How to Keep Warm en Route to Your Booze Blanket

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Be it academics or sports, marching band or clubs, students put their all into what they care about. But the shining apple of their eye–the crowned jewel atop a laundry list of interests and passions–is beer. Or maybe wine… or vodka… or whiskey. Regardless, college students like to drink, let loose and drown the stress of a midterm-dense week with a booze-fueled weekend. As the semester trudges into crunch-time and exams and papers rack up, the temperature drops and winter rears its snow-laden head. For scantily clad party-goers, the inevitability of the frigid walk to the nearest bar or frat house is almost as devastating as the inevitability of next week’s rent payment. So, how do you stay warm en route to parties and bars without packing on the marshmallow-man layers?


While WebMD has pulled an Adam Savage and debunked the popular idea that we lose most of our body heat through our heads, that myth still had its origins somewhere. Your head and face are more sensitive to changes in temperature, and leaving them uncovered makes you feel colder. Because science. If you don’t want to crush your lovely ‘do under your grandpa’s old wool cap, wrap a stylish scarf around your head and face while you’re outside. It’s not as effective as wool, but it’ll provide a buffer against wind and doubles as a swell accessory when you finally reach that warm, sticky haven that is a frat party.


Your legs, especially the back of your thighs, are a prime target for Jack Frost. Beat the bastard back and wear several layers on your legs, starting with the thinnest layer and working your way up. Whether you’re wiggling into skinny jeans or have somehow convinced yourself that a dress is a good idea, throwing on some nylons will make a world of difference. A pair under your jeans or two to three pairs worn over each other under that dress will keep Jack Frost out of your pants.


“Hey thanks, Captain Obvious!” I know, I know. It’s a no-brainer. But I’m not talking parkas or snow-pants, here. Invest in a pair of fleece-lined leggings (and wear nylons under those, too) or Under Armour cold gear. Under Armour actually offers V-neck cold tops, so they’re easy to hide or layer under your more fashionable get-up. If you’re adamant on skirts or dresses, wear a maxi and load up on fleece-lined leggings or cable-knit tights underneath.


You know the exquisite pain of walking on frozen toes. Keeping your feet warm will make the trek to the pub faster and far more enjoyable, and it’ll heat your body from the bottom up. Step 1: Don’t even think about wearing open-toe shoes. Wear boots. They’re great for holding keys and phones, they’ve actually got traction so you don’t wipe out five seconds after leaving your apartment and they disguise the two pairs of wool socks you have on over your jeans (and nylons). If you’ve got an unnatural obsession with Sperry’s and can’t resist the boat-shoe look, spring for a pair of lambswool inserts. They go for about $7 on Amazon and will make you feel like you’re walking on fluffy clouds of warmth and snuggliness.


No shame. These suckers are convenient, disposable, and can be stuck just about anywhere. Want to save some for the return journey (there’s not going to be a return journey, Mr. Frodo! – Samwise Gamgee, at the fourth bar on the crawl)? Stick ‘em in your boot, which you wore instead of open-toe shoes.


Aside from your head and face, your core is one of the most sensitive areas on your body to temperature. Plus, there are all of those important-ish organs inside. Best keep those cozy, eh? Throw a vest on over your bar-time-best for an added layer, and wear a camisole or thin tank top against your skin to trap heat. Alternatively, tape hand warmers all over your stomach or stick a few in your bra. Your choice.


When it starts getting really cold (I’m looking at you, Wisconsin), opting for heavier layers is an inescapable fashion choice. After your sixth layer of shirt, throw on a belt to prove to the world that you do, in fact, have a waist. Better yet, tell the world to pound sand and wear whatever makes you comfortable.


Gotta be honest, I had no clue what a fracket was until my roommate clued me in. I thought it meant wearing friends as jackets. (Not a skin suit, wacko, but like the freshmen party packs that gravitate towards frat row as one unit to preserve warmth. Kind of like male penguins in those documentaries.) However, a “fracket” is actually a jacket that you’re okay with losing at a frat party. Pick up a cheap number from the local Goodwill or Ragstock, toss it into the mess of jackets at the entrance to the zoo and hope for the best. Or, as my infinitely-wise roommate suggested, wear a sling bag as a purse and drape your jacket over the side. Or, bring a hanger and hang that sucker up on the nearest banister, light fixture or passed-out freshman.


“Bring Your Own Booze-Blanket.” Seriously, pregame. There are several studies, I’m sure, about how alcohol consumption is “bad” for you, but we as college students are pro skimmers/selective readers and like to gloss over that particular no-no. A few extra beers never hurt anyone, right? Wrong, but I digress. Predrinks make the journey warmer and the bar tabs lower, so crack open a cold one (ironic) in the comfort of your heated apartment.


Tried and tested by seniors everywhere, the best method for staying warm on a night out is to spend that night in. Who needs a guide to avoiding the marshmallow look when you can repurpose those marshmallows as garnish in your hot chocolate, which you sip luxuriously in your blanket cocoon, nestled up on your couch. You and your roommates watch old Christmas movies on Netflix (Halloween is over so it’s allowed) and share a hearty chuckle as you watch stubborn sophomores trudge through the snow drifts below your window, intent on that $5 cup of wop. You experience a brief moment of nostalgia for the sweaty mosh-pit of frat-party-goers that awaits them at the end of their frigid journey, but then you wise up and cozy up for a long night of Scrooge and Tiny Tim. Let it snow, baby. Let it snow.

Senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying English and History. Vinyl aficionado, book enthusiast, rugger, and disciple of all things nerdy.

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