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I am a masters student from Chennai, India and I am studying in Lille, France.

The temperature in Chennai is not cold and we don't have much temperature variations. I bought clothes for cold but they are not sufficient for even the weather of September!

I go out with 1 pair of leggings inside my jeans. I wear sweat shirt, then another sweat shirt and then jacket. I also wear two pair of socks while going out. When I wear only 1 pair of socks and only jeans my feet literally hurt. The weather will be much cold in winters.

I really think that I should buy winter clothes now!

I checked at Auchan supermarket and I realized that clothes were not much suitable for cold climate. The socks were of good quality but the mittens and scarfs were not that good.

I don't want to get ill as I am in a very intensive course.

Can you please give me tips on the places/ brands/ supermarkets where I can buy good quality clothes for cold weather on a student friendly budget?

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  • 5
    If you're only wearing one pair of trousers (as is usual), loose fitting trousers will keep you very much warmer than skin-tight trousers. Skinny jeans will feel cold, but a single pair of looser trousers are likely to be okay.
    – niemiro
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 7:53
  • 9
    I have worked with a lot of Indian people in Brussels, and although they complain about the weather, they got used to it. Maybe try to get in touch with fellow Indians to check how they did?
    – Didier L
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 10:11
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    @DidierL good advice. Others from India or similarly warm places will probably have good practical advice about what kinds of clothes they found helpful and where they bought them.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 10:21
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    Give it 2 weeks of uncomfort before you really start buying all kinds of clothes, your body will adjust considerably during that time. The beginning of winter (or summer) is rough on everyone, not just people not from that area.
    – eps
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 10:51
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    If you go around naked, it's a myth. But if your head is uncovered and the rest of you is clad in warm clothes, then you will lose lots of heat through your head.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 12:02

7 Answers 7

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I know it's an easy thing to say and probably urban legend, but you'll get used to it.

Lille will get wet and cold in winter.

I think the most important is to get a good pair of boots; it needs to be waterproof and fit properly; you should not need 2 socks.

A proper coat, again, needs to be water and wind proof with a hood.

Also, a nice pair of gloves (waterproof) and a hat.

Also, a nice pair of slippers, either lamb or felt for inside.

Also have a scarf to cover your neck and shoulders, it helps a lot and you can adjust it if you ever get too warm.

A nice sweater is also good; if you can afford it, a merino wool sweater

Have a look at sporting goods stores (décathlon).

Good luck.

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    Although it's good advice, the question asked where to buy, not what to buy
    – Ivo
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 6:41
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    +1 for Decathlon, I think that's a good option for the OP (even if it is kind of buried deep down your answer).
    – Relaxed
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 9:14
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    It's definitely not an urban legend, acclimation to cold takes about 1 to 2 weeks to really start and continues as winter goes on (and similarly for summer): journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/…
    – eps
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 10:48
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    Two pairs of socks — one thin wicking layer, (e.g. polypropylene), and one cushioning/insulating layer (ideally wool) inside a pair of boots is actually a great idea for keeping feet warm and comfortable. The key idea is that you also need to protect your feet from becoming clammy/wet from sweat; the two layers additionally mean that any friction as you walk is isolated away from your skin. (Because the operating principle is keeping the feet dry, this technique also works well for keeping feet comfortable when wearing boots in hot weather, and is standard practice when backpacking).
    – RLH
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 17:36
  • @Ivo it's both where and what to buy, I am sorry for inconvinience.
    – user129418
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 19:50
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I'm from Lille and greatly agree with what's been said before. between the two train station (Gare Lille Flandres and Gare Lille Europe) there is a large shopping center called Westfield Euralille. I think you can find everything you need with H&M, Uniqlo, Celio.

If you need some cheap and inexpensive clothes, there's also a Primark (Even though I don't recommend it, the clothes are of poor quality, they tear easily, etc).

In the center of Lille there is a rather big Décathlon but if you want the biggest one you'll have to go to the on at the V2 shopping center (in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, take the subway).

I think it can also be done, but if I think I can make myself available on a Saturday to accompany you.

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    +1 for Decathlon, I think that's a good option for the OP
    – Relaxed
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 9:09
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    @Folamie Thank you very much for your answer. It was very kind of you to offer going with me. I am overwhelmed with the gesture but I don't want to waste your time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
    – user129418
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 19:49
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    Swede here, Primark are not that bad. Since @Avenger don't really know what they need or feel comfortable with it might be a good idea to start with something cheaper, many of the items I bought at Primark works great even up north in Sweden. Otherwise Decathlon are good and Uniqlo will have more variety with different levels of clothes.
    – Rsf
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 9:11
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    Westfield seems to have taken over all the large malls. Next to where I live the two large malls (Vélizy and Parly 2) are now Westfield.
    – WoJ
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 9:56
  • My only concern is that stores tend to have the best selection before the season. If your arriving in October, you are golden.
    – AndyMan
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 22:00
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As you're a student, I would recommend some of the less expensive chains: C&A, H&M, and especially Uniqlo, whose clothes I occasionally buy even though I'm not a student anymore. All three have stores in Lille. Search your favorite mapping service for vêtements (French for "clothes") and shop around.

