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Where you’re from originally will dictate the way you feel about Berlin winters. For most of us, however, they are dark, cold, and dreadful in comparison to the glorious summer months. Here are a few tips for surviving a Berlin winter that will appeal to your fashion sense.
While we’re only half kidding with this first tip, it’s truly a good idea to put practicality before style if you plan on continuing to travel by bike this winter, as many people do. The winds are especially brutal during rides near the Spree, so bundling up is essential for most intercity travel. A hefty woolen scarf and hat will do the trick, but a balaclava will fortify the face and neck against the icy breeze for anyone who is particularly afraid to bear the elements. Otherwise, beanies are always in, as are monochromatic, neutral scarves.
Next, let’s talk about the coat. Choose wisely, as this will be a major fashion statement at any given time during the winter months considering that it will be the primary article of clothing in which most people will see you. Naturally, despite some of the drastic measures taken against the cold, Berliners still manage to look pretty cool come wintertime. Opt for a long coat that will provide adequate coverage against the wind, snow, and consistently chilly temps, but don’t be afraid to hold out for something that looks good, too. With the right amount of savviness, style and practicality don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Hit up a few of the many weekend flea markets located around the city to pick up a unique vintage item without spending a fortune. Leather and animal prints are always a go in this camp as well.
The clubbing scene doesn’t exactly die down in the winter. Thus, it’s important to take those rather eccentric, and often scant Berghain getups and give them a wintery spin. The long, vintage coat can always help to bolster against the chill whilst waiting in those long lines, but no one will blame you for throwing on some heavier tights or long pants during the winter months either. Incorporate some fur —faux or real — into the look as well. No one will be able to tell if this was done for the sake of fashion or to generate more heat. After all, this is a city where wearing heels and tight dresses to clubs is an utterly absurd thing to do.
An alternative to the balaclava or the big warm scarf for guys is to grow out that facial hair. No-shave November doesn’t come at the brink of winter for nothing. In fact, it is rather convenient that come December 1st, those who are able will have a natural solution to keeping their faces warm against the elements. Of course, it’s also important to acquire a proper beard care regimen. Support local businesses like O.A.K. Berlin and invest in some beard oil. For the ladies, there are even knit wool face covers that can mimic beards. When the chill sets in, it can be easy to get jealous about a solid set of warm facial hair.
One of the hallmarks of a stylish Berliner’s wardrobe are a pair of white sneakers worn to complete the look and break up the monotony of dark color tones. While we do love our Stan Smiths and white Nikes, it is wise to consider swapping these for a pair of sturdy leather boots. These should be comfortable and versatile, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessary to sacrifice style. A solid pair of Dr. Martens, Frye Boots, or Chelsea styles will do the trick. Ideally, winter footwear should also come with enough room for a thick pair of wool socks.
Even in the dead of winter, one of the worst aspects of the weather is the icy cold rain. Alternatively, snow is common in the city. Therefore, it’s imperative that your winter wardrobe includes items that can stand up to wet climates. Treat boots and shoes with oil or another moisture-resistant product if necessary. Opt for a coat that won’t simply absorb every drop of water that drops from the sky. Wool is nice, but at least consider choosing something with a waterproof fabric if you plan on spending time outside biking or walking from place to place. Also, choose a coat with a hood or keep an umbrella handy.
Sure, preparing for the cold could put some constraints on your style, but it doesn’t have to. For anyone who is still worried about looking the part of a true Berliner, add an extra dose of black to the look when in doubt. An oversized black vintage coat coupled with black boots, pants, and a cozy turtleneck will have all bases covered in terms of aesthetics and practicality. If you must add something to break up this look, opt for a cool beanie and a simple scarf in a classic color like gray, maroon, evergreen, or beige. It’s okay to keep things simple, but feel free to layer up with a mixture of warm pieces.