This is a very apropos topic today, since it’s -30 degrees celcius outside (and feels like -42, apparently): “Winter Wardrobe Tips”. Now, I’m not going to tell you what to actually wear for fashun on a day-to-day basis, given that we are in the eleventh month of a gruelling pandemic and everyone has given up and is wearing leggings all the time everywhere. No, my friends, I’m going to talk about winter outerwear, specifically in Edmonton, and specifically for very cold weather like this.
First off, your choice of outwear is actually going to depend on what you plan to be doing outside. Quick hop from your door to your car? By all means, bundle up. But if you’re walking twenty minutes? If you by some chance are one of the poor souls who must work outdoors for a living in this temperature? That is a different story. My advice is tailored for the median: the person who must walk places to get where they’re going and not be (too) gross and sweaty by the time they’ve gotten their groceries.
Yes, you read that right. Sweat is a real hazard in temperatures like this when you are moving your body: you are likely to work up quite a sweat through a combination of exertion + the super thermal fluffy outwear that you are wearing. The key for this is: do NOT wear layers if you are going to be wearing a down coat.
This may seem like counter-intuitive advice, but trust me. Wear a long-sleeved shirt underneath your coat – I throw on a simple, thin cotton one I’ve had for ages, though I have recently read that a shirt made from fabric that wicks sweat is ideal. Cotton soaks up sweat and then holds it and gets cold. Not a great recipe. Then you can throw on a scarf and your puffy coat what you bought from Eddie Bauer or whatever and stay mostly toasty for your walk.
Make sure your coat has a hood. The wind is EVIL here. It is actually a bright, sunny, beautiful day out and would probably be not too bad outside, actually, if it weren’t for that 12-degree windchill factor. It’s the prairies: there’s nothing stopping the gusts except for your hood. Use it wisely.
Speaking of headwear, wear a headband. This will keep your ears, back of your head, and forehead warm, but let heat escape out the top of your head instead of bottling it inside to come out as torso sweat. Hats are for bougie people who can afford to drive places.
Wear SUPER WARM socks and boots. If your feet are cold, the rest of you will be too. If they are warm, the rest of you will stay warm. Your boots should have a good tread on them: depending on what the weather was like leading up to this cold snap, you’re either going to be dealing with a lot of ice, or snow that is so hard-packed that it is about as slick as ice in many intersections.
Don’t forget your hands, also. If your coat doesn’t have good pockets within which to stash your gloved hands, it’s basically garbage in my eyes and you might as well just get rid of it, because you’re going to need gloves or your fingers will just stop working because it’s so cold. Hand-warmers are a boon from heaven; hoard them like they’re gold and you’re Smaug.
Much is made of how Edmonton has a “dry cold”. This does not mean that the cold is any less cold! But your body does not react to it in the same way as it does to the cold in more humid climates (as I discovered, much to my chagrin, upon moving here from Ontario five years ago). When you are physically exerting yourself, you stay warm and can overheat very easily – except the exposed flesh of your face, so uh… good luck with that. I still haven’t found a solution to it because having a scarf over my mouth causes the material in front of my face to freeze completely solid from the moisture in my breath and suddenly there’s an ice cube pressing against your lips. I think this is why the ski mask was invented.
Oh, also, prepare to be dying of heat about 5 seconds after you come indoors, unless you happen to live in a place where the temperature is more sanely regulated and people wear sweaters a lot. Our building overheats everything because in these temperatures, pipes tend to freeze, so better to be safe than stuck with a plumbing bill.
Or you can be like me today, and just rearrange your schedule so you have no reason to leave the house at all and can sit inside drinking warm tea and having a birthday cupcake, admiring the frost patterns. #13 = done.