How to Dress for the Minnesota Winter

Two Harbors breakwater lighthouse
Posnov / Getty Images

The Minneapolis and St. Paul Twin Cities metro area is one of the fastest-growing on the country. Many people moving to Minnesota have never experienced the winters before and you can always tell a native Texan or Californian in their first winter by the look of disbelief that it's this cold on their faces.

Here's how to prepare your wardrobe for your first winter in Minnesota.

Coat or Jacket

A thick coat is vital. Choose one that is lined with down or technical man-made insulation. A waterproof outside and a hood are nice features. Pockets for gloves, hat, and all the cold-weather accessories you'll be taking off and putting on every time you go inside and outside are helpful.


Snowboots seem like an obvious choice. They are waterproof, have good traction on ice and snow, and usually marked with the temperature that they will keep your feet warm at. But they are not very comfortable for extended wear and can be too cumbersome for driving. They are best for shoveling snow or any activity that involves actually wading through snow or for right after a snowfall before the streets are shoveled.

In the cities, the streets usually get shoveled and plowed quickly after a snowfall, and as any remaining snow is compacted from being walked on, most urban dwellers don't do much walking in the snow. So in the city, a warm pair of regular boots will do fine. Many people wear hiking boots or sheepskin boots like UGG boots, and local stores have plenty of options for fashion boots.


  • Gloves. Waterproof insulated gloves are a good investment, particularly if you have a car that you'll be scraping snow off. And several pairs of cheap gloves are nice to have.
  • Hat. What your science teacher told you is true. A large percentage of body heat is lost through your head, so a nice warm hat, preferably with ear flaps, is a must.
  • Ear Warmers. Ear warmers, or a wide headband that covers your ears, are also indispensable on windy days. When the wind blows, it usually comes from the North Pole, and unprotected ears are soon in agony. If you have a scarf, wrap a turn of it around your head in lieu of ear warmers.


Several thin layers are warmer than fewer thick ones. Technical base layers, available from sports stores, are great if you are spending time outdoors and minimize bulk.

Winter Clothes for Children

Children lose heat faster and tend to end up in the snow more than adults, so they will need several layers of clothes plus a waterproof outer layer to keep warm and dry.

Stock up on gloves and mittens. Mittens are warmer for little fingers, and since children lose gloves and mittens like they are going out of style, you'll probably go through several pairs every winter. Some parents swear by mitten keepers, a pair of clips to attach them onto your child's coat.

Children playing in the snow will appreciate waterproof pants or a snowsuit. Snowboots work great for kids.

Was this page helpful?