Winter Color

In many months of the year I question the fashion industry, but none so much as January. It is cold, dark and raining, and yet everywhere I look spring fabrics flutter seductively. “Spring is coming,” they whisper, “a sleeveless dress is just what you need.”

Yes, technically spring is coming, what with the orbitting of the earth and all. But the 2020 summer Olympics are also also coming, and I’m not exactly preparing my wardrobe. Warm weather is a long way off here in Oregon.

In all honesty, January can feel like a bit of a bummer, fashion-wise. The rich colors and cozy plaids that felt so relevant through November and December seem a little stale now.

The trick to blowing off our winter fashion blues is to use color, rather than style or fabric, to express our longing for warmer months. Comb your closet for clothing that is warm and cozy, but with colors that point us towards spring. We can all wear satisfying ensembles throughout the winter without giving in to an airy tank top before it is time.

Here are a few color combinations to pull you out of your winter doldrums, along with some of my favorite mid-winter pieces.

Cognac and Denim

I’m pretending to be an extra in Thelma and Louise.

I always love this southwest-inspired combination, but never so much as in the middle of winter. If I’m not actually in a the American Southwest hiking through sun-baked canyons, at least I look like I could be.

Spring green and deep brown

So I like to dress like my garden? I just avoid anything striped and/or a red hat, and there’s no chance of looking like a gnome.

Spring green is such a fun color. Paired with brown you can brave the mud of February and still look sharp.

Pink and grey

Pink and grey remains a January/February classic. Soft fabrics and knits are toasty warm while the colors are soothing and easy. A little 1950s, a little 1980s, it’s all good in pink and grey.

Other fun winter combinations are black and teal, cream and light blue, and navy and white.

My winter favorites

I have several pieces that keep me style-positive through these dark months. Here are a few favs:

Talbot’s Heart Sweater

I’m pretty sure I longed for this exact sweater my entire 5th grade year.

I love this sweater. It is so easy to wear, a perfect weight for indoors, but it can easily be layered if I am heading outside.

Soft-color plaid flannel chores shirt

Thanks Owen!

My son bought me this shirt for Christmas. The cheerful colors make this chores top perfect for winter. Most Saturdays I can be found wearing this top while I muck around with my family and goats. It’s warm and uplifting.

A seriously warm Stio coat with bright pink lining

My please-let-it-be-cold coat.
Look, there’s a pink pineapple on the back! Or a pinecone. Or whatever.

My forever down jacket is from Stio, and while it is practical six ways to Sunday (water proof, down fill, all sorts of ventilating, etc, etc) it also has a bright pink lining that is so unexpected it makes me giggle, leaving me warm and happy.

Pink Patagonia Puffer Vest



This puffer has gotten a lot of play on this blog. I do apologize for reusing the pictures but it is such a great piece. You probably have something similar, a lucky thrift store find that you pull out year after year.

Bright green jacket

Keeping things merry and bright long after the holidays are over.

I bought this green jacket to wear to my son’s football games (his school colors are green and white) As it turns out I wear it everywhere, all year round: Track meets in the spring, cold nights camping in the summer, football in the fall, instead of a sweater in the winter. In all honesty this is not a great color on me but I really don’t care. The color puts me in a good mood and the nanopuff keeps me cozy.

I can belay my husband on his project in this jacket, too!

With a little fortitude, and a lot of color, we can make these winter months as fashionably fun as any other time. Go raid your closet and see what you can find!

Do you have a favorite winter color combination, or an article of clothing that gets you through the first months of the year? Please tell us about it in the comments below.

Hey mom, did you know that the outcome of my sporting events has absolutely nothing to do with the color of your jacket? It’s true. Also the ref doesn’t seem to be taking your advice, so you can stop yelling now.

Mid-Winter Wardrobe Planning

We’ve got a long, long time until spring, yet already the fashion world is pressuring me to “refresh!” and suggesting that early January is the moment to break out a floral dress. There is mounting pressure to wear shoes without socks.


