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The Office Survival Guide for Women Who are Always Cold

Office Survival Guide for Women Who are Always Cold
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If you work in an office, chances are, it’s FREEZING COLD. Especially in the summer, when you’re wearing short sleeves so you don’t die in the 90-degree heat and the powers-that-be inevitably crank down the thermostat.

When you pop your head over your cubicle wall and say “Wow, it’s cold in here” and then the guys who sit around you look at you like you’ve grown a second or third head, it can feel like you’re going just a little crazy. You’re not. There’s honest-to-god research that shows that office temps are set to be more comfortable for men than women. It sucks. (Honestly though, I think my personal frozen tundra has less to do with working with men (because I’m pretty sure the women actually control the thermostat) and more to do with working in an old building, with retrofitted heat and air.)

One person’s tundra is another person’s breezy delight is another person’s scorching desert. To truly get comfortable, you need to take matters into your own hands.

Teeny-Tiny Mini Personal Heater

Image of Lasko My Heat Personal Ceramic Heater in Purple

I waited years before finally pulling the trigger on a personal heater. For one, our office is in an older building, so any type of space heater is treated as contraband that could blow a breaker or burn the place down. For another, I’m the only person in my immediate surroundings who is cold, and I was afraid of heating up my whole corner of the office, making my co-workers hate me.

My concerns were valid, and only addressed when I researched 17 (give or take a few) small space heaters and found * ~ the one ~ *: The Lasko My Heat Personal Ceramic Heater. I don’t have the purple one, because when I was ordering it, the black color was $5 less and I’m cheap. This heater has revolutionized my cold-person game. It produces just enough heat that my frostbitten toes are thawed, but not enough heat to bother anyone around me. And it only uses the amount of power that a cell phone charger uses, so it is also not going to destroy the building. I wish I had bought one years ago.

Desk Cardigan

To get a desk cardigan, I recommend following a three-step process. 1) Open your closet. 2) Locate a thick, neutral-colored cardigan that you like enough to put on everyday, but don’t like enough to actually put in an outfit. 3) Bring that cardigan to work.

I don’t have a professional recommendation here for the exact cardigan to use. My desk cardigan is an old grey cardi from Target. I used to wear it multiple days a week until it got kind of stretched-out and pilled-up. That’s fine for a desk cardigan though! Everyone knows that’s just what you grabbed because you didn’t want to turn into a human icicle, so they aren’t judging.

The desk cardigan is probably the most important item on this list because it is the only thing you can bring with you to a meeting in a notoriously chilly conference room and still look like a professional. I’ve been desperate enough to haul blankets into meetings with me, but it’s definitely not the best look.


Erin Condren blanket wrapped around a womans shoulders

Pictured: Sherpa Fleece Throw from Erin Condren

If you want to live the optimal cold-person life, you should stash at least two blankets somewhere at your workstation. “Why two blankets?” you ask. You need two blankets so you have one for your lap and one for your shoulders. If you’ve achieved blanket-guru status, then your blankets will also be of different weights so you have the perfect blanket for when you’re just kinda cold and also for when you’re super cold.

Also, then you can take one home to wash and still have a blanket. It’s blanket science.

Heated Wrap

Some days, even your two blankets won’t be enough. Or you’ll just have a weird shoulder chill. Strange things happen when a very-cold person is subjected to a very-cold office. I can’t take credit for discovering the particular life-changing properties of heated wraps; my boyfriend gave me a heated throw for our anniversary last year after hearing me complain about discuss the frigid office temps.

I love this thing. It keeps me extra warm and it has pockets to keep your hands warm, too. It does have a few downsides: It’s more expensive than a personal heater, it’s heavier on one side due to the cord (which I’m probably the only person in the history of the universe to notice), and it’s hard to wash (I’m definitely not the only person to notice this).

Note: I also looked into USB-powered, heated gloves to warm up my hands. I only recommend them if you are okay assuming the risk that they might literally burn your skin, because I keep seeing reviews that say that’s what happens.

Warm Beverages

Woman looking out a window drinking tea in a mug that says hello

There’s only so much ice water you can drink before you turn into a human icicle when your office AC is set to “Arctic Circle.” In the mornings, I’m always able to make do because I’m a coffee drinker. If left to my own devices, I’m an all-day, 24-hour type of coffee drinker, but for my sleep, I try to limit my coffee consumption to before noon. That means I only get four-ish hours of holding a steaming cup in my hands to keep my fingers at human temperature.

Four hours of functioning hands just wasn’t cutting it for me, so I hit up the store and bought enough tea to make a bonafide tea-stash in my desk. (Seriously, I had to buy drawer organizers to keep it in order.) Tea is great because it’s cheap, delicious, and it warms you from the inside out. Plus, it’s healthy!

Hot chocolate also works for warmth part, but not so much for the “healthy” part.

Fuzzy Socks and/or Desk Slippers

The coldest point on my permanently cold body is always my feet. My toes, specifically. They shiver independently of the rest of my body. That’s how cold they are. In the winter, boots with thick, warm socks are my savior. Unfortunately, thick, warm boots are not even remotely suitable for a Southern summer.

I usually wear slip-on ballet flats to the office, or occasionally, sandals. In the office? This is like an invitation for Jack Frost to literally destroy my toes. A blanket isn’t enough to bring my toes back from the frigid depths of freezingness, but I have a secret weapon in my desk: fuzzy socks.

When I’m especially cold, I slip off my shoes and then dive into my drawer, where I have a pair of fuzzy socks that are so ugly that they’re cute. (It goes without saying that I do not let people see these socks.) Although I love my trusty desk socks, I could be persuaded to give them up for desk slippers. (These are my favorite slippers at the moment, if you care.) This is really a personal judgement call. To each their own.

I’m sure I’ve left something out, so you can always @ me if you have tips (@MeleahBowles). I won’t even be mad. I’ll just be happy to get even more warmth.

Last modified on January 21st, 2019

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