You know it’s a funny old thing how I often fail to take my own advice.
Like when I go on about spending good money on the clothes that you will wear most often – not spending money on clothes you think you should wear. “If you mostly want to wear jogging bottoms and furry boots, buy the best jogging bottoms and furry boots you can afford” is the sort of awful patronising shit I would say.
And then what happens is I don’t do it myself.
Well, here I am acknowledging this personal failing.
It has been hot this year – not sure if you noticed – but it’s been so hot I had sort of forgotten what it was like to be cold. Then on a chilly day in half term I took Sam to have a runabout with his mates in the playground. Sam can play with his friends for literally 9 hours straight so I was just sitting in the playground getting colder and colder and thinking “I see THIS is why I wore those fleecy North Face joggers for a month straight in that cold snap”. Jeans, or even those really thick leggings from Lululemon, when it’s really cold, well – you might as well just splash your legs with ice water and run down the street. You forget all about this until it gets really cold and then you cannot buy warm gear for love nor money.
And then, as I hopped on the spot in the playground trying to get warm I recalled in that selfsame cold snap last year an elegant lady at my local butcher. She was wearing a dainty pair of turquoise joggers, nice clean Uggs, a cosy sweater in a sort of teal colour and one of those high performance puffas. I’m sure she thought she looked awful but she looked great, uplifting. And she looked comfortable and WARM.
I have three pairs of joggers – two are so revolting and stained that they are for when the entire house is down with Noro only – never to be worn out of the house. One pair really ought to just be tossed to the rag boys; the other pair are the North Face ones, which are technically for teenaged boys, they do the job – but elegant they are not.
So I went to Hush and bought myself two pairs of joggers (size down)
and am also considering a third pair from this line I am really into at the moment called Monrow, which is massively discounted on Outnet right now. These pink camo joggers are superb, no?
Then off I went to Celtic and Co for some shortie boots. I have not bought a new pair of cosy boots for ten years and I don’t understand why not (actually I do, I feel resentful about buying something so functional). In the depths of winter they are the only things. Take your normal size.
I also finally got one of those collarless jackets from Uniqlo for when I need something to slip under a smart coat and am not ready to go full Canada Goose. I am 8-10 and take an S in this.
I mean, let’s face it, elegance and style kind of go out of the window when it’s really cold, as I have a feeling it’s going to be again this winter, but we can aspire to be something else, can’t we? Jaunty, perhaps. Cosy. Cheerful? I think you can hold your head up high on any casual day dressed in natty joggers, clean booties and a colourful sweater. Here is the updated version of the red sweater I am wearing in that photo.
Or look at this look at this!! From J Crew – I have a lot of J Crew knitwear and it holds up very well.
Here is a lovely one from Whistles.
I think raspberry is an underrated colour.
You can also of course go for a sweatshirt. (You have to be careful with joggers and a sweatshirt though – it can look a bit literal.) I’m sure you have something already but if not look at this charming and nice and plain “Every Day” sweatshirt from TopShop.
There is something irrepressibly indefatigable about wearing a sunshine yellow sweater in the sleeting rain. I think it’s called a Blitz spirit and I think we all need more of it.
Nice knitwear but we will agree to disagree on the hideous boots. I think Ugg and their like are the most revolting things ever invented, especially as they age. And EVERYONE wears them. Give me proper ankle boots or long leg boots every time. I’m short with wide calf muscles but I get the lace up ones from Moshulu and they are fine and warm.
yes, these boots are very divisive. And you’re entitled to think they’re hideous… but I have spent the last 10 winters looking enviously at other people with these so decided this year just to go for it. The company that makes these, Celtic & Co, offer a reconditioning service for old boots so as they do get a bit manky you can upgrade them without having to buy an entirely new pair of boots. Or, yes, stick with the Moshulu xx
I have just bought cashmere jogging bottoms from M&S and may never take them off.
I feel like we should all be boycotting Topshop..?
