PILING IT ON

Layers of warmth for winter adventures

Winter weather is, by nature, fiercely unpredictable. Up north, it’s a bit of a beast, coldly creeping through every corner of every room and fiercely blowing across every trace of blue sky. It’s something to fear and to loathe, something to guard against at all costs: Bar the doors. Bolt the windows. Stoke the fire. Pile on those hooded parkas, Arctic blankets and Eskimo boots. Pretend that it’s July.

But here in Dallas, we’re lucky. Our winters are (if you’ll excuse the expression) just the tip of the iceberg. We suffer through few, if any, subzero-degree days; we may even go so far as to grumble when the thermostat dips below 20 degrees. We never are confronted with enough snow to even begin to tire of it. Most of us don’t even own a set of snow tires, much less a pair of snowshoes.

The mere thought of driving in snow is almost more than we can handle.

Let’s face it. We’re spoiled. During much of the season, Ole Man Winter fairly smiles upon us, beckoning – almost taunting-us outdoors into the cold, brisk world. You can feel it in the steady whoosh of the North wind as it wraps itself around you and pushes you forward as if by force. It’s in the chill of the early-morning mist that hits you like a faceful of cold spring water, raising your pulse and taking your breath away.

The signs are everywhere. Our winters are meant for adventure and exploration, not hibernation. For early-morning bicycle rides through foggy lakeside trails or quiet father-and-son fishing trips on crisp, sunny afternoons. For cozy evening rendezvous sipping steaming hot toddies indoors, sharing the special warmth of a friend. For campfires and horseback rides and fun.

And since we don’t have to completely enshroud ourselves in 10-ton sweaters and twice-lined coats simply to survive, the ways in which we do choose to bundle up are all the more important. It may be quite logical to get through a winter in Wisconsin by becoming a sort of walking roly-poly, but here in Dallas, you’d roast in a matter of minutes. Instead, one or two good, warm accessories added to a heavy sweater or coat will probably do the trick for all but the coldest of days.

The key to maintaining winter warmth, especially when you’re outdoors, is to layer your clothes piece by piece. The idea is to keep in just enough heat without bundling up so completely that you risk smothering once you get indoors. If you start out with a cotton polo shirt or undershirt, for example, and add a flannel shirt or button-down and/or a pullover and cardigan, then top them with a comfortable coat, you can then shed a couple of layers if you do get a bit too warm.

Then, depending on your mood and your motive, add a few accessories. Some good choices for your more rugged adventures: heavy socks or tights layered with bulky leg warmers; knit or suede gloves and mittens; low-heeled riding, hiking or all-weather boots; hooded jackets or sweaters; suspenders; wool or knit mufflers; ear muffs; knit or suede vests; and driving caps. For slightly special occasions: cashmere pullovers and cardigans; high-heeled leather or suede boots; fedoras, tarns and fur hats; leather or cashmere gloves; opaque tights or sheer, dark hose; fur coats; wool capes; cashmere mufflers; and silk scarves.

Mix and match different colors and pat-terns as you add layers. Experiment withcombinations you wouldn’t ordinarilyconsider. If you approach your wardrobeas you would any adventure, winter won’thave to be just one gray, dismal day afteranother.

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