If you are like me and come from a sunny state that does not know the definition of winter, you may be completely clueless -- like I was -- about what you will exactly need to get through the winter here. Before moving I asked around about what to buy and wear but was always given fairly vague answers like "layer up!" or "warm clothes"... not too helpful.
So here I am, warning all of you that may be making the move soon. Even if you are moving here during spring or summer, now would be the perfect time to stock up on winter clothing as everything goes on sale and stores are trying to rid themselves of winter clothing.
1. Boots- Seriously... buy some. Before moving the only boots I had were the "fashionable", 3 inch heel types and didn't do me much good for a day-to-day basis. After being here for less than a week I ended up going to the PX and purchasing a new pair that didn't have a heel and kept my feet dry. I was sick of walking through grass that was wet from ice and dew and my Vans, socks, and feet being soaked through. You can do what I did and buy some after you arrive, but it'll probably be awhile before you get the nerve to venture out on the economy and the PX doesn't have much of a selection; so, if you are moving during the cold season, I would get them before you go.
You don't have to get the snow boots that are big and bulky unless you are moving up to the far North where you will have to plow through snow on a daily basis during the winter months. Here though, simple knee-high leather boots that keep water out and warmth in, will do just fine.
2. Warm socks- This may seem like such an insignificant feature to have, but trust me, you will thank me later if you get them. Maybe if the boots you get are fur lined, it wont be such a necessity, but I still find them great to have when at home and the radiators are just not cutting it. In fact, I asked for warm socks for Christmas because it just gave my feet the extra "umph" to stay warm while walking around outside.
3. Warm Jacket- When I moved I was told to bring a warm jacket. The only problem, a "warm jacket" in my home town usually consisted of a sweater or maybe a simple peacoat. I searched online for snow jackets but was so unsure about what to expect so never purchased one.
Although November to January was considered a "mild" winter, February got the message and mother nature showed her ugly head. I had to graduate from layering a sweater and a peacoat to an actual jacket. Here is my recommendations for getting a jacket. It doesn't have to be huge and bulky, but you are still looking for warmth. Try to find something with a type of fur, faux fur, or fleece on the inside. I got a jacket that has a reversible inside with fur on one side and just a regular lining on the other so that if it starts to warm up a bit, I can switch it up and get more use out of it. Get something that is wind and water resistant. Even in the "mild" months, the wind was bitter cold and stung when it came into contact with your skin. Make sure your jacket is thick enough that wind doesn't flow through and make you shiver.
Now is a great time to buy a jacket as they are going on sale everywhere. If you live in a place that doesn't have winter head to a sporting goods store where they have snow jackets. I spent about $70 on a jacket which is CHEAP because it was on clearance at the PX and it was originally over $100. You don't have to spend a ton of money just make sure that it'll keep you warm.
4. Sturdy Gloves- When I looked for gloves before leaving I was so unsure about what I wanted and needed but now that I have been here, I'm so glad that I got the ones that I did. It doesn't hurt to have several pairs of gloves for various types of weather but make sure you have some that are faux fur or fleece lined on the inside and are water-resistant on the outside. Swiping snow off the car without a snow brush is much easier when the snow doesn't leak through your gloves freeze your hands, not to mention water-resistant gloves are key to winning any snowball fight. I got mine at Target for about $15 and they are wonderful.
5. Scarves- Let me say this again... scarves! Especially if you are the type of person that never completely buttons/zips up their jacket to your neck and wears shirts that will expose your chest and neck. Stock up!
6. Beanie, Ear muffs, or sweat bands- Find some way of covering your ears so they don't freeze. I've been kicking myself in the butt since the Christmas markets that I didn't get a new beanie when my husband did and now have to suffer the toll. I occasionally steal my hubby's hand knitted wool beanie but it does little good when he chooses to wear it.
7. Long-johns, thermal underwear, etc. (not required but recommended)- When I spend a lot of time outside my typical outfit consists of: jeans, my knee-high boots (with warm socks), gloves, and my warm jacket. Therefore, the only part of my body (besides my face) that isn't doubled up in clothes is my thigh area. From the point where my jacket ends down to where my boots begins usually finds itself freezing. Jeans don't generally keep enough warmth in. Therefore, if you can manage it, find something that you can layer beneath your jeans. Unfortunately for me, it's extremely difficult to fit thermals or anything else underneath my jeans so I usually end up suffering. But if you tend to wear your jeans a little loose, by all means, choose the route that will keep you warm and layer!
I hope my explanations of what you should look for in clothes when moving here helps and you are well prepared for winters in Germany!