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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!

12 comments

  1. Ah oui, il faut tout de même bien s’équiper en hiver, surtout si tu sais que tu seras sou­vent dehors (et même si ce n’est pas le cas, on a tou­jours besoin de sor­tir un jour ou l’autre ;) )

    L’année dernière, né trou­vant pas de man­teau assez chaud en France, j’ai prof­ité d’être au Québec pour acheter un bon man­teau qui va jusque — 20° ;) Et j’ai pas l’air d’un sac à patate avec, donc super! :D

    Il a l’air bien là ton man­teau :) Et tes bottes sont chaudes? :)

    • Les bot­tines sont géniales. Je les ai achetées en solde l’année dernière, ce sont des Cougars (les bottes, pas moi! :lol:). Effec­tive­ment je n’ai pas sou­venir que les man­teaux français soient part­culière­ment chauds. Ici, par con­tre, y’a des trucs biens pour tous les climats!

  2. Love the shot and your out­fit. We should be ready for win­ter and this is actu­ally my favorite season :)

  3. Cette année je vais faire mon hiver avec un Canada Goose et des mitaines en phoque, j’en ai marre d’avoir froid à Paris … du coup je serai plus habil­lée qu’au Québec :)

    • Canada Goose? Wow…! J’aime bien leurs man­teaux mais c’est un sacré investisse­ment. Remar­que, ça vaut peut-être la peine! Tu l’a acheté où?

  4. Love your win­ter out­fit! I’ve never had the courage to wear coloured or pat­terned leggings/tights.

    I got most of my win­ter coats from Arlies when I was in high school (ski jack­ets), and then from R&W when in uni­ver­sity (usu­ally some­thing down-filled). I do agree that the best defense against the cold is a good hat, scarf and gloves! It’s funny you talk about those gloves/mittens combo because I actu­ally bought a pair last year at a (French!) H&M, and put them on for the first time this morn­ing when tak­ing Pinch out. Il neige ici ce matin!

    Stay warm :)

    • I loved R&W when I worked in an office envi­ron­ment. They had good sales too, I bought pants and lots of great sweaters from them!

      I bought these socks online a few years ago. The story behind the pic… I had an appoint­ment with a poten­tial client and I have no proper work pants since I have been wear­ing jeans as a free­lancer! I have dresses and skirts but it was free­ing that day, so I lay­ered with what­ever I could find :lol:

  5. Con­vert­ible mit­tens are awe­some ! Glad that you are ready for win­ter :) My mother in law bought me the iconic red mit­tens and love them so far.

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