Winter commuting uniform & footwear


Burberry wool toggle coat circa 2008 (similar from ASOS in camel or navy, or Mackage), Stuart Weitzman boots (current version starting in sz 4), DIY scarf, Goyard tote, J.Crew earmuffs

This has been my daily commuting uniform for the past few winters – wool coat, black boots, plus a pop of color if possible. This coat was one of my first purchases when I started working, and remains the heaviest and warmest coat I’ve ever tried on. It’s a size 2 regular, and the only alterations needed were sleeves and raising the belt loops.

For commuting footwear, basic black boots are the most versatile for my less-than-exciting winter work attire, which usually includes dark opaque tights or dark ankle pants. It does make wearing wider trousers tough, since the tucked-in pants look is rather pirate style. I used to have rubber boots that were worn almost daily (despite their unstable little stub heels), but have since been replaced by the options below:

boots all weather

 Stuart Weitzman boots (review)      Aquatalia weatherproof boots (review)    Hunter rubber boots (kids review)

I just realized that the only snow shown above is in the category intended for little to no snow. Ah well…mental disconnect aside, the “precipitation scale” above is what I use to decide on footwear each morning after checking the weather. All three of these styles are great for the cold – even though the Stuart Weitzman boots may be the thinnest, the close fit acts as a second skin and keeps sensitive kneecaps covered.

Rubber boots, as wonderfully waterproof as they are (and mighty toasty with the liner socks), feel the most clunky to me out of the three options and are therefore reserved for downpours or snowstorms. However, I’ve heard that Hunter’s newest foldable/packable boot is much more lightweight and comfortable, and perfect for travel. Good news for those with longer calves or very small feet – the packable ones are currently available in either women’s tall, or little kids up to a kids sz 3 (this = womens sz 34 or 4). As a short-calved, womens sz 5 wearer, I’ll have to wait for these to come out in big kids.

winterwear 1

J.Crew lady day coat, Aquatalia Drew boots, Given Goods tote c/o, H&M scarf, Burberry earmuffs

I reviewed these Aquatalia boots late last year, and have nothing but praise for the brand after 3 months of wear. Their line has the look of fashion boots but the functionality of “utility” ones. I’ve worn these through fairly heavy sleet, slush, and salted snow and they come out looking good as new (with the occasional damp wipe clean). I’ve only listed them under moderate precipitation because Aquatalia mentions their boots are “weatherproof,” but “zippers and fastenings are not protected against water penetration,” so I wouldn’t go around fully submerging them.

The style I’m wearing is currently sold out, but the Starry Weatherproof Boot option looks promising, especially for shorter legs given their 14 – 14.5″ listed shaft height. Amazon has more colors, sizes, and a lower price, which Nordstrom should be willing to match. Please note the Starry calf width is listed at Nordies to be 13.5″ around, but may actually be more narrow on smaller sizes. My Drew boots were listed as 13,” but measure closer to 12.5″ around on a size 5.5.


63 thoughts on “Winter commuting uniform & footwear

  • Elaine Atkins February 6, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Looking great Jean! I admire how you can stay so stylish in this crazy weather. I gave in this year and bought 'real' winter boots. Not the prettiest but my feet sure stay dry 😉

  • katherine February 6, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    These posts are so helpful! Question, if you bring lunch to work, do you put it in your bag/tote or separately?

  • TheOfficeArmoire (Nailah) February 6, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Beautiful looks! So very well put together!


  • youngandfoolish February 7, 2014 at 12:04 am

    Your blog posts are always such a great mix of useful advice & style inspiration. Keep them coming!

    As someone that walks ~2 miles each day to / from work in San Francisco, flat boots (tall leather and combat style) have become absolutely essential in colder temperatures. I've found rubber boots to be unwieldy unless the boot fits you very, very well in the calf and foot.

    -Amy, reader since 2010 🙂

  • pumpkinmommy February 7, 2014 at 12:12 am

    Yay, functional and elegant fashion, just like so many (including me!) requested! I love that you responded to the comments to your posts over the past few weeks.

  • EM February 7, 2014 at 12:23 am

    I love your hair like that!! And the boots are adorable 🙂

  • Tam February 7, 2014 at 12:29 am

    I have a similar boot hierarchy–definitely a must in Colorado. I'd recommend the Hunter Regent boots for less-clunky rubber boots. I have the Regent Savoys, and they're a good height for shorter calves.

