What says Northern Michigan winter more than plaid, fleece and fur? Here’s a look at the best funky, functional and fabulous winter gear finds out there (along with a few tips on where to get outdoors and enjoy them!):
Mittens from Michigan
Baabaazuzu. This is a long-standing winter-wear buzzword. When this company started 26 years ago, repurposed items weren’t even a thing. But Sue Burns went ahead and did it anyway - repurposing wool sweaters, mittens and hats into warm winter gear.
“Our best-selling items, hands down (pun intended) are our classic mittens and our very popular fingerless gloves,” says Sue. “I have lived in Leelanau County for over 30 years, and though I could produce Baabaazuzu from many other places, I just love Northern Michigan. And, it sure doesn’t hurt to be known for the warmest mittens produced in the mitten state!”
No two pieces of Baabaazuzu are alike. Each is handcrafted of 100% vintage materials, reclaimed and transformed into a beautiful wearable. (Look for the signature buttons on the cuffs of their mittens!)
Visit their boutique showroom one mile off the beautiful M-22 corridor at 1006 Sawmill Rd. in Lake Leelanau. They are well worth the “extra mile”! Baabaazuzu can also be found in nearly 600 retailers across North America, Canada, Japan and South Korea.
Boots & Blankets & Puffballs
The Coastal store in Glen Arbor has everything you could need for a winter day – but we forced Alissa Norris, the assistant manager, to pick just 3!
- The Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool Blanket. “This is our go-to for a relaxing night by the fire,” she says. And it goes without saying – the warm, red plaids make anyone feel at home. These colorfast wool masterpieces are even machine-washable, and they won't shrink, fade or pill. The whipstitched edges are a sweet, nostalgic touch.
- Sorel Women's Out ‘N About Conquest Boots. “Not only is this boot stylish,” Norris says, “it’s guaranteed to keep your feet warm as you're out on your winter adventure.” The waterproof full-grain leather and microfleece lining combines practicality with style. The rubber sole provides no-slip grip and is perfect in light snow. Make plans for an après-snowshoe dinner at Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor in these puppies.
- The Shiraleah Andi Hat. “It’s stylish and very warm, and the puffball on top adds a lot of personality!” she says. The hat is made of wool, acrylic and faux fur. Even if you don’t know how to ski, this hat makes you look good trying.
The best trails to try this gear on? Norris recommends The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail for cross-country skiing.
“Friends of Sleeping Bear grooms the trail on a regular basis, and it winds through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park,” she says.
For snowshoeing, she recommends Empire Bluffs, Alligator Hill and Pyramid Point trails. If you need gear, Coastal rents snowshoes, cross-country skis and fat tire bikes. You can walk in to rent gear or make reservations online.
For winter conditions on the trail, visit Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.
Find Coastal and these 3 favs at 6324 W. Western Ave. (M22) in Glen Arbor. .
A coat (and a story!)
The Lima Bean in Suttons Bay is famous for its window displays. They change their front window often, using repurposed objects for creativity and inspiration. It’s kind of a thing in town – checking back in to see what they’ve come with next to showcase their clothing.
You might even find this coat in the front window. But because the store is filled with unique items that are hard to find anywhere else, it won’t last long.
The Star Valley Coat by Free People is a patterned woven coat with a faux fur lining and a moto-inspired silhouette. The oversized fit has snap closures and the holy grail: zip side pockets. A cozy Sherpa-lining keeps you warm, while the furry cuffs give you style. This coat is great for those cold winter months in downtown Suttons Bay…window shopping!
Many people ask where the name Lima Bean came from, and it’s a short story: The shop was named after a friend's pet turtle!
Visit the shop online or at 222 N Saint Joseph St., Suttons Bay.