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Canadian Style: 7 Classics You Need to Survive Winter

Snow? Slush? Freezing rain?Pfft! No problem! Everything you need to face Canada’s most challenging season is right here.

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illustration by stephanie anne mckay

1. The Gloves

• A hands-down essential, a pair of leather gloves is a finishing touch that pulls any winter-warrior look together. For maximum warmth, choose styles that are lined. Options include polyester at the low end of the spending spectrum ($30) and wool or cashmere at the top ($100+). If you can’t stand chilly wrists, pick styles with extended knit cuffs to effectively trap in heat.

• For a modern outerwear outfit, avoid matching your winter accessories and instead aim for a mix of tones and textures. Since gloves are a detail that’s small in scale, taking up less real estate than a face-framing scarf, feel free to experiment with bold colours, textures like quilting and hardware like grommets.

• The leather used to make gloves is a delicate material that needs a little TLC. It’s best to keep leather gloves dry and stored away from heat. Always allow leather gloves to air-dry at room temperature, and spot-clean them with saddle soap if needed.

Best Bets

Hudson’s Bay: An amazing selection of styles and price points under one roof
Winners: Where high-end looks meet unbeatable deals
Simons: A glove affair with strong colours and elegant details

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illustration by stephanie anne mckay

2. The Hat

• It may banish a good hair day, but there’s no debating that a hat makes icy temps more bearable. From school runs to workout runs, having a lid you love to wear in your winter-wardrobe arsenal is just plain head smart.

• To conserve body heat while achieving après-ski chic, try a knit toque. Look for fashionable adornments via chunky woven textures, pretty beading or a fluffy pom-pom. If the design is simple, like a cable knit, consider a bold colour. If there’s any embellishment, stick to neutral tones – monochromatic is the ideal way to wear this relaxed hat style and still be taken seriously.

• Structured wool and wool felt hats have a polished look that makes more of a style statement. Use the rule of opposites to find one that flatters your face shape. Rounded silhouettes, like a ’20s-inspired cloche, will soften angular features or complement an oblong face, while brimmed hats create dimension that suits round face shapes.

Best Bets

Tilley: The heritage brand knows its way around a beautiful hat
Sentaler: You’ll adore the plush alpaca toque and love that the proceeds go to the SickKids Foundation
Goorin Bros.: Fall head over heels for the chic shapes and shades

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illustration by stephanie anne mckay

3. The Puffer

• Baby, when it’s cold outside, a puffer coat is your best defence. For bulk-free warmth, look for knee-length cuts that feature elongating details. Chevron, diagonal or diamond-shaped quilting, an eye-catching contrast trim on zippers and pockets and a belted or cinched waistband can carve out a figure within the fluff.

• Down-filled puffers tick a lot of boxes by offering top-notch warmth and breathability in a lightweight package. Typically, goose down is more expensive and duck down is less pricey. What the natural material lacks is moisture resistance, so it pays to find a shell that repels or resists water. As an alternative, consider synthetic insulation, which is designed to stay drier longer, though styles can be heftier and not as toasty.

• The landscape of puffer coats offers something at every price point, from just under $100 for a simple design to $1,000-plus for a highly stylized, high-performance coat. Expect the market to expand with more options than ever: This cold-weather staple is the latest sporty basic to be given fashion- designer attention, with glossy textures, bold hues and prints winning big style points.

Best Bets

Gap: A hard-to-resist selection of colours that are super-affordable
Soia & Kyo: Options that are equally well designed and well priced
Colmar Originals: This high-end Italian line is loaded with sporty, totally modern pieces

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illustration by stephanie anne mckay

4. The Sweater

• Gorgeous knits are a major sartorial perk of winter, so bring on sweater weather! Stock up on a range of styles to get through the season: pullovers to wear with jeans, trousers and skirts, featherweight turtlenecks to layer under dresses and blouses for extra mileage, and drapey cardigans to make an appearance 24-7.

• For a hard-working knitwear wardrobe, acquire a mix of basic sweaters and a few novelty styles. Zero in on neutral picks that boast discernible texture, such as thick ribbing, or a modern silhouette, such as wide sleeves or an asymmetrical cut. Round out the group with options that feature unexpected patterns, hues, details and stitching. In other words, say yes to bright stripes, scalloped edges and foil finishes.

