Hello again to everyone! This week as Christmas is soon here I will be talking about winter coats for different temperatures. There’s this idyllic picture of a white Christmas in the Western culture but for some, it can be a little bit too white. 🙂

We’ve had snow for weeks now. It’s been snowing almost every day, and we’ll probably be breaking snow records in the Helsinki region this winter. Believe me, it’s not even remotely funny in an urban area! Still nothing ever stops. Schools and businesses remain open, public transportation runs, and the airport stays open as seen on this one-minute CNN Future Cities video. We’ve got “snowhow”, and that includes how to dress for the weather.

Winter can mean several things depending on the climate zone you live in. Here in Helsinki we’re about 600km south of the Arctic Circle, and our climate is kept in decent temperatures by the Gulf Stream. On the other side we’ve got the big vast land mass of Siberia, which generates hot weather for us in the summer and freezing cold sunny days in the winter. The rule of thumb is, if it snows, it’s not freezing cold; if it’s a sunny day, it’s probably freezing cold.

Red circle is the area where I live.

Mostly I prefer knee length coats because they are not too long to wear with trousers and are usually long enough for dresses and boots combos. When I get up in the morning I take a look at the weather forecast and pick the coat according to the temperature and categorize my coats in the following way (without layering for warmth) :

When the weather is during the day a few degrees above zero and in the mornings zero (32ºF) or a little under.

Padded leather coat.
Pepperberry Trench coats with room for chunky knitwear.

When the weather is below zero but no more than -18ºC  (-0.4ºF) in the morning and warmer during the day.

My new coat from a local store Halonen. The brand is Pure Instinct, and it’s an amazing fit for a busty woman. Usually I need to either size up due to my bust or the coat squashes it and doesn’t look nice. This had so much elasticity that it fits well and is comfortable.
Convertable coat / vest, actually from a riding gear store Hööks but very good for any basic use. Pictures are from New Zealand and it was a bit too warm for their winter.
My old favorite wool coat from Zara, wasn’t an ideal fit but an ok one. But then…
… I discovered Pepperberry wool coats which fit like a dream! The longer coats are often a bit too long for my taste though.

When the weather is below -18 in general, at its coldest I’m talking about -35 Celsius degrees (-31 °F) here in southern Finland.

The only thing that truly keeps anyone totally cosy and warm when it’s below -30 (-22 °F)is a sheepskin coat or equivalent, I’m not pro fur but this just happens to be a fact and therefore in the older days what we HAD to wear. I inherited this from my grandmother. I would not buy fur.
Parkas work too but they require a lot of layering and still was freezing in this coat on that day, it was -36 (-32.8 °F) and we’re on sea ice in Loviisa, Finland. Again a Nordic riding gear brand Hööks coat 🙂

There are some exceptions of course with layering but when I’m going to work I don’t do much layering so just need my coat to be warm enough.

It is just below 0 Celsius degrees and during the day a little bit over Рwearing a windproof breathable thin coat (again, H̦̦ks), then a warm sweatshirt and under it a long sleeved technical shirt so I wont get damp under my clothes. Also a scarf / headband.

Some key notes on staying warm that we learn as small kids here: keep your head, hands and feet warm, especially your head. If any of those are exposed, you will feel much colder in the winter. Many homes have cold floors in the winter so keeping your feet warm indoors with woolly socks helps you to stay warm and snuggly. I have many pairs of woolly socks, and I wear them inside shoes too because normal socks in normal shoes are not enough in the winter. But indoors at work I need to take those off or my feet will be boiling and then cold when I leave work.

Which then brings me to one other key thing: make sure your clothes “breathe” or that you don’t go overboard with your coat. This is because if you start feeling hot and sweaty at all, and the dampness doesn’t evaporate, you’ll feel so cold even if you are wearing a massive coat. I often see tourists in Helsinki from warmer parts of the world and they are wearing down coats in +15  (59 °F) weather!

Sure people are accustomed to their own climates and we can tolerate cold more than people from warmer areas, but that is a bit out there 🙂 For them we on the other hand look silly with shorts and t-shirts in barely +20 (68 °F) weather which already feels warm in our opinion.