  • Ella Pretty Blog February 7, 2014 at 12:32 am

    Love your outerwear choices – streamlined, chic AND warm…so it is possible 🙂

    I hate feeling cold, so I've been wearing my Sorel-style snowboots and long puffy GAP coat – for me, nothing feels as warm as a puffy coat – though I do prefer the look of wool.

    Adorable ear muffs – they're an essential for me too 🙂

  • Anonymous February 7, 2014 at 12:43 am

    I recommend Kamik Olivia Rain boots (! I just got some from DSW on clearance for under $30. I had Hunter Tour boots for the last five years which I loved. I had a size 4. I liked how they looked and it is a Scottish brand that is well-known and reliable. I had to finally trade in for some new ones this year and needed something quick so without doing much research, I purchased the Kamik Olivia at DSW. I immediately noticed a difference in how snug and secure the ankle portion felt and the tractions are really effective (I have yet to slide on ice!). I had to go with a size 6 at my local store (I tend to wear size 5 with normal brands that do not offer sizes < 5.), but have not had problems with it being too big. I feel that the weight of the boots are similar and like the Kamik better since it feels more secure. I also feel that the design is more slender and less bulky than Hunters. So take home message would be that I never thought to shop around for something other than Hunters so I was surprised to end up with a cheaper but quality alternative. Anyway just some insight from my end! Good luck on finding the right pair of rubber boots! P.S. Great useful post considering the weather we've been getting!

  • Le monde des petites February 7, 2014 at 1:01 am

    Love very much the rubber boots! Would love to wear it with a slim jeans!
    Have a nice day and a nice week-end!


    Le monde des petites

  • Emily February 7, 2014 at 1:44 am

    Hi Jean, I love those Aquatalia boots!

    Do you have any winter footwear suggestions for commuting to a client's office while still maintaining the business casual look? I've been braving below zero weather with flats because I'd feel weird/awkward changing shoes in a client's building lobby in case I run into them or even lugging in spare boots upon entering the client's office.

  • jeannie February 7, 2014 at 2:20 am
  • Dressed with soul February 7, 2014 at 3:14 am

    I love also the mix of the posts!

    Since I discovered Hunters for me, I prefer it to wear rubber boots for long walks 🙂

    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  • Polished Pinstripes February 7, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Love all your boot recommendations! What about commuting in ankle boots during spring and early fall? I've found those are a good compromise when the weather is a touch too warm for a full knee-high boot.

  • Anonymous February 7, 2014 at 10:16 am

    I have and love the Kamik Heidi's – so sleek and simple

  • Anonymous February 7, 2014 at 10:17 am

    so do you bring your heels in your bag? leave them at work?

  • Tianna Gallinaro February 7, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Your coats are gorgeous! The green one is such a wonderful color. Nothing like a bright coat to brighten up these cold Boston snow days!
    Tia |

  • bluepolkadotpjs February 7, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I'd recommend the Ralph lauren's black glossy rainboots that Wendy from Wendyslookbook shared several times for her rainy day outfits. I've got the children's version. It is stylish but also warm with the lining inside.

  • The Internet and The Unicorn February 7, 2014 at 10:40 am

    I do not recommend the Hunter fold-able boots AT ALL. While they are super soft and indeed easy to fold, the calf opening is incredibly big, making petite ladies look stumpy and frumpy. I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY suggest for everyone to try them on first before purchasing because the result is so inconsistent.

  • petitesanonymous February 7, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Way to be fashionable, warm, and dry! Do you change to heels once you get to work, or save your pumps and such for warmer weather? How do commuters in cold areas handle the bootcut/trouser pant look? Just tuck the wide pants into boots until they get to work? Or save them for dry weather? I live in CA and have never considered these matters. Love to see your new posts!

  • Anonymous February 7, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Some of us short women need large calf boots (runners, anyone?) and dont appreciate the look being called stumpy and frumpy.

  • New Mom and the City February 7, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Love all of those boots. I use my trusty Tory Burch rainboots for rainy days, Sorels for snowy days, and a variety of others for just plain cold days. I switch to pumps or booties at work – do you switch shoes? Thanks for the reviews.

