Winter wardrobe: Chilly cutie seeks cozy companion

After a record warm early winter here, the mid-December thermometer heads for the minuses (Celsius) for months.

I refuse to squawk about winter, inspired by Maya Angelou, who said:
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."

You have to dress for it, is all. Several lighter layers insulate best, as any mountain climber knows. Say what you will for fleece, it doesn't make me purr. Cashmere, merino, alpaca, down: now you're talking.

Get it with the cream!
It lifts the spirits to wear a grace note. I'm not showing the things below to buy, especially, but to offer a short list of the winter-easers. Like hot chocolate with whipped cream, they are indulgences that make the difference between soggy and snuggly. (Who wants a glass of cold water when hot chocolate is offered?)

Someone may be thinking, Well, the ultimate indulgence is a plane ticket to Aruba, but, as a northern person, I find pronounced pleasure in a sunny, crispy winter day.
In the snood for love

British designer Louise Gray has designed a capsule collection for Brora, and though a costly collaboration indeed, this snood is a gorgeous thing. Price £160. And you get to say, "Oh my dear, where have I put my snood?", which is worth a few bob in itself.

Nice legs, man

Cashmere legwarmers! Golightly Cashmere's come in vibrant colours like Young Plum or Eversogreen, and are made to order in regular or extra large; price, $225. This is a weird photo; who wears legwarmers over bare legs, and isn't that a guy?

Fair Isle patterns always make me feel a star happier. I bought this from Lands End:
Cheery cherry turtleneck

They also sell a handsome pair of navy and red Fair Isle-patterned cashmere gloves. There's a matching watch cap and scarf, too.

Puff muffs
My love for earmuffs endures; I have ultrafluffs from Shepherd's Flock at hand. You can't shop online, but the service is fast and personal, and these are unabashed beauts. The leather-band model is $23 plus shipping.

Superior slips
Also on my list: silk long underwear, leakproof boots, pocket handwarmers. A stash of Lindt truffles, down mittens, LL Bean sheepskin slippers, a bottle of brandy.

What takes the sting out of sub-zero for you?

Merry Christmas and
Happy New Year! 

The Passage closes after this post until January 2, 2012

I wish you a happy holiday, spent with those you love, amid the gifts of companionship and reflective, peaceful solitude.

Thank you for passing by; I look forward to seeing you soon.


We are such wimps in Texas! We complain about weather in the 30s...subzero is rarely in our vocabulary...but it would be fun for a little while!
what a fun post and just love that quote! makes alot of sense, sometimes harder to do than other days....
materfamilias said…
When the temperature drops below zero here, I'm happy to have a sheepskin jacket I thrifted several years ago. If it gets closer to ten below, out comes my Linda Lundstrom LaParka, its 20-year old boiled wool and faux-fur cuffs and hood trim the equivalent of a great big cuddle I can carry around with me. Fur-lined moccasins, my handknit wool socks, silk undies, and always a cup of tea. Plus we love our woodstove for a cozy heat indoors. Thanks for a year's worth of wonderful posts. Have the Merriest of Christmases with your loved ones in your new home (Montreal's a great city for Christmas!) and I look forward to seeing you in the New Year!
If the temperature is beastly I will pull out a vintage fur coat that was given to me by my great aunt Tirzah.
I wear it in the ice and snow and pray that no one has a can of red paint at the ready :)
It feels wonderful!
Anonymous said…
Reading that post felt like a warm hug, have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Jane W. said…
Hear, hear! I grew up in Buffalo, New York and was raised with the credo "there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes."

Happy Holidays!
Nope, I'm with our friend Barbara Ehrenreich. I can't abide the cult of mandatory "positive thinking". I hate winter and cold, but there is certainly nowhere but Montréal where I would like to live in North America - despite the cold, not because of it. I don't like it, but billions of people are facing far worse circumstances.

Pam, remember we use Celsius here, and zero C equals 32 F. I'm sure many places in Texas - and Mexico - experience that.

I'd love a snood like that - most of the other items, while of excellent quality, are not to my personal taste. I don't like Fair Isle or Nordic knits on self (I prefer very plain, in sfumato tones) and I'm more partial to the German type of slippers - more clog-like, with a bit of a heel and better arch support.

There are many free or cheap activities during "Les Fêtes", and the STM (Montréal public transport authority) is offering free passage for up to five children travelling with an adult.

Word verification reads "manic"! Hope everyone has a pleasant end-of-year's holiday period.
Carol said…
Enjoyable post, as always. But I have to put in a good word for fleece. For me, it's right up there with peanut butter in the "How did I ever live without it?" category. Warm, washable, and relatively inexpensive - what's not to like?

Have a wonderful holiday!
Rubiatonta said…
It's balmy here -- 14C today, and so sunny that I had a beer on a terrace at mid-day -- but when it does get cold, I love my purple plaid cashmere scarf and my SmartWool socks.
diverchic said…
Merino wool sweaters with Wintersilks undershirts and bottoms do it for me. I also love my mohair socks - heavy and warm whether wet or dry. A red puffy down coat I bought for $60.00 at TBS has proved amazingly warm, versatile and cheery. Plus, hunters can easily spot me in the woods. We have a strange and wonderful "masonry" soapstone stove that blasts out the heat and to which I can belly up when slightly frozen. Blessed winter is here today! Joy and peace to your family and your on-line pals.
Duchesse said…
Pam: Don't forget we're on Celsius, so that is 32F and below. Still, you will not need the heaviest things shown here; maybe just a tissue weight cashmere shawl :)

NYC: I enjoyed your photos very much!

materfamilias: Wow, what a find. LL was back in business but seems to have gone under again- at least at The Bay which carried her clothes for a season- and her Toronto boutique is closed again too. Too bad, as la Parka wearers are devoted.

hostess: Have not heard of a vandalism incident recently. Or maybe they are not reported? I have a secondhand sheared mink parka, most people think it is fake fur.

