Dressing for Winnipeg’s transitional weather

Expect the unexpected this spring

Illustration by Gabrielle Funk

It can be difficult to know how to dress for transitional weather, but a few stylish locals have ideas for surviving nature’s mood swings.

Tess Furtado, merchandise manager-in-training at Out of the Blue in Osborne Village, says she often has to explain Winnipeg’s particular weather to her family members who live out of town.

“I say we have to dress for the cold, cold winter, and we have a little bit of a rainy season, more the past couple of years, and then we have these beautiful, tropical summers,” she says. 

For Furtado, that variety is reflected in her closet.

“Sometimes I feel bad, because my wardrobe is pretty big, but then I think about it, and we have quite a few seasons that we have to stock up for.”

Owner and operator of tonychestnut clothing design Jill Sawatzky starts spring fashion from the ground up.

In terms of feet and legs – which have to face slush, puddles and slipperiness – she says it’s all about the boots.

“I personally prefer to stick with leather boots instead of rubber boots, as I find them more comfortable if you're wearing them for a full day indoors. But seriously, you gotta wear boots,” Sawatzky says.

Doc Martens are an appropriate height, she says. Beyond that, she might wear high socks or leg warmers to protect her legs from unexpected splashes.

Furtado recommends layering to keep cozy and comfortable. 

“Personally, I’m a layer-lady,” Furtado says. “I dress in layers, and then I just slowly pull them off as needed.”

Furtado figures it’s better to be too hot and have a layer to take off than be too cold and have no protection.

She finds bamboo fabric works well for a base piece.

“We actually have a whole line of bamboo basics, which are great because they’re all one size, and you can kind of layer them on top of one another,” she says.

Bamboo keeps Furtado comfortable under sweaters and scarves.

“It has moisture-wicking properties,” she says. “When you sweat or when it’s damp outside, it wicks the moisture outwards from your body instead of getting really damp and sticky.”

EMK clothing, another locally grown brand, carries a few items that work well with the layering concept.

Lindsay Goulet, sales associate at EMK,
has been wearing warm, lined leggings with a multifunctional poncho from the shop.

“It’s like a one-size-fits-all, super cozy knit poncho,” she says. 

Goulet chooses a poncho, because she says it can look dressy or casual. 

Scarves are Sawatzky’s go-to finishing piece.

“Never underestimate the importance of a good scarf. In my opinion, the bigger the better,” she says. “I like a scarf that can double as a lap blanket or an over-the-shoulder shawl when you're sitting somewhere and you can't warm up.”

Sawatzky likes the bundled-up look and says layers make a person’s look more nuanced.

Plus, she says, no one will know if your base layer is also your pyjamas.

Published in Volume 71, Number 24 of The Uniter (March 16, 2017)

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