What to Wear?

My step-father is right: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad attire. I’ve learned this first hand. I’m outdoors a lot more than the typical American, mostly walking to and from work. So I’ve got all manner of special gear for rain, ice, wind, cold, and heat.

On the hottest, most humid day I need very little. Four Five items will suffice: t-shirt, underwear, shorts, and sandals (counted as two items). On the coldest and windiest day (I’m talking sub-zero Fahrenheit), I wear about 400% more items. My old, grey, wool, turtleneck sweater is one of them. It is part of a layered, interlocking, heat-trapping wardrobe strategy involving (I kid not) twenty-one garments.

Naturally, the complex, interleaved tucking sequence takes a lot of time, involving first four layers on top, three on bottom, and two pairs of socks (count that as four items). Later, just before leaving the house I add shoes (two), two layers of gloves/mittens (four items), two hats, a face mask, and a jacket. If I expect ice underfoot I attach Yaktrax to my shoes. I’ve learned not to wear my glasses. They conduct the cold, numbing my nose and ears.

That my appendages pass through the right openings in the proper order and with all clothing orientated correctly and right-side out is a topological miracle. That I remember to pee first is a blessing.

Then out I go into the dawn for the kind of walk that can only be enjoyed at a brisk pace through the kind of cold that makes you strangely aware of your sinuses. The ejected contents of my contracted tear ducts freeze in perfect tiny spheres to the ends of my eyelashes. Steam from my breath, trapped by my face mask, frosts my beard. Yet I do not feel cold, mummified in myriad layers of clothing and moving at an aerobic pace.

With the knowledge of what to wear I rarely feel unprepared and am generally not concerned about or deterred by the weather. The biggest enemy is lack of information or a bad forecast. Should the expected o-degree day really be a 15-degree one I’ll be overdressed by several layers. In that case, the focus of my ire is not the weather. It’s the meteorologist.

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