Bourbon: Thank you, and see you soon!

Jane W. I am adopting that along with Angelou's, thanks!

Carol: It does not breathe, that's why- though it comes in pretty colours- and I like some of it on others.

Rubi: 14C is such a nice, hospitable temperature, and you would look beautiful in purple plaid.

diverchic: Oh yes, mohair socks and silk underwear! And nothing beats the sweet heat of a woodstove (new
ones are illegal here now.)
Duchesse said…
lagatta: Anglelou does not mean once has to be chirpy and cute, just stop whining and get off our butt. (I heard her speak.)
Ehrenriech (in "Bright Sided") was addressing-among other things- breast cancer, not the weather. And in the book, she acknowledges that bitter, negative people are a drag, especially at work.

There is a lot of living to be done in the vast space between chronic complaint and mindless, dippy optimism.

I'm all for a person venting and being crabby about what they do not like. *Then* I want to hear what he or she is thinking of doing to change or live with the condition.
Anonymous said…
My daughter is a teacher. We were shopping together yesterday when she spied, and immediately bought for her classroom, a sign with the universal "no"slash through the word WHINING.

But I would never whine about Winter, especially one with plenty of snow, which upholsters the grubby old world so beautifully.

Like Diverchic, I'm grateful for our small woodstove, silk long underwear, and woolen socks. And my latest discovery: a cup of almond milk heated up with a dash of vanilla, creamy and delicious for an unbelievable 60 calories.

Montreal seems like a perfect place to spend the holidays--I hope yours are wonderful.

Ehrenreich was talking about breast cancer and specifically the "cancer-pink cult", but also about the baleful influence of that type of boosterism on the economy. I love her and have read all that stuff.

I have a FrIEND who epitomises what you are saying about bitter negativity. Sadly, this is driving others, including me, away from her. I know she is deeply depressed but can't do much to help.

We have to accept winter if we live in a cold climate and find ways of dealing with it (today, a merino wool pullover, nice deep v-neck - to wear over another layer- half price at The Bay). We do not have to like it.

Rubiatonta, indeed I've found surprising chill in southern European countries, as they don't have very powerful heating systems (though it is far better than a generation ago). In Italy, often I was warmer outside on a café-terrasse than at home in my tiny, ill-heated flat (though I loved the latter, with its beautiful tiles and magnificent view).

Duchesse, alas a horrible anti-fun incident happened to a young Inuit woman I met at a recent conference. An idiot ran towards her on a bus and ripped the fur from her parka. Her uncle had hunted the fur-bearing animal, and those people certainly do not waste any part of the animals.
Anonymous said…
Totally agree about silk long underwear - great for layering under clothes or for winter PJs on cold nights. I also wear it on airplanes under lighter layers. (Must admit it was a struggle climbing into it in the loo stall in Maui last October - but it was well worth it once on the 'plane! I was cozy.) Also love silk camisoles under cotton shirts any time it's cool.
A tourtière recipe! There is a lot of debate about just about every ingredient, but this one from Lucy Waverman at least explains the process well:

Often a trio of meats - such as pork, veal, beef - is used, and game is traditional in many regions, rediscovered in the cities. My tourtières will be mostly duck this year. I've heard of adding oats as here, but never done it. I've made duck stock as well, so it will all be very ducky. Viaduc?

This can be served with a sweet relish made from vegetables and/or fruits.
william said…
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Duchesse! I absolutely love your blog. You help me face my 60's gracefully!

HB said…
Admittedly I have my moments when it's either end of the weather range. Still, nothing's better than a mug of tea while I bury myself under my very well-used down throw on the couch. I do think there's magic in getting beyond my poor reaction to a thing and doing something about it - be it having some tea or a more serious solution.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I look forward to more of your writing in the coming year.
LPC said…
And a very, merry, chilly Christmas to you:).
Anonymous said…
Merry Christmas from balmy New Zealand! It's about 22 degrees C here at the mo - I'm in cotton pjs with the verandah door open and birds chirping outside (and too many flies - will spray them when I get up).

Maya Angelous' quote is awesome and definitely one I live by (without knowing it). I got the idea from my mother that life is too short to sit about in circumstances that you don't like - instead get up and change something! (That's not to say I don't complain, but I'm very happy to switch jobs, move house, move country, change friends etc.)

Thanks so much for your excellent blog!

Duchesse said…
eleanorjane: So enjoyed your picture of the beautiful NZ climate and scenery.

Have mentioned this before but the little book, "A Complaint-Free World" by Will Bowen is fantastic for shifting out of a complaint-habit, or if already there, for understanding what complaining does to us, individually and collectively.
Duchesse said…
nik: I am pleased that you enjoy this blog, which is intended for women over 50. But there are a number of younger readers and they are most welcome.
ParisGrrl said…
I just tried out a pair of EarBags, those bandless earmuffs that are small enough to fit in a purse easily and can be worn with hats and glasses. They made my winter trip much easier.
Duchesse said…
ParisGrrl: I have mentioned EarBags, and find them practical. But earbags worn with a hat is not chic, rather like wearing a belt and braces. I would prefer, in that case, a hat that covers the ears.
Beatnheart said…
cashmere leg warmers...sweet!
Have a beautiful New Year..

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