January 2014


I love wool: A plunge into my closet in cold (and warm) weather.

Yesterday I decided to go out for an adventure in Berlin.

With temperatures the coldest all year – around -12° – and plans for a long walk around Berlin, I bundled up. Out came the long underwear (wool, even!), winter jacket, hat, gloves, and warm shoes. I went all out – my scarf trailing behind me as I wandered down the street.

Actually – and this is a side note – the greatest discovery I made in 2013 was wool. It’s a discovery I owe to the Shetland Islands. While I had some wool clothing, it wasn’t a fabric I sought out since I find wool to be scratchy. It turns out that when you pay for high quality wool – and pay a lot – you can get wool that isn’t scratchy.

Over the past year I’ve acquired four wool t-shirts – as in shirts you wear in the summer – in addition to the woolen underwear and undershirts. Plus I have woolen scarves, including one made just for me by JuSt Shetland. (I actually bought two scarves from JuSt Shetland; the second is made of alpaca; I adore both equally.)

My custom made scarves -- the gold is alpaca, the brown is organic Shetland wool.

My custom made scarves — the gold is alpaca, the brown is organic Shetland wool.

This has, to some extent, led to a rethink of my wardrobe. I’d already banished most synthetics (exceptions being gym clothes and winter jackets), favoring cotton, but with my wool discoveries, I’m starting to incorporate and test other fabrics. While in Laramie, for example, I found a buffalo wool hat — it hasn’t been cold enough to really appreciate it yet.

Later this year I will be attending a wedding (actually I can count two weddings in the next 12 months, but the second is going to be a beach wedding), and I’ve decided I should probably wear a suit. I don’t actually own one – an error I will correct when I get a bespoke (I love that word—definitely not in common American use) suit while on holiday in a part of the world where bespoke suits are (in)expensive.

Would you trust this man's fashion advice?

Would you trust this man’s fashion advice?

Since I don’t know anything about buying suits, I’ve been doing a bit of surfing, reading up on what to do. I even watched a video – not meant for me – entitled, “How to Choose a Wedding Suit” – although I have to say that after seeing the host, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t take fashion advice from the so-called “fashion expert.” The only people I’ve seen wearing uglier suits were doing so ironically.

Whoa – slight detour there – what I wanted to say is that the suit will be wool. Actually I think I’ll get two suits, and both will be wool. I also hope to get a several custom made shirts to match the suits.

I also want to get a new wool winter jacket – I have one that is over a decade old (it surprises me to realize this) and its lining is on the verge of falling completely apart. I’ve been told that it is pointless trying to get the lining repaired, that it would be just easier and more cost effective to buy a new jacket. Yesterday’s super cold weather reminded me that the wool jacket is often a better choice in Berlin on a day-to-day basis. It’s not the lining, though, that discourages me from wearing my wool coat daily, it’s the fact that it is technology un-friendly. It was designed and purchased in an era when the only piece of technology I carried around was my Nokia brick cell-phone. Now I expect my coat to carry an iPhone, a pair of headphones, and my Kindle. My current wool coat cannot do it.

Meanwhile, after digging in to my wardrobe for the warmest clothing, I paused to read a status update on Facebook. My friends in North Dakota are experiencing a heat wave, with temperatures soaring to 8° – kids wanting to take off their coats because it’s hot outside.

The irony wasn’t lost on me: 8°F is colder than -12°C.

I still went outside wearing many layers.

It’s all perspective.

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