Please sign in to post.

What to wear in Winter

Since we live in Southern California, so we don't own any "real" winter jackets. My daughter will be studying in Edinburgh, Scotland next semester (January- May 2016) & I plan to take her shopping for a mini winter wardrobe.
I know that it's best to dress in layers when it comes to staying warm in cold weather, having said this,
I need your help deciding what she would need (jacket wise) while she's there during this time period.
I purchased a raincoat that is basically just a raincoat (without a warm liner) & it looks like this and plan to buy her a nice warm fleece jacket, which she can wear underneath, along with other layers (thermals, long sleeves, etc..)
I'd like to hear your recommendations as to whether keeping this raincoat (plus fleece jacket) is a good idea, or exchanging it for a 3-in-1 jacket like this

I also plan to buy her some water proof boots. Since she can only take one medium sized suitcase plus a small carry-on, should she just wait to buy them there?

Any ideas, suggestions, and recommendations would be greatly appreciated, thank you!

Posted by
5819 posts

She's good to go assuming that the overcoat is roomy enough to not compress the fleece insulating layer. Consider two fleece jackets, one light/thin and one heavy/thick for warmer vs colder days.

For high-energy activities such as cross-country skiing, cycling or
running, choose lightweight fleece (Polartec 100 or Power Dry) to
avoid overheating. For cold conditions, try thicker fleece such as
Polartec 200 or 300.

Add gloves and cap and paiir with good socks (eg wool) and shoes/boots.

Also consider base layers and or tights for lower body:

Posted by
3873 posts

You both might want to take a look at the weather averages for Edinburgh. Keeping in mind that they are averages, and things could be different for her time there, what she wears will definitely depend on where she will spend most of her time. City? Tromping around the Highlands? On the cold, wet beach?

Layers seem to be the best option. The rain coat looks a little more on the fashion side than the practical side, but not from the description. The 3-in-1 has good options, but is more outdoors than city. I'd hazard a guess that you are an REI member, like many of us. You might also want to take a look at Eddie Bauer and some more city-esque sources. And yes, long sleeves are the best.

There have been some discussions on the forum lately about thermals. Many people recommend them. I've lived in Germany, WA and Cincinnati (one year when the Ohio River froze over). I have never worn them. The only advantage I can see is to use them in an emergency or as pajamas. Base layers or long underwear don't have to be black, white or beige. There are some cute tops that are more interesting than that and can be worn on their own, like these from Land's End, or these from Eddie Bauer.

About the boots. I wouldn't wait to get them there. She can try on some Ahnu Montara boots at REI and if they don't have a color she likes she can order them online. I swear by these and I think they are cute. They keep your feet dry and warm with the right kind of socks and also help with all the walking she will be doing over different kinds of terrain in wet and cold weather, which I'm sure is wayyyyy more than she does normally.

Since I only take carry-on (22" or smaller), I'm not sure what a "medium" sized suitcase is. She will do best if she wears her heaviest and warmest clothes on the plane, including layers, coat, hat, gloves and scarf. She may leave SoCal in relatively warm, dry weather, but she will appreciate having immediate access to warm clothing as she exits the plane at EDI.

She will be there for a long time and I'm sure she will want to buy local clothing, so I wouldn't pack too much. If she can wear wool, all the better. There are lots of washable wool options these days.

I have gotten lots of ideas and help from the Vivienne Files. The coordination ideas presented there can save a lot of money. The garments shown are usually too pricey and too formal for me, but it's the concepts that are important -- especially those shown under Packing and 4x4 Wardrobes.

Under the influence of the VF, I've seen the value of scarves, but I get mine at Target! From trips to Europe during cold and wet weather, I've seen the value of vests. From what I see online, there are a lot of them available out there now. LL Bean is a good source. Some of the best colors come from Land's End or Coldwater Creek.

Assuming that she will wash her clothes once a week like at home, she really only needs clothes for a week or so. She will learn to wear things more than once before she washes them and to do the wash when she runs out of clean socks or underwear.

Posted by
5697 posts

My experience coming from Los Angeles to Madison, Wisconsin for a year of grad school was that I did shopping a for winter coat and other items as I needed them -- the stores there had the right stuff for that climate. Actually I borrowed a lot from my roommate, who had come from a cold climate.

Posted by
1518 posts

My suggestion would be only bring a minimum, and go shopping once in Edinburgh. At the least this will allow the weight allowance for the luggage to be used for momentos and knick knacks from home, things of a sentimental value that could easily be yearned for in February.

