May 20, 2022
It happens every year; May is cold cold cold, with high temperatures in the teens Celsius, and then BAM – the temperature goes up to the upper 20s… (For North Americans – we’ve been from LOW 50s to upper 80s with HIDEOUS humidity, within 12 hours, and then back down again 12 hours later…)
Pity the tourists… they seem to generally be prepared for the hot weather, and then we get down into the 50s and they freeze.
So every year, vendors here in Chicago sell tons of sweatshirts. But still, without other appropriate clothing, knees turn blue, toes lose feeling… It really spoils a vacation.
And of course, this happens to the rest of us who live here; we think that summer is finally here, and we pack away our winter clothes. If you live in a teeny apartment, your clothes might end up 28 floors away, in a storage locker. Not convenient for last-minute wardrobe adjustments!
So finally, I’ve realized that I need to keep a week cluster of warmer clothes in my closet EVEN IN AUGUST…
This can be a pretty fun exercise – there are some wonderful sweatshirts in the world!
This is what I think of as necessary – you might want to make adjustments to reflect your own tolerance for cold breezes!
Even though the clothes that you’re keeping available are for warmth, they can look for bright and summery:
Depending on where you live, these pieces could live in your clothes every day of the year!
note that sweatpants that don’t have elastic ankles can pass for “real” pants in a lot of situations; tuck in that waist tie and who’s going to know?
If you’re hanging out where I grew up, near Deep Creek Lake in Maryland, a flannel shirt is ALWAYS useful. Or a corduroy shirt. Or both of them at once! (we had some cold mornings…)
If you like the depth of color and texture that you get with flannel, but you don’t like your thighs to make that “schwoop schwoop” noise, a shirt is the way to go!
And I have to strongly suggest that every woman should have at least a couple of these Buffs – gaiter-like thingies – in their emergency bag. They don’t make a great medical mask, but they are a warm face covering, hat, neck gaiter, ear band etc. It’s a lot of value in a tiny space…
You may want to keep the same “emergency warmth” cluster all year ’round; a nice navy-based cluster is a perfect solution…
Maybe your idea of being prepared for a cold-snap is a little bit dressy; this last cluster is what I keep aside through the year for those occasional FREEZING days….
I remember an August evening, back in the ’90s, sitting on the lake front until VERY late, with a dear friend… I was wearing essentially the outfit shown above. We talked at length about how peculiar it was to be wearing sweaters in August…
p.s. Five years ago, I was packing for Ireland…
Taste of France says
A recent trip to Italy had the opposite outcome–it was far hotter than I had expected.
I was pretty happy with my transatlantic plane outfit last year. All about layers:
tank top (I don’t like to go that bare, but when you’re in a stuffy place with no way to get air or cool down, it beats passing out)
collared cotton shirt with long sleeves
Bréton-striped long-sleeve cotton T-shirt, big enough to wear over the other shirt (and the collars work)
V-neck cashmere sweater (again, collars work–the white shirt collar out of the stripes, which fill the V neck)
Worn with 7/8-length dress pants that have a bit of stretch, for sitting.
I have found that loose, flowing pants are wonderful for sitting on planes, but a nightmare in the restroom, especially on long flights where liquids (water? worse?) are all over the floor after a few hours.
The mystery liquid on airplane restroom floors is exactly why I like a loose skirt for air travel. I can gather all the skirt up under my chin so it doesn’t touch the platform around the seat or the floor 🙂.
Lesley C says
I live in the Southern Hemisphere and we have a misty, cool, wet winter. These outfits are perfect for our leisure wear over weekends. Love them all. We have a word ‘snoesig’ which would describe the comfy feeling you get when wrapped up warmly against the cold.
Beth T says
In my never ending quest to create a year round wardrobe 😅, I keep a few long sleeved tops/shirts and warm jumpers in my summer wardrobe.
