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India is colder than the Nordics and hotter than the Sahara. For those of us expats coming from the warmer region of India, is weekend = YouTube? 🙂 No, we should never let that happen. So first, I am going to take you through some genuine problems faced by Indians in the Netherlands or any western country for that matter, during winter.


  • Nose pain and ear pain
  • Cannot find gloves when you want to leave home
  • Too many things to carry: Big jacket, gloves, headgear, scarf ..etc
  • Sharp pain in fingers
  • Loses glove during journeys (grownups and children alike)
  • Spice/curry smell on jackets and accessories
  • Gloves get dirty with mayonnaise and frittesaus, thanks to French fries.
  • Unable to cover neck area properly. Long scarf loosens and is difficult to manage.
  • In spite of wearing gloves, fingers freeze and are painful.
  • Shoes get wet in snow and slip down often
  • Frozen fingers and mobile phones are a total mismatch!
  • Fear of getting sick(fever/common cold)
  • Oversized jackets and fittings with lesser style consciousness(especially housewives). We just don’t care because “It’s damn cold, you know!” 😀

Let me introduce you to some winter gears and also explain what we mean by the term ‘intelligent dressing’. And we re-visit this list to see if we could tackle it. Oh yes, we will!

[Sorry for the distraction but after reading this guide fully, do not miss the most popular read  “Stick to Indian group or the Westerners?” !!]

We only need protection for our 4 sensitive areas. With those areas protected, we could walk even naked through snow for quite some time! The areas are :

  1. Ears
  2. Neck
  3. Fingers
  4. Foot

Now what I am going to say is important. You need to listen to your body. If you think you don’t have a problem with ears just don’t cover it! But instead, if legs are, then buy inner pants. We need to continuously observe(others + ourselves) and improvise. Dressing in winter is an art in itself and YOU are the master!

Neck protection with Multi Scarf: This is a very handy multi-purpose gear for keeping the neck warm. You can’t lose it as it just stays in your neck. When you are indoor and is too warm then you could easily put it in your jacket pocket. Make sure you buy the one which stays loose on your neck preferably made of fleece. No more loose scarf and re-tie ..re-tie… But I have to admit that a nice scarf adds a splash to a wardrobe.

Gloves: I have no idea why there are those thick woolen gloves in the market. Because, to me, they don’t serve a purpose! What I found useful was something called fleece gloves.

If you still find it cold, buy a thin and silky inner glove(layer of gloves). I don’t think it is necessary for us to buy those big skiing gloves for daily use. It just looks awkward and is difficult to carry. The gloves I suggested are :-

  1. lightweight
  2. fits easily in jacket pockets(when worn or not worn)
  3. since they are slim, a lot of tasks can be done without removing them
  4. washable
  5. keeps your fingers warm for more time
  6. cell/smartphones friendly. We only need to take out thumb finger/s, remaining four fingers stay in the gloves.

A good tip for the kids who lose their gloves, attach each glove to a long string and put it through the arms of the jacket. Then when they aren’t wearing them, they hang by their hands! 🙂 (thanks to a friend of mine for this great tip)

Jacket: Buying a nice a jacket should be the most difficult task for Indians. Because the amount you invest is dependent on the time you stay in the country. But the good news is that you don’t need to invest in a big pricey jacket. We could instead do “layering”!

Casual dressing layers example:

  • 1st Layer: Tight sports inner(top), full sleeve (like the one Aussie T20 players wear)

  • 2nd Layer: T-shirt or thin fleece
  • 3rd Layer: Jacket

Office dressing layers example

  • 1st Layer: Tight sports inner(top), half sleeve or sleeveless
  • 2nd Layer: Shirt
  • 3rd Layer: Pullover (take woolen/thick pullover if you need more protection)
  • 4th Layer: Jacket

Lower could be just jeans or pants. But lowers can get terribly cold due to the wind here so you could buy an inner pants or tights. That way you look fashionable without freezing your behind off. Ladies have leggings options. Some leggings even look like jeans. If you wear inner pants then do not wear your boxer or brief inside(3rd layer on your crotch area will sweat the hell out of you!). Remember that for the inner pants, if hips are not tight enough then it could loosen up and cause discomfort while walking. So a better option could be knee-warmers(then you can wear your boxer).



