It’s just starting to get cold around here and everyone has taken their winter clothes out of storage. Puffy jackets are once again de rigueur.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Canadian winter, you should know that it is very difficult to find exactly the right coat. We expect a lot from our outerwear because temperatures range from around freezing to minus forty degrees. Sometimes it is windy, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes we have snow, and sometimes we have freezing rain. Because of these variations, we must be ready for anything. Well, anything except good weather.
The first thing to consider in buying a coat is that you must buy it a size or two larger than you normally would to make room for a sweater underneath. The goal is to be able to wear several layers of clothes so that you can take them off or put them on according to circumstances. You will take off a layer or two in restaurants, and the proprietors will kindly provide coat racks next to your table. You will leave on all your clothing layers while riding public transit because there is nowhere to put them and because you’ll be going outside pretty soon anyway.
The next consideration is the length of the jacket. It could be a bomber jacket, a car coat, or knee length. If you are likely to spend a lot of time standing at a bus stop or walking outside, longer is better. If you are going to work outside, or shovel snow, or dig your car out from the snow plough’s windrows, then shorter is better.
When you have the right size and length determined, you must choose between puffy or smooth, down-filled or fibre-filled. In the far north you can also get traditional fur or wool felt coats, but around here we have mostly polyester. In any case, you will look like either the Michelin tire man or the Stay Puft marshmallow man, and that’s ok because they are both quite likable. Anyway, almost all the people around you will look like them, too.
Generally, coats and jackets come with hoods, but they are not often used. Most people wear a toque instead and only put up the hood if it is windy or actually snowing. The trouble is, the hoods don’t stay up in the wind and they don’t stay closed. Without a toque or ear muffs, the cold will freeze your ears off through the gaping sides of the hood. The only thing that keeps a hood up is a drawstring, but most hoods don’t have them and/or we don’t use them. Someone should redesign jacket hoods.
The coat designers seem to think that a fake fur trim is either useful or attractive, but in fact it is neither. I suppose if I were mushing a dog sled, a fur trim might keep some snow out of my eyes, but I don’t and it doesn’t. Forget the trim, guys. Just figure out a way to make a hood stay up without string.
Now that I think about it, a flap that I could put over my face and fix with a Velcro tab would work well. It would serve a dual purpose by keeping the hood closed and keeping my face warm. Only my eyes would be exposed. We could call it the Canuck Niqab. No-one could object to that, could they?