How to Stay Warm & Look Cool: Frances’ Fashion Guide to the Seattle Winter

Frances Divinagracia, News Editor

After wearing a uniform to school all of my life, I was excited to fully embrace the lazy and tired college student look when I started attending Seattle University. Being from California, I romanticized the gloomy Seattle weather and had no real grasp of what to prepare for. During my first year I resorted to finding comfort in wearing only leggings, sweatpants, and oversized hoodies (I kind of miss dressing like that every day, to be honest). Sophomore year came and I found myself looking towards investing in more stylish jeans, jackets, and shoes—but they weren’t exactly ideal for keeping me warm. I became dissatisfied with the fact that my closet was not fully expressing my style and that I was still shivering in every part of my body.

With three winter quarters at Seattle U under my belt, I feel that now I’ve finally got some sort of semblance as to what clothes fit into both the fashion and functionality aspects of some of the coldest and isolating months of the year. I started really paying attention to what other people in Seattle were wearing and gathering ideas from their own sense of fashion to help improve my own. I paid attention to what articles of clothing worked with my body type and what made me feel the most like myself. Fashion has an amazing way of helping people express themselves, and I’m glad I found a way to do so, despite living in a city with such a cold climate.


From Left to Right: Nicole Marafino, Devon Fenesy, Dante Perez, and Alex Abraham pose in their own interpretations of winter fashion.


I’m not ashamed to admit this, but I went through a really intense fedora stage in the fifth grade. I loved wearing that fedora, until all of my friends made fun of me for it. My pride was hurt so badly at the ripe age of 11 that every time I wore any kind of hat, I hated the way it looked on my head. I couldn’t bring myself to wear a hat, even when I found myself in a rainy or snowy area, because I thought I could handle it. But when I started to realize how cold my head and especially my ears were during winters in Seattle, I knew I had to set aside my pride.

Fortunately, I was able to find two hats that have become staples in my closet this winter: beanies and berets.

Never underestimate the power of the beanie. It’s so comfortable and keeps my ears super warm, and come in lots of cute colors and sizes. I definitely jumped on the Carhartt beanie bandwagon this year.

The beret is definitely a little bold, which is what I thought the first time I ever put one on. After trying to fit it at several different angles, I found a way that really fits with the shape of my head and face, and it has become one of my favorite pieces to add a little flair to my outfit.


Alex Abraham perfectly matches Capitol Hill’s hipster vibe with her Carhartt beanie.


You might think that layering is a no-brainer, but I was really against it for most of my life. I overheat easily, and because of this, I thought I was immune to cold weather. For me, layers were a hassle and just completely unnecessary.

But the weather gods have favored against me, and the Seattle freeze has really broken down my protective barriers. While I still find myself overheating most of the time, I now realize just how essential layers really are. Especially during this year’s winter, I am constantly yelling, “I’M FREEZING!” and wishing I had more layers to my outfit. I feel like my biggest takeaway from this is that during a Seattle winter, it’s better to overestimate how cold you think you’ll be, and that you can always take layers off if you need to.

Layering can be something as easy as wearing tights under your jeans, multiple thin camisoles and t-shirts on top of one another, or a heavier coat over a hoodie or sweatshirt. My favorite layering combination this winter consists of a form-fitting tank top or bodysuit as a base, any kind of long sleeve with a turtle or mock neck, and then a thicker sweater or shirt to go on top. My entire closet consists of neutral pieces and colors, such as black, white, and gray (with the occasional splash of a primary color somewhere), and makes layering so much easier and versatile.


Outerwear is my absolute favorite part of winter fashion. You’ve got coats, jackets, hoodies, and sweatshirts as your main options, and I’m always drawn to investing more in stylish yet practical choices when it comes to this area.


Dante Perez stands on a playground posing in his version of winter fashion.

To add onto my piece about layering, one of my more “laid-back” outfits just involve putting on a windbreaker or denim jacket over a hoodie and calling it a day. This always keeps me super warm and there are so many different combinations you can easily make with these articles of clothing. I like to finish off the rest of the outfit with some simple athleisure leggings, tube socks, and my favorite pair of sneakers. I’ve been seeing a huge trend of people wearing puffer jackets too, and I hoep to get my hands on one soon. Oversized crew neck sweaters are also a must-have piece, and quarter-zip jackets are so underrated in my opinion.

When I’m trying to dress up, my duster coat or my faux fur jacket are my go-to outerwear options. The duster is made of a thinner woven fabric, so layering is a necessity when choosing an outfit to complement it. My faux fur jacket, which I got for a great deal on the ASOS website, instantly makes any outfit I wear feel much fancier, and simultaneously cozier.


My despise for pants really conflicts with the cold weather in Seattle, so I’m definitely still trying to navigate that dichotomy as I wear a denim skirt almost every day of the week. Yes, my thighs are absolutely freezing when it hits below 35 degrees, but sometimes, I just have to choose fashion over comfort.

But I totally understand that  not everyone agrees with that, so alternatively, when I really don’t think I can bear to have my legs exposed, I can always count on any pair of Levi’s (specifically my black denim mom jeans) to last me a long time, no matter how much I wear them. I’m looking to invest in some corduroy pants soon, also, but for now, I think denim jeans are a foolproof plan for braving the cold.


I was wholly unprepared for the amount of snow that came down this year, and I really wish I had had some better shoes to keep me from slipping on every pile of ice that I stepped on. But nonetheless, I’m grateful for my three-eye Doc Martens and platform chelsea boots for sticking with me throughout all the torture I put them through trying to walk around Seattle during the Snowpocalypse. If I had the chance to prepare ahead of time, I definitely would have invested in some Timberlands or any other shoe with better grips on the sole, but for the most part, the shoes I already had did the job pretty well.


Black chelsea boots with commando soles are perfect to add some utility to a winter outfit.


The holy trinity of extra winter precautions: scarves, gloves, and fuzzy socks. I actually started wearing a scarf this year and it has immensely improved the quality of my life. They’re so easy to add to any outfit, and there are so many fun ways to style them. Gloves are a total life- saver, and I am looking forward to buying a simple pair to get ready for next winter also. Most importantly, fuzzy socks are god-tier, and a winter wardrobe is nothing without them.

I’ve found a lot of enjoyment in figuring out what I like to wear, and it’s helped me develop a better sense of who I am. The best part about fashion, too, is that while some pieces are timeless, it’s also ever-changing, and I can’t wait to see how my style evolves over the years, even for next winter. And I especially can’t wait to start dressing for spring quarter!

Frances may be reached at
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