Socks are a must for me year round. I like coloured socks – a flash of an accent colour. I’m always on the look out for patterned jumpers and I have three plaid shirts which cover most of my colours but I’d love to find one in purples. The Moon Rabbit scarf made me smile and Sallie in St. Paul might find it hard to resist!
Janice’s look back to packing for Ireland could also apply to the rest of the UK, though it only rains as much down the western side. UK weather is determined by the position of the Gulf Stream and wind direction: Cold and showers from the north; rain and wind storms from the west; hot and humid and thundery weather from the south; freezing from the East. In the summer, most of our weather comes from the south or west. Just occasionally, the wind shifts to north and the temperature changes drastically overnight. I’ve known sunshine and hot weather changing overnight to cold and wet (even snow). Having learnt some hard lessons over the years, I always pack warm layers, a waterproof, hat, scarves and gloves, even in the height of summer! I might not need them but better prepared than sorry. Waterproof walking boots are a must too.
Sally in St Paul says
Beth T, you know me so well, haha! Yes, the moon rabbit is very appealing. Luckily I had seen it before (the stylist Liz Klebba had sent me the link) and built up my resistance at that time! :D
One year hubby and I attended the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh, Scotland in August . I froze, even with gloves and a Winter jacket on ! And that was the 6 PM show, which was followed by a 9PM show for a later crowd. I felt sorry for the scantily clad performers from various parts of the British Empire ! Stonehenge was windy, rainy, and once again cold — in August ! Thankfully, I had packed 1/4 zip fleece pullovers to wear under my outer jacket ! And tops to wear under the fleece !
Beth T says
I went to the Edinburgh Tattoo where a freak gust of wind proved what Scotsmen don’t wear under their kilts. As for Stonegenge, that is one of the most exposed places in England. It’s windy even on a hot day! Hope you enjoyed your trip despite the weather.
I love this, and it perfectly fits what we are going through right now – though the forecast for the weekend is just lovely. Perhaps I’ll actually be able to make it out in the yard! I would find it hard to choose among any of these. Also, I’ve been wearing scarves (daily) to cover my neck, but perhaps I should investigate a hooded sweatshirt. Hadn’t really thought about that as an option. Thanks Janice – have a good weekend everyone!
As soon as I put my cold weather clothing away, it freezes again . . . flannel all year round for the win!
Similarly, if I am diligent about packing warm layers and a rain coat, blazing, hot temperatures are guaranteed!!!
Version 5 is the one for me. I am learning that I prefer ivory over white.
Very interesting. Almost the opposite of what I’ve been doing…keeping a few short sleeve tops in winter for monthly injection days. Layers are the way to go. I do keep jeans out all year. One men’s flannel…why are theirs so much better quality weight-wise? I’ve been using one bought for my father that he hated & would never wear because it seems better quality than the women’s one I bought for myself which already has pilled, faded and shrunk. Also have a well-loved Talbots sweatshirt that I can’t see ever leaving my closet until it is threadbare…when I have a flare and everything hurts, that over a thin cotton tank seems to be less irritating than even a silk cashmere top. Am still looking for a work version of my flare days outfit though. Thanks for the ideas Janice.
Beth T says
Kari, I9 get flare ups too. It’s tricky finding something to wear when even clothes hurt. I have to wear loose clothes with warm linings (I feel cold on those days). They must stretch and not fit too tight. I can’t cope with buttons and zips on those days either.
Agreed. I’ve learned the hard way, over many trips, to always pack a sweatshirt and a raincoat. They can be layered together during an unexpected cold snap.
Josef Seibel leather sneakers!!! I carefully collect JS in my shoe wardrobe for comfort and quality.
Chinos are a great choice for so many reasons. (Talbots has them in some very pretty colors)
And, I’m not surprised you’re a native Marylander. We spent six years in Bethesda, toured nearly every corner of the state and found a lot of friendly, unpretentious, capable people.
Enjoy your weekends, everyone! Now, if the Pacific Northwest can just pull out of the rainy, windy cold weather pattern.
