The Art of “Winterizing”

Self Portrait, Ottawa, November 2013

Self Por­trait, Ottawa, Novem­ber 2013

I dis­cov­ered the won­ders of inno­va­tion at Old Navy: a pair of fin­ger­less gloves with a knit­ted top that con­verts them into reg­u­lar mit­ten. A button-loop tab holds the mit­ten top when not in use—how cool is that! I mean, my reg­u­lar pair of iconic “red mit­tens” (I buy the new edi­tion every year) is great but not super prac­ti­cal to find my bus ticket or reply to an email on my Black­Berry while wait­ing for the damn bus to show up.

$3.45 later, the cool con­vert­ible gloves are mine.

Since Hal­loween, the retail world has switched into win­ter mode. The buzz­words are “soft”, “cozy”, “warm”, “lay­ers” and “outerwear”—said Old Navy even has a “cold-weather acces­sories” cat­e­gory… that’s Canada for you! Gone are the days where you could wear shorts, although there is always some­one, some­where in Canada, parad­ing in shorts when tem­per­a­ture is hov­er­ing around 0°C. Go figure.

But the rest of us is, well, human, and we need to dress warm.

What do you wear in Canada in the win­ter?” is prob­a­bly one of the ques­tions I’m the most often asked (along with “can it really be that cold?”). As much as I wish there were magic out­fits to keep warm (a Snug­gie is not an option), there isn’t a fool­proof way to dress for extreme weather.

I usu­ally wear jeans (the perks of being a free­lancer!), socks, one of my beloved t-shirts, a sweater and a coat (or a jacket with a big scarf if I want to show some Canadian-ness and pre­tend the cold doesn’t affect me the least). Really, the key is in the acces­sories: a good scarf, gloves and a hat.

I bought a new win­ter coat this year. I have too many win­ter coats already and I felt bad for splurg­ing on a new one… but I couldn’t resist. I adopted a cool black fur-trim long puffer at GAP. My excuse? I liked the fit—the coat has a belt and a slim tai­lored fit so it doesn’t feel like I’m wear­ing a giant bag.

It took me years to mas­ter the art of pick­ing a coat to sur­vive Cana­dian win­ters. The first year, I imported my styl­ish and trendy Miss Six­ties jacket from France. New flash: there is a “small” dif­fer­ence between the light rain we get in Nantes (or that Ital­ian design­ers get around the Mediter­ranean) and the bliz­zard we expe­ri­ence in Canada. The sec­ond year, I invested in what I believed was a good Cana­dian coat—I even shopped at Sears. I mean, they know the local mar­ket, right? I bought what I nick­named my “goth witch coat”, a very long black coat with a hood. Think the Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood except, well, it was black. And not water­proof. And it came down to my feet which was rather incon­ve­nient when I was walk­ing in the slush or in snow. Okay not the right coat, again.

I went through two more coats, a brown one from GAP and a pur­ple one from ESPRIT, both now pretty worn out after sur­viv­ing sev­eral win­ters. Salt dam­ages and stains the fabric.

Well, that’s my excuse for buy­ing the new coat anyway.

Because I don’t want Mark to freeze (I’m good at moth­er­ing, ain’t I!), I also bought him win­ter clothes. It’s always hard for me to tell whether Mark is cold, he doesn’t exactly let me know. Case in point: he some­time bumps his head pretty hard and just keeps on play­ing, but he can scream for a good five minute if I don’t let him play with the empty box of pasta (he eats the car­ton…). Kids are not very logical.

I bought Mark a “body bag”, a comfy one-piece snow­suit com­plete with gloves attached to the sleeves (only in Canada…!). Prob­lem is, he doesn’t love it because he can’t move freely. Mean­while, I wish the same snow­suit came in adult sizes because it looks really comfy!

I also got him a pair of mit­tens. The trick? A lit­tle ball is sewed to the back of the hand and it makes noise, like a rat­tle, so he plays with it rather than tak­ing them off. Well, at least for a lit­tle while. He also has hats (doesn’t stay on his head long!) and many zip­pered hoodies.

We are ready for win­ter. Well, maybe not psy­cho­log­i­cally ready but… we have clothes on our backs!


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


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