Bundle Up with Love

The first chill of winter wind cutting through my layers always takes me back to my childhood, when the bitter cold always evoked the same feeling of dread in my bones: the horror of the winter parka. I vividly remember trying to sneak out the back door into the rolling hills of the first snow; tiptoeing across the icy tile floor to slowly open the squeaky door, I almost expected my mother’s slightly annoyed voice to stop me in my tracks with, “Wait, wait, you forgot your winter coat!”

I can still feel the overwhelming entrapment puffy garments meant for me. Stuffed into those marshmallow-like neon jackets, I was sweaty and annoyed, completely paralyzed from moving my arms in any practical manner and certainly unable to maneuver through the snow at a reasonable speed.

Apparently my mom enjoyed this feeling. Every year she pulled out her very own puffer, an item we coined her “sleeping bag coat,” turning her into a small human taco in a black insulated tortilla.

I freed myself from the chains of the puffy winter coat as soon as I was old enough to reasonably make wardrobe decisions for myself. I use the term “reasonably” quite loosely. For years I waded through the North Vancouver snow in next to nothing, always near hypothermia but never quite humble enough to admit it, especially to my triple-layered-taco mom. By the time I realized I was sick of feeling hypothermic every winter, I was already off to university in Toronto, a land that all Vancouverites warned me was, “so cold you couldn’t even go outside in the winter.” My very stylish father was alarmed by this news, and in order to ensure my survival in the desolate artic tundra of Canada’s East, he vowed to buy me an impenetrable parka.

True to his word, on the first day we landed in Toronto, we went shopping to find the ideal warm winter wrapping; I ended up with a fantastic navy blue twill parka lined with light blue silk and layered with pockets of down insulating the inside, complete with an Eskimo-style fur hood and big shiny silver buttons.

Although my mother was a little disappointed I turned down the black shiny puffer-coat options she had presented, when she felt the weight of my new parka she was satisfied; I would be warm.

Over the years, having suffered through winters full of nagging and many claustrophobic moments of being buried under too many layers, I’ve come to realize my mom was just trying to teach me the most important survival skill in a Canadian winter: staying warm, inside and out. In retrospect, the donning of the winter coat was always linked with hugs and kisses, warm shortbread cookies, and homemade apple cider — all my mother’s ways of keeping her family as warm as possible. Now in my twenties, I am always eager to layer up each winter with my parka, sweet treats, and lots of love — proof that mothers always know best. My mother, to this day, still wears her sleeping bag coat, proudly donning it every holiday season.

Alyssa Garrison
Photography by Erika Neilly

All Puffy Coats and No Cute Clothes Make Haley Go Crazy

I’m sure there are a lot of great things about winter, but fashion is not one of them. Everyone gets lost in a sea of slush and blinding flurries and makes the foolish decision to stop caring about fashion and instead focus on, you know, not freezing to death. I just happen to believe that you can do both. I have the perfect film for my inspiration: the stylishly prescient 1980 Stanley Kubrick film, The Shining.

I’m not really a fan of horror movies, but The Shining is a different sort of film. It doesn’t rely on gimmicks or gore; The Shining gets inside your head and really makes you question your perceptions. You can read all about the various symbolic meanings to the film here – is it about alcoholism and spousal abuse? Is it a metaphor for the oppression of Native Americans? Is the Overlook Hotel really haunted, or was Jack Torrance a murderous psychopath all along?

Kubrick was not exactly known for being an easygoing kind of director; he was more of a “demanding-hundreds-of-takes-until-Shelley-Duvall-cries” kind of director. I doubt that wardrobe just happened – it’s much more likely that Kubrick was trying to send the audience visual clues about his characters, at the very least that they are the classic Midwestern lower-middle-class family. Kubrick wants you to watch and think that could be me. And then preferably sleep with the lights on for the following week. The film had the opposite effect on me… I still slept with the lights on for three nights after watching it, but the clothes only inspire my winter outfits. The Torrance family is dressed in such a stereotypically normal style that I find the message goes all the way around and becomes subversively fashion. If nothing else, I just really respect their commitment to fashion even in the face of certain death.

The Torrance family really excel at that Midwest collegiate look – tweed and cable knit for texture, lots of browns and navy blues for colour, key to every struggling writer’s wardrobe.

Wendy Torrance has her best outfit when she first arrives at the Overlook Hotel. I love the cream turtleneck under the corduroy blazer and her skirt is just the perfect length for her boots.

My other favorite Wendy Torrance outfit comes after the phone goes dead – a yellow sweater and flared blue jeans. I couldn’t get a close up, but I think she might be wearing CLOGS. Clogs! So fashion forward. This is exactly the sort of 1970s look that I love.

The real sartorial star of this movie, though, is Danny. He has a seemingly never-ending wardrobe of letterman jackets, hand-knit sweaters, and plaid button-up shirts that I would gladly steal.

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The Charlie Browniest

Just to show you all how incredibly fickle I can be when it comes to my sources of inspiration, I will transition from the senior-citizen-inspired post I wrote last month to something considerably more childish… Charlie Brown.

Peanuts has been my favourite comic strip and cartoon for as long as I can remember. I think there is something about the sarcastic, sad, and sort of morbid way that Charlie Brown talks that always just made me feel like I could relate to him a little. Whatever the reason, Mr. Schulz is responsible for some of my very favourite holiday specials, from Halloween to Christmas and Thanksgiving, too. It wasn’t until this year when I was desperate for some form of inspiration in the middle of dreary, uninspired January that I actually saw myself looking to Lucy’s and Charlie’s little sisters’, even to Peppermint Patty’s, wardrobes, and noticing a characteristic style I could latch on to.

Now I’m sure that I’m beginning to appear a little desperate, looking to cartoons for wardrobe inspiration, and maybe that’s true to a certain extent. Every January I wind up suffering from a serious case of “closet full of clothes but nothing to wear,” and this January was far from the exception. The excitement of layering wore off after Christmas and all the wonderful spring collections are starting to rub their pretty floral prints and sweet flouncy pastel dresses in my face, but I know there are still several months of boots and tripled tights and scarves and hats before I can bust out my dainty little oxfords and prance around without worrying about falling down and breaking my hip on the icy sidewalk! So I guess seeing the young ladies in C. Brown walking around in cute little saddle shoes and easy-to-slip-on long-sleeved frocks with their hair all done up made me at least a little bit excited to get dressed in the morning again!
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