You may remember my friend Caroline, she bravely appeared on the blog – in control pants and very little else – the December before last.  We thanked her for her services to womankind and Caroline generously agreed to do some more modelling. Here she is with her clothes on, road-testing the Women’s Luxe Down Parka from Lands’ End:

One freezing morning last month, waiting for a bus, I was transfixed
by a girl ahead of me in the queue. She was setting off for work wearing – as you
do in mid-December – a lightweight leather jacket, miniskirt and ballet flats.
No tights, of course, no hat, no gloves – in fact, no concession at all to the
fact that it was around 0 degrees out and completely Nordic. From the way she
was holding the edges of her jacket together, it was obvious she was frozen,
but I suppose she figured it was worth it. After all, if she’d worn a coat like
a normal person, the rest of us in the queue wouldn’t have been able to admire
her beauteous 21-year-old form.
Underdressing in winter is one of those youth things
that makes me glad I’m old. Young women evidently believe that if they wrap up
in a scarf, hat and down jacket (ie, what I was wearing), they’ll look frumpy. Well,
maybe they would. But guess what? They’d feel so much better, because nothing
beats the feeling of not freezing your butt off. I know she wouldn’t have
believed that, though. It’s something you don’t discover till you’re 40.
And therein the dividing line between youth and middle age. When
I was young, my winter coat was an unlined linen swing coat, under which, in
really cold weather,  I might wear a
cardigan. Looking stylish was the goal, and if I froze, well, it was in the
service of fashion. But now, twenty-odd years later, I’d never leave the house
on a cold day without a down jacket, gloves, scarf and hat. (For especially
Arctic conditions, I also have little glove-warmers – plastic sachets you
pre-heat in the microwave and then wear inside your gloves. Though talking
about them is making me feel a bit orthopaedic, so forget I mentioned them).
Basically – and the 20-year-old me would be aghast by this –
when the temperature plummets, I  care
more about comfort than glamour: I’d just rather be warm than cool. Maybe this is
a point all of us reach eventually, when we realise that it’s okay to let go of
certain ideas about how we should look. I appreciate that it’s the thin end of
the wedge, but sometimes you have to bow to the demands of your
inner thermostat.
Which brings me to the coat I’ve been road-testing. That’s Not My Age asked me to try out a Lands’ End down parka, and the thing has
been a near-revelation. I’d been getting through the last few winters in a Gap
down jacket, which was fine, but this jacket is something else. Not only is it
much warmer, it has the kind of little touches that make me groan with
pleasure: a fleecy neck and cuffs (think how chilly your neck gets), soft, deep
pockets so you can thrust your hands in up to your forearms and three additional
buttoned/zipped pockets for carrying things. There’s also a detachable hood and
a belt, neither of which I use (the belt might make me look more hourglassy, but
I prefer the extra waist-room). I’m delighted by this jacket as I haven’t been
by an piece of clothing since…I can’t even remember. I may never be cool again.
But, dammit, I’ll be warm.

Has your wardrobe changed over the years? Do you care more about comfort than glamour?

PS The parka’s in the sale!

20 thoughts on “That is my age: I’d rather be warm than cool

  1. I've *always* been sensitive to cold, and even when younger would bundle up like an Arctic explorer. When I'm out walking the dogs in the morning, I see kids walking to school in tee shirts, shorts and sandals in temperatures just a bit over freezing. I don't know how they can stand it! (That's a great-looking parka, BTW.)

  2. this is so funny and so true! i always wonder about the gorgeous girls on the sartorialist with their bare legs in the dead of winter. i'd much rather be warm and comfy than cold any day of the week. i think i've always been like this too, even when i was younger.

  3. I fully sympathise and yes indeed, I'd rather feel warm and comfy than cold and uncomfy. This has meant that I have included layers in my clothing, returned to wearing a body vest like I did when mother insisted on it and I was young enough to listen, wear warm socks, thick stockings, gloves, hats, scarves, thick jackets, the works. And it all changed when I caught my death of a bronchial cold in my late 20s and never looked back – fashion yes, but warm please…

  4. My wardrobe is basically jeans and fleeces and training shoes. I fight against it, but when you are working from home, you can wear your danged pyjammas to work and there's no one to send you home to change.

    I'm still working on the Jeans Detox – probably only wear them about once a week now. And I really ENJOY that one time per week when I pull them on!

    Jacket looks as comfy as anything!

