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The Best Ways To Dress For Montreal's Winter Weather & Hot AF Metro

This is why we wear layers, people!

Staff Writer
Someone walks through heavy snow in Montreal.

Someone walks through heavy snow in Montreal.

Montreal's winter season is upon us with more snow on the way, and with it comes all the hassle of figuring out what to wear every day based on minute changes in temperature, precipitation and iciness. It's not fun, per se, but dressing in weather-appropriate fashion is important not just for your physical health but also for your social standing. Nobody likes that person who tells everyone they can survive the winter in shorts, least of all their frostbite doctor.

If you're new to the city or just feel unsure how to prepare yourself for the chill, here's a list of quick tips for dressing your best and avoiding the cold.

Layering is key

If you wear a giant coat and a t-shirt, you're gonna have a bad time. Layering warm, comfortable pieces gives you more freedom to adjust to the temperature, which is super helpful when it's simultaneously -30 degrees outside and much warmer on public transit, in stores or in the car. In a popular r/Montreal guide to winter clothes, user u/molecularpoet recommends thermal undershirts or long underwear.

"For my first winter I was really happy to have long underwear," they wrote, "but during my second winter, I only did so a couple of times. See how your legs and your regular pants adjust to the cold weather." You might find that, as you adjust to the cold, you won't need the same level of coverage — another point for layering, which lets you fine-tune your temperature to the perfect degree.

Know your fabrics

It's not just about layering any old clothes on top of each other — understanding wintry fabrics is a great way to make sure you'll actually stay warm outside. Travel blogger and Montrealer Meghan of Afternoon Tea Reads recommends "silk, wool, cashmere and polar fleece" as some excellent options for your layers. Bigger cotton garments can restrict your movement under your coat, so investing in lightweight but heat-trapping fabrics will keep you limber and comfortable all at the same time. To see more of Meghan's winter tips, check out her blog here.

Protect cold-sensitive areas

One 2019 study published in Building and Environment suggested that the back of the neck, cheeks and bottom are most sensitive to cold temperatures. Thinner structures in the body, like fingers and ears, are also more sensitive to cold. Keeping these areas covered in thermal layers is a key way to avoid cold-related concerns like frostbite. And don't go outside with wet hair when it's cold out! Your mom was right about that one.

Accessorize to the gods

The cousin to layering, accessorizing, ensures your extremities are covered with the right amount of blessed heat, without semi-permanently trapping yourself in a cocoon of wool and acrylic. Meghan says warm accessories like hats, scarves, ear muffs and gloves are key tools in keeping yourself cozy midwinter. Plus, they're easily removable when you enter the unbelievably well-warmed metro system, about which Meghan told MTL Blog that "it adds a whole other complexity to dressing for winters in Montreal!"

To cope with the inconvenience, Meghan told MTL Blog one helpful tip: "always have a bag with you to put your hats, gloves and scarf so you don't lose them."

Get a good pair of boots

Thick-soled, tall and waterproof boots will be your best friend when the slush sets in. Meghan suggests winterizing your boots: coating them in a waterproof solution and adding wool insoles to insulate your toes. For surviving the snowy depths of midwinter, it's best to get a boot that's tall, so you can get your groceries without freezing your feet off.

Invest in several levels of winter coat

Just relying on one jacket is a tough strategy when the winter ranges from a cool three degrees to a bone-shaking -40. The same coat won't hold up as well in both ranges, so many Montrealers recommend getting a lighter coat for the warmer days (relatively speaking) and a heavy-duty mega coat for when it really gets awful out there.

Investing in a good quality heavy coat might put you out several hundred dollars, but at least you won't be treating yourself for hypothermia down the line.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

    Willa Holt
    Staff Writer
    Willa Holt is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog focused on apartments for rent and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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