While waiting for spring …


Saw The Light snowwoman

I had to actually LEAVE THE HOUSE today (I know, shock, horror) and it's disgustingly cold outside. Did I cave in and wear pants? NO!

"But Erin," I hear you saying, "How can I continue my skirt- and dress-wearing ways when it's ONE DEGREE (F) outside?"

I don't know how you can do it, but this is how I do it; in addition to my dress or skirt I wear:

— two pairs of tights (this, alone, is warmer than most pairs of pants)
— wool socks inside my boots
— a silk undershirt (if I can remember where I put mine away in the spring, always a problem)
— a wool turtleneck sweater
— a hat, no matter how dorky I look in hats
— lip balm applied to about the thickness of cake frosting (not really about keeping warm, but essential nonetheless)

and … the secret weapon: if it's REALLY, REALLY cold, I keep handy a stock of those three-dollar chemical warmers you can buy in the drugstore. I'm not sure how they work — it could be little imps released from hell in there, but as long as they pump out the heat, I don't care. Putting one on top of your undershirt, between your shoulder blades (or even wearing one of the ones that looks like a belt, which are nearly invisible under a sweater) means you can laugh at the cold. (It may be a sniffly, pathetic, whimpering laugh, but still: laughing.) The best part of those chemical warmers is that they last ALL DAY and you can keep one handy in your bag, just in case. (The only thing I haven't tested is whether or not they set off the metal detector at the airport; last time I traveled wearing one I made a quick stop at the ladies' room to take it off. I try not to annoy the TSA with my unusual accessories any more than necessary.)

Also, La BellaDonna had some good comments about dressing for cold weather in the comments to this post, … feel free to add more hints and tips in the comments here, as well!

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0 thoughts on “While waiting for spring …

  1. Vouching for the two pairs of tights. I did 2 prs tights and a long wool skirt consistently in New Hampshire one winter, including two weeks when the temperature never topped 10, and I was starting my car at -20 degrees.

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  2. I’m with Evis in terms of wool tights. Mytights.com has lots and lots of colors and sizes up to extremely tall. Another thing I do is that instead of a bra, I wear an athletic racerback sleeveless top with a shelf bra(and I wear a 36C, folks). I’ve been able to find them in every color from black to lime green and they do a great job of helping me to keep warm without adding a whole lot. Another thing is to wear a slip. It’s a small, extra thing but adds a lot. The knit ones are much warmer than the usual flimsy nylon tricot ones. And I have a hat and gloves in every single coat/jacket I have so that I do not have any excuse not to wear a hat. Between a proper hat and good boots with wool socks, I’ve got both ends(ahem) covered.

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  3. Maggie’s Organic Cotton Tights ROCK! I love them. I buy them on sale by the case through the natural food co-op. They are about $12 that way vs. the $22+ they are everywhere else.

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  4. Can anyone recommend a source for a good knit and/or silk slip? (as opposed to the usual nylon tricot) Thanks! It doesn’t get too bitter cold here in NC often, but when it does, we feel it.

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  5. I’m inspired. I am a somewhat cold-natured person living in a warmer place than you and I have a hard time convincing myself to wear skirts. My only problem is working up heat when I’m outside and coming in to my warm office and having to keep adjusting to go in-and-out several times a day.

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  6. I love those heatpad belts. Last year, when my bulging disc was becoming a herniated disc, those heatpad belts saved my sanity. They really eased the pain and they do last all day long.

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  7. Wool tights. Wool scarves. Silk thermal leggings under a full-length skirt. Slips (god I LOVE them! Nana was right.) HUUUUGE wool coat. Although, I have never been anywhere as cold as Chicago in February. (But my bloke was there a year ago. Even dipped his naked toe in the lake. Crazy!)

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  8. amy g. – my heavy knit slip is by Vanity Fair, Style 10-158 (or 10-15B). It’s 80/20 Nylon and Spandex. I got mine black, but I’ll bet they come in white as well.

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  9. As to being warm yet avoiding bulk…a feathered hat is amazingly warm. The downy ones that look like tams look very dressy for evening events.If you are cold…always think about wearing a pretty hat!

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  10. wool tights, wool dress, wool shrug to cover my neck- BellaDonna, I find that shrugs do look good on a more busty figure (in contrast to cardigans).My favouritest ever is http://knitty.com/ISSUEfall05/PATTlacey.html, I have it in a teal kind of blue.And I can also recommend dreads: it is as if you’re always wearing a hat, all that hair on your head :)As at my work it is freaking cold, though, I consider making a silk slip. Anyone any advice on buying fabric? What kind of silk to get? And where? (I’m in Europe)

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  11. Amy g.: silk slips, silk long underwear (in a variety of weights) and silk just-about-anything-else can be found at wintersilks.com

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  12. I don’t own any pants, I even ski in a skirt. I usually wear cotton leggings and boots under my skirts, the leggings are tight enough that they basically look like tights.I also don’t get as cold as other people seem to, if I’m walking or skiing I get very hot and have to take off my hat and scarf.I get so overheated in the summer it’s horrible for me. I should move to Siberia.

