High heels are not crampons!

After my last post, back to matters which are less random and a little more relevant to the proclaimed purpose of this blog. I have recently begun to receive feedback on entries (indulge me if I ever call them ‘columns’ – I have a fantasy where I’m Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday) which has already informed some subject matter. Among topics I’ve covered here are workwear and sensible spending. Both of which came to me via suggestions from friends and family.
However, I would like to announce formally that, yes, I am willing to take requests – your queries are valued inspiration. I can’t always anticipate your interests and dilemmas – although I do try. Likewise, I often reference the wisdom of my friends (who are we without our coterie of advisors and trusted style allies?) and colleagues. Well, today I’m opening the doors to you all – I’ll be announcing my entry titles a week in advance and you should feel free to contribute your wit and/or wisdom.
So…this week’s subject will be derived from a request from Tracy – an habitual wearer of knit combinations whose outfits always look effortless but are the product of real panache and practice. She has asked for advice on how to dress for a holiday in Toronto. In her words she wants ‘super city stylish (yet warm) clothing for temperatures of -20 degrees C’. In my words ‘yikes’!
This is – unusually for us little Englanders – prescient potential subject matter. And it seems to be a good time to ask for your help as it looks like some of you are already experts after having had to cope with the start of a predicted ‘long winter’. Last year I did some quite unflattering woolies (very different from knitwear) in the snow and gave in to Uggs. Well, fake Uggs (I love how warm they are but, please, spending that much money on something that is only intermittently waterproof when you live in Liverpool?) sprayed about 50 million times with waterproofer. I have to say that that stuff in a can is brilliant. But you have to use at least 2 cans worth for them to be fit for purpose (ie. snow – I’m still a bit unsure about them in the kind of rain we get here) but I’m not going to complain about spending a few quid on Instant Protector when I spent about £15 on the actual boots in the sales.
Still, just above ankle length, sheepskin (ish) boots are not exactly elegant, are they? I admit to wearing them with bootcut jeans – covering their essential Uggishness – so that I don’t look too pram-face. However, if you buy the (nearly) knee length ones, you can do them with skinny jeans with some degree of glamour. Personally – in my dreams – I’m wearing knee length, Bond girl style, white, fur covered moon boots. Oh yes. With skinny jeans or a black, all-in-one ski suit. I want the cold weather version of the pink and purple ‘race suits’ that Marcie and Jill wore to drive their Lamborghini Countarch in Cannonball Run. Don’t anyone picture that – it’s too scary now I’m fat.
Of course, there’s no getting away from the fact that – to stay properly warm – it will be necessary to wear a lot of clothes. Or have a contact in the world of professional winter sports. And lots of clothes mean bulk – which, I presume, is what Tracy really wants to avoid. I totally understand.
So, what I’ve got so far are the staple homilies that fashion editors love when questioned on this subject: layering, covering the head, gloves, scarves, more than one pair of socks (ideally cashmere – M&S has surprisingly affordable ones) and weatherproof footwear. Best try practical, but long, boots. Brilliant – but not very imaginative.
Readers, I beg you…help me (and Tracy), please. Please, please, please. Asap, if possible!

As a post-script: I mentioned my lovely friends – and they really deserve a shout out. All wonderful women, with differing styles and lifestyles, they inspire me to try new things and visit outlets which may have passed me by: Janet – who I developed an almost co-dependent relationship with at work: if I was gay, I would totally civilly partnership her; Kathy – whose example meant that I tried leggings: they do work if you go glam with the tunic and only wear wedges; Leila – the most naturally elegant person I know: she wears a tulip shaped sequin skirt – but in dove grey; Auntie Jennifer – we’re a couple of orphans together and our age difference – 30 years – makes no difference to the bond we share; Ava – 8 month old baby diva does vintage; Helen McB-C – make-up maestro; Jenny Beattie – whose devotion to fashion is astonishingly well informed but realistic; Sophie R – got married in her own style – with no long skirt; Barbara – inspiring in many ways: but mainly in her insight into real women’s clothing needs and the importance (and economy) of knowing a dressmaker; my mother-in-law, Joan – who sold me on the merits of buying deluxe and Sam – an old friend whose pragmatism never compromises her style.
I’d mention Tom Ford again but I might look like a stalker…  


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