How to survive Ottawa winters — a clothing guide

If you live in Ottawa, then you already know how cold it can get. But, if it’s your first winter here and you’re not used to freezing cold weather and ice, you’re in for surprise. Winters can get extremely cold here, and it’s not uncommon for temperatures to dip under the -20°F mark. People from Ottawa approach the cold like war, and in many ways, it can feel like you’re at war with the elements at times. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t be comfortable and look nice. Let’s take a look at how to survive Ottawa winters in style.

Start Layering

This is probably the most important thing you'll need to master if you want to survive the blistering cold. Layering is the best way to survive strong gusts of wind and blistering cold. And, if you accessorize properly, you might even forget that it's -5°F outside.

The first piece you’ll need is a nice heavy coat with a thick hood. You can also get away with a thick wool coat, but you’ll have to have enough layers underneath to keep you hot. What makes layers so good against cold is that every layer creates a pocket of air, and this air will be heated by your body and serve as an insulating barrier.

If you layer properly, you will not only not feel the cold, but you may even start sweating under your clothes. That’s when you know you did it properly!

And don't forget your legs — bitter cold will give you a case of winter rash quickly, so you have to use the power of layers there too. You can find thermal pants that will fit under anything that you look at, and it's not uncommon for some people to wear an additional pair of pants right underneath. This is something you shouldn't skip, especially when temperatures drop below the -20°F barrier.

Have Your Accessories Down

Your accessories will be there to principally protect your extremities and could be lifesavers in certain situations. The first thing is to get yourself a nice tuque, and maybe even some earmuffs. These look way better than they used to and you can find very discreet models nowadays.

You will also need to find yourself a good scarf. Some people will even go for a ski mask, though it will be harder to pull off for many people. A heavy knitted scarf will protect you from strong front-facing winds, which are the absolute worst. It will also help keep your neck and chest warm.

You also need to have a pair of gloves. Don’t assume that you can simply keep your hands in your pockets, as you will be restricted in what you can do. For instance, carrying bags for more than a few minutes is impossible when it’s super cold, so you need to get yourself some nice gloves or some mittens.

Don’t Forget to Look Great

You should also know that you don’t have to sacrifice looking great for winter. It’s not always that cold in the winter, and the roads aren’t always covered in snow, so you don’t necessarily have to stick with winter style only.

For instance, it’s not uncommon for people to wear sneakers in the winter here. The latest Versace arrivals at SSENSE include shoes and sneakers that will look great no matter the weather. They have a wide array of Versace shoes, and there's something for everyone. They not only have a great selection of sneakers but a few boots you could consider as well.

Always Look at the Weather

Know that the temperature can vary wildly during the winter in Ottawa. It can get freezing cold one day, and almost like spring the next. This is why you always have to check the weather so you know which type of conditions you’ll have to deal with.

For instance, on milder and slightly cold days, you'll have to deal with things like sludge, puddles, and heavy snow. So, the choice of footwear here will be crucial. Even if it's not that cold, wet feet will get painfully cold after a few minutes, so you will need to invest in a good pair of waterproof boots if you want to be prepared for any conditions. You will also need to consider investing in a secondary jacket if you have a big parka. You might actually get very hot in it if the temperature gets milder. You also want to wear something waterproof.

So, if you were gearing up for your first Ottawa winter or are here for a quick visit, these are all things you’ll need to remember. This will allow you to enjoy it whatever the weather, and be able to get around without turning into a solid block of ice.

Photo: freestocks, Unsplash