Choosing a Winter Coat

Before winter ends, I’ve gotta talk about my coat. Black, down, puffy, beautiful; a match made in heaven.

big puffy coat

I found it in Denmark a few years ago. I was backpacking through Europe at the time and, before leaving the states, had spent a fair bit of money on a nice, versatile coat from REI. I loved that coat. And then Halloween in Berlin happened, and I found myself leaving a club with a British golf pro at 9 AM in a coat that was decidedly not mine. So, realizing the time, I gathered myself and made my train to Copenhagen, spending the journey wondering about the nights we forget and the ones we remember, and how they influence our growth respectively. Upon arrival in Denmark, in late October, en route back to Iceland and wearing a hideous, huge, and annoyingly not-warm jacket that smelled like cheap cologne, I searched for a coat.

puffy coat winter style

And look what I found! Isn’t she lovely? I remember being shocked at how cheap it was, but it was perfect – simple, sleek, functional, comfortable. I can wear it literally over anything, from dressed up pajamas to a fancy formal dress. I like the length because it works just as well with skinny pants as it does with a full skirt. The zipper, just for kicks, can zip my entire face away inside the brilliantly massive hood. I’ve worn this skiing and traveling and dancing and through the sub-zero Siberian winter of Harbin, and I have stayed warm. And I like to think I looked pretty fresh, too.

A coat is an important piece in a wardrobe. I came upon this one by chance and, until moving to Harbin, would only wear it on the coldest of cold days in Colorado. Using it daily here, I’ve been continually reminded of what a fantastic coat it is – but what makes a fantastic coat?

A coat, above all, is functional – it should keep you warm. Down does this most dependably, but wool and fur work as well if you don’t want to look like a marshmallow. But sometimes you need the warmth. Consider length, color, and style.

coat puffy winter style

Length – many coats hit around your thigh, and some go as low as the calf. What works best for you, what works with the clothes you own already? Or maybe the questions is what can you afford, and, as you can see, I got the cheapest option.

puffy coat winter style

As color goes, keep thinking about your current wardrobe. A coat needs to go with absolutely everything, so black is the easiest color to fit in with what you rock regularly. But maybe blush pink matches everything you own, or white, or brown – just don’t go buying a magenta coat that looks ridiculous over your favorite chocolate brown corduroys.

Finally, style. Do you want a coat with a cinched waist? A fur-trimmed hood? Bell sleeves? The options range as far as you can click your way into online stores, and I figure Burlington Coat Factory and Overstock.com are good places to start, but Google your vision

puffy coat winter style

Maybe you’ve spent this entire winter dreaming of a new coat and unable to afford one. Well, good news, kids, now is the time to buy! Coats everywhere will be on clearance as stores clear room for bathing suits, so make your way to the mall and get yourself excited about next winter.

Love, calm, & care –

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Short Skirts in Siberia

I wrote a summer post about this skirt, so now I can use it as an example of how to winterize your wardrobe! I live in a place where they decorate the streets and parks with actual ice sculptures, so I have to bundle up. Any time I leave my home, I need my down coat, gloves, and loads of layers.

down coat earmuffs bundled up style

So how does one wear a short skirt in -5°C/23°F weather [the warmest it’s been all week]?

solving outfit problems

Start with magic tights – these are lined with velour, and I swear I can stand outside in them waiting for a bus for twenty minutes and barely feel a draft. They sell them all over the place here, and I found these in one of the many shopping malls. In Colorado I would wear fleece tights [found on Amazon] with skirts and it worked fine, but that doesn’t quite cut it here.

warm tights for winter

This is the velour side. Heaven on my skin.

On top, I’ve found that layering a shirt with a sweater is the best bet. I got this heat tech long sleeve from Uniqlo shortly after arriving here for around $15, and it’s already paying for itself. Good thing I also bought a turtleneck version. It’s fitted, so it’s perfect for layering or wearing on its own.

button front skirt and fitted black top

I can’t tell you how handy a length of black ribbon can be. I use it for loads of things from headbands to neckties, and here it works as a belt. Found in my mother’s ribbon bag.

ribbon belt cocked hip short skirt

My dear mother bought me this sweater before I left Colorado. She might feel chagrined to see that I tore off the entire bottom half of it, but what would a piece of clothing in my wardrobe be without some sort of adaptation?

warm white winter sweater outfit

As for the skirt – I love the pockets. Wrist deep. Easily the best feature.

deep skirt pockets tattoo watch girl

An adjustment I made more recently was adding this invisible magnetic snap between the first two buttons. It had a tendency to gape, and I didn’t like the look of that, so I sewed a little magic in and now it’s good as gold.

easy at home fix for gaping skirt

I found this skirt at a thrift store, but I did a bit of digging online and came up with a couple options that are available now. This one costs less, this one is mid-range, and this one costs more. The key with things like this is to find your version of it. I had in mind that I wanted a button front skirt, and this one is exactly my own. Every single person could wear a different one – do you.

I pin curled my hair today because I washed it in the morning and taught classes all day. I came home, threw on a headscarf, and when I take it out tomorrow it’ll be bouncy and glorious.

pin curl hair short hair style

Teaching the children has me on my feet all day, so a quick yoga video upon arriving home is just the thing. My favorite Youtube yoga instructor has one for people who work in the service industry. It’s barely 20 minutes, doesn’t even require a yoga mat, and leaves you feeling unwound in the best way.

Love, calm, and care –