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snow clothes

December 5, 2010

snowscape.jpg My village (left) is under snow at the moment, so I've been giving much thought to the question of what to wear in minus zero.

If you're venturing into my kitchen, where a glacial wind has been blowing for the past week, the answer is an arctic survival suit.

Much as I love my original old windows, they are an ecological disaster. The thin panes of glass and the various gaps around windows and doors, mean that when I switch on the oil-based central heating, I am effectively heating the sky above Villiers* rather than my house.

Yesterday, while sealing up the gaps around the doors with draught excluder tape, I suddenly remembered a potential solution in my attic.

There, in a plastic crate, lay a whole load of extreme weather kit, including a pair of sheepskin lined Sorel snowboots that are good for temperatures of (god forbid) up to minus 20 - all acquired over a decade ago, during my tenure as fashion editor of a national newspaper.

A few weeks before Christmas, I seem to remember that I was called into the deputy editor's office and given a very special assignment. The (then) chairman's son had written a piece about getting married in a ski resort and I was to produce a superlative picture to match.

'Spend whatever you need to,' said the deputy editor. 'Buy anything you like and hire whoever you want. Stay on and ski for a week if you want to.' (As if! I'd never been near a ski slope until that point).

'Just make sure that you send back a bloody good picture,' he concluded. (It goes without saying that we weren't in a financial crisis at the time.)

And so my assistant and I ordered a three-tiered wedding cake, champagne, confetti and an extravagent bouquet of bridal flowers - all carefully packed into a trunk, along with a morning suit from Moss Bros and an assortment of big white wedding dresses. I then went to Snow and Rock and kitted myself out in extreme weather clothing.

The ensuing trip to Verbiers was one of my more enjoyable trips as a fashion editor. Unusually for a fashion shoot, no-one on the team had a personality disorder, and despite lots of standing around in minus 17, there were lots of perks to the assignment -namely drinking copious amounts of gluhwein to stay warm and watching members of the British army on cold weather maneouvres nearby.

I've no idea how much it cost (thankfully it wasn't coming out of my fashion budget) but the resultant picture -of the bridal couple on skis, poised in front of the wedding cake on top of the mountain - was deemed a success.

As I retrieved my Sorel boots from the attic yesterday afternoon, I looked back fondly on that trip. I'm wearing the boots as I type, along with thick ski socks, a (fake) black furry gilet and a knitted alpaca hat.

The look, which is best described as gorilla-chic meets Scott of the Antartic, is one that could potentially scare the French neighbours. (And Biff - he's hiding under the bed!) But by keeping the heating down, I'm at least doing my bit for the polar bears.

*The name of my village has been changed.

comments (7)

1. Posted by tricia on December 5, 2010 7:25 PM

I know what you mean, my windows are the original sash windows & although I did get them draught-proofed it doesnt help much especially during the current cold spell. I cannot bring myself to replace them with plastic windows (unlike most of my neighbours). My kitchen has no heating as it's too small for a radiator. My dream house will have triple glazed wooden windows, be well insulated with natural materials & have a solid fuel range in the kitchen (& probably be situated in France). What I do like is that during snowy conditions in the UK, people just dress for warmth & practicality & for a while we all look more or less the same - I find this strangely liberating. I like the look of those Sorel boots - do they grip well on ice?

2. Posted by mimi pompom on December 5, 2010 8:17 PM

Hi Tricia

yes, in my dreams I will one day have ....solar panels!
The Sorel boots are super-warm and the grip is good (way better than normal boots) though primarily designed for snow, so you still have to watch your step on ice.


3. Posted by Miriam on December 5, 2010 10:49 PM

Will it make you feel any better to know that we use Sorel boots in our Canadian winters? But I hate to think that life indoors requires them!

4. Posted by mimi pompom on December 5, 2010 11:11 PM

Dear Miriam,

well if you use them in Canada, where you know a thing or two about harsh winters, they must be good. And I was only wearing them indoors as I'd just got back from walking the dog. On the whole, my house is quite warm. (only the kitchen is glacial as it has two doors). That said, I've noticed that wearing the Sorels and a hat indoors makes a huge difference - if I stick with it, I could save a fortune on the fuel bill!


5. Posted by jeannie on December 6, 2010 9:30 AM

OMG - I remember you doing that trip!! I on the other hand was doing a cold weather shoot for another (less generous!) newspaper and put the model in wellington boots but committed the cardinal sin of showing the woolly socks over the top of the boot. You should have read the reader complaints! Apparenty that's NOT how it's done in the country - so just you remember that in case you're tempted to try it! Off to see if I can re-create the gorilla-chic meets Scott of the Antartic look myself!

6. Posted by gwenda on December 6, 2010 9:31 AM

My sympathies are with you as until recently I was living in an unheated draughty flat. As Tricia says in this weather we all dress for warmth and comfort and blow fashion! Temperatures have been as low as -12c where I am and it is forecast to get that cold again.
Your post made me laugh though as it painted such a clear picture

7. Posted by KittyM on December 13, 2010 3:07 PM

Ohh I am giggling away to myself reading this post Karen and also feeling a little scared! I am about to pack up my almost bankrupt bags and scarper to the middle of nowhere in the Averyon next spring... geriatric Battersea cat, Chinese Crested Powderpuff puppy and slightly clumsy husband in tow. We are off to manage a small chambre d'hote and cupcake shop, as well as open an eco yoga retreat! I love your books and am so pleased to find your blog, although now admittedly a little bit more scared of having to acquire some practical clothing.
KittyM @ www.chroniclesofdolliedaydream.blogspot.com

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