Of all of nature’s gifts, snow is the one I want to take back to the store and exchange for something else. Winter is pretty, but very uncomfortable, and I much prefer sundresses and sandals to being bundled up in long johns and scarves and ten pairs of wool socks. So when the snow finally fell this year I was, as usual, in the depths of despair. After the requisite amount of pouting, I did the thing I always do when the snow falls for the first time: I pulled out my Really Giant Boots.
My Really Giant Boots are not what I would call the height of fashion. I got them for a highschool trip, where we did wilderness-y things like snowshoeing and hiking. They kept my feet warm and dry, and their gargantuan size, thick, heavy soles and general construction-worker aesthetic made me feel secretly tough — like I could kick down a door or fight off a bad guy should the need ever arise. After that weekend, I wore them every single day.
I had a teacher who used to shake his head, bewildered, every time my boots and I clomped into the classroom. “Hailey,” he would say, “those boots are just so curious.“ He explained that they reminded him of a girl he knew in university who was fearless and outspoken, and while I am none of these things – I’ve always been a shy and quiet kid – wearing the boots make me feel like maybe I could be. I’ve worn them every winter since. The last time I wore them home, my mom took a look at them and said, “I’m glad you still wear those. They look like old friends.”
Pulling out my boots this year, I wondered if others had this same attachment to comforting winter clothing — and as it turns out, I’m not the only one. My friends Meaghan and Katherine, harbour a similar love for certain key pieces, all having been imbued with a deeper significance.
Nearly every time I see my friend Meaghan, she is wearing this scarf. A reminder of a Christmas she spent in Morocco, its geometric pattern and beautiful browns and blues always make me a little envious.
“I got it from a market in Marrakesh, on Boxing Day. I had seen it a week earlier and fell in love with the colours and the pattern -it has these big circles all over it, and I’m a huge fan of polka dots. In the winter I wear it all the time – it goes with everything. It’s one of my favourite things that I own. And I can’t believe it’s lasted this long… I don’t know if I’ve ever washed it.“
Katherine got her red and white polka-dotted mittens on a family trip to Disneyland three years ago.
“My sister bought the mittens first. She’s a pianist, and she’s really protective of her hands. After the trip, she wasn’t going to take them back with her and I hated the thought of them sitting all lonely and unused, so I kept them. They’re definitely my favourite piece of winter clothing. I use them as a topic of conversation all the time. People will say, ‘I like your mittens,” and then I can tell them about my sister [who goes to school in Montreal], and that’s one of the reasons they’re special to me. I wear them everywhere. I’m going to take them to Italy with me [in January], even though Italy is fashion central, and they probably won’t fit in.”
Do you have a favourite piece of winter clothing?