How do women keep their legs warm in Baltic cities?

My first instinct is to wear long johns or leggings under ski trousers but is this acceptable if you wanted to go to a restaurant or bar? Does fashion just go out of the window in winter months?

Edit: I'm going for a few days' holiday so will be outside a fair bit for sightseeing.

  • 4
    Good quality thermal long johns are VERY effective, my understanding in Sweden is that pretty much anything over these (so, normal clothes) will usually be enough unless you're doing outdoor activities etc. I wore normal trousers over thermals and thermal socks in the Swedish arctic in Winter and was mostly fine Jan 10, 2016 at 23:46

2 Answers 2


The key is not magical trousers, but long winter coats. You can get these long and parka-style down to the knees (random example), and they let you keep warm while wearing basically normal office/home wear underneath.

Alternatively, many women opt to just wear a "normal" parka, leggings and warm boots and minimize the time they spend outside, since all offices, public transport etc is well heated anyway. Nobody wears ski trousers unless they're a) skiing or b) work in a job that involves spending hours on end outside.

Update: Live from Helsinki, Daughter of the Baltic, it's Fashion TSE!

It's a nippy -15°C January day in Helsinki, and here are the results of a highly non-scientific survey of what Finnish women are wearing in 2016:

  • Around 25% are wearing long coats that go down to the knees or below. Included in this is a small but notable subset (<5%) of mostly older ladies who wear fur coats, some right down to the ankles.
  • The remaining 75% are wearing short coats that go down to the hips but not far below. These are most commonly coupled with above-knee dresses/skirts and leggings, and the mode du jour appears to be leggings ripped at the knees. This can't possibly be very warm, but fashion > being cold.
  • 1
    It's all relative isn't it ? -15 isn't very cold if they routinely get -40, but it's colder than -20 if it's windy. Layering is almost useless when it's humid and cold (combination from hell)
    – blackbird
    Jan 15, 2016 at 15:05
  • 1
    Fabulous answer - thanks for the on-the-spot report!
    – Abbie
    Jan 15, 2016 at 16:00
  • @blackbird57 Helsinki is by the sea and wind chill regularly drops the apparent temp by a good 5-10 degrees. There were a few -36°C days the last full winter I spent here, and yeah, it doesn't much matter what you wear at that point, you'll be cold anyway... Jan 16, 2016 at 3:55

"Does fashion go out the window": there are certainly fashionable warm clothes. The fashion may evoke a rather different character, though, than at an outdoor nightclub in a tropical setting.

I've never been to the Baltic countries, but I have lived in Amsterdam, where the colder winter weather probably resembles a mild day in the Baltic region. There, quick-drying woolen and/or synthetic leggings with a short woolen skirt are commonly seen on women using bicycles for transportation, because it's practical and dries quickly. I'm talking about weather in the range of roughly -5 to 5 degrees Celsius (23 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit) and above, so this is probably applicable only to certain days in the Baltic winter.

In the name of full disclosure, I'm not a woman, and I don't wear skirts, but I have discussed this with a few women both during my time in Amsterdam and afterward.

Of course, one needs less insulation if one is riding a bicycle than one needs walking, and standing still requires more insulation than walking. But, echoing the comment about thermal long johns, some warm base layer will go a long way to keeping you warm, whether it's under a short skirt or heavy trousers.

If I were you, I'd be less concerned about what to wear outside than I would be about typical indoor temperatures, so I would have an idea of how readily I would need to be able to remove my layers in a public place such as a restaurant. In my experience indoor temperatures in Amsterdam tended to be rather cooler than in the (northeastern) US, so this was less of a problem there. I was more inclined to wear many layers there because I didn't have to take them off, so I never wore my winter coat after the first year, just a few shirts, a sweater, and a medium-weight jacket. In New York, where I now live, I have to have fewer layers under a heavier coat.

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