I have a fashion blogger inside me. She voraciously devours Anthropologie catalogs (though buying from anthro must be hoarded for those rare times of desperate decadence due to the fact that every time one purchases from anthro (or Free People or Urban Outfitters) you’re giving money to this idiot schmuck http://bornlikethis.org/1news/urban-outfitters-and-richard-hayne/) She loves fashion blogs and the Modcloth site (though FYI, Modcloth shipping to Alaska takes roughly a month…so, you know…plan ahead.)
During the year I spent on exchange in France I was perpetually broke because I spent all my money on clothes. Literally. All of my money. I would go out with friends and be able to buy (at most) one beer and that meant walking home because I didn’t have cab fare – but I did have those new pants from Zara! As a fashion-loving-gal who grew up Juneau, Alaska (we had a Gottschalks!) thrifting 95% of her clothes it was like a dream to actually go somewhere where 1. Fashionistas who looked like they had walked out of an H&M catalog walked on the street and 2. You could buy the same clothes the fashionistas were wearing at the local H&M. This was all a little overwhelming to my 19-yr-old self. So I bought. And bought. And bought and bought and bought.
In a story that now lives in my family lore to get home from France I took a 70 lb. backpack, an 80 lb. suitcase, a laptop case, an Adidas duffel bag and a huge messenger bag on the plane. These were all filled (predominantly) with lots and lots of clothes. The backpack and suitcase were checked, the Adidas bag went in an overhead compartment, and the laptop case and messenger bag were somehow squeezed into about 60% of the under seat storage with the other 40% peeking out. How did I not get scolded by the airline steward for not storing everything under the seat correctly? Well, the steward was unable to see my feet (or my bags) due to the amount of clothing I was wearing. After I had packed everything I still had what was affectionately referred to by my friend Caleb as a ‘mountain’ of clothing on the bed. It was suggested that I leave it behind. I refused. I would just wear all these clothes. I mean, I had loved clothes more than food for the majority of my exchange, how hard could it be to wear a lot of clothes on a plane? As it turns out, it wasn’t that hard, just really, really sweaty. I wore 4 pairs of pants, 11 skirts and 13 shirts, as well as two coats, a scarf, and a hat. After traveling for 17 hours from Paris to New York, when I finally got to my hotel room I took off all of my layers, and laid on my bed in my underwear, slowly drinking a glass of water.
My love of clothes has not changed in the ensuing years. I still love clothes and fashion, I still love how a bad day can become good through the acquisition of some killer style. I still fall asleep planning my outfit for the next day. However in the past few years (since I’ve moved to Fairbanks) my inner fashion blogger has had to secede several key points to that kill-joy of all fashion blogs: practicality.
See, there’s some things one has to take into consideration up here in the Interior of Alaska that others just don’t. For instance, Fall, my most favorite season, is over and done in about 2.5 weeks. Most cute shoes (i.e. any shoes that either show the outline of, or highlight your feet) have about zero traction on snow and ice. It actually is -40 degrees below zero in Fairbanks sometimes, and that’s without wind chill. And -40 will beat the most relentless fashion blogger into snow pants, two down coats and lots and lots of fleece. As so many fashionistas on the internet and in magazines will perkily inform you – tights are a great solution to those nippy winter days! Except tights actually provide about absolutelynothing in the way of warmth unless they’re lined with fleece and then they provide alittlebitofsomething in the way of warmth. You’ll still only be outside for all of 20 seconds before you decide that, though bulky, fleece lined carhartts are actually a much better choice.
It’s unfortunate, but the only way to actually put fashion first in Fairbanks from about mid-October to mid-April is to just bounce from your warm house to your warm car to your warm job to your warm car to your warm coffee shop to your warm car to your warm house. And while I do have days where I do just that, for the most part, that lifestyle just doesn’t jive with me. I’d rather be outside, waddling through the snow in my long underwear, fleece sweatpants, carhartt overalls and two sweaters (don’t forget the silk long underwear top!) with the bulky down coat over everything. Though warm, and happy to be outside, I have to just not look at fashion blogs on those days, or I start to resent my uncanny resemblance to the Michelin Man.
So most days I compromise. On days when I work (Mon-Fri) I’ll bring cute shoes in my lunch tote to change into when I get to work, and I’ve fallen into a skinny jeans/sweater, dress/leggings sort of routine. (Though it should be noted that even skinny jeans must be bought big enough to wear leggings underneath.) On the weekends when we run the trapline, or build outside, or haul and chop wood, I just give in to the desire for warmth and pull on my much loved Pendleton men’s wool shirts, carhartts, fleece sweats.
I’m happy that my life is not spent entirely indoors during the winter, I’m very lucky in that I get to choose where I live so I’d rather choose to enjoy it. But just know, the next time you see a lady who is wearing a fleece head-band around her ears and a hat on top of that, who looks slightly shapeless and puffy in all her layers, kicking her way through the snow, know that deep down, under all those layers of fleece, wool and down, that that lady harbors a fashion blogger in her heart, who fell asleep the night before planning an outfit that could only be described as anthro-worthy.