A frequently asked question by my readers is what to wear in Interior Alaska in December. This Alaska December Lookbook provides outfit inspirations for various weather and dressing situations that you can easily recreate from your own closet with similar items.
- What to Pack when You Visit Fairbanks in December
- Always Pack for the Weather, not for the Climate
- Alaska December Lookbook Outfit for Play
- What to Wear on a Day with Chinook in Central Alaska
- Work Outfits for Cold Weather
- Example How to Create Insulation by Layering
- What to Wear at 30 below?
- Keep the Mood Up with a Pop of Color
- A Down Coat Is a Must-Have
- What Is the Right Footwear for Alaska in December?
- Alaska December Lookbook: Christmas Outfit Idea
- Top of the World Style linkup party No. 235
What to Pack when You Visit Fairbanks in December
In Interior Alaska, temperatures can change easily 20F (11oC) or more within a day in December. Therefore, planning outfits, packing, and dressing can be a challenge. You go to work and your outfit is providing the right insulation. The conditions, even don’t bother you to chat with someone in the parking lot outside. Then after work, it may be so cold that you can’t wait for your car to heat up. In this Alaska December Lookbook, I show you what works, and how to create weather appropriate looks. When your visit is to see the aurora, check also what to pack for aurora watching.
Alaska December Lookbook Outfit for Play
In the following winter work outfit, I layered a sweater and denim jacket, two pairs of tights, long sleeve V-neck Tee.
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Always Pack for the Weather, not for the Climate
When you plan to visit the Interior in December, packing for the climate (i.e. the 30-years statistical mean of the weather) may not be the right thing. Instead you have to plan outfits in terms of chic winter layering looks so you can cover the full range of temperatures between just below freezing to 40 below or so. When you are lucky to be in Fairbanks at 40 below it’s great for a bikini photo.
Even though 40 below occurs only every 500 days, it may occur two years in a row. Since the year has only 365, you see that you can’t build your decisions on statistics. For instance, when there would be 40 below freezing on the 28th of December, 500 days later would be May 12 in the year after next year. Unlikely, right?
What to Wear on a Day with Chinook in Central Alaska
Fairbanks is located in a horseshoe like huge valley between the White Mountains Range to the north, and the Alaska Range to the south. When the wind comes from these directions, the Interior gets a Chinook (Föhn) which means the air will warm up. See this post for an explanation of Chinook.
On such days, temperatures may be around the freezing point, and the air is dry. As a result, pantyhose and a loden, pea or duffel coat are just fine.
Work Outfits for Cold Weather
Living in the Interior for more than 20 years, I am certainly adapted to the environment. What Alaskans call “cold” may be extremely cold for someone used to living and dressing in Southeast of the US, for instance. Here I am talking temperatures from -4F to 10F (-20oC to -12.2oC). The outfit below bases on wearing long underwear under the sweater and tights plus a light down-coat or shearling when going outside. See outerwear later in this post.
Example How to Create Insulation by Layering
In the look below, I show an example of a dress as skirt outfit. Looking beyond a pieces original purpose permits you to get more wear out of your wardrobe. This time, I picked a blue sweater to match with the red, blue, black and yellowgreen geometric print dress. I grounded the print with blue suede boots and tights. Since the dress has elbow long sleeves, I skipped long underwear under the sweater. I wore a half slip underneath the dress for two reasons:
- To avoid the skirt to ride up from friction, which also leads to sparks. See this post for an explanation why clothes release sparks.
What to Wear below -30F (-34.4C)?
The following outfits show how to dress when clear long nights lead to radiative cooling, and, hence strong loss of heat. This happens when the Canadian semi-permanent high pressure systems reaches into Alaska. Under these conditions, a polar air mass forms over the Interior, Yukon Territory, and the Northwest Territories.
Thermal severe cold stress occurs even when you wear long underwear, a shirt plus sweater, double tights and a midi skirt like in the look below.
The cat in the above photos is Celestina. It’s obvious that she didn’t like at all that we opened the door to make photos. In the Arctic, taking outfit photos is a great challenge in winter.
