Here is my number one tip for dressing in the wintertime, once it gets very cold outside:
Put on whatever you feel like wearing.
For the past few weeks, over Christmas and New Years, and up until this week, here in Canada we’ve been in a deep freeze (-39 C for a few days!). It’s made going anywhere, dressing up and, above all, taking photos extremely bothersome! So, what do you do when the whether won’t cooperate? Dress up in your most favourite 1970’s dress, complete with the glasses your mother wore when she was a teenage, and do a 70’s inspired photoshoot on your very of-the-era 1970’s sofa (inherited from your Grandparents) of course!
This is one of my favourite dresses, but as it is made out of the preferred material of the era (polyester) it is much too hot for me to wear, so I was happy for an excuse to dress up in it, if even only for a couple of hours. I enjoyed the process of doing a “dress up/costume” photoshoot, so I think that I should do that a bit more often.
Do you like to dress up in clothes you wouldn’t wear any other time? What styles do you like, but don’t actually wear day-to-day? And, most importantly, can you stand to wear polyester (or other synthetic) fabrics without overheating?!?
Now that it’s the Christmas season, it is time to start dressing for the occasion. (OK, it’s been the Christmas season for a while, I’m just kind of late at getting a holiday post up). But how do you dress for the holidays when when you don’t own “Christmas” clothing, or you just don’t like wearing novelty prints of Christmas trees? I’m all for a festively, kitschy holiday outfit. . . on other vintage loving gals, but it’s just not for me. However, I do love to dress for the season. So how do you dress for the season, when you don’t want to wear poinsettia dresses, red is not your best colour, or you don’t want a wardrobe full of themed items that can only be worn at certain times of the year?
My go-to solution for dressing for the holidays, whether it’s Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentines, or Family Day (wait- no- you don’t really dress up for Family Day. . . ) is to take a regular outfit, add different accessories to it, and thus turn it into a holiday outfit. For example, at Christmastime, take a whole bunch of gold bling and sparkly jewellery, and voila! With a few changes, it’s suddenly a holiday outfit!
I wore this exact same outfit last week, minus all the gold, and it looked like a regular old unholidayish dress. But taking the same basic pieces: a striped dress, a black bolero, black tights and black pumps and then restyling them with a gold belt and clutch, metallic gold nail polish, sparkly eyeshadow, and sparkly rhinestone jewellery made it suddenly seem more festive. Making those few changes made it the perfect thing to wear to the Christmas lunch at our church.
I’ve also worn this dress in the springtime, here, and the accessories I paired that time made it look the farthest thing from Christmas you could think of. Imagine if I had paired this dress with spider jewellery, a veiled hat, and a velvet jacket- suddenly it would look perfect for Halloween. Accessories really are a girl’s best friend- a few key pieces can completely change the look of your outfit to suit whichever holiday you are going for.
So, if you aren’t into outfits that scream “CHRISTMAS!!!!”, but you do want to add a bit of a festive touch, accessories are where it’s at.
Here are some more ways to add a bit of holiday cheer to your outfit:
Wear a bow in your hair. It’s like dressing up as a present. . . only more subtle. 😉
Plaid is the perfect Christmas material because it has nothing to do with Christmas, and yet it looks so festive when worn this time of year. And you can wear it any other season, and it looks lovely- I’m all for fabrics that do double duty.
Wear darker hued shades of “Christmas colours”. Instead of wearing bright red and green, try jewel tones like burgundy and emerald. Rich colours like navy blue can look very winter appropriate too, with some silver jewellery added, for example.
Christmas jewellery adds a festive touch, but is a bit more understated than a Christmas dress. And, it doesn’t take up tons of space, so collecting Christmas earrings and brooches doesn’t take up your entire wardrobe, but adds a nice festive touch.
‘Tis the season for rich and sumptuous fabrics like velvet and taffeta. They are great for both Christmas, and also New Years, and as most people don’t get the opportunity to wear them year round, it’s time to bust them out of the closet!
As I said before: gold and sparkles is where it’s at. In a society where people are more likely to have ugly sweater parties, I say- bring on the glam and the glitz! Any excuse to break out the cocktail dresses is good by me.
So, do you like going all out dressing for the season? Or do you like your Christmas outfits to be a bit more subtle? Or maybe you don’t dress for the holidays at all? Do you have any other holiday outfit tips?
ps. This is the same vintage Laura Ashley bolero from last week– and here you can see the fabric better!
The pleasant surprise I alluded to in the title of this post was not the weather when these photos were taken. If you look closely, you might see a hint of that evidenced by my red hands and nose, and less than relaxed posture. Very much unlike the morning when I got dressed and chose this outfit, by the time we took these photos later that afternoon, a very cold and piercing wind had come up, which made it quite difficult to “act natural”. It’s a bit of a trial to get photos in wintertime. . . but for the sake of the blog, warmth and comfort must come second!
No, the pleasant surprise in this outfit, is my thrifted bolero. I have talked about it many times before, but thrifting really is my favourite way to add unique garments to my wardrobe, and this bolero is no exception. I got it a few months ago at our local thrift store. That secondhand store is a bit of a hit and miss, like most thrift shops in small towns I would guess, as sometimes you come across a real gem, and the rest of the time it’s all 1980’s prom dresses and polyester cardigans. This particular time though, I found this “thrifting treasure” and I didn’t even realize that it was one until I went to wear it a couple of weeks ago. The thrift store price tag was completely covering the label, so it wasn’t until I took the tag off, that I realized that this is a vintage Laura Ashley garment, made in Great Britain! It’s made of 100% cotton, and is also fully lined with cotton. All of the seams are encased, and the edge is finished with piping- it really is a beautiful piece of garment workmanship. And, I didn’t even pay very close attention to it that day as I was a bit in a hurry, and just grabbed it and went! I guess it to be from the 1980’s, because of the style and print, and a quick comparison at labels online also puts it right in the middle of the 1980’s. It’s a bit hard to see in the photos, because black is simply impossible, but it is a floral damask print of solid black over a sparkly lighter black base. Like I said- 1980’s! Some people might not date that as “vintage”, but the majority of my vintage is from the 80’s as it was a great era of making reproductions of earlier styles. (Some good, and some very bad!) And, Laura Ashley is a company that made items that hearkened back to earlier eras, right from day one. (You can read their history here).
