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How to Stay Warm in Winter: Layering for Snow

It’s cold, it’s winter, and women need warm clothes, like parkas, hats, gloves, and scarves. So, here’s an article by my friend Kay, who grew up in Hawaii and has lived in two parts of the cold and rainy Pacific Northwest (Northern California and Washington State). Somehow, Aloha-Gal Kay learned how to survive “off the grid” in the snowy mountains... in a cabin with no heat.

So, if you’re a former hippie, or a neo boho hippie, and you’re ready to ditch the city for a while, this article may help.

by Kay Kerns,

I used to live in Hawaii, but I left to live on the mainland because my family moved to Washington State... Well, that’s one of the reasons... The other reason is that Hawaii is terribly small, crowded and expensive.

The climate on the mainland was a bit of a shock to me, but I learned to cope with extreme cold after growing up in the tropics, so I want to give you a few suggestions for warm, comfy, cute outfits to wear on snowy, freezing, winter days.

Years ago, I lived in a tiny place called Cecilville, which is on the Salmon River in the Klamath National Forest of Northern California (at a 3,000-foot elevation). So, I want to tell you how to layer your clothing so that you will be prepared for any type of winter weather.

what to wear in mountains snow - hawaii girl

I Lived Near Mount Shasta

I left Washington State with my boyfriend, Garry, to live in Northern California, because Garry had spent his hippie days near Mount Shasta, and he had fond memories of the place. The area around Shasta used to be a real hippie haven and it still is. Many of my neighbors were Native Americans of the Karuk tribe who were very kind to me. Also, there were plenty of 'rich hippie' types, who had left SF or LA to live off the grid, up in the forest.

Garry and I ended up living in an old hunting camp in Cecilville, in a little cabin built in the 1940s. This was in Siskiyou County, which is about an hour and a half away from Yreka and the Oregon border. It is beautiful country, relatively unspoiled. We saw snowboarders on the mountain in the winter and every year there were actual dogsled races! Being from Hawaii, I had only seen such things in the movies or on TV.

clothing layers for snow

Because I had grown up with Hawaiian weather, I was extremely cold all the time the mountains during the winter! I quickly learned to wear layers and to build a fire in the wood stove. I learned how to split logs with a maul and to chop kindling with an axe, because our cabin had a woodstove as its primary source of heat. Fortunately, Garry had a lot of backwoods skills, which he had learned from his dad, like how to hunt, fish, camp, use a chain saw, etc.

Keeping Warm in the Snow: Layering the Right Clothes

We lived pretty much in the middle of nowhere, so keeping warm was the most important thing and fashion was secondary. However, I still wanted to look good, because I love clothes and shopping, so I know it is possible to have a fashionable, bohemian winter wardrobe if you plan ahead. And if you want to go "back to the land" or live off the grid, here are some ideas.

What I wore whenever I went outside in the winter:what to wear in the mountains plus sizes

  • Boots: I used to wear what we called 'duck boots' outside in bad weather because they kept my feet warm and dry. These boots, often used by hunters, were nonslip too. Duck boots are perfect for snow and mud, but you may want something cuter for going into town.
  • Socks: Under my boots, I always wore a pair of long, wool-blend socks.
  • Leggings and jeans: I wore a lot of layers. Usually, I would wear leggings or long underwear bottoms under a long skirt or a pair of loose jeans or cords.
  • Layered tops: I always wore a long-underwear top under a long-sleeved, thermal Henley shirt, a knit top, or a thin sweater.
  • Hooded parka jacket: Over these tops, I wore my favorite wooly fleece jacket with a hood. There are lots of parkas that will keep you warm but try to get one with a hood or a detachable hood. Make sure your jacket is big enough to fit over your layers.
  • Hats, gloves and scarves: On my head, I wore a knit hat, and then I put on fingerless gloves and a knit scarf. Make sure your hood fits over your knit hat.

(Note about fingerless gloves: I wore fingerless gloves so I could feel what I was doing when I was chopping logs or splitting wood into kindling. I still wear fingerless gloves everywhere because it's easier to pick up things, like my bus card and cell phone, when I can feel them with my fingertips. My fingers did get cold when I was chopping wood or running around with my friends out in the snow, but it was better than taking gloves or mittens off and on again. These days you can find fingerless gloves with caps that pop off and on.)

what to wear to stay warm in mountain snowBecause I dressed in layers, I was always ready for an expedition with the guys to cut firewood or to take the 4-wheel drive up to the summit to take photos. It’s important to always be prepared when going for a drive on a twisty mountain road because it is easy to get stuck or stranded somewhere in the snow and ice. I was always prepared, anyhow! Never forget a pair of sunglasses just in case of glare off the snow!

