Off the rack

Story by Cal McNeil

The beginning of the semester is upon us and unfortunately Mother Nature has finally decided to drop real Wisconsin weather as we come out of our month-long hibernation and back to our busy schedules. After an unusually warm November and December icy sidewalks, frigid temperatures, and gusty winds are filling the forecast, forcing us to add more layers to our daily outfits.

Instead of sticking to the ubiquitous UGG boots, sweatpants/sweatshirts and North Face jackets, take into consideration the following tips and statement pieces of winter clothes and accessories to make your outfit more unique, fashionable and most
importantly, warm.

Bold Outerwear:

Military inspired jackets, toggle and pea coats, parkas, puffer jackets with fur-lined hoods and faux fur jackets are still going strong in numerous major designer collections.  These are great alternatives to the standard North Face and Columbia coats that can be similar in price and just as warm.

College is a great time to slowly update your wardrobe to a more professional one.  Pea coats, toggle coats and military jackets are great investment pieces for both men and women and will last you far past your college career.  These options, along with blazers and suit jackets, will give you a wide range of clothes that will be appropriate for any
professional situation.

TIP: Business is slow in the retail industry after the holiday season and spring collections are replacing the fall and winter collections, so check the sale racks in-store and online for great deals on coats and jackets and stock up while they are cheap!

Sturdy Boots:

The debate over UGG boots and whether they are stylish and sensible for winter has been fought for years. It is almost impossible to walk through campus and not spot the clunky, tan sheepskin boots with jeans or sweatpants tucked in.

Luckily for you, I have great footwear ideas to help you breakout from the go-to winter boots. Leather knee-high riding boots can be less expensive than UGG boots and can be a great day to night alternative. Pair them with dark skinny jeans or jeggings and tall wool socks or warmer
knit tights.

An option for both men and women are classic duck boots, or waterproof rubber and leather lace-ups. Men’s boots options are scarce, but these are fashionable and durable and will also keep your feet warm and dry.

TIP: If you cannot get over your UGG addiction, check out other models besides the classic suede that have more sturdy rubber outsoles and better traction, and try different fabrics such as leather and rubber.

Knitwear Accessories:

Scarves, mittens and hats are essential pieces for every person’s winter wardrobe to protect yourself from the harsh winter elements and can pull an entire outfit together. Knitwear accessories keep you warm while still bringing out more personality to the outfit of your choice. Fair isle and other rustic prints are great options for these accessories and thick, which will keep you warm.Bursts of bold colors can also be paired with your favorite blue or black jacket to add contrast to your outfit.  Fur (or faux fur) hats, earmuffs and mittens are sure to keep you warm and add
great texture.

TIP: Thrift stores, clothing stores that specifically make homemade knitwear and clothes and online sites such as, or learning to knit are all great options to help save money on knitwear accessories while still
looking fashionable.