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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Elegant Smoothie for Winter Health

Broccoli, Celery, Jalapeño, Parsley and Lemon are Blended with Buttermilk or Yoghurt to Make an Elegant Smoothie
This piquant green smoothie has properties that help to prevent colds, flu, 
water-retention and cancer.
 ©M-J de Mesterton

Winter Survival Booties Hand-Made of Sheepskin

High-Quality Craftsmanship, Authentic Sheepskin, Superior Warmth and Comfort: Booties from Ukraine
These elegant sheep’s wool booties have suede soles, and are so soft that they can be worn in bed to get you through extremely cold conditions.
Tamara has several options available in sheepskin footwear. Click here to see her ebay shop. She also offers rabbit-fur Russian hats, hand-knitted wool socks, geigercounters and gas-masks!

©Photo and Words Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2011

Winter Survival Tips

  • Prepare Your Home Insulate doors, windows and pipes. Install and inspect smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire-extinguishers, and keep batteries fresh. Know how to shut off water valves and turn taps to a trickle,  to prevent freezing. Check on neighbours, the elderly, and those whom you know to be living alone. Prepare an emergency supply kit for your home, with a three day supply of non-perishable food and water, warm clothing, blankets, first aid kit, battery powered weather radio, torch (flashlight) and batteries, long-burning “survival” candles, matches,  pet food and supplies.
  • Prepare Your Cars Prepare an emergency car kit with jumper cables, first aid kit, extra blankets, warm boots and sleeping-bags. If you become stranded, remain in the car and wait for help to arrive. Do not set out on foot unless you see a building close by where you know that you can take shelter. Check the car’s radiator, anti-freeze, windshield wiper-fluid, tires and tire pressure, and keep the gas tank nearly full to help avoid acquiring ice in the tank and fuel-lines.
  • Be Prepared when Outdoors Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other strenuous work in the cold. If you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly, work slowly and take frequent breaks. And, if you experience severe chest pain or other heart attack symptoms, stop working and call 9-1-1.
  • Beware of Frostbite When outdoors, or even in a very cold house, wear warm clothing, including hats, thick socks, gloves and scarves. Avoid long periods outside with exposed skin, especially in windy conditions. At the first signs of skin redness or pain, get out of the cold and protect exposed skin. The nose, ear lobes, fingertips, and toes are most likely to be adversely affected by extreme cold first. If the skin has turned white or grey, and feels firm, frozen or numb, re-warm it in warm, circulating water, about the temperature of a hot bath. Actively move it but don’t rub it. Drink warm, non-alcoholic liquids. Do not smoke or chew tobacco, as it reduces circulation.
  • Guard against Hypothermia Hypothermia means that a person’s core body temperature is too low. It can strike during cold weather or when people are chilled from rain, sweat, or cold water. Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness are signs of hypothermia. Babies with hypothermia have bright red, cold skin, and very low energy.  To self-treat: warm the center of the body first (the chest, neck, head and groin), then the feet and legs. Make yourself or other hypothermia victims warm by covering with dry clothes, provide a heat source and warm , non-alcoholic beverages, then get medical attention if possible.
  • How to Avoid Deadly Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill without warning. Each year, more than 500 people in the United States alone die or become sick  from “CO poisoning”. Never use generators, grills, or other gasoline, propane, or charcoal burning devices inside your home, garage, or carport or near doors, windows, or vents.  If possible, during a power-outage, stay with friends, family or in a shelter. If you notice symptoms, get yourself or another victim into fresh air immediately, and seek medical attention.