It’s official: Winter has come to Minnesota. And if you’re like me, you could use a refresh on how exactly to go about building a winter wardrobe. Fortunately, the Twin Cities is now home to plentiful resources for winter dressing, from major retailers such as North Face and Columbia to local stores including Askov Finlayson and Midwest Mountaineering. The Twin Cities has also recently welcomed one of the leading brands in cold-weather gear, Fjällräven—with three metro-area stores having opened in the past six months. With its slogan, “Own the cold,” the Sweden-born brand fits right in with Minnesota’s frozen tundra.
Here are five tips on building your winter wardrobe:
Figure out how much time you spend outside during the winter—and how you spend it. Think about your day-to-day routine: Are you going straight from your home to your car to work? Then you’ll want a lighter jacket. Are you spending time outside waiting for the bus? Then you might need a heavy-duty parka. Or are you someone who bikes to work, or participate in outdoor sports like cross-country skiing? Then you’ll want to find an outer layer that is waterproof, breathable, lightweight, and windproof. For an active person, Nathan Eckstein, a keyholder at the Fjällräven Grand Avenue store, recommends Fjällräven’s Keb series. The technical series feature nylon and Spandex combined with polyester and wool and is insulated with its signature G-Loft synthetic microfill. “They allow you to move but are very fitted, so they’re not going to add bulk but they’re going to add warmth,” he says.
If you’re going to be walking around in sub-grade weather, Fjällräven also has some really warm, Arctic-grade parkas. Its newest is the Polar Guide Parka for men and women, made from its signature G-1000 fabric, a waxable poly-cotton that is infused with its Greenland Wax (a beeswax/parafin-wax hybrid).
Let climate be a deciding factor. Many of Fjällräven’s coats are filled with real down. Because down tends to be affected by humidity, it isn’t recommended for moist or wet climates, like Seattle (in which case, you’ll want to opt for a synthetic fill). Eckstein says one of their most popular jackets this year is the Övik Lite, a quilted, down-filled jacket that is more streamlined in silhouette (for those of us who want to avoid looking like a marshmallow).
Layering is key. If you’re looking to spend a lot of time outdoors, it’s important to start out with a solid baselayer. A baselayer made from a technical, synthetic fabric, such as polyester, works to wick moisture away from your skin, breathe efficiently, and dry fast (as opposed to cotton, which stays damp). From there, add a warm and lightweight layer, such as Fjällräven’s Lappland merino wool henley, or its Lada sweater, a breathable (and stylish) wool-polyamide hybrid.
Mind the fit. You need a fit that keeps in enough air as an insulating layer, but not too much—if it’s too roomy, there is too much air for the body to warm up, so you actually lose body heart. If your jacket is too tight, you don’t get the most out of the insulation, and your movement may be constricted.
Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. Much of our body heat is lost through the head. Fjällräven’s Nordic Heater is a lined, nylon trapper hat with synthetic fur and ear-flaps that’s available in a variety of colors for men and women. Fjällräven’s stores also sell leather gloves by Hestra, in styles spanning everyday wear to active wear, and Hanwag’s insulated, waterproof hiking boots in both and women’s styles.
For more personalized tips on building a winter wardrobe, be sure to attend Minnesota Monthly’s exclusive event at Fjällräven Grand Avenue this Thursday, December 3. The evening includes an informal fashion presentation with live models, through which store associates will share product knowledge, demonstrate layering techniques, and show how to integrate the pieces into your everyday life.
Fjällräven Keb Jacket, Courtesy Fjällräven
Sarek series, photo: Håkan Wike, Courtesy Fjällräven
Fjällräven Polar, Courtesy Fjällräven
Fjällräven Polar, Courtesy Fjällräven