I came across this men's shearling coat at one of my new favorite flea markets (I have quite a few of those these days - it turns out that flea markets in the Finnish countryside are fan-freakin'-tastic). So here's the thing: the coat is way too big for me, but it is warm. When I say warm, I mean the type of warmth one experiences in front of an open fire. The type that keeps not only your skin warm, but your bones also. The coat cost 6 euros (and for the record, if I had found it at a second hand store in Helsinki, it would have cost ten times as much). I would normally never tell people to buy clothes that are the wrong size, but when it comes to close-to-zero-degrees-Fahrenheit or colder, I'm all for it. When it's cold-cold-cold, one needs layers. And layers are no good if you don't have room for them under your coat. That means it's okay to oversize.
My other tips for staying warm in the winter:
1) Keep your head warm. Don't worry about your hair-do, wear a hat, preferably one with lining.
2) Keep your fingers and toes warm. Wool mittens (or felted ones) and wool socks are the best. Layer them if you need to. Don't forget legwarmers. Invest in a good pair of winter boots.
3) Don't let your bum freeze. Pick a coat that covers your buttocks.
4) About those layers: thermal underwear is key. Good ol' cotton works somewhat, bamboo is better. Wool, alpaca, angora... you might feel a little itchy, but you'll be warm for sure. For athletic purposes, choose wicking gear - it keeps you warm and dry.
5) This is more of a psychological tip: accept the fact that sometimes warmth and health must come before style. It's better to be sensible than to get sick.
Fur is always controversial, but I am going to say something about it anyway. I am including this in this post because there is no denying that fur is warm. It is, believe me. It is warmer than anything else out there - yes, down jackets and heavy-duty sports-gear included. But like we all know, fur comes with a lot of baggage. The animals that were made into coats and hats had a very rough life. Writing about the animals and their treatment in detail is a topic for another blog post altogether, but here's a tip: if you have no problem wearing fur and choose to buy a new fur piece, pay close attention to its country of origin. Don't buy Chinese or Russian fur - the animals are treated much, much worse, and the end product is of much lower quality in those countries than, for example, in the Scandinavian countries. Also, if you buy faux-fur, be warned that there is a chance that it might be real.
Stay warm, my friends!