Here's what I am (well, actually, was, since I am now in my pajamas) wearing today. It was a chilly day, and it was snowing for most of the day. (Heck, it's still snowing.) It's really starting to get to me that gone - gone! - are the days of frivolous dress-up. I find that it is almost impossible to wear clothes just for the fun of it around here, right now. I need my clothes to have a purpose. A part of me feels sad about it, the other part happy.
The best part about having to dress practically is that the nonsensical pieces of clothing in my wardrobe are so easy to ignore. It is easier to ask questions such as "am I really going to wear this?", due to weather-related issues. It's easier to put style-related things in perspective, it's easier to resist impulsive buying. There are no imaginary monthly nights at the opera in this part of Finland. It's easier to dress for who I really am at this point in my life, than for who I once, maybe, in a dream, wanted to be. There's comfort in that.
The sad part has to do with the monotonous day-to-day stuff. I am okay wearing a pair of jeans and a sweater every day, but there are days when I long to wear a skirt. Or high heels, even. And then I realize I have to go shovel snow at the cottages, then at my mom's, and then at our house. When one is looking at two hours of snow shoveling, there is simply no point in wearing a skirt or a pair of high heels. It's just not going to happen. Now, that's not to say that I will never wear a skirt again. I will, when the time comes, when we are more settled, when our daily routines don't revolve around chopping wood and heating up the cottages half of the day. Until that day, you'll be seeing me in clothes like these, on a good day.
Yesterday Chris and I went for a walk, and we happened to cross paths with this lovely lady and her owner. It turns out that they live just around the corner from us. What cool creatures horses are! Their eyes are full of emotion and intellect.
Also, meet my new accessory.
Reflective vests are a must around here. It starts to get dark at around 3 pm, and there are no streetlights. Dangling reflectors aren't quite enough for passing cars to notice people walking by the roadside, but these are. It's amazing how effective these suckers are. No, they are not stylish, but oh well.
I was going to accompany this photo with a text that compared glossy fashion blogs to fashion magazines, and how much I miss the times when almost all style bloggers just posted somewhat grainy pictures of the clothes they actually wore (like myself above). But I just don't feel like writing about that right now, and I am sure there is a post about that somewhere in the No Signposts archive anyway - I can't remember. Anyway, instead I'll mention that yes, that is an ice lantern by my feet - my mom made a bunch when it was really, really cold -, and yes, it's the time of year to start feeding our poor little feathered friends!
Here's a fun fact: the green-ish sweater I am wearing today is the same one I wore back in November of 2008 when I first met Chris face to face. Every now and then I look at the sweater and think that I'm ready to part with it, but then I remind myself of how I felt as I made my way to the arrivals hall at JFK, wearing this sweater with a pair of skinny jeans. I was nervous, anxious, happy, terrified. And there he was, waiting for me, the man I would later marry. How time flies, and my gosh how much I love this sweater!
You know what I hate about "real fashion"? Well, a lot of things, but what often ticks me off is that the clothes are totally unwearable. Not unwearable in the too-artsy-type of way - I think there is a place for pushing-the-boundaries, no-one-could-really-wear-that-type of fashion. I'm talking about season inappropriate clothes. The whole season-thing in fashion is problematic for many reasons (and of course one doesn't have to adhere to it, I know), but it just annoys me to see bare legs and tiny little dresses for fall/winter, and entire collections featuring cut-outs and barely-there clothes for a season when we all just want to stay warm. (The same goes for things like head-to-toe-leather for summer.) So here's a welcome change.
I am not really a fan of Chanel. For the most part Karl Lagerfeld seems to regurgitate that same old stuff year after year. Some of it is pretty, some of it strikes me as too young-girl-wants-to-look-like-a-rich-old-lady. But this, to me, is refreshing.
This is wearable, it is season-appropriate, and women of many ages could wear this. I would wear this. Okay, the mix of patterns might be a little restless, but for me the time to have fun with colours, patterns and textures is fall/winter. The cold and the snow are serious enough.
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.