In March this year I moved from Melbourne — where the average temperature during the day was 30 to 40 degrees celsius — to Wellington, New Zealand. Here it is a national celebration if a day gets hotter than 26 degrees celsius and when I got here in March it was a high of 22. This was considered ‘surprisingly mild’ for locals at that time of year. Now, well into June, we are talking single digits in the morning and non stop rain for days at a time. There is snow on the mountains and ice on the cars. Safe to say, I am no longer sweltering in the Melbourne humidity of January.
I used to think that winter clothing was daggy or dumpy or both and used to crave the summer months in which I could wear things that made me feel more trendy. However, since I have moved to windy Wellington, I have learnt how to make winter work for me. Here are my discoveries:
I Bought A Coat
In my last week in Melbourne I bought a coat from ASOS. It was by far the most expensive item I have purchased for years but it has been the most valuable purchase I have made in a long time. I specifically wanted something neutral coloured so I could wear it with anything, and something long so that it would shield my legs as well as my torso from the wind, the cold, and the light rain drizzle. It is more than 50% wool so it is cosy and I happily wrap it around me at the bus stop whilst still feeling like a Vetements model on the runway.
I also have a Kathmandu puffer jacket to wear in the rain which is basically a NZ uniform item.
So Many Layers
I have learnt that you can wear tights under anything (leggings, jeans, dresses, PJs) to add a subtle layer barely noticeable from the outside but stops the chill from finding its way in via your ankles. Every day I wear at least two pairs of socks and on weekends no outfit is complete without a flannel shirt layered over a merino wool layer and/or tshirt.
Merino wool is great because it is a light layer that can be worn under other layers without creating bulk. Having said that my collection of bulky vintage 100% wool jumpers (some of which my mum knitted in 1991) have also made a comeback.
Most of my outfits in Wellington are completed with a massive scarf, a beanie and/or fingerless gloves (because there is no way that I have time to take my gloves off every time I need to use my phone).
Boots and Braids
Warm and dry toes are a godsend when you are walking up a hill in heavy horizontal rain. Styling outfits with boots, often boots that I can walk easily in, makes for happy feet and a happy soul.
My hair is long now and the wind here is relentless. My best solution has been to find new ways to style my hair to keep it neat and nice even on the windy days. Two Dutch braids are my standard ‘I’m going to yoga in a thunderstorm’ aesthetic. But normal braids crossed across the top of my head is one of my favourite styles for work.
Between my braids and my boots I feel ready to face anything.
I think the main thing that I have learnt that comfort is key and one isn’t comfortable if their feet are wet, their shivering, or if their hair looks like a birds nest despite adequate styling prior to leaving the house. If I wear practical clothing that keeps me warm and dry then I feel comfortable and confident all day. This attitude also prevents colds and flu and helps recover from the winter blues. Having some key purchases like my ASOS coat and some good boots in my wardrobe, I have been able to make stylish outfits that keep me warm. Style and practically are not mutually exclusive.