Photo courtesy Flickr
I’m not quite ready to wear black velvet on the street in July, but over the last several years I’ve seen more than a few pieces in public during our so-called hot months. Let’s face it: synthetic velvet is fake fur and a practical, comforting layer in the cool and damp dawn of a local summer morning. It ain't bad in the cool gray humidity of an August cocktail hour, either.
For several months I’ve nibbled at internet images of a down sweater on offer from the Deep South America outdoor clothing company. I feared buying one would be indulgent and redundant, until I tried one on during a short tour of the Great Big Hiking Co-op down the hill.
I heat the house as little as health permits, substituting clothing for carbon dioxide. It’s cost-effective and fun, sort of, a survival exercise and an affirmation of historic local culture. Like the English houses that influenced the Oregon Territory, pioneers found sixty degrees to be a perfectly adequate interior temperature no matter how prosperous the family.
The trick to layering clothing is to keep the armcye unencumbered where it meets the torso. The down sweater is an elegant solution, and I haven’t taken mine off since I brought it home. The co-op is consistently two or three years ahead of the fashion curve. The things they offer have as low a cost-per-wearing as anything I buy.
President Kennedy dominated the polls with his image of youth and vigor. One of the secrets of that image was to dodge the bulky wool overcoat of the time by layering beneath his suit with cashmere underwear. Layering from beneath simplifies many aspects of dressing. Back in the day, women wore many layers of petticoats under their long outer skirts. I find it useful to emphasize warmth on the bottom. A generous muffler is nearly as warm as a disquieting fur neckpiece, more flexible, and easier to store. A simple, high-quality knit angora beret from the benchmark English hat maker warms, works under hoods and as a night cap, and is easy to store in a side bag.
This is a good time of year to plan the winter’s wardrobe. Things you buy to enjoy in the field can work all year round under the roof.