more hardwearing/less smelly than polypropylene, and also have a few stylish and comfortable jerseys of different weights which are also very warm and layer well. Not being bulky is a real plus because layering is really what you want to be doing here. Also I'm really sensitive to scratchy wool but merino doesn't feel like wool. Lastly it's not really cheap but isn't terribly expensive either (YMMV in other countries), and was cheaper than buying high tech synthetic underclothes.
posted by shelleycat at 7:47 PM on March 3, 2007

Merino wool is not scratchy. In fact, I find it pretty luxurious. SmartWool long underwear and socks are big favorites in my book.

I moved from Florida to Minnesota, so I know where you are coming from. My biggest mistake was buying stuff before I got here like I was preparing for an arctic expedition. I hardly use any of that stuff, and I find myself outside in winter all the time. Get what you need when you get there, and invest in layers.
posted by advicepig at 7:48 PM on March 3, 2007

Best advice, I think, would be to buy yourself some good-quality long underwear. I don't think that even wool or polyester long-underwear is necessarily itchy. There are blends of wool that are quite good these days, and won't cause you to itch. Take a look at the MEC website for some examples. Note the "superfine merino wool." Also note that wool is best if you're going to be active in the cold. But while long underwear will keep you warm outside, it might get hot inside.

The key this is layering in the cold. The wind might get through one thick layer, but it won't get through three medium layers. If you're just walking to work, then the material next to your skin doesn't matter so much. If you're going to be exercising, you don't want cotton next to your skin, since it will hold moisture and the minute you stop moving, you'll start freezing. I find that in winter when it's really cold, long johns are better than long underwear on top, because it's easier to layer on top (unless you want to wear snow pants).

Wear a hat since most heat is lost from the head. Wear a scarf so the wind doesn't get into your jacket. Wear a warm jacket and a couple of layers underneath. And don't be afraid of the cold! It's only really bad if you think about it.
posted by Dasein at 7:49 PM on March 3, 2007

Thermal underwear if you are going to be outside a lot. Synthetic or wool are both warm, but neither if the least bit itchy if you get good quality. Cotton isn't very insulating. Go to a sports store to buy it (for example, REI) and you shouldn't end up with anything itchy. Pick up some warm socks at the same time.

A nice warm touque and gloves. For a touque you want something to cover your ears while for gloves you want something made out of two different layers: one to stop the wind (e.g. leather) and other to insulate.

Outerwear depends a lot more on style, but fleece will keep you warm and down will keep you even warmer, while your outermost layer should block the wind.

It won't be as bad as you think: Austria is not Antartica and you'll get used to lower temperatures after a while.
posted by ssg at 7:49 PM on March 3, 2007

When I go ice fishing, I wear SmartWool. It doesn't ich at all. Invest in a few good coats; casual, dressy, and one to wear out to bars. Your blood will thicken after a bit. Remember that you lose the most heat from your head and your feet. Good luck!
posted by thetenthstory at 7:53 PM on March 3, 2007

FWIW, MEC is one of the places I looked at merino and, in my opinion, the merino clothes they were selling were much coarser and more scratchy than the stuff I bought in NZ and Australia. I liked a lot of other MEC products, but we win on that one I reckon.

'Superfine merino' is the appropriate term though and denotes something about the fibre size (and thus smoothness) of the wool.
posted by shelleycat at 7:54 PM on March 3, 2007

This varies a lot by person. Some people can't get through the winter without layers and wool and all the stuff mentioned above. Others have no problem just adding a coat and long-sleeved shirts to their wardrobe.

Some would say that the first group tends toward female and the second towards male. The point is, buy what you need when you need it.
posted by smackfu at 8:00 PM on March 3, 2007

Tuck your undershirt into your pants, get a jacket with a drawstring at the waist and that you can get a good seal at the openings with, an extra zip-out layer in the coat, boots that you can wear heavy socks with, a solid toque: hats aren't all equal, a scarf around the neck, long underwear, ski gloves, and you're probably good.
posted by who else at 8:03 PM on March 3, 2007

Get really good moisturizer and lip balm, you can get really wind burned.

Silk long underwear.


I moved from the Mojave Desert to Toronto and found that the cold was no problem at all for me. The worst part of winter is listening to the Canadians complaining about it. But then again, I don't have to drive in snow.

Walking on icy sidewalks is not that great either.
posted by Melsky at 8:11 PM on March 3, 2007

Also, scarves.
posted by beatrice at 8:22 PM on March 3, 2007

Everyone is different, but for me it comes down to certain areas of my body must be reinforced. Vital: undershirt, knee socks - my shins must be warm - hat. I cannot emphasize hat enough, if it's really cold. After that - 9thing the merino wool. Other wool is itchy, but merino is warm, soft and light. As is cashmere. But really it all come down to - undershirt, long socks and hat.

