The Evolution of Winter Wear


The Evolution of Winter Wear

Ellen Freeborn

Blame it on the snow, or the simple ebb and flow of trends, but one can’t deny that college students’ winter wardrobe has evolved significantly over the past couple of years.

It’s hard to forget the Ugg boot and North Face fleece uniform from just a few cold winters ago. Whether you rocked name brands, or experimented with a cheaper version like myself, most of us let this look survive for way too long. The slipper boot may have been comfortable while lounging in your dorm room, but it simply could not survive our harsh Ohio winters. Everyone eventually grew tired of salt-stained suede and cold, wet feet on every winter rendezvous.

To complement this less-than-practical but oh-so-fashionable winter wardrobe, most female college students paired this look with a long, thin scarf or a loosely-knit infinity scarf that served more as a necklace than a neck blanket.

Once the bitter winds kicked in, the real coats came out — known as the peacoat, double-breasted and undeniably classy. I owned about three of them, and I imagine that wearing them all at once could not keep me warm. While the coat seemingly had the capacity to create a professional outfit, it could not stand the test of time in terms of all-weather practicality.

Fast forward to 2015. I can’t help but notice an increased amount of insulation being worn across campus. With temperatures reaching new levels of extreme cold, our fashion has been forced to adapt.

This is obviously not the first time that fashion had to prove its malleability in the face of harsh climates. Eddie Bauer, creator of the quilted down winter coat, nearly died of hypothermia when his wool coat froze on an unpredictably cold fishing trip. This experience led him to utilizing goose down and inventing a light-weight, timelessly stylish, warm and breathable winter coat. This coat is still worn today by those who truly desire to survive winter weather comfortably.

Abby Bradford, sales associate at Wild Earth Outfitters in downtown Kent, provided some insight into the upcoming winter wear trends.

“The North Face fleece barely sold this year, so we won’t buy any for next year,” Bradford said. “The store is looking to buy bigger and more practical down coats for upcoming winter seasons.”

Pair your warm down coat with a bulky knit scarf and a floppy beanie, and you’ve got all-day, all-weather comfort.

There has also been a noticeable shift in boot choices toward something that will actually keep your feet warm and dry no matter how many slush puddles you stomp through on your trek to class. Brands like L.L. Bean, Timberland and Sorel are selling out of their utilitarian, weather-proof boots before winter even starts.

Maybe we’re adapting to climate change, or maybe we truly are gaining intelligence over the years. Either way, the leap toward durability and practicality in the evolution of winter wear does not compromise style. It shapes it. 

Contact Ellen Freeborn at [email protected].