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Staying Warm in a New York Winter


Choosing layers allows adjustment for changing temperatures and you can combine layers in different ways.

Base layer: Cotton is usually sufficient, but depending on how cold it will be or how long you will be outside you may find choosing a synthetic wool or silk to be a warmer option. You may also consider thermal underwear for extra warmth.

Budget conscious? Layer leggings under jeans in the winter.

Mid-layer: Fleece or wool sweaters will keep you warm and layer well with other clothing staples. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on these items, cheap fleece works well.

Outer Layer: Depending on the temperature it may be best to leave your cute jackets at home unless you check the weather right beforehand and are convinced you’ll be warm enough. Winter in New York varies greatly. Try a thicker parka-style down jacket or a thin down jacket for layering.

Warm yourself first. It’s easier to change your body temperature than room temperature, not to mention more eco-friendly. Instead of turning up the heat, put on another layer of clothing.

Wear a Hat. If you’re otherwise clothed, you’ll lose heat from any surface that’s exposed. So put on your hat, even if you’re inside.

Turn on the ceiling fan. Warm air rises to the ceiling. Run your fan on its lowest setting in a clockwise direction to push the warm air back down to where you can feel it.

Switch between hot and cold water in the shower. Hot showers immediately warm you up, but cold showers improve blood circulation between your skin and organs. Cold showers are also correlated with a stronger immune system.

Block drafts with a pool noodle (or a rolled up towel or blanket). Keep heat in and cold out by cutting a pool noodle in half lengthwise, wrapping it in fabric, and sliding it under your door. It’ll stay put all winter, and you can re-use it at the pool come summer. (But we recommend you spring for a new one.)

Layer your covers with the thinnest, densest ones on top. It’s intuitive, but fluffy blankets should be closer to your skin. Thin, dense blankets should be on top to prevent convective heat loss. Bonus tip: Don’t put your bed directly against an exterior wall. You’ll be warmer if you leave a little space.

Keep Dry. No matter how many layers of clothing you wear, they won’t do you a bit of good unless they remain dry. An umbrella, weather-proof coat, and snow boots can help with this. (Once clothing gets wet, the moisture evaporates from its surface, causing it to cool and you to feel much colder.)

Not only can rain, freezing rain, or snow dampen clothing, but sweating can too. If you find you’ve layered so well that it’s causing you to overheat, you’ll want to remove that thermal top or layering tee. 

Keep Hydrated. While you wouldn’t think it, dehydration is a real concern during cold weather. Not only does cold airstrip our bodies of moisture because it is drier, but winter winds carry moisture away from the skin’s surface through the process of evaporation. What’s more, people don’t naturally feel as thirsty in winter as they do when the weather is hot.

Drink plenty of water and hot drinks (which offer both hydration and warmth), even if you don’t feel thirsty. This will help you stay well hydrated, which makes it easier for you to stay warm. (Being dehydrated makes it harder for the body to concentrate on maintaining a safe core temperature.) One drink you’ll want to avoid is alcohol. While a nip or two may give you a “warming” sensation, alcohol actually causes dehydration.

Keep Moving. The more active you are in cold weather, the more heat your body will generate as a result.

If you do plan to sit or stand outside for long periods of time, wiggle your hands and toes every few minutes to keep the blood (and therefore, heat) circulating in these extremities.

(adapted from, and