The next three months in Oregon will be cold. Rainy weeks might be broken with a few glorious days of sun, or we could get an inversion of fog that leaves us unable to see the sky for days. Family schedules will resume at a hectic pace. Work will spiral around me with deadlines and expectations. But I plan to enjoy each of these busy, bad weather days and look good while doing so.

Here is my winter wardrobe planning checklist. I’ll knock these out in early January to make getting dressed easy all winter long.

Hello, beautiful winter.

Be realistic about your winter

“There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing,” my husband tells the students in his outdoor, environmental literature class. They are expected to go outside for class, everyday, no matter the weather. We should do the same ourselves. Warm, durable clothing that can withstand a little mud is a must. A stylish, well-fitting winter coat and good boots can make the worst winter storm a fun day for a hike.

No day is a bad day for a hike.

That said, don’t live in a fantasy winter. Recently I found a great pair of NorthFace ski pants at a quarter of the original price. As I headed up to the register a little voice in my head said, “But… you don’t ski.” I argued with the voice that I wanted to learn to ski and that maybe if I had these great pants I would. The little voice reminded me that I hadn’t bothered to learn to ski for the last 44 winters. I reminded the voice that these were great pants. The little voice in my head gave me a look (or whatever) I put the pants back.

There are a lot of fun winter clothes out there, but I only need the ones I will actually wear. In Oregon, a silk base layer, warm wool and flannel, and a well-crafted rain jacket suit me perfectly. Check to make sure you have the gear you need so you can get outside as much as possible, but don’t pretend you’re mounting an expedition to Denali, even if you find a gorgeous ice axe for half price.


Pack up the fall, pack in the winter

By January I am over the rich browns and warm oranges of my fall wardrobe. My winter tastes run to gray, navy, jewel tones and a few pastels in warm wool or cashmere. I like to take time to pack up a few fall pieces, and pull out the deep storage of gray wool sweaters.

Make sure everything hanging in your closet is something you want to wear now, and pack up the extras for a much deserved winter rest.

Welcome back, gray wool sweater with rainbow hearts!

This is also a good time to think about how your fall wardrobe worked as a whole. In your style notebook, make a few notes about what you loved and what didn’t quite work. Looking back, I had more choices than I needed this fall, and that slowed me down every morning as I got dressed. Next fall I’d like to tighten up my choices. Take a good, hard look. Are there any fall pieces that just didn’t get worn? Now if the perfect time to send them off to the resale shop, or hand them down to a friend who can get some use out of them.

It just wasn’t meant to be.

Check for comfort, watch for sloppy

It’s a steep decline into wintertime sloppy, isn’t it? The weather is miserable, you woke up late because it is still so dark out, and really, it would be fine if you wore that old sweatshirt just this once, right?

Three weeks later you are trapped in a rotation of two sweatshirts and a pair of jeans that haven’t looked good since 2012, and have no idea how to escape before spring.

I bought this on the way back to Oregon after Shayla and Eric’s wedding. I believe their oldest son is now in college.

Check your winter wardrobe to find plenty of comfy ensembles that look as good as they feel. You deserve to be warm and dry. By having an advance plan for those dark, dreary mornings, you will be less inclined to reach for the old sweatshirt.

Cozy and stylish

Take a break from buying

January is a great time to give your hunting and gathering skills a rest. I feel like I spend all fall finding gifts, tweaking my wardrobe, cozying up my house. By January I’m ready to leave the world of commerce for a while. Sometimes we get so into the habit of shopping that we forget how much we have. While there are crazy January sales happening all around me, I’m just going to opt out for a month or two.

Looking inside, rather than outside of my closet for the perfect outfit forces me to think more creatively, and helps me to appreciate the good choices I made in the past.

I could go shopping, or I could stay home and play with my goat!

The still, gray winter skies of Oregon inspire me to snuggle in, reflect and be grateful for the comforts of home. Winter has its challenges, to be sure. But a comfortable, weather-proof wardrobe frees me up to play in the rain, and the decision to keep it simple allows me the time to do so.