How to look great in the bitter cold of Alaska in January (lookbook)
Rebecca Collins belt and necklace, Hermes collier de chien bangle, cocktail ring, Eddie Bauer Fair Isles sweater, Prada skirt, upcycled boots and DIY earstuds (all own)
In this post
  1. What temperatures occur on average in Interior Alaska in January
  2. What to pack for Alaska in January
    • What to wear at 40 below in Alaska
    • What to wear at -30F (-34.4o in dry weather
    • How to dress at -20F (-28.9o in windy moist weather
    • Looks for -10F (-23.3oC)
    • What to wear at 0F (-18oC)
    • What to wear at 10F (-12.2oC)
    • What to wear at 20F (-6.7oC)
    • Outfit ideas for temperatures around the freezing point

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.

What temperatures occur on average in Interior Alaska in January?

When you want to visit Alaska in January to see the aurora or just for a business trip, avoid the mistake to pack for the long-term January mean temperature. As a matter of fact, temperatures can varry strongly from one day to the next; and they can be far from the January mean.

Köppen-Geiger diagram of annual course of monthly means of precipitation and temperature
Chart of the annual course of monthly mean precipitation (blue columns) and monthly mean temperatures (red lines) in Fairbanks, Alaska. Note that 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 0, -10, -20, and -30F are 15.6, 10, 4.4, -1.1, -6.7, -12.2, -18, -23.3, -28.9, -34.4C, respectively
Daily mean, minimum and maximum temperatures at Fairbanks in January 2020
Daily mean temperatures, minimum and maximum temperature in January 2020 as an example how actual conditions can differ from the 30 year mean.

What to pack for Alaska in January

Thus, pack for layering! Stick to matching neutrals and colors. Best make sure to select clothes from your closet that all match with each other.

No matter, whether the temperatures are around the freezing point or more than 40 below that threshold, you will need boots with a thick insole and double socks. The ground doesn’t warm up so fast to wear shoes that would be suitable at around 40F (5oC)in midlatitudes. You are not eager to learn how to avoid cold feet at frigid temperatures by self-experience, do you?

And always double your socks, wool is best. Or wear socks with boot toppers. See the post at the link for a boot topper styling guide.

What to wear at 40 below in Alaska

When you are reading this blog for a while, you may already know why 40 below is perfect for a bikini look for many (young) Alaskan women. Well, let’s get serious. Since before Christmas, the mecury didn’t make it much above -20F (28.9oC). So to speak, this January was bitter cold. Thus, most the time, you were greeted

I hope it is cold enough for you today. #alaska #lifestyle Click To Tweet

At 40 below conditions, you must become a champion in how to maintain great style in painful cold by layering. You also worry about your credit card. We just got a $600 something bill for heating fuel in December; on the last day of January, the auto-dilivery truck came again and pumped $900 something worth of heating fuel into the tank. The sound of the furnice is the new normal. 🙁

The outfit photos below show examples of how to layer to stay warm an comfortable. Wear long Johns or leggings under pants, trousers or jeans. When wearing a skirt, double the tights. Best wear the ticker, most opaque on top of the less thick one. Otherwise you will get a marbled or swirl like look due to the see-thru. Of course, you can create that pattern on purpose, if you like.

stylist in gray black Fair Isles sweater, statement jewelry and belt

over 50 years old Alaskan in A-line fur skirt, turtleneck sweater, gemstone belt, barrette

style book author in winter outfit with fur skirt, sweater, colorful accessories
Outfit details: Rebecca Collins belt and necklace, Hermes collier de chien bangle, cocktail ring, barrette, Eddie Bauer Fair Isles sweater, Prada skirt, upcycled boots and DIY earstuds (all own)

What to wear at -30F (-34.4o in dry weather

The dryness of winter and the electrostatics are a real problem for every fashionista. Well, who likes skirts or dresses clinched to the legs? Even worse, these little sparks with their ugly noise when you pull off your coat or clothes, even hurt. Have you ever wondered why clothes release sparks ?

Fairbanks stylist in winter meeting outfit with hounds tooth skirt, royal blue sweater, short leather vest, jewelry

fashion blogger in winter look of blue top, plaid skirt, tall boots, black tights
Banana Republic leather vest and plaid wool skirt, Hermes collier de chien, DIY bangle, pendant necklace, Taylor’s Gold’n Stone ice cube quartz earrings, upcycled boots and unbranded cashmere sweater (all own) and tights c/o Hipstik® Legwear

Because of the low temperatures, I alternated between my long furry coat and my long floral down coat. To styled my outerwear to avoid winter boredom I accessorized with different gloves, scarves and hats. I don’t know about you, but my shoulders hurt when I have to wear a heavy long winter coat for quite a while.

What to wear at -20F (-28.9o) in windy moist weather

We had some “windy” days; and Alaskans in the Interior fear wind more than cold below 40 conditions.