I think, for us Indians, because of our comparatively smaller figure(of course there are exceptions), it is best to wear a small and tight/slim-fit jacket. Also, cold air enters easily through loose/spacious jackets. Make sure the jacket has head protection(hood) which could be handy as an extra protection for head and ears. A friend of mine uses the same autumn jacket for all seasons, just that in winter he “layers”.

Tip: The jacket should give wind protection as it is very windy in the Netherlands. I use a small jacket which only partially does that, hence I have a raincoat like thin windbreaker which I wear on top of my jacket when needed.

Head: Fleece caps could be used to cover head. I don’t carry them though. I look very old in them, so are many Indians I know. So I prefer a normal(sports) cap but made of wool, like this.

Ears: I used earmuffs in the beginning when I came to the Netherlands. But now I use a Bluetooth headphone (sony mdr) which is big enough to cover my ears completely. I can put it over my cap mentioned above.

 the only problem with ear muffs is that it is difficult to fold and put in your jacket/ pants pocket. So if you could find a foldable ear muff, it would be great. Some caps have an extension to cover ears but such things never worked for me. So ear muffs are recommended else like I use, headphones.

Shoes: If you are planning a long-term stay and like winter tourism, get a nice winter shoe. Men’s winter shoes look like normal shoes, Northface has some that can be worn with jeans (boots/ankle protection is not needed). It will have nice grips when walking on slippery ice. If not you should at least have waterproof shoes which don’t slip easily. Ladies have the luxury of ankle boots. A quick solution will be shoe chains on your existing shoes. On the other hand, if you want the best in the market then try Acrux² FL GTX and add this replacable mid-liner (pay extra) for extreme winter. The problem with this shoes is that it is not easy to put on and off(longs walks or hike this is good). That way you can use the shoes throughout the year and even in India! Sell the mid-liner when you want to go back to India! Arc'teryx Acrux2

