I’m a born and raised Canadian girl. It’s something that I’m deeply proud of…but it’s also the reason why I have a closet full of outerwear that I can’t pare down no matter how hard I try. If there’s anything you need as a Canadian – it’s outerwear!
If you’re a fellow Canadian looking for some tips on what to keep around for outerwear or a tourist hoping to visit the Great White North, this post is for you. I’m going to cover every piece of outerwear you’ll need to get you from October to April! How to shop for winter outerwear, how to style it and when to wear it!
Winter Coats: Why You Need So Many
Let’s go over the basics of winter coats for a minute here. Why do you need so many?Canada is a country with varying climates…sometimes in the same day and being prepared for that is important. If you’re asking me if I wear all of the winter coats in my closet, I can assure you that on a weekly basis I will likely wear all 4-5 of these options:
Down Puffers & Vests
With cool winds in the spring and fall, you’ll want a coat like this. Windproof, lightweight and often waterproof, these packable down coats are great for travel. They’re perfect for spring and fall and even those warmer winter days.
I am also a lover of vests. Often I’d sooner wear a vest than a full on jacket. They also make for a great layering piece if you need some extra warmth. I suggest a packable down vest and a stylish, warmer puffer vest.
How to Style Puffers: I suggest lightweight accessories to match the lightweight nature of your packable down. For a puffier coat/vest, opt for accessories that are in the same warmth category. I usually pair with hiking boots (shown further down).
Ski Jackets: The All-Around Coat
When I say “ski jacket” I really mean a “standard winter coat”, most often worn for activities like skiing, going to the grocery store and shovelling snow. Be sure to get something you can easily move in (twirl your arms around and really flail when you’re trying these on!). Also look for venting zippers, powder skirts and windproof fabrics. NOTE: These coats are much lighter weight than they ever used to be, but just as warm.
This jacket is warm, lightweight, windproof and water resistant. It has zipper vents and a hood. It keeps me warm without the bulk, so I can move freely! It’s perfect for outdoor adventures and snow sports.
How to Style Ski Jackets: I suggest a toque, mitts/gloves and a warm winter boot. Styling is very much based on the activity at hand!
Shop: Knit Toque | Ski Jacket | Tech Beanie
Knit Buff | Tech Buff | Gloves | Boots | Mittens
Before parkas came back into fashion, we all just wore our “ski jackets” around. The parka is the ultimate bridge between looking great when it is cold as ice outside. Parkas are no longer for expeditions to the Arctic – they’re a part of our winter fashion now. Get the right one and you can wear it for a day of snowshoeing and then dress it up for a cold night out!
Why You Should Get a Parka + Buying Tips: You will want a parka because Canada is cold. Parkas are the pinnacle of winter outerwear, the warmest coats you will find! They come in different silhouettes now so be sure to try and find something that flatters your shape (as much as a sleeping bag of a coat can).
My Parka: I am obsessed over this Nuuk Parka by Fjällräven! It’s warm when it needs to be, but doesn’t cook me, the hood fur is removable, it moves well and looks great.
How to Style Parkas: I style my parka differently based on how cold it is outside or how dressed up I want to be. I suggest a toque, mitts and boots!
Shop: Patterned Toque | Parka | PomPom Toque
Tech Mitten | Boots | Knit Mitten | Knit Buff
Wool Dress Coat
Like a spring or fall trench, a wool dress coat is essential for winter style in Canada. As much as you can dress up a parka, they just don’t look quite as haute as you need them to over a cocktail dress! They are also a must for going to and from the office and when wearing business attire.
Why You Should Invest: Some of these coats expensive, but if you invest a little extra, they will last for years! I always look for classic, tailored styles and timeless silhouettes and colours for that reason.
How to Style Dress Coats: Style a dress coat as you would a trench…only warmer. They look great over jeans and boots/booties, dresses, business attire and more. Opt for finer knit and leather accessories.
Shop: Toque | Brown Gloves | Navy Scarf | Coat
Beanie | Black Gloves | Knit Scarf
The Basics of Winter Boots & Accessories
Having the right warm hats, mittens, gloves and scarves is really important. I keep different accessories for different activities and “levels of cold” (as well as for “levels of cold” for said activities). Needless to say, I have a lot of winter accessories.
Hats: In Canada, we call knit wool hats “toques” (pronounced: “tuke”). You may call it a beanie, but to us, a beanie is a loose and unstructured toque with no pompom (that is never as warm or as cute).
Gloves & Mittens: These will vary based on your activity and preference. I love mittens, my husband prefers gloves. I only use gloves when I need to do something precise outside in the cold like hunting or hanging Christmas lights.
Scarves: I suggest a scarf for everyday wear and maybe a buff or “ski tube” (as they used to be called) for those more athletic endeavours. Scarves are my favourite accessory to pair with a wool dress coat.
For more on my favorite winter accessories, check out Winter Accessories: Warm & Fashionable Hats, Mitts and Scarves.
Boots: I have different pairs of winter boots for different things. Boot season is 6+ months long here literally because if you don’t wear boots, your feet might get wet or cold because we (usually) get a lot of snow. Even if it doesn’t snow much in a given winter, it will be cold and you’ll want the extra insulation.
I have shearling lined hiking boots for going out and about, running errands, going to the hockey rink, etc.
I have knee high snow boots for shovelling my way out of a blizzard. I also have what I deem “cute snowboots” which are all those lovely styles we’re seeing from UGG and Sorel now. I’m glad footwear brands finally got the memo – I need to be stylish, but being warm is priority one!
Stay warm out there, friends!