Well, and obviously you should wear a coat or something on top of that. I'm just talking foundation.
posted by mkim at 8:27 PM on March 3, 2007

The thing that really keeps me alive through winter is having a heated mattress pad, because who wants to wear layers to bed? NOT an electric blanket (those all itch and feel heavy/suffocating) but a thing that goes between your mattress and fitted sheet.
posted by anaelith at 8:28 PM on March 3, 2007

Oh, scarves, too yes - your neck is a big heat loss area, too. Also - scarves look good as a bonus. They may even counteract your goofy hat!
posted by mkim at 8:29 PM on March 3, 2007

I'm also in support of not underestimating the power of tights or long underwear. I moved from Hawaii to Massachusetts and my greatest fear the first winter was how to survive the cold. Everyone just told me to wear the obvious- scarf, gloves, sweater- but nothing about tights or long underwear. Wearing a layer under your jeans or or pants makes it a whole lot more bearable.
posted by Jimmie at 8:29 PM on March 3, 2007

Be patient, your body will acclimate and become more tolerant of the cold after a month or two. Every year I see people get bundled up when it is forty degrees in November and start complaining about how cold it is, but then on a forty degree day in March they're running around outside in a t-shirt saying how wonderfully warm it is.

I think a really good jacket, along with gloves and a hat is what you're really going to want and wear most of the time.

Getting a jacket/parka that is long enough to cover your butt will keep you a lot warmer, especially if it's windy. A hood will also help block the wind, even if you're not wearing it over your head. Deep pockets will also help keep your hands warm if don't have gloves handy (you'll also have a good place to store your gloves and hat). The jacket should also be loose enough so that your movements are not restricted, and also so you can put another layer on underneath if you want to.

I don't know if they still sell them, but I bought a Columbia Double Whammy parka four or five years ago that I highly recommend. It has held up very well, it's washable, the hood and liner are removable and it looks appropriate whether I'm on a hiking trail or going to work.

I've assumed that you're not going to be working outdoors all day long. If you are, then I highly recommend getting something like Carhartt overalls or bib overalls. They're warm, they keep the wind and cold out and they last almost forever.

Finally, keep your feet warm and dry, or you may feel cold long after you've gone inside.
posted by 14580 at 8:32 PM on March 3, 2007

I've never lived in Austria, but grew up in Nova Scotia and have lived in Edmonton in the winter.

Nthing "layers."

You don't need to wear wool or scratchy polyester. You can get really thin warm materials now, and cotton is fantastic. You might want to get some wool overclothes, unless the itchiness is from an allergy to wool and not just the general scratchiness. I can't bear wool, myself, and never wear it, and I have no trouble keeping warm.

The polyester you're looking for (that doesn't itch) is going to be called polar fleece, or thinsulate, or polyester Berber fleece, or polartec.

Make sure you have lots of socks (not the thin kind you wear with dress shoes, but the terrycloth-like thicker cotton kind), as you may sometimes need to wear two pairs; tank tops or undershirts to wear under everything; long-sleeved t-shirts to wear under somewhat scratchy sweaters so they don't bother your arms; sweaters and/or cardigans; at least one really good hat and at least one good pair of gloves; a coat with two layers - the inside warm layer and outside windbreaking layer. Wear a bulky sweater when you shop for the coat, so you can be sure it's roomy enough. Get boots with a good tread.

When it gets really cold, the moisture drops out of air, and dry air creates static. Keep that in mind when choosing sweaters - pulling them over your head in a cold climate will make your hair annoyingly static-y. Get zippered or buttoned instead of pullovers, or get pullovers with wide necks, or half-zips.

Also, this isn't a clothing issue, but if it's consistently below zero, you will need to moisturize or your skin will drive you crazy. Make sure you invest in some very good moisturizer (I like vanilla body butter) and use it on your legs and elbows. Get a lighter moisturizer for your face - the kind you use on your body is too heavy for your face. Likewise, always carry lip balm of some sort (I prefer Chapstick).
posted by joannemerriam at 8:35 PM on March 3, 2007

The vital things for me in making the move from warm (L.A.) to cold (midwest) were warm boots, warm hat and a good layering system. I think wool is overrated: I spent my childhood freezing in Canberra winters no matter how much merino I swaddled myself in. The biggest lesson I learned was to buy a warm, lightweight, coat. You carry that coat everywhere and it shouldn't bug you. I love my down jacket.
posted by firstdrop at 8:42 PM on March 3, 2007

