POSTED ON DECEMBER 5, 2007:
Weather You Need It or Not
Tulsa is far less frigid than the arctic, so keep fashion in mind when choosing winter wear
No Need to Bundle. Maybe people who actually spend time outdoors on cold days needy heavy winter coats, but for most vain Tulsans, something light and attractive will usually do.
I did the "just browsing" thing at least four times. I walked into the store, checked to see if it still had my size and gazed longingly at it. I'd leave the store feeling dirty because this is not me. I don't hesitate. If I have the available funds and the item is there, I buy. Especially if it's a beautiful winter coat, an item for which I have a bizarre addiction.
But that's why, on several occasions, I admired the green wool coat without buying. I was trying to be reasonable. I have last year's coat, still fashionable and in great condition. And that's in addition to the coats I purchased the year before that--three in total because I forgot after I bought two on my own that I was receiving one for Christmas. I had a pink wool coat, robin's egg blue one and the basic black. Did I really need green? Four amazing, useful coats; definitely no need for a fifth. If hadn't been for my Achilles heel. One coupon for 20 percent off changed my reasoning to believe that a fifth coat was indeed necessary.
I was so swept up in the thrill of the coat. SALE! Pretty green color! I put it on and walked outside only to realize that it was a collarless coat. While you'd think a collar does little to prevent chill, I realized, wearing my collarless coat, that a collar has a hefty responsibility in keeping your neck and parts of your face freeze-proof.
I needed a scarf, but I didn't own a scarf. Do average adults really need scarves? What about gloves and hats? Do grownups really need those? And really, during a season when we spend most, if not all, of our time indoors, when the only time we're outside is walking from our cars to the indoors, is there a real use for a winter coat? If the quick theory I had just assembled was correct, I had just spent too much money on a garment used solely for trekking across parking lots.
Don't get me wrong. Certain parts of the world need winter accessories. Alaskans should definitely invest in some thick winter wear. New Yorkers who walk through the winterized city to the nearest public transportation should definitely own a scarf. But in Tulsa? Our weather is extreme, but only in the quick changes it makes in temperature day to day. Our city occasionally battles blizzards, but our strategy for those times is to shut down the city.
Certainly people, like the aforementioned New Yorkers, who walk to a bus stop or whose careers involve staying outside during the bitter cold months need winter protection, but for those of us who spend our days in a cozy warm office, our commutes in cozy warm cars and our evenings in cozy warm homes, a nice hoodie worn over a long sleeved shirt may be all we need for our simple Tulsa winters.
I'm not the only one thinking this way. Fashion houses, in addition to employing the usual seamstresses and models, are also adding climatologists to the payroll. This past August, The Wall Street Journal published an article discussing the fashion industry's interest in climate when creating its collections. The inclusion of scientific research in fashion has shown that consumers don't need heavier, thicker fabrics, as the industry is aiming for "seasonless" fashion. The article went on to list research that suggests.
"The move toward seasonless dressing is largely an effect of climate change. In most places in the Northern Hemisphere, the weather is getting warmer, and winters are shorter and less extreme, according to the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University in New York," the article read.
In fact, the article wrote smashingly on an idea I thought I had so brilliantly come up with.
"At the same time, people spend so much time indoors and in cars that their lives are essentially climate-controlled," it said.
Alas, not every fashion house is creating based on science. There are still stores that carry lovely green coats and there are still people (ahem, me) who will still buy a winter coat whatever the weather may be. But at least with this new knowledge placed squarely in the back of your brain, this winter when shopping for your winter needs, you can make your decisions based on what looks good, not necessarily what is practical.
To Winter Wear Or Not
By my impracticality, I imply that you don't have to take winter wear as seriously as if you were a child. As adults, when the weather gets cold, we get indoors. As a kid, you needed every winter accessory under the sun. A thick coat with lots of down, gloves, a scarf and a beanie hat were practically mandatory for making it through a winter day.
Even though the mercury in the thermometer crept low, hefty portions of your weekday was spent outside. Even if you were a kid lucky enough to forgo standing at a bus stop, you still had to endure recess. On weekends you'd attempt to go outside as frequently as possible to overcome cabin fever. And snow days! For a child, snow days mean locating every fleece, wool, and downed article of clothing in your house, spending half an hour assembling layers so thick you can barely move just to top it off with winter accessories of gloves or mittens, a scarf and hat.
With recess no longer an issue, you can ease up on the layers. Invest in a nice leather coat. The possibility that it will actually keep you warm is pretty slim, but if the most time you'll spend outside on a harsh December day is walking down the driveway to your mailbox, you'll survive.
What about a nice trench coat? There are some truly expensive ones out there, but they will always be classic, sexy and chic for both sexes. You'll be cold while wearing it for 30 seconds outside, but you'll look awesome. And you won't have to worry about the sweltering heat indoors. Anyone who's ever walked around a grocery store or run any indoor errand can attest, you burn up in the average winter wear. Take your coat off and you're stuck carrying around a bulky load.
And so many coats are bulky. Stores of every sort always offer the thick, down-filled options. It's like someone created a garment out of his or her bed's duvet. Is it practical for sub degree weather? For sure! What woman would wear it if it weren't practical? It's not doing anything to make her look sexy. So this year, with climates boiling because of global warming, let the geese keep their feathers and you find a coat that shows how good you look, even if it means your teeth might be chattering as you walk from the restaurant to your car.
Wool is your saving grace. It's practical-ish enough to keep you from getting hypothermia, but chic enough to wear anywhere. I have a friend who agrees with me that it's completely reasonable to have a regular coat and a "fancy" coat. This is the lie I tell myself to make me feel better about owning a coat for each day of the week. Most people don't think like my friend and me, who feel that you need one coat for day to day errands and another for "fancy" events, but the great thing about a wool coat, no matter what shape or color it is, it will look good any time, any where.
Men and women alike can find wool coats in basic shapes like a pea coat or just a basic coat in short or long lengths with a zipper or big buttons. It's also durable enough for those sporadic Tulsa flurries so that you're not soaked to the bone.
Save Your Neck
And what about snow? If you're not planning on playing in it, you probably don't need the extra add-ons. In fact, you can keep this same for-looks-not-use theory when buying, or deciding on whether you're buying, winter accessories. Clearly, we don't need winter hats, but what guy at any age doesn't look good in a winter beanie? Sure, you may not need it for its intended purpose--keeping warm and all--but spend the money to make the girls' hearts go a-flutter. And same thing goes for the ladies. While you may dread hat hair, it could make the boys swoon.
Scarves, well, they were never really assisting anyone. Except for my own bizarre find, most winter jackets have a collar, which pretty much makes a scarf redundant. But you'll find most scarf wearers aren't wearing for logical reasons; it's because they look cool. Find one in a bold color or pattern in a thick knit with ridiculous length and experiment. Wrap around and knot away to create a snazzy look that will be both ultra impractical for the weather as well as for removing.
Gloves on the other hand are very important, especially to anyone not parking in a garage. Occasionally Tulsa gets a real winter (think back to last year's ice and snow-themed January), and if your car is outside, you will begin your day by scraping ice off your windshield. For this kind of task, avoid knit gloves. Soaking wet wool yarn wrapped around your fingers will only intensify the anger you feel at having to scrap ice off your windows. For warm, sexy phalanges try leather driving gloves.
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