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  13. This is my first year of dresses in winter. I’m very impressed at how warm I am staying in cotton tights. Much warmer then just a pair of pants. Really. And I’m easily cold. If I’m outside long I add more layers of tights of leggings. I love sternlein tights because they come in extra small. I’d love to find a good source of them in America. I had problems with the last online store I bought them from. They are very durable, and wash and wear very well.

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  14. You all make me appreciate February in California where we complain if it drops below 50! However, we can make it through the winter without turning on the heater in the house. Gotta say today’s weather is gorgeous and if it rains again before April we will be lucky.

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  15. I recently bought out the local Marshall’s stock of clearance long underwear. They are cotton/wool from duofold and yummy warm. I wear a long skirt and boots and my warm undies. Also, two wool sweaters most of the time, a wool turtleneck and a wool cardi or pullover. Outside, I wear a landsend down parka and I’m toasty warm in the negative zero weather we’re having around here.

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  16. I live in Maryland now and it is rarely cold enough to matter, here.I used to live in Wisconsin — there I discovered the _real_ use for nylon stockings — even under my tights, panty hose added quite a lot of warmth. :PLinda

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  17. Even though I don’t know what really cold is, I found hat, scarf, gloves and an ankle length overcoat over knee high boots, thick tights and wool skirt worked a treat.My favourite coat I have ever coveted was seen on a lady at Guilford train station in the UK. A stunning deep red wool coat, neatly fitted to the waist with a full skirt falling to mid calf. Moved beautifully as she walked and looked warm and like some piece of treasure from the 50’s, perfect for over any dress or skirt. I have been looking for something similar ever since.

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  18. It’s 40 below here with the windchill this morning and I’m off to work in a skirt. This is my second pantless winter. I’ve discovered that good tights, an ankle-length corduroy skirt, an ankle-length coat, and good knee-high boots are a million times warmer than any sort of slacks.I would like it if someone could come up with windproof bloomers, though. 🙂

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  19. I second the thicker bra!Plus I buy polar fleece rems and cut them up in strips for scarfs. I also keep a few in the car for lap warming : )Tights and a skirt are warming than pants any day.Oh, and a good hand warmer is a cheap cup of joe.

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  20. I firmly believe that if you can’t go somewhere in a dress and heels, then maybe ballerina flats are appropriate. For winter, change to boots. If I can’t wear a skirt, I’m not going. I dressed as you described for an ice skating party once, with a long wool coat; people thought I was nuts, but I looked splendid on the ice!

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  21. Ankle-length skirts, often three-tiered, made from liquidly flowing baby wale cord if possible; I’ve got a bright red one in rayon pile (like velour, but non-stretch). Underneath, for the last few decades I’ve worn Duofold long underwear pants (as aurelia does). They’re double-layered with cotton against your skin and a wool-nylon (I think it is) blend on the outside — incredibly soft and lovely to wear, and WARM! I can’t bear the tightness of tights or pantyhose against me — always need less binding clothes for my comfort level. I’m currently wearing out a very old pair I got from llbean — they’re a beautiful deep periwinkle colour — my all-time favourites.Cheap grey wool socks every day – I buy them at the local Farmer’s Co-op store in three-packs. When they get holes in the heels, I toss them (unfortunately, not knowing what else to do with the wool) and just buy more.Sorel boots — the original classic style — can’t remember what it’s called, but they’re big and heavy and are leather with a natural rubber sole — best treads I’ve ever worn on ice and snow. They have a replaceable inner lining, now synthetic, but it was a lot warmer and better when it used to be wool.Folkwear has a pattern called the “Quilted Prairie Skirt”. Their write-up (either their previous online blurb or else the version inside the pattern envelope) says it was originally a multi-layered petticoat that provided warmth in the winter. It can be made out of anything from simple cotton to wool or taffeta; two layers of fabric with batting in between. The batting doesn’t start until a little below the (gathered) waist so the total effect is to slim the appearance of the waist. I have this pattern and haven’t made it yet but have wanted to for a long time. It seems like such a great Winter skirt idea — and beautiful, too!http://www.folkwear.com/206.html

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  22. I had to scrape my car out yesterday morning in Northeast Ohio and I was fine in my tights and long wool wrap skirt. It helps that I was wearing the cashmere scarf I got at the Talbot’s outlet and my giant Land’s End parka w/hood (I’ve decided that no one really cares what I look like in the middle of February).

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  23. Another fabulous post, thank you. And does LaBellaDonna have her own blog somewhere, because dang it that woman talks some good sense!

