I’m no Martin King (a blessing in disguise) but I don’t need to switch on the weather forecast to know that it is pretty darn cold outside. Freezing, in fact. If everything isn’t covered in a few feet of virgin snow, then the roads and footpaths are covered in a gleaming membrane of ice, like a mirrored pool of glass.
We Irish are not well equipped for cold weather. We’re used to rain and clouds and mild temperatures. We are not used to spending half an hour gingerly clopping on frozen paths to the shop next door with the careful stride of a dressage pony, just to avoid slipping gracelessly on our behinds in hopelessly impractical shoes.
Worst of all is the total standstill of the country’s transport system, due to a complete lack of snow tyres and grit for the roads. We are just plain ill-prepared. But that’s a story for a different column.
I have no solution to the transport problem (except maybe to recommend investing in shares in salt) but I can help with the clothing issue. Here are a few tips for dressing appropriately for sub-zero weather.
1. Hat, scarves, gloves. All in a colour that suit your skin tone. You’re going to be wearing these all the time, so the general rule is that it’s better that they match your face rather than your outfit, even if your nose is now the colour of a bowl of cranberry sauce. Once you have your hat, scarf and gloves, buy some spares. Donate them to your local SVP, because there are a hell of a lot of freezing homeless people out there who desperately need them.
2. Thermal underwear is your friend. It is no flaky friend either. Thermal underwear is the kind of friend that you can ring up in the middle of the night right after a break-up and moan to ad nauseum without judgement or complaint. Thermal underwear is the kind of friend that will always be there for you. If you want a super-retro look, then go for lumberjack long johns. It’s best to wear these in bed, because going to the bathroom in long johns is the kind of gargantuan task that Bear Grylls would find difficult on a good day. Failing that, thermal tees and leggings can be found at reasonably cheap prices in many of the larger clothing chains. Some thermals also act like full body Spanx, which is no bad thing.
3. Always, always layer your clothing. Layering isn’t a fashion buzzword; in cold weather it’s a vital component of dressing. If you go out in a t-shirt and huge coat, get too hot, then take off your coat, your body will cool down much too fast, making you more susceptible to colds and flu. This would be why I am currently typing with one hand, the other now glued to a Kleenex which, in turn, is glued to my runny nose. Learn from my mistake. Dress in many thin layers, not one huge one.
4. Look to the Scandinavians for inspiration. We’ve already taken our economic cues from Iceland, now we should think about the way they dress. Tailored trousers, warm, thick tights, waterproof boots with sturdy soles, chunky knits and lashings of fur, faux or otherwise are all great options. Up the glamour ante with your hair, jewellery and accessories.
5. Tread very carefully. Full body casts are so last year.