What to Wear to Stay Warm This Winter


In ELLE.com’s series Unexpected Expert, we’re going straight to the source to find out which items are actually worth your hard-earned cash.

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It wasn’t long into the pandemic that a common balm for coping with quarantine emerged: walking. In cities and in suburbs, the relatively-safe outdoor activity (when masked and distanced from others) has been a haven, an excuse to get fresh air and break up your daily routine. But with winter on its way, the coming cold threatens to disrupt one of the only joys left in our COVID-19 hellscape. To get some expert advice on how to dress for the dreaded chill, ELLE.com asked 11 professional dog walkers—who know everything about battling the elements—for their best recommendations.


Compliment-Worthy Coat

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Women’s Thickened Down Jacket

Orolay
amazon.com

$246.99

$149.99 (39% off)

“Because I’m outdoors in the coldest of weather, my all-time favorite cozy item is my Orolay coat from Amazon. I love fashion and utility, and this coat has it all. It keeps me warm and dry in all kinds of weather. I like the pockets, which can store my phone, purse, gloves, camera, and every other necessity for my job as a dog walker. I especially love all the compliments I get while wearing it. When I purchased this coat two years ago, I heard it was the new ‘it’ coat on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. I was instantly sold. Two years later, it’s still my favorite winter item.” —Jaime Dillon, owner of Happy Tails of Philly in Philadelphia


Long-Lasting Leggings

Altitude Tight in Polartec® Power Stretch®

Athleta
athleta.gap.com

$98.00

“I love Athleta’s Polartec leggings. I’ve had four pairs for at least three years, and I literally wear them every day during the winter. They’ve held up and kept me warm! I wear them with a long, down jacket and tall winter boots, and they allow for flexibility and a less-bulky feel. On truly arctic days, I slip on a pair of wind pants or snow pants over the leggings.” —Megan Sellheim, owner of Come, Sit, Stay in Minneapolis–Saint Paul


No-Sweat Socks

Women’s Hiking Calf Socks

“I personally can’t get warm if my feet are cold, so good socks are a must. The problem with a lot of winter socks is that they can cause sweating, and that defeats the purpose of warm socks. I love Bombas socks; I got a few pairs of calf-length ones a year ago as a gift from my mom, and I begged her for more because I liked them so much. They’re surprisingly lightweight and lightly cushioned on the bottom, but snug enough, so they don’t fall down. They also have a seamless toe, so there’s no annoying seam poking you while you’re walking. Bombas also donates a pair of socks to those in need every time you buy one.” —Jayme Eng, manager at Windy City Dog Walkers in Chicago


Pajama Protection

Faux Sherpa Sleep Top

Secret Treasures
walmart.com

$9.73

“I love this faux sherpa sleep top because of how comfortable, warm, and affordable it is. Now, I know it’s a pajama top, but it’s very versatile; when the temperature drops below 40 degrees, it’s my go-to. I don’t even need a tank top or another long-sleeve under it, it’s that good. It literally feels as if I took a blanket with me on my walks. This top is also puppy-approved for cuddling as Hampton, one of the lovely pups I walk, loves when we snuggle up together when I wear it because of how cozy it is.” –Isamar Manrra, dog walker at Windy City Paws in Chicago


Boots That Look Like Sneakers

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WOMEN’S LF1 DUCKBOOT

Nike
stadiumgoods.com

$125.00

“I started my dog walking business a little over four years ago, and I’ve been swearing by these Nike boots ever since. They’re completely waterproof and look and feel like regular high-top sneakers. I’ve worn them through heavy snow and rain and always come home with dry feet. As for clothes, my favorite leggings are the Under Armour ColdGear, which feel thin but keep me very warm. When it’s really cold, I’ll layer those underneath these Nike joggers that have fleece inside. I also always wear long-sleeve tops (I like these breathable ones from PrettyLittleThing) under any kind of Carhartt sweatshirt. This year, I’m trying a vegan leather jacket from Noize that’s just as warm as the North Face one I wore last year but fits me better, with more room to move around; I even got a dog jacket for my bulldog from the same company! For gloves, I’ve been wearing the same pair for a couple years now. Some are too bulky, and it’s hard to hold a dog leash or get keys in the door, but I find these from Trendoux to be the easiest.” —Ally Judge, owner of Dogs Ally in Philadelphia