Keep the Mood Up with a Pop of Color
What do all the above looks have in common? A pop of color to keep the mood up. The next December look features another business casual outfit you can wear in winter. The combination of red and brown is not as stark a contrast as red and black. The latter color combination can have some sultry vibe. Red and brown looks more professional, may be even a bit European.
Red plus brown is the new red plus black. #fashiontrends Click To Tweet
A Shearling and a Down Coat Are Must-Haves
The outerwear look in the next photo keeps the red-brown color theme enhanced with a red tote. Tan is added as a third color with the headband. In December, covering the ears is an urgent need in Interior Alaska. Always try to also cover the earrings. They get cold fast. The reason is that once you take your outerwear off, long, cold earrings hurt when they touch your neck. 😉 Think of it as a similar pain to that caused by earrings that got hot in the sauna and touch your skin.
When going outside, a thick down coat that is best for this climate zone is a Must. I found this floral beauty a couple of years ago.
What Is the Right Footwear for Alaska in December?
No matter whether it is “just cold” or below -30F or so, the right footwear is key to avoid cold feet at frigid temperatures. These shearling booties with insole work fine when I only have to walk from the parking lot to the building and don’t have to wait longer than 10 minutes for the campus shuttle.
The business casual work look below shows another inspiration how to layer with a jacket.
I hope it is cold enough for you today. - Alaska saying #quote Click To Tweet
Christmas Outfit Idea
Now what I wore Christmas: Black long sleeve Tee (not visible, a leather dress, half slip, double tights, and a sequin front jacket for some festive glam. My husband gave me the black and white necklace as a gift for Christmas. A real statement piece.
For a guide on making nice Christmas outfits see the post at the link.
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239th Top of the World Style linkup party
Welcome to the Top of the World Style linkup party.
Here are the featured posts from last week’s party.
Photos of me: G. Kramm
© 2013-2021 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved
This Post Has 10 Comments
Happy New Year, Nicole! Keep being the style icon and climate scientist we all know and love!
Fascinating! One winter when I lived in Kansas, we hit -16. And yet it’s impossible for me to imagine -40. I am surprised that you’re not dressed like the Michelin Man! All of your outfits are very attractive. My favorite is the purple top with the orange skirt. Yummy jewel tones!
Nicole, you are stylish no matter what the temperature! Great layering tips in this and the previous post. It doesn’t get that cold here but it’s nice to be prepared for a future trip or an unusually cold day!
Happy new year,
Love all these looks! XOXO
That floral coat is just GORG!!! It looks nice and warm, too!
all darling styles! i remember when cobalt blues came in style with a vegeance! i have all my original cobalt blue pieces and need to get them out because i love the combination with the black and white plaid…also loving the long plaid blue and red skirt…
so many great looks, and perfect way to still take pictures when the weather is so off
Nicole, I love all of your outfits especially the first one with that cute plaid skirt and blue top. That shade of blue looks amazing on you. And I hopped over to read your post about wearing a bikini at -40 degrees. I live in a place where it hits extreme temperatures like that as well and I would totally do the same for the sake of a blog post. Although I am certain it caused some pain! Also, I had no idea that -40 was the magic temperature where celsius and fahrenheit are the same. Very interesting fact! Wishing you all the best in 2020, my friend. Stay warm!
I love seeing all of the skirt outfits! I really want to challenge myself to move away from wearing my jeans all of the time so anytime I see a cute skirt outfit it inspires me!
These are all great layering ideas, Nicole! I’m thinking they’re what I need when it’s 40F (not -40F) here in north Texas 😛 I’m not sure I’d be wearing a skirt very often, but if I were, it would definitely be like your midi skirt. And I love that floral parka! And what a beautiful necklace your hubby got you for Christmas! I really love the simple skirt look with the denim jacket. I’d wear that one any time. And your dressy leather dress with the sequined cardigan over it is gorgeous! Thank you so much for hosting the linkup. Here’s to a Happy 2020!
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