My southern friends and family constantly comment on how they absolutely could not live in a place that get as cold as the Montana prairie. Especially when I tell them things like, "It was -9 (9 below zero) when I left for church this morning.", like it was yesterday. I always reply, "It really isn't that bad if you dress properly."
Although it was -9 degrees when we left for church yesterday morning and had warmed up to only 3 degrees by the time we drove home, Songbird and I still wore skirts. Today's post is specifically for all the southerners who just can't wrap their heads around how anyone could survive, much less keep the cold out, when it is below zero outside. By the way, -9 translated to -28 by the time the wind chill was factored in.
Brrr.... It's Cold Outside
Yesterday's first layer of clothing included a cotton tee, a polyester/nylon slip and chocolate brown fleece lined tights that matched my skirt . Because my blouse had 3/4 length sleeves, I chose a cotton tee over my cotton lined, polyester/nylon shelled long handles which are long sleeved. The outer polyester/nylon shell of my usual long handles allows women's fabrics to drape well and it doesn't bunch under clothing like cotton can. Fleece lined tights are incredibly warm. I think the only thing warmer are wool tights. But for those who are allergic to wool or can't afford it, fleece is a fabulous substitute. My slip is a regular polyester/nylon slip that ensures ease of movement, especially under the corduroy fabric my skirt was made of. Although it is thin, it adds an another layer and every layer insulates against the cold.
It is important to consider fabric choices when dressing for the bitter cold. The blouse I chose is 100% cotton. I chose it because it contained both my jacket and skirt colors. The print also added dimension and interest to the outfit. A cotton blouse vs. a knit sweater worked for yesterday's -9 degree temperatures primarily because the jacket I wore is a thick sued leather with a polyester/nylon lining. I keep mentioning polyester/nylon for linings and under garments specifically because it prevents clothing layers from bunching, which is not only unattractive, but also, uncomfortable. Although polyester/nylon is thin it is also an excellent insulator. The skirt I chose falls just below the knee. It is made from a thick corduroy and is an excellent insulator from the cold and wind.
On very cold days, like yesterday, one should never choose to wear dainty ballerina flats, or open toed anything. Loafers or heels are also a poor choice. They simply do not cover enough of one's foot. Snow and ice will most certainly get inside any of those pretty or cute shoes, not to mention icy sidewalks and high heels are a recipe for an emergency room visit. My answer is a pair of women's dress boots that have traction soles and a low stable heel. If I had chosen to wear my thick denim skirt and a western style jacket or vest, I might have chosen my dress cowboy boots.
Finally, ones outer layer is of utmost importance. I prefer my coats to be made out of wool. Wool truly is your best winter time friend if you live on the Montana prairie. When purchasing a coat I always make sure it is large enough to comfortably fit over a vest, jacket or suit blazer. There is nothing more uncomfortable than an outer coat that is too tight. Finally, when stepping out into the bitter cold I always wear my wool gloves and wrap my neck with a scarf. The scarf keeps any wind from blowing down my blouse or shirt. Even if I'm only rushing to a warmed up auto and don't want my hair messed, I ALWAYS carry a hat, a comb/brush and small bottle of hairspray with me. If it is especially windy, I will certainly wear a hat and will most definitely need to touch up my hair when arriving at my destination.
When dressing in layers the goal is to keep one's core body warm. When your core is warm that heat is transferred to your appendages. Our bodies emit excess heat through our head and feet. Properly covering ones head and feet with wool or fleece socks and a hat is like closing a window and door on your body.
After removing my gloves, hat, scarf and coat, our church building was too warm for my outfit so, I also removed my sued leather jacket. This is another example of why proper layering is so important when going out into bitterly cold temperatures. One must be able to easily remove various layers when indoors otherwise you could get too hot and perspire which causes damp clothing. If one's clothing gets damp from perspiration, regardless of how many layers you wear, the cold will literally chill you to the bone.
Any of my readers who have additional advise, tips or suggestions on dressing for the cold, please feel welcome to add them to the comments section.