Monday, 22 November 2010

White Wall

My kitchen wall has been repainted white.  Just in time.  With our hours of natural light disappearing fast, expect it to feature a lot in this blog!

Winter has well and truly arrived here and the temperature has really dropped recently so I've been layering up.  Here is what I wore on the weekend to visit old friends in Cambridge where it was bitterly cold - my attempt to avoid both wearing all black and swaddling myself in wool.

I've been wondering how to wear this silky Whistles blouse in winter without freezing.  The surrealist print reminds me of the works of Miró and it feels a bit Dynasty with its draping and big shoulders. My solution was to use it to cover up the boring black turtlenecks that are becoming my uniform in the cold.

Secret weapons under my billowy silk layers are wool rich tights and not one but two wool turtlenecks.  Yes, that's how much of a wimp I am in cold weather.  I also still had to wear a wool crombie coat over everything and accessorise with a scarf and gloves.  Despite wearing an additional pair of socks the cold went straight through the soles of my bikers and I stopped feeling my toes.  I feel this outfit would be better with heels but the cold has brought on a niggling knee problem (can you get flamenco knee?) which is not worth me making any worse for the sake of fashion.  So flats it is.

I deeply regretted not wearing a hat.  If I had a pound for every winter hat I've lost on the London underground I'd probably have enough for a new one.  And hat smchat.  In this cold I need a balaclava!

As a girl my parents bought me one party dress a year and I would get to choose.  Sort of.  My first choice was always vetoed.  It was either too dark for my father's liking as I liked black from an early age or too fancy, i.e. too expensive.  Hmmm... the psychological seeds that grew into my shopaholic ways are probably embedded right there!

So the second choice would be the most colourful, frilly, floaty Cinderella like confection I could get away with.  During winter I would be dismayed to the point of tears when my mother forced me wear thick turtlenecks and tights under my beloved dress to stop me freezing at parties.  I suddenly felt that my dress had been ruined. 

Looking at myself in the mirror with my dress rucked up in unpalatable bulky lumps over rolls of thick wool, it was as if it had also sprouted a neck, arms and legs of different textures and colours, all of which combined to overpower any of the delicate details of the dress I had taken so much care in choosing in the first place.  So began my lifelong battle with winter dressing and layering.

I detest feeling like a turtle and turtlenecks make me feel claustrophobic and strangled.  But in this cold I'm not going to ever get to wear a floaty blouse or almost any type of dress without them.  The little girl somewhere in there still cries at her reflection in the mirror, riling against what she still considers a heinous aesthetic crime but the practical winter battered adult is somewhat resigned to the fact.

Thankfully Cos has made an extremely thin wool one with unfinished seams that avoids adding the bulk that normal thermals do and hopefully four or five layers will now look a bit more like three or four.


  1. I have the same thing with turtlenecks( I feel as if I'm choking (and that's really making thigs harder for cold winter). For past couple of years I've managed to fing only two turtlenecks that I can sustain due to them being thin and soft as well as warm)

  2. I feel your pain! I detest winter, feeling cold, my red frost-bitten face, wearing woollens, hat hair, my eyeliner running down my cheeks every time I go outside.
    Rather than a lumpy jumper I go for a thermal vest, two pairs of tights and sometimes even a jacket under a coat as I'm bound to get all hot and bothered once I get to my destination. xxx

  3. Back to the cold English weather.
    I lived in Peterborough for 10 years, but it wasn´t the cold, but the rain and cloudy sky That I couldn´t put up with.Very difficult if you have been born in the sun; although we go back IN SUMMER hehehhe, for at least one month. to different parts of the UK.
    Aquí hace fresquito ahora, y se agradece después de achicharrarnos desde abril, aunque aún no me he puesto un abrigo que compré.
    Ya me contarás algún día por qué no tienes cabeza, jejejeje.
    Ya sabes que te abrazo flamenca guapa.

  4. Oh dear, I love the print on that top. I think it looks great paired with the tough pants and jacket.
    No Guilt Fashion>No Guilt Fashion

  5. I LOVE the blouse. I had to giggle at the part where your mother made you wear turtlenecks and tights with your party dresses - i am so guilty of inflicting the same pain on my poor daughter, she may only be three and a half but she gets 'dismayed to the point of tears'at this heinous crime against fashion! My mum would insist on bundling me up in a warm winter coat, usually something thick and bulky that restricted arm movement, i rebelled in later years by wearing wildly impractical 'winter coats.' The ironic thing is that i have a mild obsession with ensuring my daughter keeps warm in a goose down puffa jacket - thick bulky and restricts arm movement!

