When I first arrived I was extremely ill-prepared for the cycling, the rain, and the snow. So if you’re moving to the Netherlands, to study or to work, and don’t know what you should be packing, here’s what you need!
6 years ago I was packing my bags to move to the Netherlands for what I thought would be a year. How little did I know some things could be so different in another country. All these years later I’ve come to the realization that my living experience in the Netherlands has not only changed me as a person but it also changed my style. The weather and bike culture have an enormous influence on what I wear on a daily basis. Most of the outfits you see on the blog are my weekend outfits when I can walk to the city or when we go out or when I’m on holiday in Portugal. For the day-to-day routine with frequent and unpredictable rain showers, strong winds and moving everywhere on a bike I really can’t afford to put on my nice clothes.
Here’s how to dress for the Dutch weather!
In the Netherlands, rainfall is common throughout the whole year with July and August being the wettest months. Rain is not only common, but also quite unpredictable and so it is recommended to carry an umbrella in your bag regardless of what you think the weather is going to be (I’m always carrying my cat umbrella, that Chris got me in Japan). But for the days in which the forecast is heavy rain, you may want to be equipped with all the rain gear you can find, especially if you are cycling that day, which you most likely will. A raining coat is indispensable alongside a good pair of wellies (see here how I dress for the rain and find my favorite pieces here). I know not everyone opts for wellies, but I use them a lot. They ensure my feet stay dry and I avoid ruining one of my decent pairs of boots.
Exactly because the weather is unpredictable, you’ll want to dress in layers all year-round. Layering will allow you to adapt to the different occasions and temperatures throughout the day. Often I’ll start with a top (or a t-shirt), followed by a blouse (or a shirt), followed by a cardigan (or sweater), and then a jacket or a coat depending on the season. Inside the buildings, the temperatures won’t match the outside with the heating being turned on in the winter and the AC in the summer, which more often than not means that you can wear the same number of layers inside regardless of the season.
All season wear
The average temperatures in July are around 18ºC, while in January the average temperatures are around 2ºC. So while the winters can be quite cold and the summer is on the warmer side, most of the year the temperatures will be between 10ºC and 15ºC. And like I said before, temperatures inside the buildings are regulated. Thus, a good trench coat (I found the perfect one not long ago, see here) and chiffon dresses (like this one and this one), which are easy for layering and adaptable to wear with and without tights, are always a ‘must-have’.
Ankle boots are the footwear you need all year-round. They fit pretty much any kind of weather, are comfortable to cycle on (I preferred them with block heels, see my favorite from last season here) and can go well with most outfits. Get yourself good quality ones because cycling every day will make your new booties look old in a couple weeks!
I love tights! I mostly like to wear skirts or dresses whether it is summer or winter. Tights are perfect because they exist in a whole range of thicknesses which allow you to wear the same skirts and dresses for months in a row only changing the type of cardigans and tights you wear. They’re very comfortable to cycle with and dry very fast compared to jeans or trousers, another plus point for rainy days. And starting from the simple solid ones to the most embellished design wise, tights are very versatile and fit for many occasions and/or outfits.
Beanies, gloves & scarfs
I never owned gloves and beanies until I moved to the Netherlands. Here I found you really can’t go outside without them say at least from October to May.
A really good winter coat
The core winter months can be especially cold. It can snow and the temperatures can be below zero for some weeks. During the winter however Dutch people still cycle and so do the foreigners. For this, a really good winter coat is essential, together with perhaps snow boots. I tried to resist to these heavy winter coats for some time. They’re really not my style. But if you cycle it is really not an option to just wear a tailored winter coat, so in the end, I had to give in… Add the beanies, scarfs, and gloves, and you’ll be good to go!
Bike proof clothing
Pencil skirts, maxi dresses, and stilettos are probably the most uncomfortable pieces you can add to your wardrobe if you’re planning to move to the Netherlands. If you want to keep to your style, midi dresses and midi skirts are ok to cycle with as long as they are not too tight. Same goes for mini skirts. A-line skirts are comfortable to cycle as long as they’re not too short. But if you’re wearing tights it’s not such a big issue anyway. Jumpsuits are also very comfortable to cycle with and of course jeans!
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I hope this gives you an idea of what to expect if you’re moving to the Netherlands soon. And don’t be intimidated, the weather can be bad (really bad) but there are many things worth seeing and experiencing in this country.
Just embrace it all and have fun!