Other Winter Clothing

You will want to have other clothing because you’ll be inside sometimes and occasionally you’ll have to adapt by trying other combinations. You’ll want to have these if possible:

  • Fleece shirts - lumberjack style
  • Earmuffs or wool headbands
  • One-piece pajamas or long underwear tops and bottoms
  • Cozy slippers
  • Lightweight cotton and jersey tees
  • Down vest (gilet)

I Loved the Mountains of Northern California

Unfortunately, Garry was too much of a party animal and he turned out to be a bit too wild for me, but we had both great times and terrible times. Actually, the areas near the Klamath National Forest, the Salmon River, and Mount Shasta are beautiful locations for Boomers looking for a nice place to retire, as long as they have a guaranteed income. (I had a small income from making and selling jewelry.)

The folks you'll meet there are truly interesting… a lot of real characters! We met people who were passing through as they hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. And, we met people who came to the area to pan for gold.

If you’re a former hippie, or you’ve always had a bohemian spirit, you might like living out in the middle of the forest. You’ll have to learn to be self sufficient, but if a girl from Hawaii can learn to live in the mountains in winter, anybody can. However, you'll need to have the right clothes and you'll need to learn how to layer them the right way or you'll only last a week... if that.


  • Main Photo: First row: all knit hats - Accessorize. Second row: first two scarves - Accessorize, River Island, other scarves - Accessorize. Third row: fingerless gloves - Accessorize, owl fingerless gloves - Pilot, Accessorize, Fat Face, fluffy deer capped mitten - Accessorize, Accessorize gloves.
  • Plus Size Winter Layers: Asos plus size sweater/jumper, Asos plus size check jacket, Littlewood's cuffed jean, Isme plus size skirt.
  • Layering Clothing for Women: Simply Be plus size jumper/sweater, Isme plus size parka with hood, Primark Bambi top, Isme plus size maxi skirt.

More Articles for Baby Boomer Women:

What to Wear in Eastern Europe for Fall and Winter: Germany, Austria, Prague, Budapest

Plus Size Clothing for Women With International Shipping

Paris Street Style for Women Over 40 or 50

Knit Jersey Dresses: Travel Wear for Women Over 40 or 50

What do you thing of this article? Leave a comment at the bottom of the page or give us a Google Plus.

Kay Kerns lives in Bremerton, Washington and admits to having a mild shopping addiction, but that’s why she knows so much about fashion. Her favorite vintage shop is Bella Luna Consignment Boutique in Bremerton.

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  1. kay kerns

    Tina that was awesome! You made this article much funnier and more interesting than what I wrote. Love the pictures too. I wish I had all these clothes and accessories right now! Feeling the cold today. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Ray

    hugs, Kay

    • Tina-Boomerina


      I just took your words and moved them around... and added the ideas from your emails. And, I wish I had all those clothes, too. I'm freaking freezing.

      I'm going to tell my husband to get a lottery ticket so I can buy a condo in Hawaii for the winter months. I need some SUN...!

      hugs, Tina Boomerina

      • Tina-Boomerina

        Also, it helped that I know the area where you lived... well, not quite the same area, but I know nearby areas. And, I know how cold the rivers are even in the summer!


  2. kay kerns

    Because I had grown up with Hawaiian weather, I was extremely cold all the time the mountains during the winter!

    in the mountains

    • Tina-Boomerina


      I can only imagine how cold it must have been for you. I lived in Kailua during high school (for one year) and I remember shivering when it went down to 69 degrees.

      I've spent a bit of time near Shasta, but it was during summer... on a hippie commune in the woods. I don't know if I could have survived the winter... and I'm a former skiier. However, I'm pretty sure that ski clothing would not be the right thing for someone living up there and doing active things like you did. The clothes would be too tight.

      I think you had the right idea. I like the way you layered things... and it would look cute in a "mountain mama" boho way. I would love to live in that area, but my hubster hates California and hates hippies... so... I'm not sure it would work. It's a fab beautiful place.