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Advice With Clothing (and bedding) To Get Through Chicago Winters

momo2x2018momo2x2018 777 replies48 postsRegistered User Member
My S is a minimalist (he lives in shorts and TShirts) and is unaccustomed to bundling-up against the elements.

I know Chicago had a brutal winter this past year, and with that in mind, please advise
what type of shoes and clothing (and bedding) I should buy to get him through the upcoming academic year.

Thank you!

ps: I don't want to take out a second mortgage for Canada Goose!
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Replies to: Advice With Clothing (and bedding) To Get Through Chicago Winters

  • abbygirlroseabbygirlrose 20 replies3 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I did my first Chicago winter this past year (after 4 years in western MA, but originally from SoCal). I bought a short-length jacket from Patagonia (whichever one they make that is synthetic not down) and it kept me warm biking around HP. I would also recommend good gloves, socks, boots, and sweaters, but don't have specific brand recommendations. I kept my regular SoCal bedding.
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  • momo2x2018momo2x2018 777 replies48 postsRegistered User Member
    Perfect! Thank you for the links @85bears46 (somehow, I didn't find them on a search)
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  • 85bears4685bears46 569 replies35 postsRegistered User Member
    edited August 9
    As a long time Chicagoan, I would say while Chicago winter has a fearsome reputation, in the last 15 years it had more bark than actual bite (except for the polar vortex in 2014 and this year) . So there is no need to be anxious about winter wear now.

    I think the consensus advice over the years is to wait. Your kid will be back home by Christmas before the real winter begins. You can get his feedback on what he likes to wear for cold weather.

    Get a few essential first: a winter parka, a pair of snow boots, etc. Then buy more after he gets to Chicago according to your DS personal taste and preference.

    P.S. While there are many students wearing their CG jackets, by no means they are the majority. I would say most U of C students still wear sensible but not extravagant winter clothing in January. Besides, if the wind chill is minus 45, who cares about what you wear on the Main Quad? Class may get cancelled anyway.
    edited August 9
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6554 replies22 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Would second the advice to wait. For bedding, a lot depends on which dorm he's in - those old dorms with radiators can get pretty warm and it's not unheard of to crack open your window in the dead of winter (and then it freezes open . . . ). My kid just has standard bedding for now (sheets, cotton comforter etc). Come winter, I'll send him a simple faux-down comforter from Amazon, if needed.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3693 replies16 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Well last year's winter had some bite for a few days. Then back to normal.
    Check out Eddie Bauer on sale. There are stores in Chicago and most major cities. We are from Chicago and my sons goes to Michigan. Lots of kids just wear gym shoes, t-shirts and a sweat shirt. It's like they don't feel the cold.. Lol..
    A down comforter or the like never really goes out in style or some warm blankets. If in a dorm I wouldn't buy anything special. Just get whatever bedding you would normally get. Hat and gloves are a good idea. Basic boots or hiking shoe /boots are fine. Kohls should have that.
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 9802 replies62 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 10
    Besides above items: My dd, who attended SUNY Buffalo, relied on her scarfs and her really good gloves with "fingers" for her phone.
    edited August 10
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6554 replies22 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    "Lots of kids just wear gym shoes, t-shirts and a sweat shirt. It's like they don't feel the cold.. Lol."

    - At U of MN they wear shorts till it's below zero. Last year some kid was photographed crossing the street in shorts during the Polar Vortex and he wouldn't give his name because his "mom would be mad" if she found out. He did have on a parka and neck gaiter.


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  • Parentof2014gradParentof2014grad 947 replies12 postsRegistered User Member
    My kid had a Columbia 3 in 1 type jacket with reflective coating on the inside. She liked it enough to buy a second one when the first wore out after four years. She also had several warm scarves and preferred the lined knit caps that keep the wind out or the trapper caps with ear flaps. The hat is probably the most important piece for staying warm. Several pairs of the same gloves is good. Easy to lose or leave on the train. She also had boots but I don’t know how often she wore them.
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  • CaMom13CaMom13 1816 replies12 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    When my first headed off to college in Indiana I was sure she was going to freeze to death. The only time she'd seen snow was when her Girl Scout Troop took a trip to mountains to toboggan when she was about 10. I did all my research online, I had her ask her friends at for recommendations, I read reviews and ended up buying the best-rated knee length down coat I could find. But she wore cotton sweatshirts all that winter because that's what the other kids did. After the fun of freezing to death wore off we ended up compromising for the worst weather with a Lands End basic snow jacket. The down coat now lives in my hall closet and I'm hoping she'll take it with her to her first post grad apartment . My best advice to you is to heed the minimalism, wait until he tells you what type of jacket he will wear ... which he will probably only tell you after a blizzard has hit... then overnight it from Amazon. And try not to worry!
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3391 replies49 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    As a young adult, I moved to Chicago from the NYC area in the 1990s. I thought I knew what a cold climate was like, but I was completely wrong. Chicago was much colder than I ever imagined, mainly because of the windchill. The wind will pierce through anything and is frankly bone-chilling.

