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Traveling through the US? We’ve got tips on what to wear in The Midwest. Find out the best things to bring to this diverse region throughout the year!
What to Wear in The Midwest
Written By: Elizabeth Georgian
The Midwest has some wonderful destinations to add to your travel bucket list, but the weather can vary so drastically from season to season that you might be left stumped about what to pack.
The climate of this region varies depending on the latitude of the state (the further north you go the colder it gets), with the winter generally cold and snowy and the summers hot—perfect for a dip into Lake Michigan.
So what exactly is The Midwest?
It’s normally defined as the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. This includes the cities of Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Madison, Wichita, St. Louis, Columbus, Kansas City, and Omaha.
Traveling to The West Coast? Read this packing guide!
Style in each state and city in the Midwest varies, particularly when it comes to the college towns. One of the biggest draws to visiting or moving to the Midwest are the Big 10 universities and their sporting events, especially football.
So, in cities with Big 10 universities, like Madison, Wisconsin and East Lansing, Michigan, visitors might opt to pack school colors if visiting the schools (or at least not rival colors!)
Read on for more of what to wear across the Midwest in every season and for different events!
What to Wear in the Midwest: Spring
Spring in the Midwest is a mild time of year with temperatures ranging from approximately 50-70°F. Although rain showers can be frequent, spring weather is fun to dress for. Locals shed their heavy winter layers to make way for lighter, brighter outfits, perhaps to complement the unfurling leaves and blooming flowers.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for spring travel:
- How to Pack for Trips with Mixed Weather
- How to Layer a Summer Dress for Spring
- Feminine Clothing for Spring
- Best Shoes for Traveling in Spring and Fall
Spring in the Midwest is a gorgeous time to plan a getaway, especially because you beat the heat of the summer and don’t freeze during sightseeing trips like you would in the winter. This is the best time of year to enjoy a wander around a botanical garden such as the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis or the University of Wisconsin Arboretum in Madison.
Comfortable walking shoes (like Toms slip-ons) and a structured backpack keep this look casual and practical, yet cute. Maybe add a fun touch of school spirit in the form of a necklace or earrings!
You’ll fit right in with casual outfits like t-shirt dresses or a short-sleeved shirt with jeans, but don’t forget the layers as it can still be chilly, especially at night. Great outerwear options include packable puffers and military inspired jackets.
From sporty to bold and colorful, see how to choose the best down jacket for cold weather travels!
What to Wear in the Midwest: Summer
In general, summer in the Midwest is hot and humid with temperatures ranging from around 80-90°F. For a visit to Lake Michigan, plan on wearing cool, casual clothes.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for summer travel:
- Capsule Wardrobe for Summer
- Versatile Beach Dresses for Summer
- Lightweight Jackets for Easy Layers
- Beach Sandals for Hot Weather Vacations
Or for a girls’ trip to Chicago to indulge in shopping, cool museums, and great food, beat the heat with a comfortable, light dress, low heels made for walking, and colorful sunglasses.
For a casual day running errands in Milwaukee or Minneapolis, a t-shirt dress with open-toe espadrilles and a sleek backpack will have you looking good and keeping cool. Whatever you do, don’t forget that sunblock!
Take a look at the latest trends with these cute summer dresses!
What to Wear in the Midwest: Fall
In the Midwest, autumn is all about football season. Even if you aren’t a football fan, it’s fun to get tickets to see a game at least once–trust me, the energy really makes it worth it. If you’re headed to a sporting event this fall, cheer on the team wearing appropriate school attire.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for autumn travel:
- How to Pack for Trips with Mixed Weather
- How to Layer Clothes
- Use a Summer Dress to Pack Light in Fall
Complete this activewear look with skinny jeans, sneakers, and outerwear for cold days. This is the time of year that cities across the Midwest are flooded with students, but university gear works in every season.
These are gorgeously designed cute backpacks for travel, and one of them may be your new favorite travel companion!
What to Wear in the Midwest: Winter
Winter in the Midwest is cold, dark, and snowy, with temperatures dipping into the negatives in Fahrenheit and snowfall averaging 36-76 inches depending on the state.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for winter travel:
- Capsule Wardrobe for Winter
- How to Pack for Cold Weather
- How to Stay Warm in Cold Weather (without the bulk)
- The Best Travel Shoes for Winter
With temperatures this cold, it’s best to pack layers and a high-quality, waterproof winter coat. Other winter accessories such as gloves, a hat, and scarf are also a must when visiting the Midwest in winter.
If you’re attending a seminar or workshop, opt for dark skinny jeans that can be dressed up or down. On top, a pretty cashmere sweater over a floaty blouse is warm and professional.
Uggs are the winter shoe of choice for many Midwestern women because they’re comfortable, but knee-high boots are another great shoe option. That same sleek backpack from the spring and summer can be put to use to carry a tablet and other seminar essentials.
Find out what TFG readers chose as the best waterproof leather boots!
An appropriate outfit for a dinner date or museum hopping is a short sweater dress worn over thick tights. To keep those feet warm, a pair of knee-high boots, especially a water-resistant pair, is ideal.
For extra warmth on the coldest of days, a large scarf or cape scarf can act as an extra layer over the dress and under the coat.
Do you have after dinner drinks planned? A swipe of dark lipstick can take either of these winter outfits from day to evening, fast.
One thing to keep in mind when traveling in the Midwest during the winter is that the weather can be unpredictable, which can lead to delayed or missed flights. While this can be super stressful, try to think of it as more time to see the city!
Find out why thermals are a must for traveling light (and staying warm) in winter!
What are your tips on what to wear in the Midwest? Share in the comments below!
For more North America packing tips, please read:
- USA Road Trip Packing List
- What to Pack for Chicago Getaways
- How to Dress Like a New Yorker
- What to Wear to New Orleans
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