The other thing it is not just the cold you need to dress against, it is both the cold and the wet, so working out what locals are wearing is useful again by buying here. And January will be the sales.

Posted by
15365 posts

Problems with waiting to buy in Scotland - it will probably be a lot more expensive, she may be forced to shop immediately instead of doing other things, that added pressure means no shopping for bargains or looking around for the most suitable items. Sure, she can buy a hat or a scarf, but a coat? And winter clothes she buys there may not be suitable for wearing anywhere after her semester is over.

Do some "window shopping" at amazon.UK and see what the prices are like. If it's reasonable to buy there, check with the school if there's an address that would accept shipments and hold them - then order close to her arrival date.

I see you've been looking at REI. Take her on a trip to one of their stores and consult with the folks there. I've always found their staff to be knowledgeable and helpful. Spend some time browsing and you'll almost always find something useful for your next trip too. If you're going to spend a lot there, buy a membership. It will pay for itself and more.

Thermals don't weigh a lot and they can be great. I assume she will be spending long hours outdoors at least once in a while. How heated are the buildings? If they keep the indoor temps around 68F, a thermal underlayer will be more practical in the long run than a wool cardigan that she won't wear after she gets home. Someone recently wrote that they got silk thermals at Costco - undoubtedly cheaper than REI.

Posted by
1518 posts

Another site to check out for costings is Primark, the discount clothes retailer. And January the sales will be in full swing.

I can see what Chani is advising and costs may be expensive compared to California. But will include VAT in that, unless she can fit into child sizes with are zero rated. It depends on what your and your daughter's budgets are.

Chani's advice on ordering on line to get delivered is sound, check they can receive a consignment. In this case only order from a UK or elsewhere in the EU/EEA based site as customs duties would then be avoided. Buying stuff from US or Canada based sites has stung a lot of people as the shipping, VAT and customs duties all raise their pretty heads and bump the price to near the domestic level if not higher.

Posted by
5105 posts

**Thanks* to* Edgar, Lo, Laura, MC & Chani for all your helpful ideas!

I can always count on this forum for great advise!

Yes, I'm a member of REI & plan to take my daughter there, especially for the Ahnu Montara boots.
I will also check Land's End, Eddie Bauer & Costco.

MC, I checked Primark & they have great prices! I think this may become my daughter's favorite store!

Thanks again! ;-)

Posted by
6113 posts

Unless you are going hiking, you don't need thermals for normal everyday wear in the UK. Use standard vest tops under a shirt and/or a fleece. No need for expensive thermals that will never be worn again. Buy standard wooly tights here e.g. at Primark or BHS - no need for thermal leggings.

When she gets here, look in charity shops if she needs anything - good on a budget. Wear the coat on the plane - don't pack it in case it goes missing en route and it won't count in her luggage allowance.

Posted by
5105 posts

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks! My daughter does enjoy hiking, but has not gone hiking in cold climates yet.

What does BHS stand for?

Posted by
15365 posts

BHS is a UK department store chain. Check out their website (they must have one) and Primark too for prices. Charity shops are a good idea, too.

I think daughter will use the thermals more, if not in Scotland, then in her future travels. Back home, they are as warm on the slopes of Tahoe or the winter trails in Yosemite.

Posted by
1518 posts

BHS used to be British Home Stores, now I think it stands for BHS, but the prices are reasonable there as well.

Posted by
5675 posts

So, just a comment about thermals....Today, it was 40 degrees in NYC. We were walking about a half mile to the farmer's market. I did not want to wear a coat, but short sleeved winter silks were perfect under my t shirt topped by long-sleeved shirt and my Scottish wool sweater. It was perfect. If we'd been out another half hour I would have peeled off one of the layers....Last week, I omitted the first layer and I was chilled.

So, certainly you don't need thermals because it's 10 below zero, but when it's wet and in the forties it's a very nice layer. It's one of those things that is helpful when you are walking a lot and waiting for buses or trams.

Have you checked that the rain coat is water proof and not water resistant? You really want it to be water proof.


Posted by
1518 posts

Wearing thermals when it is in the 40s outside sounds so strange when you are used to celcius! ;-)

Posted by
5675 posts

I know...I thought about that, but didn't have the energy to do the maths. It was a gorgeous but brisk weather.