What about Me&Em for joggers/ comfy trousers? I think pricey so never tried but would be willing to if decent? They always look good (colours etc)…
Me & Em are brilliant for absolutely everything – I tend not to link too much because people complain about the price…
sarah clery says
Going back to your “clothes for short people” piece , I have to say Me and Em are up there with Hush as the worst offenders. Their size inflation is insane. An XS or 6 is more like a 12, and you must be at least 5 6′ or you look like a loon. Forgot to mention And other Stories … can’t even look in the window. Pointless. Argh xx
Yes to all of this – I’d forgotten what the cold was and now I can barely type because the heating is broken in my office. Luckily the dress code is v casual where I work (at least, I’m v casual, and nobody has pulled me up on it) so joggers and knits are totally fine. I feel sorry for people who have to wear ‘proper’ clothes most days. A question re the shortie boots – how practical are they for the park in winter? Won’t they get wet through?? I am a novice when it comes to ugg-style boots, they are so mysterious to me…
Btw, Toast also has some lovely knits this winter.
These boots are absolutely fine if sprayed with a protective spray for almost all conditions except very wet or muddy. So damp playgrounds or light rain is fine – traipsing through wet grass or mud: no.
It’s all about jumpers, coats, fluffy socks and waterproof boots at this time of year. I quite regularly have to get up at half five and sit shivering in my car waiting for the heating to kick in (bloody NHS shift starts) so I need to be warm from the get go. Accessories like scarves and gloves also come into their own to NOT make you look homeless (a constant winter fashion hazard)
Can you maybe do a feature on keeping warm while dressed to the nines? I have several events planned for November, in particular Dita Von Teese at the Edinburgh Playhouse- how to keep warm outside then shed your outer cold-fighting layer to assume retro almost-burlesque fabulousness? Help!!!!!!!
Snolly – VELVET. I am about to post about the fabulous Nancy Mac dresses available on Lux Fix – https://lux-fix.com/shop/sable-peacock-velvet-dress-by-nancy-mac… a bit like the Vampire’s Wife without the ex-sanguinating price tag xxx
Becky McCarey says
That velvet dress is incredible! And looks like I could breastfeed in it too? I love it. I have a black tie event coming up and I could also wear this lots at Christmas.
yes! nancy mac is a hidden gem xxx
Ha I was coming on to write velvet, surely? before I saw Esther’s reply.
I didn’t like the Ugg style for a while but they do have their uses. Sitting in a drafty hall watching a dance class. Standing outside watching football training. Mine have lasted well for years just for these type of things and I live in an area that is 98% mud, 1% dog crap, with a bit of pavement thrown in to give us all hope of wearing our nice things. I bought a jumper just like that pink Whistles one from Tu at Sainsbury’s at the weekend, I felt positively preserved when I came out of the chilled section and pulled the first cosy item I saw into the trolley. Adding don’t go shopping whilst cold to don’t go shopping whilst hungry. I think a lot of people are having the cheery sunshine idea as I’ve seen several yellow jumpers around, and I like it but it was one of the reasons I chose something different; the playground could get a bit hi-de-hi otherwise so thought I’d take one for the team. I can’t quite bring myself to do jogging bottoms; a hangover from my resistance to the leisure-wear-as-normal-wear epidemic that blighted my teen years, and the fear that I’m a failed blow dry away from Kevin Keegan. I like it but don’t think it’s quite me.
Cindy I live in constant awe of your stubborn refusenik tendencies. You’re even worse than me.
Yes, everybody else looks great, but I don’t need that shit man.
Cindy, you’re the best. Half the reason I read the comments to see what you’ve posted!
Speaking as someone who was born in a sub-tropical climate and now lives 1200ft up a hill in Wales I think of myself as an expert in keeping warm. A smart non-embellished down jacket is essential, as well as a hardcore one for the proper winter (I recommend Aigle – properly warm but not insane £££). As for footwear, if there was a compulsory year in ballet/deportment school for every person wishing to purchase an Ugg-style boot then I would be ok with them. They don’t do poor posture any favours (I’m trying to be kind here).
If I’m venturing out in the cold I like Blundstone boots which are a Chelsea style ‘work boot’ with enough room for a thick (and snazzy) sock. I think they look cute with a skinny jean and a bit of scrunched sock showing. I haven’t trialled a jogging bottom combo yet…
If it’s frozen/snowing then you can’t beat a Dubarry boot – so parochial I know, but they’re just so warm, and comfortable. And have a non-slip sole.
Thanks Frances, that’s a lovely thing to say. I do agree about the posture thing; I don’t wear them when I have to do a lot of walking, they’re not great for my back in that capacity.
