How To Prepare & Dress For Subzero Winter | The Real-life Winter Essentials

I read so many outfit posts on dressing for winter but I found that I couldn't relate to most of them. I mean, a long chic coat over a sweater with jeans underneath and a pair of sneakers and...that's it? That's their version of winter-dressing?? (Sometimes without socks too, the audacity.)

Another viable theory: perhaps I'm the one who's susceptible to freezing during winter and I'm just envious of them, of course.

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I'm known to really dislike cold temperatures so imagine my horror when I checked Seoul's weather pre-departure and found out the temperatures would range from -14℃ (eek!!!) to 6℃. I've been through some cold winters previously but never in my life have I experienced subzero temperatures! I admittedly panicked a little but in the end that did me good because it made me more prepared for my trip.

The important winter essentials
I concentrated on packing mainly winter essentials which I will now share here, in the hopes that it'll help convert other winter-hating peeps into those who look forward to their next winter vacation!
PS: My ultimate winter-essential "secret" is the last on the list, so read on!

1. Warm Coats & Jackets
As much as I wanted to look cute + stylish, my priority was comfort and staying warm was a huge part of that. I'm glad to have coats and jackets that I am more than happy to put on and feel good in, like this green down jacket which is a fantastic heat insulator as well as my favourite varsity-style camel coat that retains heat well.

2. Hidden Thermal Wear
I had no thermal wear whatsoever during my first winters back when I studied in New Zealand! Basic thermal wear at the time was bulky and scratchy, I hated the very idea of them. Imagine resorting to layering up to three long-sleeved t-shirts at a time underneath my sweater + jacket, which was a big mistake; I was always awkwardly sweating under all those layers, which did absolutely no favour to my skin!

Uniqlo Ultra Warm and Extra Warm Heattech tops and leggings
This is why I love Uniqlo's thin Heattech thermal wear — seriously, get Heattech for your winter trips, I just cannot recommend them more! (#notsponsored) I've used the original and Extra Warm Heattech tops and leggings for years but for my latest Seoul trip, I turned to their Ultra Warm Heattech range. Boy, am I glad I did so; their thermal tech really does a fantastic job in insulating heat as well as dispersing sweat at the same time.

I actually layered the Extra Warm top and leggings on top of the Ultra Warm ones for my trip to Nami Island and I was amazingly comfortably warm enough to stay out in the freezing cold temperature (almost) all day long.

3. Toasty Scarves

As a hijabi I may wear scarves around my head all the time but they would be completely useless for winter purposes! Woolly and knitted scarves  like my red Gryffindor scarf!  are more ideal to keep my neck warm.
Tip: Pull them upwards to cover your nose and mouth for extra warmth.

4. Beanie, Gloves & Socks

I discovered that hijabis can look cute in beanies three years ago and had since gotten my own beanies (instead of "stealing" Shah's ones).

I don't think I've found the perfect pair that could keep my fingers toasty but I learned early on that even the flimsiest of gloves are ALWAYS better than no gloves at all, especially when your hands are out of the pockets to constantly snap photos!

As someone whose feet practically freeze during winter, another advice from me would be: don't be afraid to layer on socks! (Just make sure your feet don't get squashed up inside your shoes, that's all.)

5. Moisturising & Hydrating Skincare
I have combination skin that gets really dry + super shiny when parched and tends to break out when it gets too dry during wintertime. Thankfully my current Water Bank skincare range from Laneige works well when I'm overseas as well as at home but I knew I would need extra help in extreme cold weathers, and this is where Laneige's Double Layering Oil came in handy.

    Skin oil and moisturiser for winter
    I just dropped five to six drops of it into their Water Sleeping Mask or even the normal moisturiser (more than the recommended two to three, but that's for when I'm in Malaysia!) and massage it into my skin  works like a charm!

    Thankfully my body skin doesn't react to cold weather as strongly as my facial skin but I still moisturised it well using the lavender-scented Nivea body lotion I use regularly in Malaysia.

    Can't forget the lips, guys! I adore Chu Lip lip balms as it actually nourishes my lips so I don't have to apply it constantly (no "lip balm addiction" here) but sadly it seems like the local pharmacies in Malaysia have discontinued stocking it.

    6. Little Heat Packs
    If only I discovered heat packs sooner  I might have never claimed to hate on winters if I had! Every time before I went out in Seoul, I stuck these amazing little sticky attachable Japan-made packs (there are apparently many types, I wish I had them all!) onto my backs, on my arms and around my feet which really helped distributed more heat into my body. 
    Japanese attachable sticky heat packs

      As amazing as I think they are, I think it is extremely important to use them with caution. I usually place them on my body at the back strategically, keeping the location of vital organs in mind. Even though the highest temperature they could get to is 40℃, I never placed them in direct contact with my skin, but instead stick them onto my Heattech top at the back, on its sleeves and my socks.

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      I'm happy to report that for the first time in my life, with these winter necessities, I finally no longer loathe winter AND subsequently fell in love with the season  to think that it coincidentally happened when I was in subzero temperatures! (I'm pretty pleased about that fact, to be honest.)

      I hope you find these tips useful for your future winter/cold-weathered trips! If you have any other tips to brace the freezing temperatures of winter, I'd love to hear it for my own future trips *fingers crossed* so please do share in the comment section below! ❤


      1. WOW!!! You've become a real professional winter dress stylist!! I think all of your choices sound fabulous and I am impressed that you have found many good products quickly. Personally I swear by well made down jackets and they're really my go to. In Minnesota it isn't unusual to have 30 below zero actual temperatures with wind chill factors of 70 below of more!!! You pretty much resign yourself to looking warm not chic. I've never used the warmers but I know they're popular for occasions when you're going to be outdoors for a long period and perhaps not moving around that much.
        I'm very impressed with your new found skills my friend!! Love, Jude

        1. Thank you Judy =D Coming from you I take this comment as a reassurance that I've done well with this list! And brrr Minnesota sounds colddd. I've sacrificed being toasty warm for style a few times in the past and I can say now that those occasions were not well thought-out on my part. But next step is trying to figure out how to be toasty warm AND look cute at the same time, but that's a challenge for my next winter trip I suppose!

      2. What an interesting read! Hahaha, you are not alone with the cold-hating as I think tropical girls who are tropical through and through will always prefer temps that are, shall I say, less extreme? I don't know how you did it but reading this extensive and educational post on how to nail the winter dressing game like a boss is finally making me feel like it's not so bad. I cannot even stand the Genting chill, can you believe it? Tropical girl #firstworldproblem hehehe. I appreciate you making this post as now I am theoretically-informed on how to stay toasty in bone-freezing cold. :D xoxo

        1. You're right, I (almost) can't believe you don't like Genting's cool weather! I think you must be the first person I know ever to say that, hahaha! I may not like extreme cold but I don't enjoy sweating that much either, so I always wish the whole of Malaysia's weather is like the weather there.

          I sincerely, genuinely hope that one day in the future you could make use of the tips I share here, and when that day comes I will look forward to hearing about your winter adventures, girl <3


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      Hi, I'm Liyana

      I'm a style & lifestyle blogger based in sunny (and ever humid) Malaysia. On The Good Weekender, you can find typed journals of my evolving modest personal style, travel adventures, skincare/beauty updates, home decor things, and stories of other bits and pieces of my everyday life. I hope you'll enjoy flipping through these pages of my virtual book!