Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Layers for Warmth

Layers for Warmth

Did I hear that correctly?  Moving from wind chill “warning” to “watch?”  The difference: a “watch” is only -20 wind chill temperature instead of a -25% (or worse) wind chill temperature with a “warning?”  Is that supposed to be a good thing? 

Weathering such cold temperatures fashionably and also accounting for the variation in temperature that is sure to be encountered is a challenge.  While Mother Nature wages her blistery frigid winds, the corporate “man” proves his success by overcoming Mother Nature with an equal amount of artificial temperature fervor.   There are buildings with radiator heat, and the economically minded that keep the thermostat at 60 to keep your goose bumps reeling.  The ranges of temperatures that can be encountered are extreme.  
Leg warmers=my friend.
I recall a recent visit to my local supermarket.  I arrived, legwarmers over socks but under my pants.  I was wearing a sweater, a fleece jacket, two scarves, a coat and large mittens.  Upon arrival I instinctively unzipped my coat and removed my mittens.  I stood momentarily for the pharmacy and headed to the juice isle.  I comfortably navigated the frozen food section and perused the yogurt case.  By the time I reached the packaged goods I unzipped the fleece and started to get a bit uncomfortable.  There was comparison-shopping in the paper towel isle before a few trips between the “sale isle” and the sale products normal locations. I broke a light sweat (did I mention it is a newly expanded Super Kroger, I was probably up to a half mile of distance at this point).   Price checking in the organic isle was a little rushed, and by the time I was waiting in line for the deli counter I felt faint.  I ripped off the coat, the fleece, and slowly fanned myself with the scarf.  By checkout I had developed a chill and it took a good five minutes to suit up to brave the polar vortex that waited.  This kind of temperature change may have taken a less prepared individual down.
Me, Grandma, Grandpa

Layering the right fabric is the key to success in both hot and cold temperatures.  For appropriate preparation I channel the cold weather layering diva skills of my Grandma.  Grandma was a special lady that always seemed to find a draft.  She extolled the virtues of layering, and wool.  Actually, she extolled the virtues of layering wool in addition to both layering and wool individually.  She was an adorable lady, strong yet demure, hair curled, wool mock turtlenecks in every color, often also rocking a wool sweater vest, and classic wool slacks.  She defeated those cool winter breezes with layers of natural fiber. 

What you layer is as important as the layering.  Grandma looked for soft wool that wasn’t too scratchy to wear close to the skin.  This is because if you have to layer something like cotton underneath wool, moisture from your evaporating body heat can be trapped in the cotton and cool you down (Cotton is for warm weather to cool, wool is for cool weather to warm) regardless of your insulation.  Polyester can also be a good dry insulator, as can down, fur, and silk.  Not all of these work in the same way, and not all polyesters are created equal, but it’s good to have options.  There are many new concoctions that can also be helpful.  For further study on the science behind new fabric concoctions try this site: http://www.youbeauty.com/body-fitness/cold-weather-clothing .  The right natural fiber will not do you wrong.

Just a day in the winter vortex.
It is with such practical knowledge that I braved the chill with warmth in my heart.  I pulled a vivid mock turtleneck, handed down from Grandma, from my cedar chest to start the day.  I layered tights, socks, and knee-high boots.  I dawned a heat trapping skirt (kind of an oxymoron), and layered legwarmers on the distance between the boots and the skirt temporarily for the walk from the house to the car.  A fleece, a coat, 2 scarves, ear warmers, and mittens (along with the legwarmers, now my standard for going outdoors) work together to keep the winter wind at bay.  Who says you can’t incorporate a fun necklace?  Certainly not me, I added a black and white agate bauble to make the outfit.  From the house to the car, and layers peeled off to varying degrees to meet every artificial climate, I was set for the day.  Thanks Grandma.

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