The worst season of the year is finally upon us! Unfortunately (at least when it comes to your body temperature), whether you’re in a years-long relationship or playing the dating app field, the arrival of winter weather doesn’t mean dates are automatically put on hold until April. Unless you’ve convinced your date to meet you at a spa (which honestly sounds like an incredible winter date idea, so you’re welcome) you’ll need to put together some sort of outfit for said meetup. It can be tricky, but by growing up in almost-always-freezing New Hampshire and spending the majority of my adulthood in everyone-walks-a-mile-to-the-train-even-in-sub-zero-temperatures New York City, I’ve gotten dressing for a date in the middle of winter down to a science.

1. Take the shower your dermatologist tells you not to.

It should be incredibly hot, long, and steamy. Yes, your skin will turn red and dry out, but at least your bones will be warmed to the point where you’ve stopped shivering long enough to consider which pair of pants are your coziest. Just slap on a lot of lotion after you get out, and you’ll (probably) be totally fine.

2. Apply sunscreen.

This isn’t a joke, just a reminder that you should wear sunscreen in the winter, too. Makeup, however, is completely optional since it’ll all be covered by a massive scarf-and-hat combination anyway. There’s no need to do your hair either, though I personally prefer *not* to have wet hair when I go outside in the winter. 

3. Check the weather.

When the high hasn’t magically changed from 24 to 74 degrees, consider canceling. Send the person you’re meeting a message that could be taken as a joke or totally seriously to see where their heads at. (Suggestion: “Wow, I think we’ll get literal frostbite if we step outside! FaceTime date instead?? lol”) If they respond saying no sub-zero temperature could stop them from seeing you and the urge to burrow under your covers doesn’t prove irresistible, continue to step four. 

4. Layer your underthings.

In a time when it’s trendy to wear no underthings at all, layering them is a bold choice that will let your date know you’re no rule follower. On particularly freezing days, you can stuff some hand warmers in between in between the cups of bras number one and two to keep extra toasty.

5. But skip tights.

The negligible amount of warmth that extra layer of sheer fabric provides will never make up for the amount of pain you’ll suffer while fighting with the elastic waistband in the bathroom. Layering leggings under pants, however, is highly encouraged.

6. Beyond that, wear any base outfit you want.

Seriously. Your clothes are going to be covered by (at least) a sweater, a scarf, and a coat. Don’t waste your energy trying to put together what some experts might call a “cohesive look.”

7. Add heels.

OK, hear me out. I’m not talking about stilettos — a thing I literally do not own — but nice, heeled boots that will lift you up and away from any disgusting slush that’s accumulated on the sidewalks. Just warn your date that they might need to catch you as you fall. (Romantic?!)

8. Throw on a blarf.

That’s a blanket scarf. They’re typically around 5’ x 5’, can barely be stuffed into a coat, and come in handy when you end up at a movie theater that’s inexplicably blasting AC despite it being the middle of winter. 

9. Pitch the spa date again.

Actually, forget all this: Let’s just soak in a hot tub for an hour.