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  24. kostia — it has a sticky back! You peel off the paper and just slap it on. I find them in the part of the store that’s near the Ace bandages and the Ben-Gay. :-)Joni, if they’re not both control-top it’s usually not a problem. 🙂

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  25. Another Chicagoan who wears skirts all winter long. I haven’t found knee-high boots that I like yet (though I am looking), but my head slapping moment this winter came when I put on a pair of white cotton footie socks (they just hit the bottom of my ankle) under my tights the last few weeks.. toasty warm feet inside my Mary Janes.

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  26. I have a pair of black legwarmers that I’ve owned for more than 20 years, and they are the perfect extra layer under skirts & dresses (or even pants for that matter). The great thing is that they are easy to remove if you need a sleeker look once you reach your destination.I’m finding the layered approach has a different outcome now that I’ve reached a certain age and am experiencing hot flashes. I hate to have to strip to that plain layer (black turtleneck or long sleeve tee shirt) to be comfortable, but sometimes I have no choice!Laura

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  27. I have made a slip out of flannel backed satin, and it is warmer than a regular tricot slip. It doesn’t catch on tights as much as one would think. I think if you were wearing wear full skirts often, you could make a flannel underskirt (slightly less full) to wear under it and keep much warmer. I haven’t tried that one out yet. This winter I haven’t worn very many dresses.

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  28. Oh, high black leg warmers all the way! They’re so cute with a poofy shirtwaist dress and a low dancer-y heel. I don’t even want to take them off! It’s -20 with the windchill in montreal and I would be so much colder in pants…

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  29. Another thank you and wow for the comments posted after my first one. This is just amazing and I have learned a lot. I am going to have to gear up for the no pants challenge, I see!

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  30. i loathe pants. its like everyone can see your butt, and even if it is nice and round, that seems rather personal to me. besides i’ve just been a dress gal for 20 years or more.

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  31. I was the first girl in my primary school to wear wool tights. Want to know why? Till she died my mother had scars on her tights from the chilblains -she- got from wearing skirts all through winter in primary school…Now I prefer to wear bemberg rayon liners under my wool pants, separate from the pants so I can wash them more frequently. They provide a nice degree of warmth, and much needed slipperiness, also allow for a more mountain-grade layer of power-dry or power-stretch underneath in colder weather still without sticking. I totally agree with the sports-bra recommendation, especially if you have the double-layer kind for larger breasts, they make a difference. And don’t forget you lose 60% of your body heat through head and neck, so the hat and scarf are essential no matter what else may or may not be on your body.

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  32. You just need to come to Montreal and no one will think you’re strange… we are a city of winter skirt-wearers. I have some lovely cotton-blend tights that are very cozy (and I’ve been considering purchasing some wool ones). They don’t do so well on a really windy day, but I’ve worn skirts down to -15C or so. I have tall boots with fuzzy lining and a coat that comes to just above my knees. A lined skirt and cozy underthings are also helpful.

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  33. I make half-slips from flannel-back satin, too. Flannel keeps you warm, and the satiny side goes on the outside so whatever skirt you are wearing on top doesn’t get all rucked up against the flannel. I do a 4-gore pattern with a zipper, which I think adds less bulk than an eleastic waist would.

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  34. Another skirt-wearing Chicago girl endorsing the wool tights. Mine are SmartWool and machine-washable (though they have to go in a full load of other things to keep from unbalancing the washer). I wear little wicking sporty-socks underneath, and sometimes an extra pair of wool socks over the top. Gold Toe has a new kind of fancy wool that is somehow both thinner and warmer than my other wools. I do need to look into slips for extra insulation between my knees and hips. Cold thighs are awful!

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  35. I’m not one to like tights. They are too thick and feel restrictive. Rather, I warm up with another slip or a layered slip under my skirt. I will wear extra sox inside my boots. This combination is way warmer than pants, and still looks very nice and professional. Boots with slacks- nope, and my toes freeze. A long wool or chashmere blend coat on top of everything makes for a very warm and cozy outfit. Aside from jogging, riding a bike or other such things, a skirt is the warmest and by far most comfortable thing for me, as well as looking nice. I don’t have to change to something more comfortable when I come home from work, I’m already comfortable!!

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  36. For me, I have found layering half slips is by far the best solution. In the Winter,I will wear up to 4 half slips – usually they are long to fit my long skirts. The layers provide so much added warmth. In the summer, I will always were 2 half slips – the layers help keep me cooler – like insulation – cooler when it is warm, warmer when it is cold.I recommend Vanity Fair or Lorraine – Nylon Tricott.

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  37. I agree on the layered slip idea. From Sams Manufacturing, I buy single layer petticoats that are just below my knees in length. Wow, are they warm-under an A-line wool skirt. The bulk of the petticoat does not show and if it gets too warm in the office, I can take it off. I buy boots a half size too big so those little foot warmers and an extra pair of sox fit in there just fine. With this combination, I’m sooooo comfortable and warm without the leggings or tights. going pee is lots easier this way, ha ha.

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