Since the time that I worked at Paragon, in the late 1980’s, prices for synthetic wicking clothing has gone down tremendously. Back then you had to pay top dollar and buy expedition level gear from companies like Patagonia or Marmont to guarantee you’d be warm. LL bean always had moderately priced clothing and jackets but now - fleece from Target will keep you considerably warm for a minimum about of money, thought the product probably won’t last you very long. You would be better off investing in at least mid-range outerwear from LL Bean or Land’s End.
Why am I going on about getting good gear? Because I want you to get outside this winter. You will feel so much better about the cold weather if you spend some time in it daily. At lunch take a brisk walk outside, or if you can take a walk in the morning before your commute. The sun exposure will help prevent SADD, the depression caused by lack of light, and the chill is actually good for stimulating your mind and your immune system. People get sick more in the winter because they are indoors with dry heat that is bad for the functioning of their sinuses. Outside is were the air is germ free.
So, if you ask me specifically what should you wear outside on a cold day I would recommend:
Head: A fleece hat that is not skin tight. When there is about 1/2 inch between your head and the hat this creates insulation. It is very import to keep your head covered because you loss a large percentage of your body heat through your head.
Face: If it happens to be a particularly windy day you might want a scarf (fleece is the warmest and the most itchless) around your neck that is larger enough that you can cover the bottom of your face with it. You can also invest in a Gortex face mask if you live in a really windy area. They are nice because they stay put and they wick away the moisture from your mouth.
Upper Body: Layers: undershirt, turtleneck (holds in body heat and keeps your neck warm) and a top sweater (a light weight fleece is a very comfortable layer for walking) Parka: waterproof, with a hood, that covers your butt. I wouldn’t recommend down for exercising. Down tends to get too warm. A Polartec fleece lining would be best.
Hands: This depends on how your body distributes heat. I am definitely a cold hands warm heart kinda person. If you are like me the warmest gloves you can wear are waterproof outer, fleece lined or down MITTENS. If your hands don’t get very cold you can might be able to get away with cotton gloves.
Lower Body: I recommend sweat pants or corduroys. Denim get’s too cold. If it is windy you can cover your pants with a shell pant or insulated snow pants.
Feet: Socks, wicking wool socks are the warmest. Waterproof lightweight hiking boots are great for cold weather. They will give you good support for walking and keep you warm.
These are my recommendation. I guarantee if you wear all of these items you will be cosy and warm. You’ll be able to get outside, clear your head and get your heart pumping in any snowy, blustery weather that may come your way.