Having spent part of my formative years in a warmer climate, readjusting to winter took a long time indeed. I was constantly cold, even though I wrapped myself up like the Michelin man, and perceptually had frozen hands and feet! I was one of those you shook hands with, and said, “wow, your hands are cold”!
I suppose having a slight build, meant I had less body fat to keep me warm, but the layers I tried to compensate with, were offered little warmth, and cramped my sense of style.
It took another 10 years of trial and error, to discover how to keep myself sufficiently warm, stylish, and with minimal layering. In retrospect, it was all common sense, but it took me a while to figure it out. Of course, I had the obligatory, scarf, hats, gloves and jackets for winter, but then I realised the alternatives for effective winter warming and style.
My first layer
Except I am on an expedition to the Antarctica, or spending time with family in Winnipeg, Manitoba, (I call it Winterpeg, because the temperature does drop down to -45 degrees) – in which case I will result to thermal underwear, I generally stick firmly to my cotton, or lace underwear, which I find quite comfy.
My second layer
forms the backbone to my layering technique and compensates for thermal underwear. The Heattech vests from Uniglo are fantastic. I discovered them, whilst in Japan, and haven’t looked back since. This science forward technology allows body heat to be stored in little areas of the fabric.
I favour the black round neck long sleeved ones, and wear them three quarters of the year round. They are very sheer, easy to wear, yet super warm. Heattech allows me to minimise my layers, and offers the joy of not having to rock a jacket at all times.
Friends often ask, if I am not cold without a jacket on, I smile and then show them the sleeve of my secret weapon.
At £9.90, they are cheap and a good investment for British weather!! They come in different colours ,with a V, round or turtleneck.
My third layer
Over time, I discovered that my fundamental mistake was wearing Acrylic and polyester jumpers. Yes, they were chunky, and you would think that, that equates to warmth, but au contraire , instead they allowed my body heat to escape and added bulk.
I was given a mohair jumper as a present, and liked the feel of it. It kept me warmer, but was so itchy!. This warm experience however, caused me to start looking around for alternatives and then I discovered 100% merino and cashmere jumpers. They were so soft, thin, and did not itch, but were quite expensive in comparison to my other jumpers.
The bane of being cold however, forced me to buy my first cashmere cardigan. The difference it made gave me an epiphany – it was better to invest in a few good cashmere and Merino wool jumpers, than to have many Acrylic/Polyester ones.
Over time, I have acquired a few cashmere and merino wool jumpers/Cardigans, and I’m happy to see that they are now more affordable. Uniglo prices start at a humble £29.99 for a merino wool cardigan.
I am particularly loving this quirky cashmere jumper, by Les 100 Ciels, which is a cross between a cardigan and poncho, because the bottom of the sleeves and the sides are split open, but look as though you are wearing a jumper. It’s super warm, different, and now reduced from £99.00 to £69.00. good investment!
Cashmere jumper/poncho is only available from their London boutique, now only £69.99 and is nearly sold out! 19 St Christopher’s Place, London W1U 1NN http://les100c.com
One of my winter outfits without a coat.
100%Cashmere £69.90 http://www.uniqlo.com
Extra thin merino wool now reduced to £29.90 http://www.uniqlo.com
My fourth layer
I used to find them quite restrictive and too close to my skin, but over time I have come to climatise to tights. Again, I found the nylon and cotton ones made my feet so cold in winter!! I would return from an outing, take my shoes off, and my feet would be as cold, as if I had walked around Town barefooted.
Following on from the wool epiphany, I got myself some woolly tights, but predictably found them quite itchy, bulky and uncomfortable. I started reading the labels on the tights, to establish the composition of the fabrics, and used the back of my hand as an itch thermometer. I discovered that the Mixed wool tights were much better and kept my feet much warmer.
Fast forward to the millennium, and thanks to the advanced technology used in fabrics, I now wear the Marks & Spencer’s 100 denier Heath generate range. These intelligent tights, keep me warmer, as the weather gets colder. They are very smooth against the skin, thin and don’t set off any friction against my clothes.
http://www.marksandspencer.com £9.99 100-denier-heatgen tights
When I am going out to an occasion or partying at night, I favour my Wolford tights. They come in mixed cashmere and silk or merino, are moisture absorbing (for hard core dancing!), sheer, comfy and reinforced at the toe, sole and heel. (I don’t know why more tight brands don’t reinforce). Then again, Wolford tights are more high end, and the reinforcement means I really get value for my pound!
Moisture absorbing merino wool tights £30.00 http://www.wolfordshop.co.uk
Cashmere & Silk tights with reinforcement on toe, sole and heels £145.00 http://www.wolfordshop.co.uk/
Moisture absorbing merino wool tights £30.00 http://www.wolfordshop.co.uk/
My fifth layer
Fanny Wangs – yes, funny name I know, but they Keep me warm. A Christmas present from 2 years ago, they go everywhere with me, and serve three functions.
