Most of the Interrobangs live in less than tropical climates, but a quick look at the weather forecasts indicates that I live in the coldest (at least this week) by at least 10 degrees. Having been back to Southern Ontario over the holidays, I suspect I also have the most snow by probably about a half a foot. It is dreary here, and cold. Now, my USB cord is still missing in action (or inaction, more accurately) so I can’t actually put any photographic evidence of how I deal with this horrid winter business, but I suspect that there’s room for more than one post on winter dressing.
So, the basics: I have a giant coat, mitts, boots, gloves, hat, and scarf. The mitts themselves are less than exciting, but wool mitts with lining are crucial. None of this acrylic stretchy nonsense, and nothing thinner than half an inch. Same with the hat: I have a striped toque that makes me look even dorkier than I already do that I inexplicably adore, but I do not adore the subsequent hat hair that I inevitably get. Five minutes with a toque and my hair is glued to my head for the rest of the day. So I followed Audi’s advice and got myself a black beret. I was skeptical, since as much as I love hats, they either look fantastic or awful on me and I thought berets would be in the awful category. Not so! I found a classic style with the little stem and everything and it looks fabulous, and it was pretty cheap too. Again, wool’s essential (but slightly itchy), and while this may be a big fashion faux-pas, but I find the ability to yank it over my ears is crucial, unfashionable or not.
Scarves…. oh how I love scarves. (Stay tuned for a tour of my scarves once the camera issue is fixed.) My winter coat is enormous (more on it in a moment), which really limits how huge of a scarf I can fit under it. Even in the dead of winter, I still wear only a light scarf, but even a thin spring scarf I find is enough to take the edge off the wind, which is all a scarf should nned to do I think. If you need the scarf to keep all of you warm rather than just keeping the wind out, you need a warmer coat! Bonus points if it’s silk — I find it’s the warmest and most wind-resistant, and plus it’s much a much nicer material than, say, polyester. Just say no to polyester!
Boots are essential but a frustrating topic to me. I’m a vegetarian, and I’m trying to avoid buying any new leather or suede goods, though I’ll still wear the ones I already have because there’s no point in getting rid of perfectly good clothing unless I don’t wear it anymore for other reasons (fit, style, etc). The problem is is that finding good stylish boots that aren’t leather is… difficult, to say the least. There’s plenty of stuff to discuss about shoes and boots, so again, stay tuned, there’ll be more posts about that. I have a pair of (unlined) knee high black boots from Novacas that I love, and a pair of those foil insoles make any pair of shoes more cozy. Knee socks are great, wool socks help too, but I’ve found that wearing a pair of knee socks over a pair of shorter socks is great for commuting — most of my commute is spent on public transit rather than outside. The two pairs of socks method is great because once I get to my office, I take off the outer pair (and try to be stealthy about it so my office-mate isn’t put off) and go on my merry way indoors. I overheat easily, so I’m a big fan of quickly (and socially acceptably!) sheddable layers.
The piece de resistance is my coat. It’s huge, took me over a year of (very sporadic) work to make, is bright green and white and is easily the warmest coat I’ve had. It’s wool (notice a theme here?*), but I lined the thick wool on all the pieces with flannel, and this seems to make an enormous difference. It’s hardly doable for the majority of you who aren’t making your own coats, but if you’re ever inclined, flannel flatlining as well as a coating lining (no nylon or acetate — use the stuff with the fuzzy back that I can never remember the name of) is the way to go. Also, add a hood even if the pattern doesn’t have it. Most retail wool coats aren’t warm at all, and I actually don’t recommend them. If you’re bent on it, have a good look at the wool itself and see have dense the fibres are: denser material will let less wind through and thus be warmer, but also tends to cost more and is harder to find. Try to get a coat that is at least mid-thigh length and buttons all the way to the bottom. My coat buttons all the way down, and I’m pretty sure this is the key to my coat’s warmth. Unfortunately, the vast majority of retail coats have buttons only to the waist or slightly lower. This post is getting rather long, but perhaps I’ll put up another one in a bit about switching the buttons or adding a zipper to make a coat close better, with the caveat that I’ve never actually done it myself because I just make my coats in the first place.
So, in a long-winded nutshell, that’s my take on winter outerwear. I’m clearly not the only person who lives in a cold climate who is posting about her wardrobe on the internet, and I haven’t said a peep about what I wear underneath. This post by The Freelancer shows just how elaborate you can need to be! I suspect that as cold as it is here, it’s colder in Helsinki. Her drawings are gorgeous, too. So, how do you deal with winter?
* For those of you saying “wool and silk are animal products — why aren’t you avoiding them?”, I’m a vegetarian, not a vegan. I eat eggs, cheese, and milk, and I have no big issue with wool or silk. My ethics of consumption are sort of a work in progress, so this may change. I will certainly talk about it here, because I think there’s a lot of interesting things there that are worth discussing, and there’s an awful lot more to it than just “I don’t eat or wear animals”.