The season of fluffy parkas and practical boots is here. Winnipeg’s bitter winters create a tension between the desire to dress fashionably, the need to stay safe and warm and the financial barriers that can make both difficult. Can Winnipeggers be warm and fashionable all winter long, even through another arctic chill?
Allison Linklater, owner of Redeemed: The Consignment Place on Academy, says yes. She says layering is the way to go.
“It is warm, and you can strip off layers as needed,” Linklater says. “The single smartest thing would be a vest with a coat overtop.”
Local fashion designer Lennard Taylor says, “No matter what you are wearing, you should have a vest on, because it keeps that warmth close to the body, in the core. If you are getting hot in your coat ... keep your sternum and chest covered and open (your zipper up) to your stomach.”
When it comes to your coat, it’s the quality of the material that counts.
Elise Buckley, executive assistant at Lennard Taylor, tries on one of Taylor's winter coats in their Exchange District shop. // Photo by Callie Lugosi
“I’m always a big fan of wool, because it has been around for generations ... it is also good for cutting down the wind,” Taylor says.
Linklater says fur is also a good option. Fur coats are “reuse, recycle and (largely) biodegradable, except if they have a plastic button ... Faux fur is a good alternative to the real thing.”
Scarves make a versatile top layer and are a great opportunity to show off style and stay warm.
“My No. 1 thing I would say is a great scarf. A great scarf can go a long way in making you (feel) warm. (They are) also super versatile. If you are cold, if you have your scarf, you can wrap it around your head, wrap it around your ears to make sure that you are still warm,” Taylor says.
For many Winnipeggers, buying new or thrifted coats, scarves and vests can be prohibitively expensive. Numerous organizations around the city organize coat drives and donations to provide Winnipeggers in need with necessary warmth. The Main Street Project accepts donations 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 71 Martha St., with their most-requested winter items including gloves, toques, coats and scarves.
Siloam Mission and United Way’s Koats for Kids are two other organizations that take winterwear donations and provide them to those in need.
In the end, it is about how clothing makes someone feel, and in the winter, that means being safe and warm.
The Main Street Project’s weekly Food Bank and Essentials Market runs every Thursday 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Registration info is available at mainstreetproject.ca. Siloam Mission’s donation info is available at siloam.ca/action/donate-goods. Information on obtaining or donating resources through Koats for Kids are available at unitedwaywinnipeg.ca/koatsforkids.