Growing up in humid Sri Lanka, winter clothing was entirely foreign to me. Characters in books and movies nonchalantly throwing on a jacket before leaving the house, or having to wear boots to avoid frostbite made me romanticize winter clothing, to the point where the prospect of getting – not having – to wear them was exciting.
Then I did have to wear them, and the magic dissipated.
So what put a damper on what used to be such an exciting new avenue of clothing? Easy answer: the cold itself – an alarming development in the winter clothing saga. The one thing I forgot to consider while sitting in my tropical cocoon of heavy air in a state of perpetual perspiration was winter itself.
(Disclaimer: The winter I’m referring to is the winter of Sydney, Australia, where the temperature rarely dips below 10° Celsius. So while it is cold, I was never really at risk of losing my limbs to frostbite.)
Regardless, my point stands: when it comes to winter clothing, for every pro, there is a con.
Pro: Opportunities to layer like you’ve never layered before.
Con: Feeling too warm and have to shed a layer? That’s it, the outfit’s ruined. You can just go home now.
Pro: Boots keep your toes warm.
Con: Those moments when you feel uncomfortably aware of your foot being constricted by an inescapable layer of sock can truly drive you to the brink of insanity. Your toes stick together, the sock seam feels misaligned, and suddenly you realize that you will never know true happiness until you get to take your boots off and never have to put them on again.
Pro: You get to burrow into scarves and turtlenecks. There’s nothing better than retreating into your own neck and being enveloped by the warmth of knitted fabric.
Con: The rest of your face freezes and your eyes start tearing all on their own because they know that they’ll never feel warmth again.
Pro: ……………… Okay, fine, this one’s just a con.
Con: When the weather’s cold and it’s also raining so you have to deal with the cold-for-the-sake-of-cold and rain-cold simultaneously. Then you bundle up with a hooded rain jacket, jeans, boots, and a sweater, but the rain still manages to get through the gap between your rain jacket and boots and burrow through your jeans. Or worse, when you wear the wrong shoes and the rain goes straight through your boots and your socks, leaving you to slosh around in a miserable mood all day.
Pro: Sweaters are fun.
Con: Washing them or getting dirt off of them is the devil in a fluffy disguise.
Pro: You get to bundle yourself up like a burrito….
Con: ….but you’re never really warm, you’re just less cold.
Pro: Jackets. That’s all.
Con: When you’re not wearing them, you have to carry them around.
Pro: Knitted gloves. Socks, but for your hands! Great!
Con: Your hands can’t do anything except be in gloves.
I got to a point in my winter clothes disillusionment where I just continued to wear my warm-weather clothes, and walked really fast. I called this display of lunacy ‘mind over weather’, wherein I (a fool) walk towards the warmth of my home and let that anticipation keep me toasty in my flip-flops and summer dress, while everyone else around me is wisely, properly attired.
Apparently, I’m not alone. A quick search brought up a bunch of articles on teenagers refusing to wear jackets because of sour memories from their school days, or by insisting that they’re not cold as a show of bravado. My own aversion to winter clothing was far more convoluted, coming from a sorely misplaced repulsion of the weather itself. Because I had romanticized the clothing that winter brought with it, I was caught off-guard when I realized they came with the kind of inclement weather that I wasn’t ready to accept.
As someone who hadn’t experienced distinct seasons and dramatic weather changes, the functionality of certain items of clothing had escaped me. Clothing can be fun and you can definitely enjoy dressing up, but at the end of the day, everything serves a purpose.
While the allure of winter clothing is all but gone, it’s been replaced by an appreciation for their necessity, an understanding that will hopefully serve me better in the future, and save me the time spent having to defrost myself after every foray into the outside world.