How my budget and the bitter cold makes getting dressed for work difficult.

I noticed myself feeling very frustrated with my wardrobe this morning.  It was really cold (the “feels like” temperature was 14 degrees F).  I looked at all my pants, and didn’t want to wear a single one of them because they all require that I layer them over my winter leggings to stay warm.  On my commute I’m walking a good 15 minutes, plus I have to wait at the train station, so staying warm is imperative.  And sometimes the trains get stuck and I’m forced to get out and wait on the open air platform for long periods of time.  Adding an extra layer of pants is a big chore because that extra layer makes my pants feel snug around my problem area belly and when I’m finally in my tiny office at work, I begin to overheat.  The heater is blasting at work and the engineering department can’t seem to get it right.  It is literally 80 degrees in my office!  There were times where I closed the door and took off a layer of pants to cool off, but keeping the door closed traps the heat in more.  It’s hellish.  Wearing my winter leggings without pants over top keeps me warm enough when outside, but that means I have to wear it with a work appropriate dress to cover my ass, and right now, I only have one dress.  It’s a sweater dress (which would cause me to overheat even more, so not an option!).  So today I got desperate and dipped into my pile of unwanted for-sale items for a pre-owned Eileen Fisher jersey dress with a boat neckline.  I’ve never really liked this dress and that’s why I want to sell it.  It’s faded and the A line feels very boring and mainstream.  And when I wear it with my tights, I have no pockets.  Anyway, I felt myself wishing for just one or two simple work appropriate dresses.  But of course I’m conflicted because I’m on a budget and don’t want to buy any more clothes, and since this is my last year in NYC I’m not sure it’s worth investing in more clothes for the cold (it’s counter-intuitive but dresses are better for the cold in the F-ing winter here).  Should I just try to ride it out and save $ or stop the madness and buy a damn dress already? Back when I said I didn’t want to buy anything, the weather was in the 40’s and I could get away with just wearing pants.  Times like these, I really resent NYC.  If the weather was nice, if I had more disposable income, if I didn’t have to walk in the bitter cold, if my work had better facilities, I wouldn’t have to buy all this shit to adapt to the harsh environment, and if I did, I wouldn’t feel so conflicted about it.  I think I might just tough it out though and wear this ugly dress for a few more weeks until it’s level 2 cold again.

16 thoughts on “How my budget and the bitter cold makes getting dressed for work difficult.

    1. We don’t have good thrift shops nearby and I don’t think I have the patience for it in real life.. I guess I just wasn’t into dresses too much anymore and now that its freezing I feel kinda forced into buying one.. weather woes.


  1. Can you layer a button up shirt or sweater over the EF dress, or will it be too bulky? If not, I’d look toward buying something lightweight that you like enough to potentially wear on its own in better weather, but would look okay with a top layer for variety’s sake during winter.

    Of course, once you find that utilitarian dress, the weather will be back up in the forties. Guaranteed.


    1. Exactly.. that’s the calculation that is going through my head. I thought about maybe wearing different scarves and shirts with the EF dress to switch things up a bit. I still haven’t gotten to that closet sweet spot where you love everything you’re wearing.


  2. That sounds horribly annoying. I normally layer my pants over leggings in the winter no matter what because I’m always cold. The office I’m in right now has decent heating, but I still tend need the extra layer.
    If you can, tough it out. You might be more frustrated with yourself for having spent money you want back later just because you needed one item for the winter months. And, as you said, this being your last year in NYC makes that all that much more a waste.


  3. Totally know exactly what you mean about dresses being easier to work with than pants for really cold weather! Because I rely so much on dresses (mostly the same dresses year round) for my work wardrobe, the decision to get another one is usually very easy. With everything you describe, it sounds like it wouldn’t be a good purchase (it’s something you’ll use this season and probably not be particularly inclined to wear ever again?), though alas the weather’s all over the place lately and I feel like the really cold temperatures tend to keep coming back here until pretty late in spring…

    Argh about the heater! We’re very vulnerable to local office conditions here, though all my offices have tended to be too cold rather than too hot. (Some law firm offices in skyscrapers have the “too hot” problem if they have glass walls or excessively sized windows that get a lot of sunlight, but otherwise the norm seems to be that most offices are constantly too cold.)


    1. I used to wear more tunics and dresses but I’ve evolved away from it in the past couple of years. I could imagine myself going back at some point though. The two lawyers I’ve worked with always have such nice business casual dresses on too.


  4. OMG this is so me too!!! All my weight gain/loss is at my belly, so my wardrobe is constantly a problem whenever I fluctuate. In the summer I wear mostly dresses/skirts, but in the winter I am stuck in pants (personally, leggings and skirts/dresses doesn’t work for me). So I hate winter too, always making my wardrobe inadequate and highlighting my body changes. I don’t live in as cold a climate as you, but when I travel somewhere cold and have to wear thermal tights, I just wear this one pair of jeans that for the whole time. I just wanted to let you know, I feel you on the winter clothing problems.


    1. Yes. I’m glad someone understands the pain!! Thanks for commiserating w me! Dresses are more forgiving and a part of me wants to go back to wearing more dresses again. But for some reason I’m really picky about dresses and can never find one that is just right.


  5. I have some thrifted Eileen Fisher long wool skirts (with holes) that I kept meaning to get rid of…well, glad I didn’t. I just hoist one on over my outfit and take off when I get where I’m going. You can probably get a cheapish one on Posh and then re-sell before you move. I even wear mine in my cold house–like having a blanket on.


    1. There was a time I went on the hunt for a wool skirt..They look so good on other people. But couldn’t find one I was satisfied with, and I did look all over PM and RR. My taste in dresses and skirts is prohibitively picky.


  6. It sounds like you’re leaning towards toughing it out, but I will throw in a recommendation for silk long johns. They aren’t bulky like leggings — more like loose tights — but keep in the warmth. Dressing for the cold is such a paint especially when dealing with the hot office. I feel your pain.


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