Eventhough temperatures were 20F higher than on those 40 below, calm days, the weather felt just miserable. First because of the wind, which I tried to block out by wearing leather. Second, on those days, humidity was high. Somehow moisture is creepy. It seems to get everywhere, no matter how much effort you put into avoiding cold gaps when dressing.

details of foral and geometric print scarf, sweater and cherry red leather skirt

over 50 years old blogger in maxi leather skirt, sweater, tights, booties

stylist in long leather skirt, sweater top, scarf and red ankle boots
Outfit details: GNW Luxe cashmere wool sweater, Anne Klein silk oblong floral and geometric print scarf, Oliveo cherry red ankle length leather skirt (similar here), ice cube quartz earrings, purple GNW tight over layering top, silk long-sleeves underwear, briefs, bra, GNW tigths, midi length half-slip (all own)

What to wear at 0F (-18oC)

To cover the entire range of potential January temperatures, I added some outfits for the respective ranges in this and the next sections. Note that after a long period of 40 below, Alaskans call conditions around 0F warm.

This business casual outfit is pretty simple. It makes use of the colors of the skirt. The greenery and turquoise are repeated in the scarf, and the boots. The belt serves to define the waist. I went for a statement belt and decided against a necklace. On a petite frame like mine, a statement belt plus necklace would be overwhelming. The distance between two focal points would be too short.

I wore the outfit at work and we went out for some bites at a bar after work.

turquoise, greenery, black business casual outfit with scarf, leather skirt, tights and calf high boots

mature woman in black outfit with pops of color

fashion blogger over 50 in work outfit with Pantome color greenery
Outfit details: Oliveo striped leather skirt, abstract print silk scarf, Anne Klein cable knit sweater, GNW tight, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Jimmy Choo shearling boots, statement belt, barrette, and bamboo watch (all own)

What to wear at 10F (-12.2oC)

The following look is an example of what to wear to a work meeting.

Don’t let the right outfit be a random thing. Wear the right look in every situation by looking up what to wear when in How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy the book now.

fashion blogger in tweed skirt, cable knit sweater, matching scarf, black pearls

January work look accessories

over 50 years old blogger in winter buisness casual skirt, sweater, tights, scarf, pearls look
Outfit details: Halogen skirt, Anne Klein sweater, Anne Klein scarf, GNW tight, Harley Davidson booties, Collier de Chien belt, and black pearl necklace (all own)

What to wear at 20F (-6.7oC)

I like the fashion-forward color combination of brown and pink. It looks modern and is so much more flattering on mature skin than the pink plus black combination of the 80s. Do you recall that that the black plus pink combination was It at that time for us, but not for our moms’ generation?

Try brown with pink, so chic. #fashionover50 Click To Tweet

For this date night outfit, I went for an eclectic urban style by combining sequins and shearling. After work, I switched my skirt for the sequin skirt that I had brought in my tote. My husband picked me up after work, which explains why I carry my work bag. Of course, heels were a must at work and for date night. There are 101 reasons to wear heels over 40, right?  😉

When you go to date night after work, make some quick tweaks to your look. #styletip Click To Tweet

style blogger in most current trends of motorcycle jacket with sequin skirt

stylist in date night after work winter outfit

fashion blogger wearing an outfit in brown and pink

#accessories details of trendy belt and sequin skirt

January date night look with motorcycle shearling coat with sequin skirt and booties

#midlifestyle mature woman sitting at the bar of a restaurant in pink and brown look
Outfit details: Brown and winter white Marc Aurel shearling motorcycle jacket, pink GNW Luxe cashmere wool sweater, pink suede long gemstone buckle statement belt, pink H&M sequin skirt, brown Antonio Tonelli booties, Hermes collier de chien bangle, winter white LeatherCoatsEtc beret, brown Yes Saint Laurent bag, pink and white pearl leather necklace c/o Wendy Mignot, and pink tight c/o No nonsense

What do you wear on date night when temperatures are in the 20s (-1.7 to -6.7oC)? When you like the look, pin it to your pinterest board.

This condition sounds unusual and unexpected for those who don’t live in the Interior of Alaska. However, both the Tanana Valley, where Fairbanks is located, and the Yukon Flats Valley farther North above the Arctic Circle, experience Chinook (Föhn) weather situations ever now and then (for an explanation of Chinook and why Chinook warming permits non-seasonal dressing see the post at the link).

When a Chinook coincides with a so-called Pineapple Express, the air may rise to around the freezing point. We call this weather a heat-wave. Note that a Pineapple Express isn’t a train, but a subtropical maritime airmass that has its origin in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands. This air mass is relative warm and moist. When it moves north to Alaska and descends on the northern side of the Alaska Range into the Tanana Valley, its warmth and moisture enhance the Chinook effect.

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Photos: G. Kramm

© 2013-2020 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. shelbeeontheedge1

    I love how you manage to be so completely put together and perfectly layered for the Alaska weather without sacrificing style at all. Great post!

    Shelbee

  2. Nicole Mölders

    I visited Arizona once in winter, once in summer. The latter was worse than summer in New York state. So muggy and hot. Despite the thunderstorms and ligthenings look awesome in AZ.

  3. Jodie

    You always look so stylish no matter the weather Nicole. I think visiting Alaska in the winter is like visiting Arizona in the summer…not the biggest tourist time…LOL
    XOOX
    Jodie

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