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How to Dress for a Boston Winter

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

Winter gear recommendations from the HBS community

Brynne Gosch, Editor

Winter is upon us, and for the students from California, the Caribbean, and other happier locales, it can be hard to know how to dress appropriately. The Harbus solicited winter gear recommendations from the campus community for those of us with less cold weather experience. Even those made of sterner stuff will be kept stern when donning the attire listed below. We have included popular recommendations and their list prices. If you want to faint at the cost of dressing warmly, you are not alone! Before you start panic-scheduling investment banking info sessions, please note that you can usually find the items below or similar ones for much cheaper via sales, discount websites like 6pm, resale websites like Poshmark, or the campus resale marketplace. There is always someone willing to offload a gently used high-end jacket, usually, around the time the credit card bill comes due.


Your coat is your most important item of winter wear. It will not only protect your fragile self from the harsh tundra of eastern Massachusetts but speak volumes about your personality. For example, if you want to say, “I received ‘Outstanding’ performance reviews at [insert consulting firm here],” … I mean, “I care about quality,” Canada Goose is the brand for you. Regardless of brand, most students will choose one of the standard winter coat colors: black, blackest black, or, for the bougie, millennial cream.

After brand and color, the biggest decision you’ll have to make is length. Newcomers may sniff at those wearing a coat down to their ankles in late October, but they’ll soon see the wisdom in the wearable sleeping bag. However, just because a coat is long does not mean it is high-quality. The Harbus readers recommend at least a 550 fill power (or, down quality) for parkas.

Trusted Brands: Canada Goose, Patagonia, The North Face, REI, Eddie Bauer, Aritzia

Pricey choice: Canada Goose collection, $825 to $2,195

Classic choice: The North Face collection, $300 to $700

“I’m not a millennial, I’m Gen Z” choice: Artizia The Super Puff, $225 to $298


Winter boots come in two varieties: snow and all-weather. Since HBS campus is rumored to plow the sidewalks at the first shudder of a snowflake, you might not need a pair of snow boots, but you certainly won’t be sad to have them. Snow boots are usually lined with fleece or shearling, depending on your credit limit, and have a rubber sole with a suede or leather body. They come in various lengths, starting at the ankle, at which point you may ask why even bother, up to knee-high, which requires an hour to put on and a personal A/C unit to hold next to you in class so you don’t overheat.

Trusted Brands: Sorel, Ugg, Columbia, Timberland

Classic choice: Sorel Caribou, $200

All-weather boots, on the other hand, are ideal for slush, cold, and rain. Astute readers may notice that this would be better described as “some weather.” You may also get away with wearing all-weather boots during the fall and spring months. To fit in with Northeasterners, who believe coolness is measured by practicality alone, the L.L.Bean Bean Boot is for you. Other options include a rubberized Chelsea boot, a duck boot by a non-Bean retailer, or your old pair of sneakers with a hole at the seam that will leave your feet soaked in five seconds.

Trusted Brands: L.L.Bean, Sorel, Blundstone

Classic choice: L.L.Bean Bean Boot, 8”, $149

Instagram chic choice: Everlane The Rain Boot, $85

Thrifty choice: Target, Universal Thread Duck Boots, $40


If you have a coat that goes down to your calves, you can wear whatever pants you like. If you don’t, you’ll want to try lined pants, which are exactly what they sound like: pants lined with sweatpants. Ideal for walking the dog or shedding soft tears during a walking networking chat, these pants will get you from point A to point B with somewhat minimized suffering. You can also find lined jeans, joggers, and leggings.

Classic choice: Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Pants, $85

Thrifty choice: Walmart, Fleece Track Pants, $20


There are three types of gloves for the winter: the thinnest, cheapest knit kind that probably came in a three-pack for $5; the nice mid-range pair with touchscreen compatibility; and the thick, ugly, slippery ones you can wear snowshoeing. The middle kind is useless. Don’t bother with anything mid-tier; get yourself some ugly warm gloves, and keep some cheap ones around for when you stubbornly “forget” your thick ones.

Trusted Brands: GORE-TEX, Burton, The North Face, Columbia, Moosejaw


Other recommendations from the HBS community include:

  1. Merino wool socks to keep your feet dry, warm, and pampered

  2. Long knit beanies with built-in earmuffs

  3. Uniqlo Heattech shirts and leggings for layering; these thin but warm garments range from $19.90-$29.90

  4. Reusable heat packs for gloves, pockets, and boots; get eight on Amazon for $23.75 under Hot to Go Reusable Heat Packs

Brynne Gosch is an MBA RC partner. She has a Master’s in Public Health from the University of California – Los Angeles and most recently worked in infectious disease diagnostics. She is the new owner of a pair of L.L.Bean Bean Boots.

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