Frugal Fashion: bundle up on a budget considering cost-per-use

I think technically the first day of winter is December 21st, but if you live as far north as me, you know that the cold has already been here for awhile. I make a concerted effort not to break out my winter jacket until November 1st — it’s a mental game I play so the season feels shorter than it really is — and I kind of love that moment when I finally put it on and get to be so toasty and warm again. This happiness last through the holidays until about the second week for January, at which point I kind of feel done with winter and want the cold to stop (4-5 months later, I get my wish).

This year I’m happy to report my Burton snowboard jacket I purchased 6 years ago is still going strong. I did, however, buy some winter boots this year. I thought I could get away with some really thick socks in my Hunter wellies. However, now that there’s snow on the ground again and temperatures are dipping below -20C (-4F), my feet were freezing in rubber boots. I lasted all of two really cold days before purchasing a pair of Sorel Joan of Arctic boots. My quality of life has literally improved ten-fold as I am no longer risking frostbite for each of my toes on a daily basis.

As far as winter gear goes, my advice would be to splurge on a quality jacket and snow boots, and then save on everything else.

My Essential Winter Gear:

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 1. TNA Dalles hat, Aritzia $40 / 2. Canada Goose parka, Amazon, $650 / 3. Knit scarf, H&M $13 / 4. Talula Fulton mittens, Aritzia $12 / 5. Sorel Joan of Arctic boots, Amazon, $112(I paid $200 retail from a local store because a) CAN/US exchange rate, b) shipping c) needed them IMMEDIATELY)

The Talula mittens pictured above may be the best thing that’s ever happened to my hands in winter. At $12 a pair, they’re super affordable, but their quality is also outstanding. Knit on the outside, they’re fleece-lined inside so they are SUPER warm. Furthermore, they’re really easy to take care of: I spill coffee on mine probably every day, so at the end of the week I throw them in with the laundry and they come out good as new. Love! As for the other items pictured, I’ve amassed an excellent collection of scarves from H&M in my time (I’m also partial to circle scarves from American Apparel) and my TNA knit cap (different than the one pictured) is a staple in my hipster wardrobe. I’m not warm unless my head is covered! Long live the toque!

 I realize I’m going to get some trouble for calling this a “frugal fashion” post, then listing expensive items, but I don’t think spending $850 on a good jacket + winter boots is unreasonable.

(maybe I just really don’t like to be cold!)

When purchasing good winter gear, you should be doing so with the expectation that you will get a few years use out of it. Like I said, my Burton winter jacket (valued at $600 new) is on its sixth winter. If you divide the purchase price over the number of years of use, the price becomes a lot more manageable. For example, I don’t see any reason why my new Sorel boots won’t last at least 4 years. At $200 over 4 years, that’s a cost of only $50 per year. Since I will wear them daily for approximately 5 months per year, that’s a total of 600 days of wear which makes their cost-per-use only $0.66.

Am I willing to pay $0.66 per walk to the train station at -20C? You betcha.

On the other hand, opting for cheap winter gear — say $80 boots or a $150 jacket — that you need to replace annually will ultimately cost you more over the long run. Not to mention cheap stuff can generally be relied upon to wear out faster, defeating the purpose of owning it in the first place.

How To Save Money on Winter Clothes:

- buy accessories like mittens and toques during big sales like Boxing Day. Because these items are small and usually add-ons to big purchases, they end up super-discounted to entice buyers.

coupon! The main reason I was able to score a high-quality expensive winter jacket is because I found a 25%-off coupon for the store. I went on a sale day and my discount was doubled. My Burton jacket had a $600 price tag but I actually paid half of that!

buy online. As you can see, the Amazon US offers some better deals than Amazon Canada, like my Sorel boots. If you can find something at a great price on the internet and can wait out the shipping, it’s a great buy.

Stay warm out there, guys!