Sally in St Paul says
I love the look of these JS sneakers every time we see them. Do they have the support/comfort for all-day “tourist walking around” use, do you think?
I am with you in the PNW… although it’s sunny here this morning (still only 55 degrees, but at least not raining!). I do love how green it is because of the rain. I grew up here, though so I’m used to it. :) I love these outfits and yes, something like this stays in my closet all the time because the weather here can be so changeable. My birthday is at the end of July and I always say it’s almost the only day all summer we’re sure not to have any rain.
Great post as usual, Janice. I could live in one of these outfits, living like a hermit during these covid times with a vulnerable husband. I also love reading the comments. This would have been timely lately in Vancouver as the weather has been rainy and chilly for ages. Finally we’re getting some lovely sun, and seasonal temperatures. Btw in Canada we use the metric system so use Celsius to measure temperature.
I think the US might be the last place in the world that won’t adopt normal measurements… sigh…
I live like a hermit with my vulnerable mother, and hard-working spouse. I get out a couple of afternoons a week, but for the most part, we content ourselves to stay VERY close to home. It’s a blessing, really!
I was in Chicago in May several years ago and it was freezing – I think there was a record set for the coldest temperature on that date or something along those lines. I was prepared and we were warm enough for our architecture tour.
If you’re anywhere near a body of water, I would suggest a fleece jacket – even a light one, or a fleece zip up pullover. There are days in the summer when the wind is off the water and it gets cold and foggy. I’ve found that fleece (especially a windproof fleece) is the only thing to really keep you warm in those conditions.
EV, does the rule about a body of water also apply to small fishing lakes? Maybe what I mean is more of a very large pond? What about reservoirs that have camping areas near the water? I like looking at the Great Outdoors from a nice comfy spot inside, so don’t have much knowledge of lakes, ponds, etc…and the Mr has ordered a camper because he thinks spending time in a metal traveling dollhouse with a cat that gets carsick and a hyperactive 65 lb dog would be great fun. All I can think about is the movie The Long Trailer with Lucille Ball…and trying to prepare for whatever disaster comes along beforehand.
Well, yes, if the wind blows over the water first and then the land, it will cool you down (as opposed to a land breeze, which will be warmer). It applies to lakes as well as larger bodies of water. Fog is fog.
We have a 32 foot sailboat that we use for day sails in the northeast as well as longer cruises. I keep a set of clothes onboard for just in case, such as a fleece jacket, rain jacket and extra shoes. Not so different than a camper in many ways. You will be needing a good capsule wardrobe because of a lack of storage space. We also have to plan ahead and book a place at a marina or yacht club and I think it’s the same idea with popular camping spots, especially on the weekends. I can’t help with tips for your fur babies.
Karen S Weitzman says
This is very helpful and timely as I’m going to Alaska next week. I’m definitely wearing lots of layers and now I’m adding a gator to my bag! Thank you!
Sally in St Paul says
This is definitely a great idea for travel…and in my experience, being prepared for cold weather in a warm season guarantees that the weather will be absolutely lovely ;)
St Paul is not as bad as Chicago in this way, but I definitely keep items for cold weather handy year-round. (Luckily I do not have to move off-season clothing to a storage unit/attic/basement/etc.)
I so enjoy your posts and beautiful scarves. We’re headed to Ireland the end of August and found your old post on what to wear in Ireland very helpful. Thanks.
Lisa Laree says
I grew up just a wee bit south of you, west of Indianapolis. We always seemed to have a weekend in August that saw a blustery cold front come through with rain and highs in the upper 50’s to low 60’s. Usually it was the weekend of the annual family reunion picnic, lol, but in 1980 it happened a week later…on my wedding. Gotta love the midwest weather swings…. Now I live in North Alabama and those ‘summer cold fronts’ just mean that it’s actually cool enough to open the windows and enjoy some fresh air before the sauna returns.