Forever Socks

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Mountaineering Over-The-Calf Extra Cushion

Darn Tough
darntough.com

$30.00

“I can’t do without my Darn Tough over-the-calf socks. They are so warm and durable but don’t bunch or slip down. Also, amazingly, they’re guaranteed for life. When/if your pair wears out, you can mail them back to the Darn Tough factory in Vermont and they will replace them at no cost.” —Sarah Aune, dog walker at Come, Sit, Stay in Minneapolis–Saint Paul


Winter Hat, With Room

Solid Classic CC Beanie Tail

CC Beanie
ccbeanie.com

$15.00

This is a warm winter hat with a hole on top for your bun or ponytail to go through. As someone who hates to wear hats, but who has lived in Chicago her whole life and understands the necessity of keeping warm, this has been a lifesaver. Wearing a bun is my go-to while walking the pups, and keeping hair out of your face as a dog walker is important, so this allows you to do that without having an awkward bunch of hair under your cap.” —Justine Raczy, dog walker at Windy City Paws in Chicago


Fleece-Lined, Affordable Tights

Fleece-Lined Tight

Urban Outfitters
urbanoutfitters.com

$18.00

“I don’t find traditional outdoor clothing or gear comfortable—or that affordable. These fleece-lined tights from Urban Outfitters have been great over the years. They fit under my pants, or I can wear them with a skirt and still be super warm.” –Erika Kriegsheim, founder of Motley Crew Walking in Seattle


Base Layers for Freezing Temps

“It is not uncommon for the winters here to be wet, windy, and reach single or even negative digits. My favorite pieces for dog walking in cold weather are the Uniqlo Heattech turtleneck long-sleeve T-shirt and the Uniqlo Heattech leggings. I wear them as my base layer practically every day when it hits 30 degrees and below. The fabric is thin and great to wear under pants or sweatshirts or on their own under a coat for a warmer/less windy day. They help regulate body heat and help wick away excess moisture, which can either be from the elements or sweat (gross). The price point is fantastic, and they hold up quite nicely. I have them in every color available and plan on buying the printed ones from the new Marimekko collection soon.” —Monica Leggett, manager at Windy City Dog Walkers in Chicago


Easy-to-Use Boots

Winter Knee High Waterproof Boots

Polar Products
amazon.com

“The coldest of winters can be pretty harsh to tackle if you aren’t well-suited to walk the doggies. It’s always important to layer up with a long-sleeve shirt, hoodie, and warm leggings to go under your winter gear. I love my insulated ski pants, ski jacket, and some easy slip-on, slip-off waterproof and snow-proof boots for ease when entering clients homes. (As to not waste too much time untying and tying shoe laces.) These items will not only keep you warm and dry, but they are also windproof and specifically made for skiers in the harsh, cold mountains.” —Arelys Jimenez, dog walker at Windy City Paws in Chicago


Warm, Not Bulky, Pants

Women’s Flexpedition Lined Straight Leg Pants

Duluth Trading Company
duluthtrading.com

$99.50

“My go-to winter pants have been the Flexpedition pants from Duluth Trading Company. They’re water-repellent and fleece-lined, though not bulky, so they’re super easy to move around in, bend over, or kneel down, if you have to. They have a ton of pockets big enough to fit a large smartphone, they’re reflective around the seams, and they’re just loose enough to add a layer underneath for the really cold days.” —Christine Keller, dog walker at Come, Sit, Stay in Minneapolis–Saint Paul

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