I had an epiphany recently that fashion and functionality are not the same thing. Now, as that is an obvious statement, bear with me for a second. Fashion, in my mind, is the business of spending time to look nice which will, people tell us, make us feel good about ourselves. Functionality, on the other hand, is simply the idea that what you’re wearing is appropriate for the situation. Fashion and functionality are not mutually exclusive; work or job interview clothing, for example, is a classic marriage of fashion and functionality — you dress in your slacks and blouses, suits and ties, because looking nice is associated with being professional, which is hopefully something you wish to achieve at work.
As I have said before, I frequently fail at being a girl, but I do appreciate some good fashion, mostly due to the advent of Pinterest and fashion blogging (I’ve never been much for Vogue or runway shows or anything like that). For a good while, I would wake up intending to put on the cutest outfit I could manage so that I could go about my day walking on bouncy feet, knowing that I look feminine and “pretty.”
…except that’s never how it works. Perhaps this is not so for everybody, but dressing up is stressful — “Does this actually look good? Will people think I am just trying too hard? What if these colors really don’t go together?” — and then, after all that, I end up feeling uncomfortable or having to adjust my clothing all day. I would say that only one out of every thirty days that I make an effort to dress nicely do I feel like I’m actually put together. Again, that could be a function of my lack-of-girlyness, but I wonder if others feel this way too.
Anyway, my epiphany was coupled with my decision to dress functionally every day. And that is ok. In the summer, I wear Chacos because I will be walking, skipping, jumping, hiking, biking. I forego my one pair of nice South African sandals because they give my blisters, and if I did all that in them, I would destroy them. And in the winter, I wear clothes that will keep me warm. Which ultimately brings me to my real point.
This time of year, you get a lot of posts on fashion blogs about “how to keep warm but still look cute” by layering, wearing cute little wool coats, etc. However, I can’t help but notice that the bloggers still don’t look all that warm, and I know that if I were wearing what they are on my ~2 mile walk to school, I would be numb by the time I arrived.
Hoth Maine, one’s primary focus should really just be keeping warm. When it’s 7 degrees out and breezy, or worse (like in February), -15 and windy, you really should not be wearing a mini skirt or just leggings. (Am I the only one who does not agree that leggings are warmer than real pants? Because they definitely aren’t.) Fashion is not worth sacrificing the functionality of not getting frostbite.
So here is my parody of those posts:
What is she wearing?
Well, she’s wearing a helluva lot. I’m not gonna give you brands because I think people put those in their blogs so that readers can immediately click over and buybuybuy so that they can get that look, but why on earth would any of you want to get this look? It’s what I call the “blueberry.” However, if you would like to look like a walking spherical fruit, I can give you some references (check Reny’s and TJ Maxx).
How to Get This Look (i.e. Tips on Keeping Warm When it’s -FU Degrees Out):
1. If you will be walking anywhere or sitting in a ~60 degree office all day (if I turn my heat on, it never turns off, so it’s either 60 degrees or 90 degrees, and I’ll take the 60), I highly recommend getting some long underwear. I am a huge fan of Smartwool — expensive, but thin and warm. Those are the striped legs you can see in the first picture.
2. Tuck your long underwear into your wool socks. This is a tip that a dogsledding guide gave me once (and trust me, they know a lot about keeping warm). This helps funnel warm from your legs into your toes, and keeps it all trapped in the insulation of the socks. Speaking of socks, Smartwool. Get some. You will never have cold feet again.
3. After you’ve done this, put on your pants. It might be a tight fit if your pants are already tight, so I find that 3-days-worn jeans are best.
4. Put on a camisole/undershirt. Tuck that into the pants (funnel that warmth down!) and layer over it a shirt. Here is where you have some room for creativity, although I tend to go with a plain old long sleeved shirt.
5. Sweaters and flannel are best for outer layers, since they’re fairly insulating. You’ve never seen a sheep shiver, have you? (Well, except maybe Shaun the sheep, but that was after he was shaved too closely).
6. Now, the puffy coat is a given — hopefully even the fashion-conscious have those (They do, right? Right?) — but keeping your head and face warm is another thing. That’s when fleece-lined wool hats and scarves come into play. See picture above for reference.
7. For your feet, boots are always a good call when it’s snowy, but they can be heavy for long distances. So, for my long walks to school, I wear my hiking boots, which happen to be waterproof and insulated (yes, before you ask, that does suck for summer hiking).
8. Keeping yours hands warm can be tricky — I have yet to find a single pair of mittens or gloves that will keep my fingers from going numb. What I have been doing recently is doubling up, because my bear paw mittens are huge. I put on a pair of those $1 drug store knit gloves, slide on my paws over them, and I’m warm for hours. Don’t ask me to try to do anything that requires thumbs, though.
If this fails to keep you warm, stay home and sleep on the radiator.
The moral of the story is that fashion ≠ functionality, and that’s okay with me. I’m not trying to proselytize — if you want to walk around in your skivvies in the winter and pretend you aren’t cold, then more power to you. But if you, like me, are sick of feeling pressured to look like a fashion model when it’s -FU degrees out, then maybe we can go long undy shopping together : )