Lisa, I get it. Grew up in Chicagoland, now in Tennessee. We LOVE those Summer “cold fronts!”
Coach Laura says
This is me in Seattle this year – one of the coldest on record. My rhododendrons that usually bloom for my son’s May 1 birthday STILL have not bloomed. I just bought two Sweaty Betty hooded sweatshirts – first hooded garments since 2000. I am living in them, they are so cozy. But in Seattle, I never really put away the zip up athletic jackets and Uniqlo ultra light compact down jackets in the summer. The only weeks that are reliably warm are the first two weeks of August.
I’m probably in a minority for not owning a single sweatshirt, but I will say that I make use of my cashmere cardigans and silk scarves whenever I go into a freezing cold building in the summer. If I’m traveling and the weather is uncertain, I bring the same combination. And when I’m in the car with my husband in the summer, I always have a big cotton scarf with me because he likes to turn the air conditioning up very high, and I find it too cold.
Here in the eastern coast of England anything goes weather wise. As I don’t have enough clothes to put seasonal ones away I just ignore the white trousers in the winter and the coats in the summer. Pouring with rain and cold here today and I remember one year we had snow on the 1st June. We did have a couple of nice warm days last week but as ever we had a storm on the 3rd day. We don’t get a tan here we just go rusty.
Beth T says
🤣🤣🤣 I quite agree about going rusty! The storms lwere very lively. I’ve not seen lightning like that for a long time.
That Boden sweatshirt link is taking me to the wrong garment .
Crystal S. says
I have a thyroid problem, so I am often cold and wear heavier clothes well into the summer, especially in air conditioned buildings. These are wonderful ideas.
Megan M says
I kept a few things from my cold-weather wardrobe in my closet instead of packing them away in totes: Land’s End pink sweater fleece blazer, a thin neutral turtleneck, NYDJ medium wash wide-leg crop jeans (I am petite but chose regular so they appear full-length), a black hoodie with thumbholes with matching athletic pants, and a purple hooded Carhartt sweatshirt. The blazer and turtleneck are for adapting my work clothes and the rest are for adapting my casual/camping wardrobe for cooler weather.
It has been said create a home so you never have to take a holiday from. I did.
We live in a small unit overlooking the ocean and thanks to the organising, decluttering and minimalism trends I use my space wisely and focus on that which is essential to my current lifestyle; that 20% I use 80% of the time. It only took me…ooh…three or four decades and many interesting paths.
A tallboy and 80cm hanging rod is more than enough storage for my thirteen month year round wardrobe casual living on the coast in a temperate region of Australia.
The extra month, you didn’t ask? Think a small selection of seldom used but nice to have speciality clothes and accessories for campervaning, semi-formal events, extra layers for unexpected cold or wet weather, dirty jobs, etc..
I only ever pack away any favourite too-small items. I have finally accepted my weight gain and thankfully it has stabilised so, not like me, my stored items pile is shrinking.
In saying all that; after being inappropriately dressed on holidays far to many times in my younger days I do pack for all seasons and events when away from home. I do re-wear, spot clean and air-wash clothes, but not undies, which can forgive a smaller number of items overall. It goes without saying I pack two colours with a couple of accents. Also I pack a week’s worth of clothes whenever I am away for a week or more. News flash: there are washing facilities worldwide so wash and relax day can be paired; and really who wants to be overly careful or have to wash when away for a only a week. I donated my large suitcases and pack a maximum of 15 kilograms as that is all I can or want to handle now.
NB: In life and at home or away it is so important to have just enough of the right aspirational items and ideas to soothe our soul, comfort our heart-mind as well wedge us out of complacency.
I can relate to this as we just came back from Florida over the weekend. I opted for linen clothing for the airplane as I still find it a bit chilly on the plane and it was enough to keep my fair skin protected from the sun as we walked the boardwalks. It was also a lot cooler when we got back north or maybe it was my time in the sun.