Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What to wear in a New York winter

Statcounter, known as Statstalker in my household, can tell you which keywords drive people to your blog. One of the most popular Google searches is something along the lines of “What to wear in NYC in February”. Judging by the weather this January the answer is simple.

Layers. Many, many layers. It’s dehydratingly hot inside nearly every store & home and bloody cold outside. It’s like Lucy hopping into frozen Narnia from the nice warm, fur-filled Wardrobe every time you run an errand.

We’ve already seen the mercury dip to -20C (-4F) in the past fortnight, and last night it snowed again. tells me that there is only one day in the next ten where the temperature will not drop well below freezing (32F). [Look I do realise that if you are reading this in Wyoming or Nebraska then you will think me ludicrously wet. But bear with me: to a soft Londoner, used only to crappy perma-rain and one snow storm a year, Manhattan in the depths of winter is an inclement place.]

I so admire the precision of the weather forecasters here who, yesterday, announced that it would start to snow after 9pm and would result in several inches by morning. And, yup, I was wrenched out of my silk-clad, snuggly duvet bliss at 7am by the sound of plastic snow shovels scraping across the sidewalks. We had at least three inches overnight but already it is sleeting and we now have a few days of klutz-baiting ice to look forward to. (I seem to spend a fair proportion of the winter on my arse.)

This is because it’s so bloody cold here that the snow just stays around getting icier and more dangerous. Gah. I’m relying on my rubber Hunter welly boots to keep me both upright and warm, as they have deep, rugged treads and I can fit the holy trinity of woollen tights, woollen over the knee socks and my cashmere bedsocks inside them. Uggs & the like are pretty useless unless they have magic water-repelling qualities, & there’s no way I am ruining my beautiful bespoke black leather Selve leather boots in the salty slush.

As for the rest, my daily uniform consists of a camisole – not thermal as experience tells me you just roast once indoors, a cashmere twinset, a just below the knee black wool bubble skirt with petticoat underneath, a DKNY black merino Cozy wrapped Ballerina style around my body and a knee length beige fur coat on top. The whole lot is topped off with those magic ear muffs that lie hidden under your hair, rather than sitting on top of your head like ludicrous furry headphones, and the biggest, softest, blanket-y cashmere shawl in my possession folded and wrapped around my neck and chin. Oh, and cashmere lined leather gloves. With the silk liners that I use for skiing inside if it’s really parky. I’m still searching for the perfect tam o’shanter, so I don’t wear a hat at the moment.

This all works beautifully: jeans & trousers get uncomfy, bulky & sweaty with tights etc underneath. Plus a skirt seems to trap more hot air and keeps my knees warm. Once indoors, all I have to do is remove my wellies and knees socks simultaneously, replacing them with heels or ballerines, unwind & discard my Cozy and hey presto: a normal outfit.