In general you'll tend to find higher quality merchandise at retailers who specialize in clothing. Auchan is a generalist with its roots in the supermarket sector.

9

If you are short on money, take the advice of the other answers and look in second hand clothing shops.

Like you when you go home many students will never need their warm clothes again and donate them to charity or sell to stores that buy in clothes.

Your student adviser office at the university may well have good information on where to go, you will not be the first one to be cold.

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Northern France can be quite chilly! Note that jeans are not very good thermally. In summer they are too hot, and in winter they don't keep you very warm. Whatever the locals are wearing for winter, you'll need better. Good quality clothing does not always equate to the best insulating clothes, and cheap clothing is unlikely to serve you well.

I suggest you visit an outdoor shop and obtain advice on thermal base layers. For mid layers fleece (it is not sheep's wool) is the modern fabric. For outer layers a windproof layer is needed, preferably a 'breathable' one. This can all be quite expensive but unbranded clothes are good if you choose advisedly. Outdoor shops usually sell at a range of price points.

I like to wear a thin vest or shirt layer between the insulating layers. This fabric itself might not have much thermal property, but separating two thermal layers improves the performance of both.

But above all, you somehow have to convince your body that it needs to generate heat. Anecdotally, an expatriate friend brought his family to live in UK. Their home climate was equatorial, at an altitude that is comfortable all year round. But their bodies had no practice in generating heat in cold weather. They suffered badly and returned home after two winters.

On a local scale I too have this problem worse as each winter approaches and somehow I have to accustom my body to generate heat. I'm not sure if there is any way to teach this, but one technique is to let yourself really feel the cold, and let your body respond. As with anything, if your body isn't used to it, you have to practice it.

Here is an example. It is snowing and you go out for a snowball fight. Soon, your bare hands begin to go numb from cold. But after a while, your body responds and sends more blood to your hands, and before long they are vibrant with warmth. Activity can be the key to this. If you are moving, your muscles generate heat.

In an emergency situation you begin to shiver, and that activity generates heat, but it is a warning that you need to take some quick action to warm up by other means. But unless you are in an extreme environment, tired or hungry; if you can relax at this point and let your body work to generate heat, from your inner resources, instead of fighting it, you'll have made progress.

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    +1 for the layering tip. Especially a thermal base layer can be an excellent way to add warmth without giving up the clothes you already have or spending too much.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 9:13
  • @WeatherVane Thank you very much!
    – user129418
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 19:55
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Other answers have mentioned Decathlon, but when I was a student that would have been way beyond my budget.

In terms of best quality to price ratio, the kilo shop might well win. Lille has a kilo store. The principle is that you select clothes then pay by weight (by the kilo). The clothes are second hand.

My experience of kilo stores in France (in the last year) is that the quality ranges, but clothes are not worn out, often they seem nearly new. So you need to check that what you're buying is from a good brand and not polyester (which tends to degrade quicker). They almost always have many coats. If you go in knowing exactly what you need, it doesn't take too long.

Be aware you will need to wash everything you buy before you wear it. Clothes from a kilo store are often not clean.

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Many decent choices have been named, including the one I am about to recommend, but I want to highlight it: I think you should really be looking for Decathlon. It's a chain of sporting goods stores but with their own design department and supply chain so markedly cheaper than common outdoor-oriented brands.

In every category, they have an entry-level option with a very good price. Decathlon will also have a ton of winter-sport oriented accessories (mitten, neck warmer, socks) or technical fabrics (merino wool, down, synthetic base layers or fleece) that will be harder to find at big fashion retailers like H&M or C&A. Uniqlo offers a lot of the same fabrics, with a more urban than outdoor look so it can also be a good choice if you can afford it but it tends to be a notch above Decathlon in terms of price.

Beyond the entry-level options, there is also clear signage on the level of performance you can expect from other products. Given what you describe in your question, you may have to consider mid-range options so that each layer provides more warmth but even those will tend to have excellent value for the money in my opinion.

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    But I would recommend waiting with thick merino underwear and down jackets, vests and mittens until the person gets a bit used to the local weather. Unless the plan is to stay outdoor in the Alps or at least Ardennes and not just move around Lille. Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 8:31

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