L.L. Bean flannel-lined pants.
posted by Partial Law at 8:43 PM on March 3, 2007

As someone who grew up in Hawai'i never really wearing layers much heavier than an unlined nylon windbreaker over the usual summery cotton stuff, and then moved to the east coast of the mainland US...layers work, but they can be really uncomfortably confining and suffocating when you're not used to dressing so heavily! I heartily third (or fourth, etc.) the suggestion for silk long underwear -- it's warm and breathable and stretchy without being bulky, which may help you adjust to the layering thing. You can find it in a pretty huge variety of styles and colors, everything from turtlenecks and basic long johns to stuff that could even layer under nice business clothes for a bit of extra warmth without bulk for underheated offices. And the outer layers will slide right on over it without getting clingy like they might over cotton or wool knits.

Silk sock liners are nice too if you want the warmth of wool socks but just don't like the feel against your skin. And along with the suggestions to make sure your coat or jacket is roomy enough to allow for bulky sweaters and such, you may need to size your winter boots up a little to accomodate thicker socks.

And yeah, also nthing the scarves/turtlenecks suggestion to keep the cold wind from sneaking down your collar, and hats...or if you really can't abide hat-hair, at least try some earmuffs or a fleecey headband to cover your ears.
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 8:48 PM on March 3, 2007

When you wear sockliners, and then thicker-than-normal socks, with your regular shoes, your feet will be constricted, and the insulation will be constricted, thus largely defeating the purpose. When you're buying winter footwear, keep this in mind. And, as long as I'm talking about winter footwear--anything that isn't waterproof/breathable is often, in real-world use, worse than useless.
posted by box at 9:23 PM on March 3, 2007

I did a fairly similar move from Phoenix, Arizona to Hamburg, Germany. When I got on the plane in Phoenix it was probably around 105 degrees, when I landed in Germany it was around 80 (this was 2003 (?) when they were having that heat wave in Europe).

Anyway, Austria is probably colder than where I was, but in the part of Germany I was in, it really only got down to freezing or a few degrees below, so it's not nearly as bad as the kinds of temperatures they get in the colder US states. I was able to get through winter with just a nice warm coat, a beanie, and some gloves. If you arrive in summer, the weather will get colder gradually, so you'll have some time to get used to it. My legs did tend to get cold, since I was just wearing jeans, but it wasn't so bad that I couldn't take it.
posted by !Jim at 9:52 PM on March 3, 2007

If it's cold out, the wind chill is what will get you. A cold day with no wind is not a problem really, especially if you're moving. But wind = eeeeek. That's where good outerwear comes in very handy - make sure that any jacket cinches at the waist, the wrists and the neck as this will minimise loss of body heat. A toque is an excellent choice, make sure it covers your ears.

But mostly, I'd recommend purchasing your wintry clothing once you're there. I've met lots of exchange students who come here (Vancouver) in Arctic parkas and those aren't necessary. Once you're there you'll be able to ask the locals what works. Since it's already March, most of it will be on sale.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:18 PM on March 3, 2007

Cuddle Duds! This is a soft, comfortable brand of long underwear that I wore when I lived in a town where the temperature regularly dropped below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

On top of the long underwear, you'll want heavy pants: wool slacks if you're being professional, jeans or corduroy otherwise. Wear a long-sleeved shirt on top of your Cuddle Duds top, and a sweater on top of that.

Invest is a really nice hooded jacket. The hood is important. Maybe consider a fleece for between the jacket and the sweater if it gets extra cold. If you're moving to Austria in the winter, maybe just buy a less expensive jacket and wear lots of layers until you get to buy a good jacket there. It will be hard to find a good quality warm jacket in the U.S. at this time of year, let alone one in California.

Smart Wool makes some really nice socks. They'll keep your feet warm, but they aren't itchy like regular wool. And they wick sweat away from your feet, so you won't end up with soggy toes if you head in somewhere warm.

Wear shoes or boots that go up to your ankle if you are likely to walk in snow. That way you won't get snow and ice on your feet.

Also needed: A knit hat, a knit scarf, and very thick synthetic gloves or mittens.

This sounds like a lot, but honestly most of it you'll just need one of. You need one each of:
* Jacket
* Gloves
* Hat
* Scarf

You need a couple of:
* Sweaters or fleece things to rotate between.

You need enough to wear them every day between laundry cycles of:
* Cuddle Duds
* Warm socks.

And then you need long sleeved shirts and pants to wear just as normal clothes.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:41 PM on March 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

To sort of housing are you moving to?

