Elegant Winter Dressing with M-J

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Above: M-J de Mesterton in a Tibbett Duffel Coat of Elysian Wool, Insulated Aigle Boots from France; a Mongolian Cashmere Scarf by Johnstons of Elgin, Scotland; a White Fox Hat Made in Helsinki; a Plaid Tweed Skirt, Black Leather Cashmere-Lined Gloves from Italy, and a Walking Stick Made of Scotch Broom

Wear warm clothes when it’s cold outside and inside. The days of women showing their bare arms year-round just because an occupant of the White House does it to show off her biceps are coming to a close in about three weeks.  The current president has, since 2009, kept the oval office at a balmy 85° year-round, as though he were in Hawai’i, while instructing the citizenry to “tighten your belts”. The rest of us, if we have heat at all, keep our places at 68° or even cooler, thanks to the punitive cost of fuel.

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Above: on Christmas Day, I’m wearing a turtleneck under a round-necked dress, nylon stockings, a silk & cashmere pashmina, and faux-fur-lined tall leather boots. Most winter days, I’d be wearing tweed and sweaters.

Elegant Dressing for Autumn: Classic Tweed Travelling Suit
M-J de Mesterton in Aquascutum Tweed Suit, Her Perennial Favourite

Rugged, traditional, and elegant tweed made from Scottish wool is the best material for fall and winter dressing. Easily covered with a trench-coat or embellished with a pashmina or long wool scarves, tweed will keep you warm and dry. Tweed suits, skirts, trousers and jackets are always fashionable.

My husband and I found it odd, if not historically-incorrect, to see the inhabitants of Downton Abbey wearing sleeveless flapper dresses all over the huge, inevitably cold and difficult-to-heat house, at all hours, without wraps or sweaters. Those dresses were made to be worn at nightclubs while dancing the Charleston, where  hyper-activity and body-heat of the crowd made it possible to stay warm while baring arms.

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Dining at Downton: thanks to cocktails, aperitifs and wines, scantily-clad ladies there could abide the evening without shivering. Or maybe not; Ralph Lauren designed wardrobes for the series, and may have just assumed that women dressed like flappers in most situations because it was the Roaring Twenties. I doubt that 1920s women were so silly, but there have always been nonsensical followers of fashion, like the ones who are now wearing peep-toed shoes without stockings all winter long in cold climates. My grandmother, who was born in the Victorian Age, told me that to be beautiful, one must suffer–I know that freezing’s not what she meant. Even body-heat from large groups at table does not take the chill off England’s grand country houses for most months of the year; shoulders are usually covered with something at dinner, such as a little fur garment or shawl that could be removed later in the evening for dancing. And no self-respecting woman would be standing about the house during winter in just a sleeveless gown.

Speaking of winter dressing and silly followers of fashion, here is a post that I made here at Elegant Survival News in December, 2011:

Talking Heads Clad Badly and Barely-Shod

Summer Dress and Peep-Toe Shoes in December?!

Why is the anchorwoman wearing a sleeveless summer dress in cold NYC on December 6th? Are biceps something that female talking heads suddenly find a crying need to bare, even in freezing temperatures? Are they using too much energy, in an effort to keep tropically warm indoors? Is it seasonally appropriate to wear bare-toed shoes on wintry days, as the woman in red is doing, or sandals (the first lady wore sandals at a Kennedy Center gala last weekend) in December? I don’t think so. These women are on a national television show, displaying their irresponsible, energy-inefficient lifestyles before the public, as if to say that a size XXX carbon-footprint is desirable. The rest of us are wearing wool and tweed, living in homes with little-or-no  heat most of the time.

In an Alpine Climate, January: Dressing in Furry Boots, a Scottish Hand-Made Fair Isle Sweater, and an Austrian Wool Skirt

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Winter Cold Remedies

Hot Chiles, Onions and Ginger are Known to Help Relieve Colds


Gargle with Himalayan Salt and Warm Water 
(Oil Painting of Himalayan Salt Crystals by M-J de Mesterton, ©2007)
Carrots, Onions, Ginger and Peppers Sautéed and Served with Rice: a Cold-Fighting Luncheon Dish
I once cured my husband, who has been malarial since his operations in Africa, of a devastating cold/cough/fever/flu. I fed him sliced ginger in honey a few times a day, cayenne capsules, various herbal tisanes, aspirin and Theraflu. Whenever we get a hint of a tickle in our throats, or wake up with a full-fledged sore throat, we gargle with salt, take Zicam, Airborne in a glass of water,  and eat a lot of ginger. Neither of us has had a cold since that aforementioned worrisome time. A trip to the doctor will do no good for the common cold. We would never dream of plugging up the already-jammed waiting rooms for such a malady, and antibiotics do nothing for viruses. Even Tamiflu only shortens the duration of influenza by a day or so. Here is a well-known trick to ward off a nascent cold: put hydrogen peroxide in the ears. If one is not averse to sugar, keeping a jar full of candied ginger is a good idea. That way, you can pop a piece whenever you feel a bit down. A better way to ingest ginger is to slice it fresh and mix it with honey, another a germ-killer. Is ginger a panacea? No, but it certainly enhances general health, as do hot peppers, because they create an environment in which viruses seldom thrive. Raw garlic works, you say? It may make you well, but it will make your friends sick. Remember to have salt, honey, ginger, hydrogen peroxide and red pepper in the pantry during this winter to stuff a cold or influenza infection in its beginning stages, so that you can get well sooner.
©M-J de Mesterton, 2006–2013

Click Here to Read M-J’s Main Website, Elegant Survival

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