30 October 2007

A frosty temperature is no excuse

Just as a serious job is no excuse to ignore your appearance, neither is a drop in the temperature.

Over the past few weeks, I've received dozens of reader questions that in some way or another touched on the all-important and very timely issue of "how can I stay stylish when I'm freezing my funbags off?"

Before I present to you my own solutions to this fashion/function dilemma, let me first explain why you should trust my judgment on this issue.

Like many women with relatively low body fat, I have a serious circulation problem. The only sets of circumstances when the tip of my nose, my fingers and toes, and those other two aforementioned lady protrusions aren't steely-cold to the touch are when I'm either (1) in the shower (2) in Thailand (3) in the UVA-free tanning bed or (4) as I am right this second, in my apartment in head-to-toe sweats with the windows tightly shut and the thermostat set to 82°.

In short, I get cold quickly and I get cold often.

Despite having spent the better part of my formative years in a state where Summer passes by in the blink of an eye and Spring and Fall are wafer-thin bookends to the fat six months of wretched, biting-cold Winter, I am no more prepared than any of you when the daily high dips below my minimally acceptable 7-0.

So, how do I live with what has been described by those who have shared living quarters with me as a frustrating, selfish, even invented condition?

In addition to replacing those individuals with a four-legged life partner who doesn't have the option of using passive aggressive sarcasm to get his point across that yes, the apartment is too hot and yes, I do realize the curiousness of it being July and I'm wearing wool socks to bed, I have four basic rules that keep me toasty - as toasty as I'm able to get, anyway - during those Fall/Winter walks to and from work and even more important, that allow me to maintain the fashion-over-function lifestyle I so strongly advocate.

Rule #1:
Wear clothing that is high-necked and fitted, fitted, fitted. Not tight, but fitted.

Rule #2:
Wear thick, footless tights under all your trousers and jeans.

Rule #3:
Keep a neutral-colored scarf in every daybag. And no, silly Sally, I don't mean this sort of scarf.

Rule #4:
Only wear topcoats that have deep, lined, front pockets.

More thorough explanations and recommendations for each coming later in the day...


Anonymous said...

You are spot on. It's all about the insulation.

Anonymous said...

why the emphasis on *front* pockets? everything else, I think is a good idea.

Teek said...

Do you really advocate the high heel in winter, as well? Not wussy DC winter which really does not count, but proper winter. I was thinking about this, and at under 12F or above 12 inches of fresh snow, that's about when function overrides form and I end up wearing Clark's chunky heeled ankle boots and Land's End parkas to work. (I can't wear flats as my pants are hemmed for heels.) This is through much experience of frostbite and twisted ankles from ice and wind and heels making dangerous partners. Obvs, the heels just live under my desk.

And congrats on the run!

Johanna said...


While you'll never see me shoo anyone away from wearing heels, be it Winter or otherwise, I will also never advocate *ruining* heels, which is what could and probably would happen if you walked to work with snow, sleet or ice on the ground.

I've eliminated flats as a commuting option for the reason you raised and because you can feel the cold of the sidewalk so much more acutely when there's only a half-inch of flimsy leather between your feet and the ground. Even with tights, that kind of chill would get into my bones and leave me shivering for the rest of the day.

What's left? Well, I have a fun pair of insulated galoshes I actually look forward to wearing, because they remind me of childhood. They're pretty, they're clearly meant to serve a purpose, and they're roomy enough to accommodate a trouser tuck-in so I don't muck up my hem.

If there's no "weather" on the ground and it's just a super cold day, I don't really see the need to forego heels. If the issue is you want to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, and a sneaker can get you there in 15 minutes as opposed to a stiletto which takes you 25, then my advice is to work at your heel walking until that 25 minutes drops to 14. But hey, that's just me ;-)

The parka? Weeell, I don't know if I could be on board for that. There are so many tailored options out there that don't hide your waist that can keep you warm. Maybe not *as* warm but pretty close.

And thanks. I was *really* proud of the first 18. The last 8.2, not so much.


jessica said...

Tights under jeans? Never even thought about that...wunderbar!

Teek said...

Ah, the problem is, where I live, there is no such thing as a day without "weather" on the ground, 4-5 months out of the year. If it's not actively snowing, it's probably icy or slushy or extremely windy with driving snow or a combination of all three. My balance in heels is good but not reliably black ice in 50 mph gusts in the dark in a bad neighborhood good.

The parka (which is a "nice" parka as far as parkas go) only comes out to play when it's just insanely cold. I have lovely wool coats but when you've got to commute in a car with a busted old heater of ill repute and it's 0 degrees, I'd rather be safe than sorry. But yeah, it's bulky and awkward and you die the second you get indoors and I'd really rather not wear it at all given a choice. I'm not a winter fan either!

There's always next time for those last 8.2. Enjoy the extra time with Monte in the meantime :)

brown rowergirl said...

The last 8.2 are a whole 'nother race, my dear. I think you did great!

I always wondered what those footless tights were for!

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:49 - my guess? Side pockets add bulk, whereas front pockets leave you with a nice slim line. Am I close, editrix?

bff in chicago said...

Fitted clothing? You? No!

(giggling behind hand)

bananzattack said...

I loved your descriptive: "Summer passes by in the blink of an eye and Spring and Fall are wafer-thin bookends to the fat six months of wretched, biting-cold Winter"

You are an excellent writer.