Often buildings are run on the longstanding principle that it is cold in winter and people should dress warmly - thus you should not be comfortable lounging in your underwear. If you find yourself in such a situation and suffer from cold feet then down booties help a lot.

Also while people above have recommenced polyester miracle fabrics, Note that they can absorb body odors that don't wash out. It seems that some people cannot smell such problems and like polyester while others find the smell offensive and have a reason to dislike people who wear such fabrics.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:44 PM on March 3, 2007

If you really want to stay warm, I would avoid cotton, especially socks. While a cotton undershirt will be fine for a trip to the store or under your sweater at work, in outdoor activities where you might perspire in the least, the cotton will soak up your sweat and it will hold it against your skin. This will make you cold in a hurry. You will find this out fast with cotton socks that make your feet clammy. Invest in some nice wool socks. There are a lot of great brands similar to Smartwool. I like Fox River. Fleece is cheap and plenty warm but, like MonkeySaltedNuts said, it will be fragrant after a while. Superwash wool sweaters and good silk underwear along with some kick-ass kneehigh wool socks keep me plenty warm. Sorel makes some very warm boots. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Scarves are more than just a fashion statement.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:46 AM on March 4, 2007

Foam Pants sez: Fleece is cheap and plenty warm but, like MonkeySaltedNuts said, it will be fragrant after a while.

At least you agree with me. I've encountered people from age 3 to 70 that have had bad "stink emanating from polyester" stink. My guess is that the ability to smell this is genetic, though I have yet to find any reports on how many people can smell this or what genes are responsible (or that I may have multiple copies of the gene so as to make me more sensitive).
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 3:17 AM on March 4, 2007

I saw it mentioned once above, but it bears repeating... Wool can be very very itchy if you are allergic to it! If you do have a sensitive reaction to wool that other people describe as "soft" try other fibers (cashmere is expensive, but boy is it nice!).

And, jumping on the layers wagon, except to add that I spent a portion of my childhood in Baltimore and I always always hated winter. There was no "acclimating to it" for me. In fact, it's only in the last year or so that I've been able to feign comfort in a moderately air conditioned room. So, you might not get used to it, but you can keep yourself alive.
posted by bilabial at 5:46 AM on March 4, 2007

Forget the advice to "size up "your boots to accommodate thick socks. Buy a pair of properly insulated boots like these and wear regular socks, otherwise your feet will heat to the point of discomfort. I have a pair of these for my winter trips to Saskatchewan. Totally comfortable.
posted by Neiltupper at 6:32 AM on March 4, 2007

YMMV, but I find that in moderately cold weather (say above zero), hats invariably leave my ears cold, but I'm happy going out without a hat if I can keep my ears warm. I have a pair of 180s earmuffs that are pretty dorky, but they definitely do the trick.

(In very cold weather, I just wear a big coat with a big hood, no hat or earmuffs necessary.)
posted by clavicle at 6:44 AM on March 4, 2007

This is turning into something harder than it really is.

First, are you moving to Vienna? If so, congratulations. The climate there is, by the numbers, similar to that eternally frozen city, Washington DC.

Second, dealing with cold weather is easy. You don't need to learn ways of not being cold as if it were something any sane person would have to think about. Follow these simple steps.

(1) Go outside dressed normally.
(2) Ask yourself: "Am I comfortable? Or do I feel cool or cold?"
(3) If you are cold, go back inside and put more clothes on. Repeat as necessary. "More clothes" is whatever you've got handy, from adding an undershirt to a sweater to a thick coat, hat, and gloves.

That is it, the grand secret to keeping warm. If you are cold, add more clothes. As a shortcut, if you look out the window and white stuff is falling down, go straight to a sweater+light jacket or a heavy coat.

About the only other thing you need to remember is the astonishing fact that if you're leaving in the early morning, it's probably going to get warmer, but if you're leaving right after dinner, it's going to get colder. That, and don't forget hat and gloves. Just get two pairs and stuff them into the pockets of your light jacket and your coat.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:43 AM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you buy all your cold weather gear over here, you will stand out in every crowd where people can see their breath over there--and, perhaps this is no longer true, but they will probably be dressed more elegantly.
posted by jamjam at 8:38 AM on March 4, 2007

Cashmere. It is less expensive than it once was, and well worth the money.
posted by ch1x0r at 9:14 AM on March 4, 2007

Fleece is not itchy and comes in various weights. Call LLBean and chat with a rep - they'll take the time to help you choose some cold weather basics. It's March, so it's not going to be that bad; Get some basics, then you can get what you need while you're there.
posted by theora55 at 9:56 AM on March 4, 2007

Cashmere, cashmere, cashmere. And merino. And a nice scarf, hat, and gloves. To not lose these accoutrements when you go inside, you can put them in the sleeve of your overcoat. Are you moving to a city or to a town? In the city, I would recommend avoiding fleece and arctic parkas, even when it is somewhat cold because they are ugly and people do not move to the city to wear ugly clothes. In fact, waiting till you move will let you be sure you dress up to the standard around you. Besides the "warm" clothes sold in SoCal are not as warm as the warm clothes sold in cold places.

