Wear Abouts

The feeling of sockless toes freezing in patent leather ballet flats while walking through unshovelled sidewalks in mid-December is really an experience like none other. Missing your bus on the way home adds to the misery. Knowing that another one doesn’t arrive for another 25 minutes kicks it up a notch. My fingers are now little creamsicles. My bare cheeks victim to blasts of wind, feel like 10 thousand pushpins to the face. As I trek my way home through what seems like the Arctic Circle, I have an epiphany: this is what cold feels like. I was dead centre in a Winnipeg-winter. Being that this year marks my third Winterpeg experience after living in Orlando (aka. Home to Mickey Mouse and 23 C Christmases) for a handful of years, I have to come to understand the divine importance of wearing clothes not merely for the sake of fantastic fashion, but also for function.

Evidently though, the weather outside is treacherous, and when facing a combination of low temperatures and high-speed winds, it can even be murderous. This begs the question, is it possible to have both fashion and function when it comes to your winter getup in Winnipeg? I scour the campus for some real-life examples.

I soon discover it’s the headgear (not the overbite-correcting orthodontic treatment you underwent in ninth grade — but hats, toques, beanies, and elaborate hair) that’s doing it. During a class change, when University Centre fills with students sashaying to their next lecture in between conversations with their peers and Timmy’s caffeine fixes, this sea of bodies with ski-jacket hoods, oversized wool beanies, fur- (faux or not)-trimmed bonnets and scarves wrapped around a sundry of bare necks infiltrate the school walkways. Whether you follow the trends, make your own or just “don’t care” — which I never believe — head dressing is a solid way to keep the cranium cozy and make a style statement all the while.

And while retail stores are showing the first waves of their spring collections, do not be fooled, Winnipeg is still very much in its winter season. The way I see it, an easy way to achieve a balanced fashionable and functional formula, is through the use of texture, and lots of it, and in layers. Fabrics with contents like wool, cashmere and cotton (also known as “staple fibres”) are short and fuzzy, thus they will give you that soft feeling, cause friction against the skin and have porous surfaces that lock in heat. Synthetic contents like polyester or nylon (“filament fibres”) tend to be less warm because of their smoother surface, but can provide better wind protection. A marriage of the two fibre types, however, can yield enviable warmth for those -40 days.

Amidst a snowy afternoon, a darling two I caught on campus were these girls, Alicia C. and Maddie L. (pictured here). Playful and most definitely not trite, their use of chunky knits and various furs create the perfect nest for cold noggins this time of year. Alicia wears her Canada Goose aviator hat complete with Arctic-tech nylon shell and “freeze-proof” coyote fur lining (at Harry Rosen), and Merino wool knit scarf by Club Monaco. Maddie fends off the frostbite with Burberry cashmere and shearling-lined earmuffs and a turban scarf by Joe Fresh (at Super Store). With mint menageries of modern style (fashion) and technical textiles (function), their head-dressing looks are fun and covetously warm.

Keep on top of your fash-knowledge by reading up on the sources, (WomensWearDaily or Style.com do it for me), be a voyeur (inconspicuously, of course) and live luminously (with a fabulous hat on).