British Columbia·Photos

Here's how people in Vancouver dressed for an unseasonably cold and snowy week

The frigid weather forced some to re-imagine their wardrobes for a few fleeting days.

The frigid weather forced some to re-imagine their wardrobes for a few fleeting days

Victor Davis, 23, was dressed in five layers while delivering food on his bike. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A knee-length, fur-lined hooded parka was the last thing Maria Alonso expected she would need for her trip to Vancouver in January.

But as the flakes fell and the mercury plummeted below freezing earlier this week, the tourist from São Paulo, Brazil took stock of her suitcase and was left with no choice.

"I brought from Brazil some coats, but they aren't enough for this kind of cold," she said in Gastown on Tuesday, her breath visible as the temperature hovered around -5 C.

The winter bite also meant a scarf, matching hat, thick white gloves and waterproof boots with secure grip. 

Maria Alonso had to update her wardrobe after facing the unexpected cold in Vancouver. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Alonso wasn't the only one sporting a look typically reserved for the Prairies.

The unseasonably cold weather knocked off course the Vancouver esthetic of Gore-Tex, puffer vests and rain boots, forcing many to re-imagine their wardrobes for a few fleeting days.

How did they fare? Here's how some explained their sartorial choices.

Stylish outer layer

Ignacio Adriasola topped a number of layers with an elegant overcoat, scarf and hat. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Ignacio Adriasola, an art history professor at UBC, said layers such as long t-shirts help him stay warm. 

But the key to staying stylish in the cold, he said, is hiding those layers, which in his case meant adding an elegant overcoat, scarf and hat.

"You don't wear the Patagonia outside," he quipped.

Snow is 'nothing new'

Eva and Zbigniew Kupczynski immigrated to Vancouver in 1971, but still go back to their native country of Poland to ski in the resort town of Zakopane. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Zbigniew and Ewa Kupczynski were living in the snowy Nordic city of Stockholm before they moved to Vancouver in 1971.

"The Canadian consul general promised it never snows in Vancouver. It snows every year," Ewa laughed.

Ewa joked that her husband, a celebrated painter, only wears a warm enough jacket when she tells him to.

"If I say yes," Zbigniew chimed in.

The couple opted for heavy fur and suede jackets. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Working outside

Davis faced the added challenge of his body temperature fluctuating while biking. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Victor Davis, 23, was on hour six of his shift delivering food for Door Dash, which involves cycling around the city.

"You get hot and then you get cold," Davis said, noting he had five layers on, plus two pairs of socks.

What about a layer under his jeans? "Not today," he said. "I didn't do my laundry."

Monochrome look

Charles Guan went for an all-black outfit that was a mix of casual wear. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Charles Guan seemed effortlessly stylish in his all-black ensemble, but he noted it was a blend of casual wear.

He switches up jackets but always keeps a thin insulating jacket underneath, plus several layers.

"For cold weather, it's definitely comfort," he said. "I just want to stay warm." 

A thin insulating jacket can be paired with any kind of outer jacket, Guan said. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Matching colours

Oliva Stevens said she searches for matching pieces in thrift shops. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Olivia Stevens, 18, was more than ready for the winter, having just moved to Vancouver from Nova Scotia.

"My key thing is good shoes because if my feet are cold, I'm cold," she said.

Stevens considers her whole outfit when dressing up, tying the colour of her jacket to her shoes, under layer and even the font on her hoodie.

"I'm always looking for cool things in thrift shops, pieces that will match. It's a complete look."

Heavy-duty jacket

Candice Ward was more than prepared as she visited from Calgary. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

It's considered by some the Holy Grail of winter jackets — the Canada Goose parka — and it can run upwards of $1,000.

But Candice Ward, who was visiting from Calgary, said she can't live without it.

"I'm warm in really cold weather and I'm still quite comfortable at plus five [degrees]," she said.

The Canada Goose parka keeps her comfortable at all temperatures, Ward said. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

No more skirts

Marie-Adeline Sekula admitted she struggled to maintain her usual style in the freezing cold. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"I'm really struggling," admitted Marie-Adeline Sekula, who has lived in Vancouver for six years and often travels back to her native France.

Sekula said she typically wears dresses and skirts, but the cold weather forced her to don jeans on Friday, which she paired with a characteristically French beret.

Her one saving grace: waterproof Chelsea-style boots, she said. 

Sekula paused to consider the frigid weather. "This isn't going to last, right?" she said with a nervous laugh.

About the Author

Alex Migdal


Alex Migdal is a journalist with CBC News in Vancouver. He's previously reported for The Globe and Mail, Guelph Mercury and Edmonton Journal. You can reach him at


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