    Outdoor wear is what is most important: 3/4 length parka, gloves, boots. One of those russian hats would also be a good idea.

    If you can afford it, Canada Goose jackets are a nice way to keep warm. They never go on sale, but are priced the same in Canadian dollars as they are in the US dollars. So if you're planning a trip to Canada anyway, you'll get an automatic 25-30% discount by paying in CAD.

    For indoor things like comforters and blankets - no need for anything special. I imagine they keep the dorms nice and toasty. If anything the dorms might be too warm.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6634 replies41 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Layers, layers, layers.
    And remember, when it's ridiculously cold, like during the polar vortex, even the Chicago area universities closed.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3693 replies16 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 11
    So you don't need to spend the money on CG unless you want to. Last year Costco had some soft shell Eddie Bauer light jackets. I got one as an in between jacket. It was $30!!! (normally like $100).I wore that almost all last winter except during the Polar Vortex. ❄️😉.
    Also there is a secret that us Chicagoan's don't like people to know. It doesn't snow in the city as much as it does in the suburbs. We can go an entire winter with almost no snow! 🌨️❄️⛄. This is due to the lake effect. It might be very cold at UChicago since your right off the lake but we go winters that I barely shovel... Shh!

    One more thing....my daughter goes to school in Wisconsin. She "loves" her electric blanket. She loves being warm and cozy. Her bed at home has like many different layers of throws and comforters. She likes lots of soft pillows. She likes the soft top thing for her mattress.
    edited August 11
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6554 replies22 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 11
    My daughter thinks that CG is simply too problematic for a university campus. The probability of it getting stolen whenever you take it off in a public place is not small. And last year there was a rash of CG muggings in HP. So buyers - beware. It IS - or at least was as of last year - a very popular choice for winter wear, but the cost isn't just the high sticker price at point-of-sale.

    My daughter had a light down coat from Costco in high school. She used it every wintery day up here in Minneapolis - a city with a similar windchill to and even colder average temps than Chicago. As she took public transportation, she had to do a lot of walking outside so if that inexpensive garment hadn't worked, we'd have known it. For Christmas after her first quarter, I bought her a relatively expensive high quality LL Bean long parka with hood which she absolutely loves. (She wore it skiing in 0 degree temps during the break). She cares not a wit that it's not "cool" by the standards of some of the parents here on CC or even their kids at UChicago. First of all, it looks exactly like CG sans patch. In fact, we joke that CG actually looks like my kid's coat with one of her taekwondo patches sewn on the sleeve :wink: Second, the risk of it getting stolen in HP is about 0%. It's high quality so she'll have it for years and years w/o worry about "fashion" or theft.

    Her older sister, just relocated to Chicago, has taken possession of that "old coat" from Costco because it's still in great shape. Once older sis figures out exactly what she needs for her commute to work, she'll go ahead and purchase that. In my day, a good wool coat was considered fine for professional attire in Chicago, but the dress code seems to have loosened up a bit since then.

    Very few up here in Minneapolis wear Canada Goose. We're more a North Face kind of community, as that brand is traditionally considered to be top notch for outdoor activities. Land's End as well for the higher-end stuff. But you don't need to go high end because Target, Kohl's, Costco or Walmart will have perfectly fine stuff. We typically hit those places first before moving on to the expensive stuff.
    edited August 11
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6634 replies41 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Lands End makes a good down parka too. Often on sale. I agree that there are a ton of less expensive but warm options to CG.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3693 replies16 postsRegistered User Senior Member
  • thumper1thumper1 73779 replies3216 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    The dorms have heat. Our Boston college kid took regular sheets and a regular poly filled comforter. He never froze in his dorm.

    Re: clothes....my kids don’t ever look at Eddie Bauer. We grown ups like it...but my kids never looked at it. They prefer Northface, Columbia, REI. Neither has ever owned a Canadian down coat...but I did when I lived in northern NH a long time ago. I wouldn’t spend that kind of money for a college student.

    Layers are your kid’s friend. Get some fleece things that can be worn alone or under a down jacket. Don’t forget gloves and a hat. Boots? Let your kid choose what he wants. He will see what other kids have, and there is always mail-order!
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  • momo2x2018momo2x2018 777 replies48 postsRegistered User Member
    edited August 11
    Thanks for all of the very helpful advice and tips; I am going to Costco today (monthly run), so will check out if they have winter gear yet. A few years back, I purchased DH and S a 360 jacket from Costco. They seemed to work well over/under ski gear, but in terms of warmth, were very *light*.
    I noticed that Uniqlo has down coats and jackets; does anybody know if this is more a fashion brand ,or if their clothing genuinely protects against the harsher weather elements?
    edited August 11
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6554 replies22 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @momo2x2018, my older daughter purchases their stuff to wear to her job. Just seen their summer-wear but it appears more "trendy" than anything else.
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  • thumper1thumper1 73779 replies3216 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Uniqlo

    My experience is these are fine but are not super warm.

    If you live in a warm weather climate, your Costco probably carries winter gear for yours type of winter. Check the temps the clothes are rated for.

    But really, I’d wait. Let your kid see what others in his Chicago school are using.
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