Honestly, I thought Polar Vortex was a tenor from Eastern Europe. Not until I saw the news last night, explaining the frigid temperatures that have gripped the country this week, did I realize it was a weather front visiting us like a late-date Santa, from the North Pole. Today I’m feeling downright tropical because it’s heated up to a balmy 8. I mean, I grew up in Schenectady but still! Until I moved to central Vermont, fleece was a word I uttered once every seventeen years and usually in a nursery rhyme. Now it’s part of my daily conversation.
But I’m finding after seven years of living here that it’s possible to embrace my inner Eskimo and dress chicly while fighting off frostbite. And if your warm wardrobe isn’t complete, now is a good time to supplement it as most retailers are offering big after-Christmas discounts.
A few things I’ve discovered, well, actually two: long underwear top and long underwear bottom. However, unlike the bulky, itchy things my mother made me wear as a kid, there are plenty of very thin but very warm options. Winter Silks has a great line of lightweight long underwear that can really make a difference and they’re having a 60% off sale right now. I also really love Hot Chillys, available on Amazon, and I’ve had good luck at Loehmann’s, when I can get to one, with higher-end-for-less-money silk long johns that have lasted me for years. These garments are critical not only for staying warm once you’ve stepped away from the fire, but for preventing the itching of…
Heavy sweaters. Now is a great time to buy. Lots of sales, coupons and good deals from Banana Republic, J.Crew, Nordstrom, Saks, Neiman Marcus, you name it. Look for the cashmeres that are left over from Christmas. Some great buys there and if that’s not enough, check out retailmenot.com which offers discount codes for many, many retail sites.
Because I happen to have bad circulation in my fingers and toes I’ve taken to wearing cashmere socks which sounds like a big luxury but is really pretty cost effective. They’re warm enough for wearing with boots, but thin enough for shoes and they feel divine. By January, prices have dropped and a couple pairs of these babies will keep your tootsies toasty. If you wash them on the delicate cycle and hang to dry they’ll last forever. For the fingers, I’ve found that mittens are the only thing that works for me. These days many are made with glove linings and a mitten top that you can flip back when you need to use your digits. The “Thinsulate” ones I got at Farm-Way, a local purveyor that is just what it sounds like, have special stitching on the fingertips so you can use an iPhone or iPad without removing your gloves. Totally cool.
Outerwear? Get down. I don’t mean like “get funky.” I mean, if you want to be warm, get down. Not all down is alike, mind you. If you look on the inside label you’ll see the percentage of down and the percentage of feathers. More down means more warmth, so look for something like 80% down and 20% feathers. I recommend a jacket that covers your fanny. It’ll be warmer and it’ll look chic with a pair of skinny pants and boots. You don’t have to spend a fortune but if you find a jacket you like and you see little feathers coming through the outer fabric, as Tanta Julia would say, fuhgget it.
Keep your feet warm with some Gortex or other weatherproof boots. For stylish bootwear I really like Stuart Weitzman. An investment, no question, but I’ve worn the same ones for nine years and they still look great, are warm and waterproof, so if you amortize the cost over that many years, they’re a bargain. Aquatalia, same deal. I store them in the off season stuffed with paper in an old pillowcase. They are well worth the money to keep those feet cozy while looking cool. And let’s face it; you can’t be chic if your teeth are chattering.
Don’t want to wear a hat? I know just what you mean. Five minutes in a hat and there’s so much static I could start a blender just by rubbing my head. Get a pair of earmuffs. Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) makes some great ones that go “behind the head” so there’s none of that nasty hat hair. Mine are actually the Men’s version. Makes no difference as the size is adjustable. A nice colorful scarf (the rest of my outfit is black of course), a pair of shades and you are ready to brave the elements.