Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Winter Wardrobe

Winter preparedness.  I think Nathanial has probably written a manual on the topic at work.  But it also happens to be the biggest stressor for me while we live in Alaska.  I get asked if I'm ready for winter pretty often.  My answer - um no?  How will I ever be ready for winter IN ALASKA?  I'm from Texas.  Texas - where we get ice once or twice a season and work is closed for the day. (Except for hospitals in the Med Center but that's a different subject.)  Last Thanksgiving, I wore shorts. Snow? I've seen snow less than 10 times in my life and most of those times I wasn't in Texas. Oh hey Oklahoma. Thanks for the memories.  

I thought I'd be able to ease into winter here but that didn't happen.  One day the weather was crisp and there were beautiful red leaves and the next Jack Frost arrived along with several inches of snow that hasn't melted. I've had to get adjusted quickly and figure out how to dress here.  That meant investing in a new wardrobe as pretty much nothing from my Texas life prepared me. I hate wearing dress pants and closed toe shoes so I'm starting basically at square one.

The first thing I knew I would need is new shoes.  My cowboy boots have been my go-to shoes since we moved but they are hard to get off which is problematic because of Alaskan customs.

I got a pair of Ugg boots which are great when I'm running out the door and want some extra warmth.  I wear them with jeans which is a departure from my Nike short wearing college days.

I also got a pair of brown riding boots.  They are perfect for when I want a complete and cute outfit. 

Both boots have decent traction and I'm able to wear them without problems. When the snow really sets in though, I'm told I'll need some actual snow boots.

I'm going to order these but haven't been able to pull the trigger on them yet.  I'm still trying to come to terms with the fact that winter clothes aren't supposed to be cute.

I'm told that layering is the best way to keep warm. I've been picking up sweaters and long sleeved shirts. I also have a new found affinity for vests and scarves.

Chambray and a burlap like scarf. Who am I?

This is my most Alaskan outfit. A plaid shirt, tweed puffer vest and a knit headband.  Don't let the picture fool you, I felt ridiculous wearing that headband. I haven't worn it since even though it kept my head really warm.

I also purchased a white down jacket. It keeps me toasty but I can't get over the faux fur hood and feeling like a snowman (woman).

When my mother-in-law was in town we went to REI to buy the snow boots shown above. They didn't have the color I wanted in stock (because black is really unique ;) ) so we decided to walk around a bit.  It was at this point that I realized despite my recent shopping trips, I was in no way prepared for winter.

The first thing we noticed in the clothing section was a sleeping bag skirt.  Not kidding.

What is that? And why would I wear it?  Luckily my MIL is braver than I and grabbed a sales associate to answer that very question.  It's a Skhoop; an insulated down skirt. Made in both long and short versions and assorted colors.  This my friends, is apparently how you wear a cute outfit but still stay warm.  The Skhoop goes over your clothes and then zips off when you arrive at your destination.  Whoa.  

I also got an education on the best way to layer - wool under layer, fleece with windbreak middle layer and down outer layer.  I learned that mittens are better than gloves and that to enjoy Alaska, I have to be active in the Winter.

REI has about a billion choices for achieving all of these purposes so I walked away without buying anything. I decided future Michelle could deal with the cold (that's a How I Met Your Mother reference). Too bad that was a few weeks ago and the somewhat cold has made way for the really cold temperatures so the future is now. Donations for the winter wardrobe fund are now being accepted.


  1. I love those boots! I recently bought a pair of brown boots. They're really the perfect addition to any fall outfit.

  2. LOL - "Cute" is highly over-rated if you're freezing