  • Mei Fleming February 7, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Super chic and classic coat! Fits you like a glove. And grey is the must have color which pairs with everything. I love your pop of yellow scarf. Just perfection!



  • Midnight Cowgirl February 7, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Love the boot guide 🙂

  • Anonymous February 7, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Hi there – have you ever considered getting actual snow boots (i.e. Sorel, etc)?

  • Giovanna February 7, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Fun guide!! Loving your first pair of boots!


  • Pauline February 7, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Hi Jean – have you ever stepped (or stomped) into foot deep snow with your SW? Does snow/water get through the stretchy material (and thus resulting in wet legs + feet)?

  • Anonymous February 7, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    Are you interested at all in the Peter Pilotto X Target collection launch this Sunday?

  • Anonymous February 7, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Hello Jean, I've always been a silent reader and since reading your blog I now have a large pile of clothes waiting to be tailored. Keyword: waiting. I'd like to do the simple tailoring myself but haven't found the time nor sewing machine. If you have a recommendation, please share. 🙂
    Regarding coats, I've recently realized my coat belt loops would be better if they are one inch higher. Is this worth the effort? I see in your posts that you usually take them up 2-3 inches. Mine will still fit well but will bunch in the back a little when belted.

  • l February 8, 2014 at 8:26 am

    I'm not petite but I love your blog and love your style which is so work appropriate. I work in a bank with a Business casual dress code, however one gets usually bored with the pants and shirt options. I love being inspired by your looks and shopping in my closet to recreate some of those options.

  • Anonymous February 8, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Hi Jean! I just purchased the Hunter Tour boots because I travel to New York a lot (I live in LA) and needed something for rainy/snowy/slushy days (I am tried of wet feet). I ordered down to a Size 5 (I usually wear Size 5 1/2) along with the Wellies and they fit perfectly and are so comfortable! They are not too tall on me (I am 5' tall) and have enough room to squish a pair of skinny jeans in them, and the best part is that they are packable with their own bag, so I can keep them in my luggage for my trips! I recommend them!

  • Anonymous February 8, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Jean- how do you store your shoes? Ive amassed a small collection and have no idea how to store them away. Currently, I have underbed storage and keep a few season-appropriate pairs around the front door but it is quite an eyesore. how do you deal with this?

  • IH February 8, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Hi Jean, I really love each and every of your outfits. I have stuart weitzman 5050 boots as well but found that it wrinkles easily and the tender leather is very hard to care. Maybe because I live in NYC and take subway to work so my boots get stepped on from time to time. Can you do a post on how to care for leather boots? Thank you! I have learned so much from you and would love to meet you in person next time you are in NYC!

  • rodelma lopez February 9, 2014 at 9:47 am

    those boots are adorable its what im looking for..thanks for posting

  • JuStAcEy February 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Hey girl, so I'm browsing on and go to the Petite section. Are you modeling for them? I swear the girl when you click "petites" is your twin!

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Hi Katherine! I often bring snacks or lunch, and usually pack it in a plastic bag (or re-usable lunch bag) inside my purse for the day.

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Thanks for the Kamik recommendation!

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Hi Emily, what about black ankle boots that blend into your tights? I see a lot of women wear those in a business casual or even formal environment and they seem easy enough to commute in. Or if you wear flats at the client, how about black leather or suede loafers with a traction sole?

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 9:52 am

    So cute! Thanks for sharing : )

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Yes, I think those would be perfect for transition weather! Flat to low-heel ankle boots have been on my wishlist since Fall – just haven't found any that don't chafe at the ankles and have a narrow enough ankle opening.

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Both – I keep a few pairs of neutral pumps at work as backups and bring heels in my bag.

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Those are so cute on Wendy! Glad they worked out for you too.

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Hi there – 1) yes I do change at work and I think it's typical for most city commuters to do so 2) I guess you just have to tuck it into a wider-opening boot, like rainboots! I save mine for drier weather. : )

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Yes, I definitely switch at work also…I'm noticing now even the guys at the office do too! Not worth it to get work shoes slushy/salty.

