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It’s cold around here (despite the freak 60-degree day we had – with heavy rain – the week of Thanksgiving). It will be cold for months to come. The last vestiges of my summer/early fall wardrobe have been relegated to the back of my closet or the dresser in the spare room. And my winter style uniform has reappeared.

katie green coat harvard yard

I work in a business-casual office environment (higher education). Most of my colleagues don’t wear suits (unless they have important meetings), but we also don’t wear jeans, even on Fridays. (This is one reason I sometimes wear jeans to church on Sundays: because I can’t wear them during the week.)

I also commute on public transportation, often through rain, snow and slush in the wintertime. I need polished, professional (but not overly buttoned-up) clothes, and shoes that will support my feet (and keep them dry). Over the past few years, I’ve gradually pulled together a winter style uniform, some variation of which I wear almost every day.

The formula looks like this: sweater/tee + scarf + pencil skirt + tights/leggings + boots.

If it’s raining or snowing, I wear my red wellies or snow boots and carry a pair of flats in my bag. I now own five winter coats: three wool, two down. (Plus a lighter trench coat for warmer, rainy days.) I have a growing collection of handknit hats. I own a few dresses I love, and sometimes I swap the sweater/skirt combo for a dress/cardigan or tunic/tee pair.

Here’s what I know: I feel more like myself in soft separates rather than crisp button-downs. I’m not big on busy patterns, but I do love stripes. I own a dozen or so scarves, which I swap out according to the colors of my outfit (and the weather: freezing temps call for warm handknit cowls). I’ve begun experimenting with bolder tights – red, purple or a brand-new teal pair. My black riding boots get a real workout in the winter, though I also own a brown pair. And I rotate my coats – especially my new jade-green one, above – according to weather and mood.

Most of the time, I love this uniform. It’s smart, proper, warm and stylish, and it means I don’t have to deal with wet, dragging pant hems (my least favorite thing), damp socks, or ironing in the morning (or the night before). It also saves me from having to make too many decisions while I’m rushing around in the morning (unless the tee or skirt I wanted to wear is in the laundry). I function much better if I can put off decision-making until after my first cup of tea.

But sometimes, I get a little bored with my uniform – especially because I know I’ll be wearing it for several (cold) months to come. So, stylish readers, any inexpensive tips for jazzing up my standard style formula? I’m all ears.

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