How do you dress or layer to cope with Winter weather?
Although we're past the shortest day thank goodness, mid Winter has wrapped its icy grip well and truly around us now. Snow fell in London last week - the first snowflakes this Winter. I woke up on Thursday morning and our car was a delicate white, instead of its normal blue colour!
And even in France, on our New Year break it wasn't exactly warm!
Layers, layers, layers, duck down, wool, cashmere, beret, gloves and scarf; all kept me warm on a day out.
The drop in temperature these past few weeks has definitely been a challenge to find ways to do Winter layering that is realistic and contemporary whilst staying true to my style personality that likes to have fun. Cue trawling blogs and fashion sites for outfit inspiration.
Now not everyone experiences Winter in the same way. Winter in California sure ain't the same as Winter in Copenhagen. However, living in the UK where Winters can be very cold, I do want to see realistic winter styling that I can relate to.
I love the sage green coat over the slouchy knit. This stylish lady looks like she can take on some snow with ease.
Or how about a double turtleneck? Slip a thick wool turtle over a thin striped one for a simple yet interesting look under a winter coat. Even if you overheat once inside, you can easily take off the jumper and the striped turtle will still look stylish.
However, not all the styling I've seen has been practical or even realistic. Lots of emails from bloglovin' have been dropping into my inbox lately with catchy titles such as
'7 Cosy outfits to stay warm this Winter'
'15 Layered looks to beat the Chills'
And only this afternoon another one landed exclaiming 5 Stylish Looks to Combat the Snow.
I had to chuckle as only the first photo features snow. In the second photo the lady has bare ankles and sneakers which wouldn't combat the snow at all, none are wearing hats or gloves and three are wearing boots that would seriously slip on actual snow and ice. And I'm not alone is thinking how silly that title is in relation to the outfits shown. At least half the comments echo my thoughts exactly,
I've clicked through all these emails and the pages of uber fashionista bloggers and street style sites with initial excitement at the prospect of gaining inspiration and yet... and yet that initial excitement quickly, sadly turns into frustration, as all too often I'm presented with what I call 'faux winter styling'. There are a few gems amongst them but so many of the outfits wouldn't past muster if worn in climes where Winter is experienced with a capital W!
If I see one more example of supposed winter styling of unstructured coat, shirt, distressed jeans, bare ankles and pumps I will scream more loudly and ear piercingly than a banshee!
I can't tell you how over I am at seeing faux winter styling.
I dig the vinyl trousers but WTF with the sandals???
Yes, it can still be Winter in March in New York (when this was posted) as I can very well testify. I've battled my way down 5th Avenue when the wind has been so howlingly cold in March, it's penetrated my bones and turned them to ice!
Bare ankles in minus temperatures? No thank you. I'll keep frostbite to polar explorers. Wet soggy toes when it rains. I'd rather not. Yet both photos were recently included in round up posts showcasing Winter styles.
And here we have the classic '2 seasons in 1' outfit.
Autumn/Winter top half. Summer bottom half.
Don't get me wrong. I love all 3 outfits in the main. Take the last one. Top half is ticking all the boxes. I love the grey cable knit sweater with the brown biker jacket and the plaid scarf tones beautifully with both.
Then we get to the lower half and the leather skinnies and I'm still going, yes, fabulous, rock that pose with the half tilt of the head and those to die for sunglasses BUT then it's
Open toed sandals??? Again?
Call me pedantic if you will, but my logic says that if it's cold enough to wear a shirt, a sweater, a leather jacket AND a scarf
it sure as heck AIN'T warm enough to be wearing open toed sandals!!!
With so much choice of funky footwear to wear with such a cool outfit, I mean let's for a second muse on how awesome some snakeskin ankle boots would've been with this ...
... Have you mused? ... Wouldn't they, right? ... then I don't understand the sandals.
Faux winter styling.
Now before anyone says I shouldn't be bashing other bloggers, we're all in the sisterhood together, yadda yadda yadda, I get it, I really do. However, the flip side to that is, I see nothing wrong in pointing out the faintly ridiculous or the totally unrealistic.
I don't care that the big players have budgets waaaaay bigger than mine or that they are given an endless supply of clothes to wear on their blogs by brands beating a path to their door. I really don't. Of course I know they're upping the ante to display a certain high fashion magazine aesthetic. It's all about creating so called aspirational looks. However, I do want to see outfits that I can at least relate too, that are based in some reality of the season and the urban environment I inhabit.