Long underwear, while nice, can also make you too hot indoors, so you will need to experiment. Also, your profile doesn't give your sex, but trust me, thick skirt (coudoroy, wool, etc.) + thick stockings (acrylic usually) + knee-high boots is much warmer than pants outside, while less likely to make you hot inside, like pants + long underwear. I know it seems unlikely, but it is true.
posted by dame at 10:06 AM on March 4, 2007

I work in a cold warehouse environment with dock doors opening and shutting all the time. Some things I've learned over the years: (i) Layering is the way to go, because you really never know how hot/cold you're going to be, especially if you plan on being active. (ii) Make one of your layers a hooded sweatshirt--it keeps the cold air from going down the back of your neck. (iii) Waterproof shoes/boots are a necessity; something like Gore-tex which is breathable is even better. (iv) Whatever footwear you get, cover it in Sno-Seal, a wax-based treatment for leather. It's the best.
posted by keith0718 at 11:04 AM on March 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Add +1 to cashmere. It is a luxury, but it is very warm and very soft. So much so that at once point I had a colleague bump into me while I was wearing a cashmere sweater and she couldn't keep her hands off me and invited others to do the same. It is quite the tactile experience.

As far as getting used the cold, follow the great advice here. On a non-clothing related note - you will, over time, start to calibrate your mental response to various temperatures and your response to how you dress will vary depending on how long you've been at a different temperature.

For example, if it's just been several weeks of sub 0F and there's a 40F day, I'd be outside in a sweater over a shirt if I was working/walking outside. If instead it had been 80F and then 40F, I'd be shivering with the same dress.

Look forward to the experiences. For example, I love that first nasal inhale of bracing air - the kind that makes you swear that your nose hairs are freezing together.

One of the keys to staying warm is movement and activity. The more you move, the more heat you generate. If I'm shoveling snow, I'm very rarely cold, even on those aforementioned nose hair days.
posted by plinth at 11:23 AM on March 4, 2007

Seconding long socks. I prefer long over-the-knee socks over long underwear.

Tuck your scarf into your coat. Don't let it flap around outside. A good wide scarf can act like a second sweater, if you use it right. It does not need to be wool.

Also, wear your layers slightly loose rather than supertight. The layers trap warm air pockets close to you. If the layers are too tight, it will be uncomfortable.

Lastly, find a nice thick zip-front sweater or cardigan or fleece that you'll want to wear all the time. Something that will act as sort of a second jacket under your winter coat, but also fits over your regular clothes.
posted by hooray at 9:46 PM on March 4, 2007

here are my rules:

knee-length down jacket. it must be down.
scarf. gloves. hood. (i don't like hats, they eff up my hair.)
two layers on upper body, (tshirt + hoodie/sweater/blazer.)
longjohns give you hotcrotch. knee-high socks are better.

a large male body is the best warming device i've found.
failing that, put a little electric hotpad on your feet,
jersey or flannel fitted sheet below you,
fleece blanket or flannel sheet on top, right against your skin.
posted by twistofrhyme at 12:31 AM on March 5, 2007

Where will you be living in Austria? I moved from Houston to Vienna 6 and a half years ago. Vienna's not too bad.

What sort of wardrobe style do you anticipate on wearing? Will you be in suits / slacks, or will you have a more relaxed style?

Reasonable gloves, one or 2 good coats (wool top coat + a hard shell with a few fleece softshells).

This winter has been exceptionally mild, but I've never had to wear thermal underwear in Vienna, and haven't had much of a need for heavy wool sweaters, either. Drop me a line (email's in profile) if you'd like to ask any other specific questions about coming to Austria.
posted by syzygy at 6:01 AM on March 5, 2007

Suprised no one else has mentioned it yet, but it will help you stay warm if you mosturize your skin after bathing. This will also help keep you from getting itchy.

I find that with wool, the same wool sweater that seems itchy in warm weather (when it is too warm to wear it), won't itch anymore once it gets cold. I've also had good luck with the Smartwool brand, they make some nice socks and long underwear.
posted by yohko at 11:18 AM on March 5, 2007

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