Ugh sorry pink jumper was J Crew wasn’t it
Love everything – but feel in this climate should we really be supporting Topshop? I’d rather eat my head than buy from that man…
Joanna Rymer says
Esther, I love this post. I live in a Yorkshire Pennine village where it is mostly always cold. In the winter it is so cold your hands turn blue in less than 3 minutes, I’ve timed it. Until the children have left Home and I can move to Devon I’m taking your advice as I still don’t buy enough warm clothes and try and stay looking slim and stylish instead of puffy and warm. How long are the hush joggers? I have long legs. Jo
Joanna they fit me and my legs are not that long 🙁 the lack of good clothes for tall people is next on my list of posts x
oh this IS exciting.
I’m a Essex girl living in Brooklyn nyc for 13 very very cold winters now and can not highly recommend UGG winter snow boots enough. They are waterproof, lace up, have the same ugg fur lining and look great with jeans and leggings. They are worth spending the extra $$$ as they are about $250 over here. Another life saver over here are Spanx leggings. They are very thick, very warm, hold you in, suck you up and wash up very well. Once again, well worth the price tag. Uniqlo also has some fab vests that have heat saving technology that really does work. I have a bunch in every color and they become my second skin when the cold really kicks in.
AN ESSEX GIRL LIVING IN BROOKLYN – I mean what a DREAM culture clash, no? Halloween must be amazing there
I sucked up and bought some Sorel winter boots last year which are amazing, a bit Made in Chelsea maybe for some but totally waterproof and useful. They are so good my husband, who has never bought a pair of shoes from anywhere other than Churches or Timberland got himself some. I think he thinks he looks like a Canadian lumberjack in them. Also there is a good trick if you need to wear a dress of getting some thermal long johns from say, M&S and hacking them off at the knee so you can wear them under pretty much anything.
Good idea! Yes Sorel boots have been popular. They leave my toes cold but I bow to popular demand. I feel an alternative-to-Uggs post coming on
Hush joggers have been a game changer for me. So comfy, keep their shape, and nice enough to wear outside the house. My grey leopard print ones from last year are still a staple. Also, I constantly have cold feet so aside from my INCREDIBLE Panama Jack boots I bought last winter on your recommendation, you will find me in kilt socks. The ones you get free with kilt hire. They are the best! Although probably easier said for those living in Scotland I suppose..
Oh yes, of course THE ONES YOU GET FREE WITH KILT HIRE?!?! that made me LOL. glad you liked the Panama Jacks – they are v v v good x
It’s niche. I realise this. But whenever my husband needs a kilt for a wedding or whatever he gets free socks which I then purloin. I mean, the ones you can actually buy from shops are probably even better but where’s the fun in that x
I highly recommend the cashmere sweatshirts from Madewell. Some of the colours are a bit yuck but they are warm, cosy, and look a bit more put together than a normal sweatshirt. And they come in very small sizes, for the petites.
Cindy – loving Sainsbury’s clothes at the moment. Now make a regular visit after spending months telling people I liked what they were wearing and the reply was always “Tu at Sainsbury’s “. It’s a treasure trove of delights!
Yes – I wanted this embroidered jumper from Zara last year but it had sold out, and I found one similar in Tu, a bit nicer even. I get comments on it all the time. Ditto an appliqué dress I got for my daughter.
If you like a skinny-fit jogger I think Uniqlo’s are a winner. I appreciate they don’t suit all body shapes but I am not thin – short, stocky, athletic, size 8-10 – and they suit me.
We cannot possibly still be buying from Topshop though can we??? I live a Uniqlo lightweight down jacket, under a bulkier warm coat for extreme temperatures or under a lightweight raincoat for wet weather. I would like a long warm coat for school run purposes.
Any tips on where to buy good thermal t-shirts or vests? The only ones I can find are very old fashioned.
Thanks so much for this! I am obsessed with warm clothes now, having turned 40, after spending the first four decades always feeling cold in winter because I thought warm clothes made me look fat 🙁 Seriously, all those years of watching Trinny and Susanna tell people that you have to wear a fine-knit V-neck if you have big boobs, not a proper jumper. You don’t see North Sea fishermen setting sail in a stupid cashmere V-neck, do you? It doesn’t keep you warm.
I have lost four stone since last winter (thanks to being terribly ill rather than discipline and exercise), and I am REALLY FEELING THE BLOODY COLD now. All my winter clothes are now enormous, which is great for layering but crap for not looking like a baglady. I have bought a giant oversized rainbow jumper from Asos and I may never take it off.