Dressing for work when it’s freezing outside can be tricky. You want to be warm and comfortable — but also professional.
“Doing both isn’t easy, but it is possible,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job.”
“When it’s cold out, you feel inclined to wear as much bulk as possible from head to toe. You’re tempted to pull out your full-on ski gear, especially in the Northeast this week. But you can accomplish both goals of staying comfortable and professional, no matter how frosty it is outside.”
Here are six tips for dressing professionally when it’s freezing out:
1. Wear a long coat, scarf, and gloves.
What you wear when you’re commuting to work matters. “If you’re comfortable during your ride or walk to work, you have less of a need to catch up and warm up once you arrive at the office,” says Taylor. Plus, as long as those accessories aren’t old or tattered, they tend to look nice and professional — so you shouldn’t feel the need to immediately rip them off the moment you walk through the door.
2. Keep an extra pair of shoes under your desk.
Don’t wear heals or dress shoes to work in the middle of a snowstorm just to maintain a professional look. It’s dangerous, and your feet will freeze. Wear snow boots and change once you arrive at the office.
3. Keep a shawl or extra blazer at work.
Your office may be chilly sometimes during the cold winter months, says Taylor. “And most thermostats are off limits to employees, so you may not have much control over the temperature.”
Having an extra black blazer or shawl may save you on days where you’re freezing in the office, she says. Plus, a shawl can double as a blanket and you’ll still look professional if you walk around the office with it wrapped around your upper body.
4. Keep a pair of fingerless gloves at your desk.
You can keep your hands warm while working on days when the office is cool. Fingerless gloves are also easier to type in than regular gloves, and they’re less noticeable.
5. Think layers.
Some offices are cold, while others are uncomfortably warm. And yours might even be both throughout the day.
Wearing a sweater over a nice dress shirt, for example, offers some flexibility. You’ll look professional when you’re chilly and the sweater is on, and when you get warm and take it off.
You can also layer by wearing warm socks, long underwear, or tights under your clothes.
6. Don’t keep your hat or Uggs on.
“Do take off your hat and change out of your Uggs for the optimal professional look,” says Taylor. “Of course, dress codes vary from office to office and among industries. Take your cue from your boss, and when in doubt, ask.”
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