HOW TO STAY WARM IN THE WINTER (or carmel’s summer)

by admin on December 28, 2011

patagonia down coat

one of the students in esme’s mpc class posed this question.  she is from an inland northern california town that rarely gets chilly.  as a result, she hadn’t a clue how to dress for our damp clime.  esme could relate.  when she went back east to college (from california) she was shocked at how cold it could get.

i don’t think esme ever got the hang of dressing for new haven winters.  this was a cognitive issue:  in her mind, one coat should have been sufficient.  she insisted on wearing a fashionable (at the time)  fitted sheep skin coat that she had bought for the purpose, and froze to death every time.

what esme’s california mind refused to accept (and what she realized with hindsight) is, of course, that layers are crucial.  a coat needs to be big enough to add a wool sweater under it.  back east one might need long underwear.  on the monterey peninsula a fitted cami is usually sufficient.  esme has been making liberal use of her soma cami’s for this purpose.   remember that garments that fit closer to the body are warmer.  you can wear a loose-fitting top if you like, but you need a skin-hugging layer underneath to stay warm.

when it comes to coats and jackets, tight cuffs and button-up collars are essential.  i can’t tell you how many coats esme had to give up on years ago because the sleeves let in the cold winter wind!  these days you could remedy the problem with some 3/4 length gloves, and a scarf always helps.

the other fact that esme failed to take in in the ’70’s was that if you really want to stay warm, wear down.  in esme’s college days, down jackets were pretty unattractive, but now they make some that are totally cute, light-weight, and incredibly warm.  in fact, a good sign is when you start to sweat as you are trying one on in the store.  esme spied a really good-looking patagonia coat just the other day, but it was gone by the time she came by for a second look.

hats, socks and closed shoes are no-brainers. last semester esme was shocked to see many of the college students wearing sandals in 40 degree weather.  boots are great, and in really cold climes you might want a pair of lined boots (la canadienne makes great ones).  esme still recalls freezing her toes off in a pair of fashionable but thin lace-up boots which would have been fine for a northern california fall, but did not cut it for a new england winter!

la canadienne boot

on the other hand, when esme was in college she was fine once she went indoors.  in those days they had those wonderful steam heaters that clinked and clanked and created a fabulous moist sort of heat.  by contrast, in carmel and environs, businesses rarely turn their heat on (or perhaps they don’t have heat).  you are just as likely to freeze in a shop or restaurant as you are at the beach!

so if you are a young person just adjusting to the cold, don’t do as esme did and stick with your preconceived notions of how to stay warm.  face facts.  buy yourself some camisoles, some down, some socks, maybe boots, gloves and a hat!  let me know how it goes!




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