Listening to music, keeping my head and ears warm (aka ear muffs), and fashion accessory.
I found that Winter is a good time to swap my skinny in ear phones for a chunky over the head pair. I have short hair, and the big band on my Wangs keep my head warm, (so I can sometimes eliminate a hat). The over the ears padding are a snug fit and keep my ears warm, and with an external sound cancellation feature built in! what’s not to like. (oh! and yes I always double check the road before I cross). In addition, the sound quality is great, they come in a variety of colours and the head band is articulated – not bad for £69.99
I do also like these Masterdynamic MH40 over the head earphones, they are aesthetically pleasing, and make for a great fashion accessory. The leather around the head band and ears keep the heat in beautifully, and the ear pads are detachable, so you can clean or change colour. I tried them on last month, the sound quality was crystal clear and warming to the ears. This one ticks all my boxes, so adding these to my Christmas list! (Yep, I have mentioned the word Christmas twice now. I think mid November is a good time to start dropping this word, but not before *-*)
Over the ear headphones £319.00 http://www.masterdynamic.co.uk
My sixth layer
Many years ago, I bought this bespoke Faux fur bag from Hennumi (http://deployworkshop.com). I got it really for the design and colours, as I was not into furry bags. This one seemed minimal, as the faux fur was one sided, but I quickly discovered that it kept the warmth in on the side I was carrying the bag on! and this one doubles up as a hand muff. This became my initiation into furry bags, and reappears every winter.
I think I’m ready for a full on furry bag, and now have my eye on these faux fur bags from River island. They will function as cosy teddy bear, keep the heat in on that side of my body, make shift gloves, (by rubbing my hands against them), another item to spray my perfume on, bag and colour pop for the sometimes glumly winter days.
Limited edition Pink Mongolian Faux fur bag £150.00 http://www.riverisland.com
Limited edition Green premuim mongolian faux pur hand bag £75.00 http://www.riverisland.com
My seventh layer
Is the hands on layer – I mentioned earlier, that I always suffered from cold hands and feet, and whilst all my new found layering techniques alleviated the problem, this didn’t quite go away, it just meant my hands and especially feet, were no longer frozen.
The trick that finally banished the cold hand & feet syndrome forever was body massaging!
I remember my first one quite vividly, it was somewhere in the Truman brewery on Bricklane (pre- the trendy era ). Our office in the Truman brewery at the time, was always freezing, with a constant draft wafting along the pathway of my desk. A colleague popped out regularly on her lunch break to have a massage, and asked if I’d like to give it a try. I had my misgivings, but gave in one day. The masseuse turned out to be a man, and so I hummed and harred for a while longer, then finally, and after much persuasion from my colleague, I decided to give it a go.
I found it so relaxing, that I started having a weekly massages with the same masseuse. After a couple of months, I noticed that I no longer had cold feet and hands! I then went through a process of elimination of my lifestyle habits and narrowed it down to the body massages I had been having.
What I didn’t realise at the time was, whilst I was enjoying the massages for relaxation purposes, an additional benefit was taking place in my body. The massages got my blood circulation flowing more efficiently. Turned out, my poor blood circulation was the main culprit for my cold hands and feet syndrome.
I carried on having weekly massages for a year, and even though I had a special offer as a returning customer, it became quite expensive over time!, but I saw it as an investment in myself.
These days, I have a full body, once every few months, but sneak in those back and shoulder freebies, for the beauty counters at departmental stores all the time.
Last month, I experienced the best massage to date in my whole adult life! and this is coming from someone who has travelled extensively, and is a bit of a massage connoisseur.
It was at the Aromatherapy Associates boutique & treatment rooms near knightsbridge station. I had a 30 minute taster called – ‘Inner Strength ‘. It included a hot wax treatment to the hands and a back massage, and was a mini heaven experience.
On entering the treatment room, the smells of the Aromatherapy oils wafting up my nose, and the soothing music immediately relaxed me. I hate being cold whilst having a massage, so was pleasantly surprised, and reassured, on laying down, that the bed was pre-warmed, and then my feet were wrapped in a fluffy warm towel.
A flannel doused in the Inner strength oil, was placed a few inches away from my nose, and I inhaled and exhaled the smell all through out the treatment. It just so happened that I was getting over a cold, and this massage treatment was perfect for clearing my sinuses, relaxing me, getting the blood flowing and restoring me to health.
Inner Strength Treatment, £90 for 1hour http://www.aromatherapyassociates.com
5 Montpelier St. London SW7 1EX.
My treatment was a 30minute taster of the Inner Strength Treatment that included a hot wax treatment to the hands and a back massage.
The full treatment 90 minutes treatment cost £120.00 or £90.00 for 60 minutes. Whilst it might be a bit expensive, I definitely think it is worth it, and will have one treatment, every 3 months and stick to the freebies in between.
I haven’t suffered from cold feet for many years now, but perhaps I might have to revisit this conversation, if I am ever privileged enough to go on an expedition to the Antarctica…..