I don’t know when you’re reading this, but as of 5 am this morning it has been snowing. My workmate has just let me know that we are receiving about a 25 cm [I'm Canadian] dump of snow and sleet tomorrow and the thought of that sends a chill down my spine. I’m not one for Game of Thrones but winter is coming and I bet it’s going to be a bitch about it.
Spending four months bundled up like a waddling toddler to brave the bitter Montreal winter seriously blows. Wearing a giant jacket that could double as a feather down blanket, wrapping a meter of fabric around your neck, a poufy hat, giant gloves that make your palms sweat isn’t my idea of awesome. You can’t play on your phone, your eyes are constantly watering, and you can’t wear your glasses outside without fogging up like a Chevy at makeout point.
It’s hard out there for a fair-skinned curvy redhead, but I feel that after four years living in this wild city I’ve finally figured out the ropes of surviving the winter without looking like a freak of nature.
Seriously, if the temperature strays five degrees from room temperature things aren’t peachy keen. My skin cracks, itches, reddens and ultimately sheds like a rattlesnake. One of those things isn’t true, but I’ll keep it in for effect so you really feel bad for me. I’ve tried everything too: overly expensive Lush face creams that the overly touchy girls massaged into my cheeks while another rubbed my cuticles with some strange goo, fragrant hemp spray from a hippy girlfriend, straight up water and a bar of soap. Nothing seemed to work for me. At one point I even considered calling up a hypnotherapist to see if they could work their magic on my face, but apparently that’s for suckers.
Here are my steps for looking good:
Step One: Love your stupid face
It wasn’t until last year when my dear grandmother, who lovingly calls me her favorite granddaughter even though I’m her only one, gifted me with pretty much every item in the Olay anti-aging skin line I started seeing a difference in my skin. I laughed it off in front of my family but ultimately found myself whispering a little blessing into the pots of white creams a month later when my skin was the best it had ever been.
Point one for grandma: Don’t use really cheap skin cream.
I don’t care what the Wikipedia anti-aging cream page says about the difference or lack thereof of cheap and expensive skin creams; you’re stuck with your face for the rest of your life so treat it like gold. I’m not saying to buy diamond encrusted balms, I’m just saying if you have a pack of fourteen nail polishes in your hand at the drugstore you should probably be a big girl and swap it out with some cream that has UVA protection, vitamin C, and retinol -- three ingredients that are often overlooked in the winter.
Step Two: Live like a queen, shop like a vagabond
The other thing I’ve learned living in this subzero temperature metropolis is that it is so easy to live off of the wealth of others. A lot of girls I know spend upwards of 700 dollars on their jackets and that’s a lot for me. It takes a while to get the hang of it, but I’ve become a bonafide, card-carrying Craigslister. You know those people who buy really weird items online at like 4am after a really great wine therapy session? That’s me. Probably the most talked about item in the office is my giant inflatable penguin signed by Chuck Palahniuk I bought off some guy who owns a sneaker store downtown. If you’re ever in Montreal swing by my place and I’ll blow it up for you.
The next item that I get the most compliments on is my beautiful XL Canada Goose Jacket that I bought for 250 dollars off a girl who was moving back to Europe. Buying an investment item on Craigslist is always a gamble, so be sure to do your research on the product beforehand. Know what you need to know about fakes and if you have a gut feeling about the product don’t feel bad for bouncing.
Step Three: Don’t let the weather dictate your wardrobe
What I wear under my parka is my choice! YEAH! No matter what the temperature is, you’ll never catch me in pants, no way no how. I’m what you call a plus-size girl and when I was a size 10 I had the curves of a pre-pubescent boy so I’ve embraced my curves wholeheartedly… If you ever meet me and I say otherwise I’m just lying, okay?
At my age, I have a limited budget for clothing, but you wouldn’t know it from the mounds of dresses on my floor. It seems that I’ve had good luck getting my solid color staples like band aid skirts, dresses, cardigans and leggings at WalMart (trust me, their plus size leggings are about ten bucks and are fantastic.)
And of course the guiding light of all things girl Forever 21 Plus, any big ticket items at Pin Up Girl Clothing or your friendly neighborhood Goth store who usually carry Hell Bunny swing dresses that fit like a dream. Of course digging through the plethora of vintage boutiques around our fair city is always a good time too, my favorite being the lovely Citizen Vintage in Mile End that always have killer window displays and very fair prices.
Step Four: Being thrifty is super nifty
The other thing a lot of girls seem to shy away from nowadays is learning to sew the rips and tears in their clothing. The stuff we’re inclined to buy isn’t made with heavy wear in mind nowadays, so learning how to touch up your leggings, sweaters and shirts really makes a difference. There are a ton of great Pinterest ideas on how to cover up holes with flare and if you want to get super cheap about it, creep around a hotel for a while then ask the front desk for a travel sewing kit.
Step five: Steal from your parents
Another really helpful habit to get into is raiding your mother's or father’s closet. Like, say for instance your Mom backpacked all around in the ‘70s and somehow found herself in Iraq and bought a really beautiful checkered Keffieyeh she now uses as a curtain in her bedroom. Imagine how touched she’d be to see her daughter wearing it!
Or what about that great Cult T-shirt your dad can’t fit into anymore that would look great with your burgundy mini skirt? Or your mother’s red and black checkered power suit she’d wear in the ‘80s that would actually be really nice in common day outings? These are all good things and will probably be given to you in a heartbeat since you’re going to get wear out of it.
When all else fails warm yourself with a hot toddy before braving the cold and think of the pins and needles where you once felt your legs as winter’s version of wearing those painful high heels.
What fashion tips get you through winter?