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Hello – I haven't needed them since my outdoor commute is very short, from home to subway and subway to work and the sidewalks/streets are usually plowed quickly. If I lived in conditions that don't really get cleared or if I had to walk longer outdoors, I would certainly consider getting those cute & warm looking Sorel boots.

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Hi Pauline – I have not, so I can't speak to whether they get soaked through

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Hi there! Haha, I know the feeling of the growing alteration pile. I use the Brother basic stitch but my model is from well over a decade ago…they have very similar 6 or 10 stitch machines on Amazon for about $60!

    For belt loops, if I feel that the belt is noticeably lower than my natural waistline (and thus, less comfortable) and the coat is a piece you would wear frequently, I do think it's worth it to have a tailor move them up. For this coat, to move the loops the tailor had to go in between the lining and the outer material so it wasn't as simple as it may seem, but I was happy to have it done for a coat I've worn for ~ 5 years.

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 10:03 am

    I don't think it's for me personally, but it looks great on others. I've enjoyed the Budget Babe's reviews on Instagram!

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Good to hear! Thanks for sharing your review. Whenever you have a moment, would you mind sharing the shaft height and circumference measurement?

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Hi there – I have about a dozen pairs by the front door on a double rack and a number of pairs stored in an over-the-door hanging shoe compartment organizer. I can fit 1 pair of flats or heels into each baggie meant for one shoe, so have quite a few shoes stored away there that are easily visible and accessible. It does squish shoes a little bit though so I don't store any delicate shoes that way. Out of season shoes like sandals are packed away for the winter.

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Hi IH! Thank you so much for your kind words! I do agree that the SW boots wrinkle because they are soft, but I try to care for this by always stuffing them with a thick log of packing paper as soon as I take them off. I've heard it's important to keep them shaped especially at the ankles where they tend to flop over right away. As for leather, I only have a Cadillac leather conditioner which I also use for handbags, but I've only used it about once ever. I do take leather shoes to the cobbler for polishing and sole repairs, so perhaps you can get them cleaned and conditioned at a local cobbler?

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Haha, good eye! I did take part in their spring petites campaign : )

  • Jean February 10, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Thank you I for your kind comment! I know business casual dressing can become stagnant, especially in financial services. Am happy to help provide outfit ideas : )

  • Carolyn February 10, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    I second (third??) the Kamik recommendation! They're really good quality boots – made in Canada and the sizing fits well for those with small feet! (I'm normally 5.5 but had to size up to 6) My only complaint is that they're a bit stiff so it feels a bit clunky. I'm eyeing the Hunter Tour in kids in hopes that they're easier to walk in, after reading your rec, Jean!

  • Anonymous February 10, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    Hi Jean, Thanks so much for this very much needed post esp for crazy Boston winter conditions! Do you do anything special to care for/store them? I find it so difficult to keep the slush and especially the salt off of mines and have to regularly clean them with a warm cloth every time I take them off. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Anonymous February 10, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    Sure thing! When I get back (I'm on a business trip now), I will get the tape measure and will send you the measurements.

  • Anonymous February 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Quick question: do I measure the shaft length from the heel? Just want to confirm so that I do this correctly…

  • Anonymous February 16, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Hunter Tour Boot Measurements (all approximate):
    Shaft height: 14"
    Circumference: 14.5"

    Hope this helps!

  • Maggie Adofo February 26, 2014 at 2:30 am

    The first look I love. 🙂

    Maggie A

  • Anonymous March 4, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Hi Jean – love your blog! I tried on the tour and found the shaft to be a hair too long on me (i'm 4'11"). I could probably still wear them but could definitely see them digging into my knees (front and back) over time. Luckily my awesome sales associate brought me the Tour in canvas which was PERFECT for me – it has a slim calf, has a shaft that is an inch to half an inch shorter than the regular tour and has a draw string top which keeps the boot in place. I highly recommend that you look into it!

  • miss. d March 13, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    you are so amazing! i am inspired by your looks and i admire your outfits page by page.
    i hope you don' t take this as criticism, i would find it easier to look at your blog if links like 'old posts' and 'new posts' were under what you wrote, not have to scroll all the way trough comments. and also the section that i could comment in, could be just under the links, also above lots and lots of comments.
    i enjoy also your youtube videos, hope you begin to post again there since it's been a while. i loved that in your last videos your look was complemented by paintings, especially the fish.

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