    Ali x

  5. Hi my dear-just been looking at the Lands End down coats, very tempting but I will have to make do with my Per Una down coat which is still warm and 'practical'. Feel free to email me your size (waist and length) and styles you like and I'll keep my eyes peeled for a bargain 😉

  6. I notice this divide on campus all the time. I will see male students in shorts and flip-flops, no jacket, while I am wearing my full length down coat. I like the parka, but swear by the below-the-knee length of my coat! I suspect that those over 40 may have the beginnings of arthritis and can't tolerate the ache in the bones that youngsters do.

  7. Isn't comfort over style the first sign of age? If it is, then I must be ancient!!!
    Lands End do have some great products especially for Winter . As I write this it is actually freezing here in Spain 🙁 I NEED that Parka. I bought one in Mango this season. Altho' it looks similar, it's really not that warm.

  8. Funny that, I am exactly the same, in my down filled puffa coat on the school run. In fact when we were looking on the Sales yesterday, I pointed out a puffa jacket to Claudia and said that will keep you warm travelling to Epsom everyday to which she responded "no thanks" even though it was on Topshop and went out in a shirt and gilet today, but the gilet was faux fur so at least her chest was warm!

  9. In addition to her aforementioned achievements, Caroline can also be commended on making that parka look MUCH nicer on her than it looks on the LE website.

    Where I grew up, winters were (are) cold and you'd be mad to go out without a warm coat, so I didn't experience this underdressed-youngster phenomenon until I came to the UK. We tried to go trick-or-treating coat-free to show off costumes to maximum effect, and how warmly you were dressed on Halloween depended on how strict your parents were, but other than that, the coats were on. And that was in the 80s, when huge down coats were all the rage. Manhattan rush hour was dominated by besuited, shoulder-padded women in massive duvet-like coats and white trainers.

    It was an elegant age.

    Okay, that's the end of Grandma's story now. Leave her be; she needs her nap.

  10. My husband has worked for a Caterpillar dealership in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia for the past 8 years. Winters average -30F –daytime, no wind! Lands End is my FRIEND! The young here look fabulous in their coats, boots, cashmere & fur (both of which are very affordable here). There's a way to be warm & cool I think 🙂

  11. When my feet are warm, I feel warm. Therefore, I chose a pair of generous size boots for this winter.
    I hate layering, therefore I use my mid-calf length down -, or fur coat.
    Naturally I wear thick Wolford´s under my jeans.
    When it gets really arctic over here in Finland, I avoid going out as much as possible.
    Naturally I must perform my daily routines, but for the rest of the time, I´ll gladly stay indoors.

  12. Absolutely agree with you, cannot stand being cold and cannot understand why anybody wouldn't want to be cosy and warm if they had a choice. But as you say, probably a youth thing! And the Lands End Jacket looks very cosy. And love the furry hood. x

  13. have always been last off with the jumper, first on with it so never did cold and cool……..hence a large collection of second hand cashmere left from my youth…..tights under trousers, not a good look I know, but a trick I learned in New York that possibly kept me alive through their snowy winters…love tha parka!!

  14. I love the Parka, (also Lands End but guess that not the point lol) I don't feel the cold, that's either luck or age ( we won't go there ! ) but have been looking for a gorge ( somewhat retro ) Parka for ages ! love it !

  15. Oh your post makes me laugh. I am firm believer in the fact that winter calls for layer and layer and layers and then a coat on top!
    As a 20yr old student I used to admire a girl in our class who always dressed really well, managing to look elegant and sexy without looking "studenty". She never wore layers or a warm coat. We discovered her secret was thermal underwear – and she was only 21 at the time.
    I swear by thermals now – M&S do a really nice range that dont look frumy or fleecy. And now off with me to Lands End to ponder over that parka……

  16. "when the temperature plummets, I care more about comfort than glamour: I’d just rather be warm than cool."
    Boy do I hear you! I've never understood that underdressing in the freezing cold that girls do here – even when I was 25 I was wrapped up in coat, scarf, hat and gloves to go out, and would be aghast at how scantily clad others my age could bear being. Curious about the parka – I haven't found a parka to date that keeps me warm enough.

  17. Wow – don't try to change how stupid people dress please, how else can I asses the morons to keep away from at a distance.

    And I wonder how many older ladies refuse to do the reverse?
    IE, do you let it all hang out, flabby arms, etc when it is sizzling hot….not so much that I see – liberate your arms!

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