I live on a commuter line and when I travel into London, I don't see women on the trains sporting bare ankles, or parading tulle skirts worn with oversized jumpers that make the wearer look like a 3 year old playing dress up.
Below I'm wearing a very similar outfit to Atlantic Pacific. And I wore this outfit last Winter, funnily enough also when visiting France in January and funnily enough also with the same pendant I'm wearing in my current outfit! Ok, so my skinnies are coloured rather than leather but it's still a shirt, a knit, a leather jacket and a scarf; polished off with purple suede ankle boots and some snazzy polka dot gloves.
Real, practical yet stylish winter layering.
So where does all this leave my original outfit? Had you forgotten about that whilst I went on a rant?
Well, it came about because I WAS inspired by a practical yet stylish outfit I'd seen on a blog.
In early December I read this post on High Heels in the Wilderness, by Susan, a Canadian blogger I can highly recommend, which had included this photo below. And my eyes lit up!
And why wouldn't they be? This is the kind of winter layering I was after. Cosy knit, leather trousers, shirt just peeping out below the jumper, sturdy boots. Easy, effortless and importantly, warm looking.
And Susan, the said Canadian blogger I can recommend, had clearly had her eyes lit up by it too. Lit up to the extent that she styled a version of Camilla's look, using existing pieces in her wardrobe.
I love Susan's interpretation, using a silky turtleneck underneath which looks just as good as a shirt. Simple, understated, yet very stylish.
It set off a train of thought. Just as Susan had done on seeing Camilla's outfit, I too could shop my wardrobe and put together a similar styling to wear for my Winter holiday in France later that month. No shirt underneath mine, as I didn't pack a suitable one in my suitcase - boring luggage allowances - and my jumper is more caramel in colour, and my hair isn't quite long enough to put it up in a messy bun, à la Camilla's! You'll just have to put up with my messy, curly locks.
My styling has my own personal twists, obviously. This is, after all, interpretation, homage, rather than copy-catting. I wore my labradorite pendant you saw above and instead of boots, it was the perfect opportunity to showcase a fairly recent purchase - my metallic bronze brogues. All the better to conquer the cobbled stones of ancient hilltop villages and keep feet warm.
And then I got rather carried away and played around with slipping my faux fur gilet over the jumper that I was originally wearing as a fun, textured layer over my down jacket earlier in the day.
And I'm totally in love with my new Winter shoes. I couldn't resist the dark burnt metallic bronze coupled with the sturdy soles to carry me forth through Winter weather.
And I've a wee wry smile on my face every time I wear them as this is the 3rd pair of brogues I now own. I have a dapper white pair for Summer and you can read about how I bridged my brogues aversion here with my Autumnal pair. Roll on Spring to buy another colour and I'll have a full house - one for each season!
Tu Rollneck Slouchy knit (old) seen on the blog in my Rollneck & Riding Boots post.
Wallis Petite Coated Jeans (old) ASOS Coated Jeans
New Look Teens Section Faux Fur Gilet (sold out) but similar here
Down Jacket from TKMaxx. Similar here
Winter Wrapping Up Warm Footnote
Now you might say, pah, copying someone else's outfit isn't exactly original is it?
But that would be missing the point. I'm not trying (and neither is Susan) to copy the outfit exactly. It was a starting point. We were both tantalised enough by the original blogger's look to see if we could create something akin to it with what we already own, without making it a carbon copy. One blogger's practical yet stylish look inspired two other bloggers. And that's what I love about blogging.
But the real beauty of this is that despite two bloggers taking a leaf out of another blogger's style book, each of our outfits still showcase our own style personalities. Yes, the basics maybe the same - cosy knit, leather trousers/coated jeans - but even with each of us using those two basic pieces, both looks have a distinct styling.
What winter looks have inspired you? And are you bored with seeing unrealistic, non practical, faux winter styling?
And lastly, a thank you
I wanted to thank everyone who's sent me messages, emails, and/or written comments on my previous post about my blogging break due to my Mum dying last year. It's not even been 3 months yet. I miss her terribly each day yet your kinds words have helped me through what continues to be a difficult time. It's baby steps back towards blogging. I know she would want me to continue doing activities that bring me joy.
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