For the “cold” part, I highly recommend cashmere from head to toe.
Cashmere works for me because it isn’t heavy or itchy, so I don’t get that “bundled up and cranky” semi-claustrophobic feeling I associate with winters from my childhood. Its lovely fuzziness is also a sensory treat, which makes me happy. I was surprised how much of a difference it made in my mood to stay properly warm in winter. This time of year, inside at home, over my regular blouse and pants, I wear a loose cashmere cardigan and wide-leg pants, plus cashmere socks.
I get all mine on eBay, cheap and mostly used, sometimes in need of repairs.
My eBay search for cashmere cardigans (search tuned to exclude scarves, synthetics, etc.)
My eBay search for cashmere pants
Cashmere socks are harder to find cheap; I got 12 pair for $40 last year from “designersdiscountdiva” but they don’t seem to have them anymore. I suggest looking for men’s socks as well as women’s, since you can always shrink them in the wash.
If you can get it cheap enough so you’re not worried about ruining it, cashmere can take a lot more abuse than you might think. It can be machine washed in cold water and even no-heat tumble-dried, especially if you get one size big to start with. With an oversized piece you can even dye it, which is great if bright colors also help your mood, as cheap cashmere is often available in boring colors like off-white or slate blue. I recommend acid dyes from Dharma Trading Co, used on the stovetop, for this. I’ve found it’s a great mood-lifter, very satisfying, to transform an ugly-colored sweater this way, though it is a bit of a project to make sure you don’t “transform” anything else by accident! Lots of newspaper on nearby countertops is key.
If you want REALLY warm, get a cashmere sweater three sizes too big, and run it through warm-water machine wash with a double dose of liquid fabric softener and a hot dryer with a dryer sheet. You get a semi-felted, supersoft, superwarm result – kind of a Cute Overload* boiled wool. Works best with V-neck pullovers (crew-necks can shrink too much around the neck opening, and cardigans get all bunchy around the fastener strip).
If you can’t afford even eBay cashmere, but you do have some itchy wool sweaters around, try soaking them in a bucket of tepid water in which you’ve dissolved a big bottle of cheap hair conditioner (make sure you like its scent, 'cause your sweaters will smell like it for a long time, but it can be the 99¢ stuff). Leave them in for two or three days, then wash well in cold water.
Also: silk scarves around the neck for warmth, pretty colors, and protection from itchy winter clothes. Again with the eBay, or my favorite source of inexpensive but lovely scarves that coordinate well: Thai Silks. ($9.85 each [or maybe apparently even on sale for $7 right now? jeez] for tasteful iridescent silk chiffon in a nice length to loosely wrap around your neck once or twice, or to do that double-over-and-loop-through thing.)
- Speaking of Cute Overload, I keep a whole list of mood-lifting bookmarks, including it and about half of the Lolcats family of blogs, for especially blue moments. No one needs to know…