Now back to our problems

  1. Nose pain and ear pain
    1. Nose pain should go away with time. But since we use a multi scarf, we can use the silky stretchable part to cover the nose and mouth. For ears, foldable ear puffs are the best(or headphones)
  2. Sharp pain in fingers
    1. Wear the recommended type of gloves.
  3. Too many things to carry: Big jacket, gloves, head-gear, scarf ..etc
    1. We could use lightweight clothing. Multi scarf need not be carried as it stays on the neck. Headgear is optional, try to utilize the jacket hood instead. If ear puffs are foldable then they easily fit in jacket pockets. Gloves go in the jacket pocket as well.
    2. When indoor in public places make sure to fold and manage jackets next to you(eg: sitting on a bench).
  4. Loses glove during journeys
    1. Organise, organise! Jacket pocket should contain nothing! No train ticket/strips or cash should be kept in the jacket pocket(do what you do in summer). The only thing you can keep in a jacket pocket is gloves(ear puffs/multi scarf too). And gloves should not go to the pants/jeans pockets or lady bags. I put my both gloves in my right jacket pocket and ear puffs(and multi scarf) in my left pocket when not using them. As mentioned before children can get their glove attached to a string.
  5. Cannot find gloves when you want to leave home
    1. Let all winter gears stay together when hung or worn. If you have more jacket pockets then certain pockets should be reserved for gloves and scarfs. So when you want to leave home you have all in one place.
  6. Spice/curry smell on jackets and accessories
    1. It is good if you figure this out because most people do not realize it as they are used to the smell. Shoulder bags, caps & headphones could also have spice smell(this can be annoying in elevators/lifts). The best you could do is to keep these things in an almirah/drawer. In case they get exposed to curry smell then wash them. If not, the smell can spread to your office dress as well. If you apply perfume then you are inventing a garlic-onion-scented version of it! Some Indians I know quit Indian food completely as part of integration efforts (crazy we might say :D)
  7. Gloves get dirty with mayonnaise and frittesaus
    1. Buy two pairs of gloves and wash them after a fight with fries/monthly. Gloves get dirty or wet in many ways and the replaceable glove need not be high quality.
  8. Unable to cover neck area properly. Long scarf loosens and is difficult to manage.
    1. Hey, we have the multi scarf! The top portion of a multi scarf is a soft fleece-like material and bottom is silky. And it is stretchable and you can even cover the nose.
  9. In spite of wearing gloves, hands are still experiencing cold and pain
    1. Since woolen gloves have pores in them fleece gloves are far better. Make sure the gloves are not loose. Always put the hand in the jacket pocket when not in use. Since we use slim gloves it will easily fit in the jacket pocket(worn). ‘Layer’ as a last resort.
  10. Shoes get wet in snow and slip down often.
    1. Plenty of options: winter shoes, shoe chains or waterproof shoes with grip. Super tip from Sweden (from blog comments): If your socks and shoes do soak through and get wet, take them off, wear thin plastic bags (fryspåsar from the grocer’s) and then put them back on. It’ll feel weird but helps with the cold! You’ll freeze if you walk around with them otherwise.
  11. Fear of getting sick(fever/common cold)
    1. Try to get sick as soon as possible! 😀 . Well.. not a joke. During early autumn start going out and get sick. Most people get sick during that time anyways. After recovery, you are sick-free for the next 4 months minimum! And you can enjoy the winter without fear. Did you know that the Dutch mothers forcefully/tactfully take their children to those who have chicken-pox…yes! You can guess why Dutch mothers do that. If you get the answer, then you know the answer to this problem as well. And please do not kill your children’s winter by keeping them inside. A lazy father and mother is the last thing an Indian child should get in winter.
  12. Oversized jackets and fittings with lesser style consciousness.
    1. I have given some style tips about keeping jackets short and slim. Peacoats can look dashing too as an office wear for both men and women(carry a long umbrella too 🙂 ). Shoulder bags do not go well with winter dresses but leather bags will. Color matching of gloves with jacket, scarves and other outerwear is important.  But again it is up to you to decide what style matches you. The ‘look’ is important and we know that. There are only three ways we can achieve it: observe, observe, observe! 🙂
    2. Sometimes we see men dress well but their daughter and wife(housewife) look horrible in winter clothes. Husbands need to be aware of ladies styles as well and need to help them.



Where to buy them?

In the year 2018-2019, Japanese brand UNIQLO is trending(Roger Federer’s T-shirt sports the name) . Amazing lightweight ‘down jackets’ (bigger and lower) jackets with nice price value. And feels warm when outside in 0 degrees(no need of scarf as neck is well protected). I tried this ‘seamless down jacket’(smells goose feather though).  Primark has great products for amazing value(indoor mostly and some outdoor too).  I prefer Decathlon(all things mentioned in this article are available here). Another one is Scapino (NL). Both these shops are not so costly. Decathlon is big and has more collections and there is one in Amsterdam Arena opposite to Pathe. Bever in Den Haag is also good. Here is an online shop (a bit high end) with English translations to get an idea on prices. Believe it or not, my winter jacket was bought from Lidl supermarket for 15 Euros! If innovation and perfection is what you want in your gear then spend some time on this brand site called Arc’teryx & you cannot have an excuse not to go out!


When to wash?

All winter gears mentioned are machine washable(except jacket). You could wash 3-6 times a season. Once a month should be fine.

Always keep the room temperature low so that there is no major difference when you go outside. Use winter slippers and warm clothes indoor and try not to use the heater as much as possible. Helps in electricity and gas cost reduction as well. If you want to sweat then hit the sauna but not through high room temperature. Open all windows at least once a month and dust your house else the dust multiplies towards spring and we get sick.

Winter Slipper

Winter Slippers

Finally, enjoy the cold weather. I am from one of the hottest regions of India but after moving here, I run outside more in winter. Let us go out for long walks with family(babies, small kids should get used to outside weather). Eagerly wait for winter to arrive.. and when it comes just go outside and breathe cold fresh air into your lungs…give in to that sensation with a smile on your face.. or fake a smile 😀

There is no bad weather, only bad clothing!

– comment your thoughts please 🙂 – And again do not miss the most popular-  “Stick to Indian group or the Westerners?” !!