What to wear in Alaska in December (Lookbook)

over 50 years old Alaskan fashion blogger in blue sweater with hounds tooth skirt and white booties
Contents
  1. What to pack when you visit Fairbanks in December
    • What to wear on a day with Chinook in Central Alaska
    • Work outfits for cold weather
    • What to wear below 30 below?
    • Christmas outfit
    • Join the High Latitude Style VIP list
  2. Top of the World Style linkup party
    • Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav
    • Top of the World OOTD My Fav
    • Top of the World Style Winner
    • Co-host wanted

What to pack when you visit Fairbanks in December

In Interior Alaska, temperatures can change easily 20F (11oC) within a day in December, which makes planning outfits, packing and dressing a challenge. You go to work and your outfit is providing the right insulation. You even don’t bother 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 post, I show you what I wore and how to create weather appropriate looks. When your visit isn’t a business trip, but to see the aurora check the post at the link to pack for aurora watching.

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 layering 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. Since you know that the year has only 365, you see that you can’t build your decisions on statistics. This December, we had 40 below freezing on the 28th in the morning. Thus, 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.

holiday outfit with straight skirt, sweater and lace-up booties

stylist in above the knee black and white skirt, white shoes, skyblue top and Christmas scarf
Outfit details: DIY brooch worn instead of a belt, pearl metal necklaces, silk holiday scarf, Banana Republic houndstooth skirt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, DIY bangle, pantyhose, pearl barrettes and Fendi booties (all own)

On such days, temperatures may be around the freezing point. The air is dry. Pantyhose and a loden, pea or duffel coat are just fine. The next photos illustrate what to wear on such a day.

Work outfits for cold weather

Living in the Interior for nearly 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 downcoat or shearling when going outside (not shown).

fashion blogger in orange skirt, purple top and tall boots decorating a giving tree

mature woman kneeling to decorate a Christmas tree

Alaskan blogger in work outfit with purple sweater, black boot and tights, floral scarf
Outfit details: Max Mara skirt, upcycled tall boots, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Oscar de la Rente silk floral print scarf, unbranded cashmere sweater, statement necklace with citrin and moonstone (all own) and tights c/o Hipstik

In the look below, I am wearing again a dress as skirt to get more wear out of the pieces I own. 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. I wore a half slip underneath the dress for two reasons:

  1. Insulation
  2. to avoid the skirt to ride up from friction, which also leads to sparks. See this post for an explanation why clothes release sparks.

over 50 years old Alaskan wearing a dress as skirt with sweater, tights and boots

style book author in A-line skirt, belt, top, tights and boots office look
Outfit details: Roe Lulu printed fit-and-flare dress, Judie Leiber belt, unbranded cashmere sweater, GNW tight, L.K. Bennett boots, statement gemstone buckle belt, beaded necklace and Hermes collier de chien bangle (all own)

What to wear below -30F (-34.4C)?

The following outfits show how to dress when clear long nights lead to radiative cooling and hence trong 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.

Alaskan blogger with cat in plaid midi skirt, sweater, shirt and boots

Mature woman in blue-white-read pleated plaid midi skirt, gingham shirt, sweater, belt and booties
Outfit details: Pendleton plaid midi skirt, L.K. Bennett suede boots, GNW Luxe sweater, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle (all own) and gingham shirt c/o Whistle Rivers

The cat in the above photos is Celestina. She is 18 and a half years old. She doesn’t like at all that we opened the door to make photos. In the Arctic, taking outfit photos is a great challenge in winter.

In the following winter work outfit, I layered a sweater and denim jacket, two pairs of tights, long sleeve v-neck Tee. fashion blogger layering a sweater and denim jacket styled with tweed skirt, tights, slouchy booties

midlife woman in gray, orange, denim Casual Friday look with jacket, straight skirt and top
Outfit details: Great Northwest oversized denim jacket, Eddie Baure tweed skirt, Vince Camuta booties, Hermes collier de chien bangle, unbranded sweater (all own) and tights c/o Hipstik

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 my book now.

When going outside, a thick downcoat that is best for this climate zone is a must. I found this floral beauty a couple of years ago.

Style blogger in floral print down caot with shearling hat
Snow Touch floral down coat, 3.1 Philip Lim bag, Salamander shearling booties, shearling hat, LeatherCoatsEtc gloves (all own) and tights c/o Hipstik

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 casul work look below shows another inspiration how to layer with a jacket.

Alaskan woman in houndstooth skirt, janker, sweater, belt, tights and riding boots
Banana Republic houndstooth skirt, unbranded sweater Jäger Trachten jacket, Salamander shearling booties, Heidi Ara belt buckle, Esprit neckerchief, pearl studs (all own) and tights c/o Hipstik
I hope it is cold enough for you today. - Alaska saying #quote Click To Tweet

Christmas outfit

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.

style blogger in Christmas look with sequin jacket, leather, tights and booties
Michael Kors sequin cardigan, Halogen leather dress, Harley Davidson booties, Hermes collier de chien bangle, quartz bangle, Rebecca Colins necklace (all own) and tights c/o Hipstik

Like these outfit ideas? If so, please feel free to pin them to your own Pinterest board.

Join the High Latitude Style VIP list

Are you registered for my Newsletter to let you know about new posts, how tos  and special style subjects? I’d highly appreciate it if you take the time to sign up and ask your friends to sign up too!!

Top of the World Style linkup party

Welcome to the 239th Top of the Worldstyle linkup party.

#linkup Top of the World Style linkup party every week on Thursday

Here are the featured posts from last week’s party.

Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav

Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav Rebecca of Rebecca Tries Trousers in faux leather pants
Rebecca of Rebecca Tries Trousers became the Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav. Photo from her post

Rebecca became the Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav. She blogs at Rebecca Tries Trousers. Don’t her legs look great in these faux leather pants? Stunning!

Top of the World OOTD My Fav

Top of the World OOTD My Fav Johanna Grange in plaid pants
Johanna Grange whose blog carries her name, became Top of the World OOTD My Fav. Photo from her post

Johanna Grange, who blogs at Johanna Grange, wore my favorite look. These brownish-orange plaid pants are so cool with the gray sweater. <3

Top of the World Style Winner

Top of the World Style Winner Iris of LaMoumous and her family in Christmas PJs
Iris of LaMoumous became Top of the World Style Winner. Photo from her post

Iris became the Top of the World Style Winner with her family Christmas PJs photo. She is the blogger LaMoumous.

Congrats Ladies! Grab your award buttons.

Co-host wanted

#linkup #fashion #style co-host for Top of the World Style linkup party wanted badge
Do you want to get a free feature at the party? Then apply to become a co-host by sending me an email.

Click here to enter the party


See these inspiring outfits at the Top of the World Style #linkup party. #turningfashionintostyle Click To Tweet

Photos of me: G. Kramm

© 2013-2020 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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10 thoughts on “What to wear in Alaska in December (Lookbook)

  1. Happy New Year, Nicole! Keep being the style icon and climate scientist we all know and love!

  2. 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!

    Happy 2020!

    Michelle
    http://mybijoulifeonline.com

  3. 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,
    xx Darlene

  4. 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…

  5. so many great looks, and perfect way to still take pictures when the weather is so off

  6. 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!

    Shelbee

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

    Ruth

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