Fashion and Function: How to Look Good and Stay Warm in Minneapolis

You’ve planned your trip and mapped your drive or booked your flight. . . but what are you supposed to wear?! We've got you.

Welcome to Minneapolis! It’s no secret that this vibrant city lies North of, well, just about everything. With four diverse seasons, it’s important to know how to dress for peak comfort (and safety) while embracing your personal style. 

Much of the country gets excited about an inch or two of snow overnight, but here in Minneapolis there's a perpetual possibility of a foot (or more) most months of the year. But take our word for it, the intense winter here comes with an equally intense love of embracing the colder months. From outdoor dining events and winter sports to holiday festivals and scenery fit for a Hallmark seasonal movie, the months between December and March offer plenty of outings to change up your winter look.

Our advice? Embrace it. The secret? Layers! Fashion changes year after year, but there are a few items that will always be a staple in Minneapolis winters—because warmth and comfort are always in style.

1. Three words: Cover Your Bum (CYB)!

To stay truly comfortable, look for a winter jacket that falls closer to your knees than your hips. Whether you’re standing at a bus stop, waiting for your car to heat up, or just spending a few minutes walking from Point A to Point B, we can guarantee that you will never regret shelling out some money for the right winter coat. There is nothing better than a warm and bulky coat from a trusted brand that keeps your bum safe from the northern winds. The right coat isn’t just a smart purchase, it’s an investment you won't regret! Leave the fitted jackets for slightly warmer weather and snuggle into your lovely new coat (probably with a faux-fur rimmed hood). Pair it with the right scarf and you are now ready to make the sidewalk your catwalk. 

2. Do yourself a favor and find some fleece-lined leggings (or just wear that long underwear)

Those fleece-lined bad boys will keep you warm and fuzzy all day long! The casual appearance goes with any outfit just as normal leggings do, with the added bonus of an extra cozy inside layer. Throw on some fuzzy socks and some boots with traction and you’ve added some serious cozy to your winter wardrobe! If the leggings suggestion is out of your comfort zone, then do what needs to be done and grab some long underwear. For time spent outside, throwing on long johns under a pair of casual pants can make all the difference. Plus, no one will know you’re wearing them! Win-win. 

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3. Just wear a pair of boots … seriously

Yeah, people might hate the idea of bulky winter boots, but at what cost? Cold toes are seriously uncomfortable, so why not just take care of those little guys? Plus, the combo of snow and salt on ice can (and will) ruin your favorite pair of shoes. Save the cute kicks for higher temps and slide your feet into a nice pair of faux-fur lined boots. Pair them with the right wool socks and you’re bound to be a happy camper. Why tiptoe through snow with caution when you can bound through it with joy? 

4. Keep those ears cozy

Remember that old myth about a majority of our body heat being released through our head? Maybe it’s true and maybe it’s false (Google knows all), but at the end of the day you’ve just got to give your ears some love. Find a puffy set of ear muffs to match your personality or a splendid knit hat—with or without a pom-pom on top. Your ears will thank you. 

5. Embrace your inner Minnesotan and throw on a flannel

We could tell you that wearing flannels here is a just a stereotype, but alas, that would be a lie. Pair an oversized flannel with those fleece leggings or pair of jeans, add your winter boots, layer on a coat, and BAM, you’ve got the classic Midwestern winter outfit. 

6. Don’t forget those scarves and mittens

Yes, mittens. Or... okay fine, you can take the gloves route if you want. Either way, fur-lined gloves/mittens go a long way towards keeping your hands warm and preventing dry skin. Find a pair of gloves with touch-screen fingertips and you won’t have to keep taking them on and off whenever your phone buzzes. Scarves are your best bet to protect your neck from the cold that your jacket just can’t keep out. If you wrap a long, soft scarf around your neck a few times, the winter chill will never win. 

Basically, the least amount of skin exposed to the cold while outside in winter is ideal. And guess what? It CAN look good too! Don’t worry, no one in Minneapolis will judge you for looking like a marshmallow. In fact, we might like you a little more for it. Better safe and warm than cold and full of frost-bitten regret, right? 

Where to Shop for Winter Clothes in Minneapolis

So you made it here and found you packed a little light? Perhaps a late-season snow storm turned your spring hiking dreams into icicles... whatever your reason, sometimes you just need to grab some new cold-weather gear! Here are our favorite places to outfit ourselves for the chilly season.

Midwest Mountaineering has everything you need for outdoor fun in the (frigid) sun, from warm clothing to snowshoes and hiking boots to winter camping gear. The helpful staff knows everything about gearing up in Midwest winter conditions—so don't hesitate to ask for help! Hoigaards is another great stop for winter clothing and gear—from extra-warm gloves and merino wool base layers to fleece neck warmers and performance coats. They've been outfitting winter adventures since 1895, when they began producing tents for the Alaskan Gold Rush! Founded in Duluth, Minnesota over 30 years ago, Duluth Trading Company has great outerwear for all, like fleece jackets, canvas coats, quilted bombers, wool shirt jackets, and full-on parkas in a good array of sizes for men and women. 

If second-hand is your thing, Buffalo Exchange typically begins carrying cold-weather outerwear in October. And while they may not be the most stylish shops around, the clothing and winter accessories at Menards and Fleet Farm are reliable and affordable.

If you're looking for tried-and-true national chains, you can't go wrong with REI—the Bloomington store is MASSIVE. And the Mall of America is a great place to check out multiple shops specializing in cold weather attire, from Columbia Sportswear and Canada Goose to North Face and Arc-teryx