So, the moral of my story today is: go thrifting, because you never know what you might come across. And, second, check the labels more closely, because you might have a very pleasant surprise!
Have you ever had a pleasant surprise while thrifting? What was it you found? And do you struggle with getting photos in the cold and dark wintertime?
“But wait!”, you say, “It’s not Winter yet!” And, you are correct that it is not officially Winter yet. We won’t be officially in the Winter season for another 33 days to be exact.
Here though, it is Winter all right, and has been for 18 days now. It started snowing on October 31 (just in time for the little kids to go trick-or-treating out in the snowdrifts) and it hasn’t stopped yet. Well, it hasn’t gone away yet, and every morning when I look out the window, I see more snow to shovel off of my walkway. So, it’s safe to say that Winter is here, for now at least. Despite the fact that Winter comes every year, and that historically we get snow in October, every year I am caught off guard, and there are a few days there where I think to myself, “Wait- what? Snow? How do I dress for this?” And so I just end up throwing a winter coat, and boots and scarf over the top of everything without any real thought as to creating an outfit.
Now, the real question we must ask ourselves, when the temperatures have dropped below zero, is: how do you dress for the cold, when the aforementioned “hobo style” isn’t quite the look that you are going for? I present to you this outfit, which is a testament to the vintage lover’s desire to be dressed in some semblance of fashion, while also desiring to keep at least slightly warm. This is the first “real” outfit I put together since the climes dropped, and everything I wore here was chosen mainly because of it’s insulating properties. So, here are my cold weather tips for those who don’t want to sacrifice style for warmth. Yes, most of these are obvious, but I thought, why not share them anyways?
Turbans are a good cold weather choice, because they can be tied over your ears, and are much prettier than your average toque. I actually wore two scarves here, one tied over my ears and the other over the top for decoration. You can tie a turban with a warmer fabric than a thin silk scarf, and you can also get pre-formed turbans which are knitted, or made of velvet, mohair, wool etc. and those would be very toasty warm! (I don’t have one myself . . . yet!) Other options for keeping your head warm are berets, worn pulled down over your ears like this, or thicker scarves worn over your head and tied under your chin. Sometimes, I wear my scarf and pull it up over my head like a hood, if it isn’t too cold out, but there is a bit of a breeze.
Wool coats are the best. Really they are. If you are at all thinking of going outside in the cold this season, get yourself a 100% wool coat, and you will not regret it. Lots of modern/reproduction winter coats are made of synthetic blends, and they do not even offer a fraction of warmth compared to pure wool. If you can, get yourself a vintage coat, especially a long one, and you won’t be cold. This one, from the 80’s, is made of cashmere and wool, and it is one of the best thrift store purchases I have ever made. On mild winter days, this coat is even almost too warm to wear.
A fur collar. Does a fur collar keep you warm? No, not really, unless it’s a beaver hood or something known for it’s super insulating properties. But, it looks pretty! And it gives the illusion of warmth! And, if you aren’t going to wear fur in the Winter, just when are you going to wear it? I am not wearing it in these pictures, but I actually wore a scarf underneath the collar to keep warm, and threw the fur over top to add the “glamour”.
Nice winter boots. I love my pumps and thin leather shoes, but come winter, unless you want your feet to turn into blocks of ice, winter boots really are a must, and insulated ones are optimum. These boots I bought a few years ago, are lined with a layer of “Thinsulate” (which is essentially useless if you are actually out in a blizzard) but if you are just walking around town, they are great! They keep your feet warmer than shoes, and, they look a lot nicer than those clunky, rubber winter boots (that you will wish you were wearing if you get caught in an actual blizzard).
Layers are good. Here I am wearing several layers: tights, a long wool skirt, (with a slip under that) and a long coat over top. There’s only about 2 inches of exposed leg (covered with tights, but not the skirt and coat, I mean). And on the top; a blouse, then a cardigan, and then the coat. Rather than getting a buffalo robe and swaddling yourself in that (which some days admittedly does seem like a good idea) build up warmth with layers so you don’t end up looking like a stuffed penguin.
Pockets are another wonderful thing. If your hands get cold, even while wearing gloves or mittens, you can just stick them in your pockets to warm them up. I once had a winter coat that didn’t have pockets- it was the worst coat because my hands were always freezing when I wore it! I also once had a coat that only had pockets over the chest. That was an awkward place to have pockets. I know they were supposed to be decorative, but what is the point of having only decorative pockets on a winter coat?!?!
Well, there are my tips for dressing for Winter, brought to you today from one cold Canadian! So, how did this outfit hold up during my walk to church that morning? Well, for the two blocks going south, it was great! The six blocks straight into the wind wasn’t so lovely, however 🙁 But, even though my face got a bit frosty from the wind, I was actually surprisingly warm and it was a relief to take my coat off!
So, what do you do to stay stylish in Winter but also warm? Is it “Winter” yet, where you live, or are you still enjoying Fall?