  6. I so sympathise. You are ex-Aussie aren't you? I feel your pain. Just been reading on Snoodlebug about keeping warm tricks - she suggests a thermal and sheepskin insoles:

    I fully intend doing both those things. I have also been wearing hats much more - just a wool baker boy most of the time - and it makes a HUGE difference. If you get something nice you are less likely to lose it. When I first came here I lost so many crappy pairs of gloves, but finally bought a nice pair and have now had them for 4 years.

  7. Veshoevius--the blouse is wonderful, especially the eye in the print!

    Somehow we need to solve this chilling problem for you somehow...what temps are you dealing with? Perhaps something big and furry...

    I come from a generation obliged to wear britches under skirts in the winter time. Never owned a party dress, but I can appreciate how mother's well-meaningness ruined the look you wanted.

  8. I love that print! So creative & somewhat retro.

  9. Love the print on the blouse! Been reading your blog and you have some amazing pieces! I've been layering up with Uniqlo heattech tops under everything and double tights + socks. I still need a decent hat though...

  10. @Kb - thanks! I was looking into the Heatech range just as I got your comment! I think I will be stocking up.

    @Boheme Noir - its zany isn't it? I think it has quite a retro vibe too.

    @Terri - probably nothing like the types of temperatures Canadian's and North Americans have to endure in winter! I am trading up for the big and furry as we speak - temperature heading further and further below zero by the end of the week! I feel so spoilt to know you never had a party dress! I hope you own a party dress now (or at least will for your daughter's wedding)

    @Penny Dreadful - ex-Oz indeed, worse still, via original birthplace in a tropical climate. Thank you so much Penny for your links! I will be getting some sheepskin insoles for sure - genius! And all my lost hats were baker boy's :( It's my favourite hat shape for winter. I haven't seen any around though, seem to be out of fashion or something.

    @I'm not Emily Brown - LOL! I perfectly understand my Mum's and your concern and am sure if I ever have a daughter I will inflict the same sartorial torture on her during winter out of as Terri says "well meaningness"

    @No Guilt Fashion - thanks! I think you might see why 30 x 30 might be impossible for me - I probably get through ten garments in one outfit in winter!

    @sacramento - quiero achicharrarame, de verdad. Lo prefiero mil veces. Ya te ha contado varios veces porque no tengo cabeza en mis repuestos a tus comentarios y dentro mis puestos no?

    @Vintage Vixen - the teary eyes! I can't stand that either. Oh and with you on boiling when you reach your destination - some days on entering the London underground I think I'm going to faint when the temperature goes from below freezing outside to inferno in the crowded carriages.

    @Triskelos - glad I'm not alone. Great criteria for a turtleneck to statisfy - thin, soft and warm!

  11. Great blouse - I happen to think the turtleneck under it looks very very chic too. They look great under satin dresses too. I think people look so much better when they're not underdressing for the weather than shivering for the sake of an outfit! Hence, armwarmers, legwarmers, turtlenecks, ponchos, scarves etc. etc. are all good in my book!
    xxx Comtesse xxx

  12. i agree the top is rather miro-esque. what an unusual piece, great outfit too. your jacket and pants are awesome.
    i have a love-hate thing with turtlenecks.

  13. I know what you mean about turtlenecks, but this does look good, so don't worry ;) And congrats on the new white wall, now you have a perfect place for outfit shots when it's nasty outside :)


  14. ugh My mom used to do the saaaame thing and she didnt quiet understand that our 'winter' wasnt like the winter back in her home country so all our stuff was incredible hot imported in. All my halloween costumes as a kid were ruined by wooly tights and tnecks.

    I adore the pants! the color and the pockets are incredible.

  15. Flamenco knee, haha! I love that blouse. Been so busy lately. I've missed reading this blog so much. Hi : ).

  16. @Comtesse de Ferveur - I agree totally! Blue lips, chattering teeth and goose bumps are not a good look!

    @Style Odyssey - Thanks! It was its unusuality if there is such a word that won me over!

    @Ioana Liliana Gheorghe - oh thank you! Yes I am very pleased about this wall - solves a lot of problems taking photos!

    @Vintagehoney - oh dear! So you were probably boiling to boot. I'm amazed that actually I was not the only one who had this done to me as a kid! Very enlightening. - hello there! Good to have you back!

  17. Yes you can get Flamenco knee!! Although I'm older (and just plain old!) that's probably why I end up in pain once the adrenalin and euphoria and duende have gone...

    You have such a way of words...

    I think the practical winter adult still looks damn fine!

  18. @Dusk - "I end up in pain once the adrenalin and euphoria and duende have gone... " I know the feeling well. Sigh. I'm no spring chicken either and the degeneration of joints you rely on is one thing I really don't like about getting older!!


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