• Basic sweaters can be found for as low as $30, but an increased budget leads to better fitting and higher-quality options. Any knit will last longer with proper storage and care. Sweaters do best when gently handwashed, dried  at and kept folded.

Best Bets

Club Monaco: A destination where simple knits with fresh details about
Ann Taylor: Shake things up with punchy colours and patterns
Holt Renfrew: Oddles of designer offerings, plus a chic in-house collection

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illustration by stephanie anne mckay

5. The Scarf

• A small piece of fabric that does big things to elevate your winter style, a fantastic scarf is something you should never leave home without. Use a similar strategy for coat shopping: Invest in a timeless version you’ll admire for years, such as a finely woven neutral rectangle, and find deals on trending styles that make you happy today, like a current colour or lively print.

• Scarf shape comes down to preference. Long, slender scarves are having a moment, but oversized blanket squares continue to be covetable because they look stylish and provide an additional layer of warmth. Infinity scarves – a design that’s permanently looped – are a popular, fuss-free option. No wrapping required – just pull it on and head out the door.

• For something new and truly eye-catching, try a faux fur stole in a rainbow- bright colour. Thrown over your shoulders, the trendiest of neck warmers makes any coat look fabulous.

Best Bets

Banana Republic: A lot of pretty options for not a lot of money
Ça Va De Soi: Treat yourself to beautiful classics in fine merino wool and cashmere
Aritzia: This brand continues to turn out the best blanket scarves around – you’ll want them all!

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illustration by stephanie anne mckay

6. The Coat

• You and your new coat are going to have a long-term relationship – this is not the time to settle for a garment you less than love. First and foremost, an amazing piece of outerwear should balance your proportions. Look for an oversized collar if you want to minimize curvy hips and thighs. On the petite
side? Focus on silhouettes above the knee – or higher – to avoid overwhelming your frame. And for an instantly slimming fit, try the shape-shifting benefits of an asymmetrical detail, such as an off-centre zipper.

• A mid-range price for a wool- blend coat is $400 to $500, with deals to be found for around $100 and luxury finds (hello, cashmere!) starting at $700.

• Shell out as much as you can for a coat, but let style dictate your choice, along with your budget. In terms of cost per wear, it makes sense to invest in a timeless cut, like an A-line or a peacoat fit, and scrimp on trendy looks like pastel colours, statement faux furs and roomy shearling bombers.

• You’ll never tire of a stunning black coat, but other neutrals like camel, grey and navy will deliver years of chic, too. Ready to brighten up? Pink is the new black, but gem tones have stronger staying power.

Best Bets

Ellie Mae: A Canadian line built on fresh colours and easy-to-wear shapes
Old Navy: A must-visit for stylish and affordable outerwear
Judith & Charles: A brand that delivers sophisticated updates with a luxurious touch

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illustration by stephanie anne mckay

7. The Boot

• As if you’re going to let a little snow and slush get in your way. There’s no need to sacrifice dry feet, warm toes or an overall cute aesthetic this season. The first step is to establish your footwear needs. Shorter boot styles, like just above the ankle, offer plenty of versatility and are easily worn with jeans, pants and tights. Mid-calf or knee-high styles provide more warmth and protection from wet terrain, but they can be tricky to wear with anything other than skinny jeans, leggings and hosiery. See our picks for the best boots here.

• Expect a starting price point of $160 to $200 for a decent pair of boots, and don’t accept skimpy soles. Whether you prefer flats, wedges or heels, choose boots with a lug sole to provide the traction essential for manoeuvring across slippery surfaces.

• Waterproof boots have become a lot more stylish in recent years, with the best designs incorporating rubber and other materials, like impermeable leather or fabric. A fleece lining provides budget-friendly warmth, but try shearling for the ultimate upgrade.

Best Bets

Cougar: Rediscover iconic styles and irresistible updates
Sorel: A solid collection that manages to be rugged yet defined
Aldo: Fashion-forward designs that won’t hurt your wallet