My Winter Essentials

As I touched on in my last post, even a minimalist with the best intentions can go astray amidst the excesses of the holiday season. The truth is despite the plethora of style guides at this time of year, you really only need a couple of staples to carry you through winter in warmth and style. Here are my essentials at this time of year, as well as a couple of alternatives and "inspired by" picks, if you need help sticking to a "Buy less, choose well" philosophy.

A warm coat (1 and 6). It's better to have one warm, high-quality coat that you can always rely on to keep you from shivering, rather than half a dozen sorta-warm fast fashion numbers that pill after a few wears. Longtime readers of this blog know I swear by my blue J. Crew stadium cloth cocoon coat. The silhouette is chic and roomy enough to allow for chunky knits and layering. What's more, the cobalt hue brightens up a neutrals-heavy wardrobe. I finally had to replace it this year after about 4-5 years not because it was worn out (it still looked like new), but because it didn't fit across the shoulders anymore, so what did I do? I consigned the old one and bought the exact same one in a bigger size. Hey, when you find what works for you...

For a more fitted and equally chic alternative, I like the look of Gap's shearling moto jacket, which is made of the coziest-looking authentic shearling-lined suede. Probably not the most practical choice for snowy or rainy weather, but a girl can dream.

Party heels (2, 12 and 13). A girl needs one fabulous, festive pair of goes-with-anything special shoes to wear with a pretty blouse and boyfriend denim, or a cocktail dress. I love the low block heels this season like the J. Crew glitter scalloped heels, while blue glitter and a feathery pom dress up an otherwise classic stiletto from Winners ($149.99). In all likelihood though, I'll be re-wearing the Stuart Weitzman NEARLYNUDE sandals in glittery gold that I wore for my wedding.

Gloves/mittens/hand-warmers (3 and 15). I'm partial to Club Monaco's cashmere hand-warmers in above-zero temperatures. They're soft, luxe, and warm, and they roll up into practically nothing so you can stow them easily in pockets and purses. They fit my small hands perfectly and let me use my phone without constantly whipping gloves on and off. For all the snowy sub-zero weather Vancouver has had lately though, little cashmere hand-warmers just don't cut it, so I've been wearing these fleece-lined XO mittens from Indigo that I received from a media gift bag.

A luxe little bag (4 and 8). My Chanel wallet on chain is one of my fave purchases of all time for all sorts of reasons: it instantly elevates any outfit; the strap converts it from a handheld clutch to a cross-body or shoulder bag; the card slots and compartments inside keep all my going-out essentials organized. The Saint Laurent and Ferragamo versions of the wallet on chain tick all of the above boxes, but have a (somewhat) more palatable price tag.

A thick scarf (5 and 10). A warm scarf you can wrap around and around and cover part of your face with is essential on snowy sub-zero days. For this essential, I favour neutral colours and classic patterns like stripes or plaids—something that'll go with any coat and add visual interest at the same time. J. Crew's striped scarf with pompoms is an adorable investment option, but the one I wear all the time is from Dynamite of all places and has held up remarkably well, so I have no compunctions recommending this fuzzy plaid blanket scarf as an inexpensive alternative.

Statement earrings (7 and 9). They add sparkle to countless holiday looks! The ones I always reach for are Swarovski's 'Baron' earrings: They have so much movement and sparkle, but are so lightweight and comfortable to wear. For a more affordable option, you can't go wrong with sparkly clear stones and pearls à la these drop earrings from Winners ($39.99).

A "wow" lippie (11). Whether the colour makes a statement on its own or brightens up a winter-pale complexion, or the packaging makes you feel special every time you use it, this is the not-your-everyday lipstick that makes the holiday season feel all the more indulgent. For me it's always one of Dior's limited edition holiday lipsticks, but the glittery Mariah Carey x MAC lipstick is a close contender.

A beanie (or a toque, as we Canadians like to call it) (14). Club Monaco makes the nicest, most investment-worthy beanies in my opinion: They come in cozy wool or cashmere, and if you go for a neutral hue, classic textured knit, and a luxuriant fur pom like I did, you'll get compliments for seasons to come. This camel-coloured cable-knit number ticks all the boxes.

Snow boots (16). As cute and waterproof as wellies can be, they're not the greatest footwear for snowy weather: Freezing temperatures can cause the rubber to become brittle and crack, while rubber is one of the worst materials for transmitting cold through the ground and into your feet. Instead, spring for dedicated snow boots like the J. Crew Sorel 'Tivoli' boots. $165 might seem steep at first, but your dry and toasty feet will thank you.

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