Oh yeah. Winter is coming whether we want to admit it or not. And every fashionista needs a plan to survive winter. To that end, here is my “Winter Survival Guide” … for fashionistas and non-fashionistas alike.

Step 1: Say no to denial. 

If you live in parts of north western Ontario…there’s no denying that winter has arrived… and then some. But here, in Ottawa, we had a skiff of snow, then rain, then balmy temperatures, and now it’s snowing and blowing. So we’re not exactly sure what season it is…. but we know in our heart of hearts that winter is coming. (dunh-dunh-dunhhhh) And it’s coming soon.

Winter on the Rideau River
Our front lawn last winter. There actually is a river there, believe it or not.

The temperature will plummet and the snow will fall… eventually… in fact, the forecast says any day now. Like today… even. So let’s face facts and not be unprepared. 

Stuck in the snow. Raeside cartoon

Step 2: Winterize your car. 

I know that sounds like your dad (or my step-dad) or your husband (or mine.) But seriously, you don’t want to NOT be ready for winter driving. Snow tires, windshield scraper, shovel in the trunk, maybe even an emergency kit (with candles, flashlight etc etc.) stashed somewhere in your car where you can reach it. There are lots of great websites that tell you how to be prepared for winter driving. Try here and here for a start.

We get a lot of freezing rain in Ottawa, so Hubby cut a big plastic sheet in the shape of my windshield, but a bit longer, so I can tuck in into the driver and passenger doors. When I was working, I’d throw it over the front of my car when I arrived at work, and then when I emerged at the end of my day, in the dark, I didn’t have to stand in the rain and chip the ice off my windshield… or even worse, start driving with only a 6 inch section of my windshield clear. As well… being a longtime hair obsessive, I tend not to wear winter hats unless I’m skiing; “hat head” does not become me. But I keep a woolen toque and an extra pair of warm mittens in my glove compartment… just in case. 

Snowy conditions in Fredericton. Dec 27, 2015
Fredericton Pedrestrian and Cycling Bridge. December 27, 2015   source

Step 3: Lose the high heels, ladies.

Or wear them only indoors. Many years ago I worked one winter as a pharmaceutical sales rep, travelling to doctors’ offices, hospitals and pharmacies around Eastern Ontario. In high heeled dress boots. Lugging a heavy sample case. And trying to not kill myself on the ice. As Lady Macbeth famously didn’t say “No more o’that, my lady, no more o’that.” Safety before fashion… up to a point. 

Step 4: Embrace the inevitable.

Now, you might think of winter as something one simply has to endure. But maybe, just maybe, if you get out there and take advantage of what winter can offer, you might change your mind. My husband always says that, if you live in Canada, you can’t let weather stop you from doing things. And I’ve learned to embrace that philosophy… for the most part. Okay… so, I do draw the line at those -40 degree wind-chill days. 

But seriously, there are few things lovelier than a sunny winter’s day. We love cross-country skiing; it can be done almost anywhere. And it’s great exercise!

Cross country skiing, Manotick, Ontario.
Skiing on the golf course across from our house.

If you live in the Ottawa area there are tons of things to do in winter. Lots of track-set cross-country ski trails, like those in Gatineau Park, snow shoe trails, toboggan hills, and of course the Rideau Canal Skateway…when it finally gets cold enough. 

Quebec cross-country skiing

Or, or… when winter gets you down, how about a getaway to a sunny, snowy clime instead of a sunny, warm one. Last year we spent a week cross-country skiing in the Laurentians in Quebec. I wrote about our trip here if you’re interested. Despite the frigid temperatures we had an amazing time. With the proper clothing and face-covering accessories, even -20 was manageable. Fresh air, sunshine, and tired muscles. And afterwards, a nice fire, a glass of wine and a fabulous meal. Bliss.

Cross-country skiing in -20 temperatures.
All wrapped up against the cold and ready to ski in  Lac Morency, Quebec.

Step 5: Winter, of course can be very dark, and cold, and staying warm can be a challenge. So lighten your mood with a shopping trip for something warm and cosy, and pretty, to wear. 

In learning to embrace Hubby’s outdoors philosophy, I’ve  come to realize that I need to have active wear, that I actually like to wear. 

Last winter I bought a new Gortex jacket, to wear skiing with light layers underneath and as my rain jacket for canoeing…. my old purple jacket having given up the ghost in the middle of Algonquin Park last summer. You can read about that experience here. I found a new jacket at Mountain Equipment Co-op. But I also found this cosy, comfy “mid-layer” hoodie. I love the raspberry colour. And it’s so soft and lovely, it had to come home with me. Practically followed me to the cash, even. 

MEC raspberry hoodie
My MEC hoodie. I haven’t even had it on yet this year. 

Step 6: When all else fails, have a hunker down plan. 

Sometimes it’s hard to NOT see winter as a long, long, dark tunnel with the light and warmth of spring at the other end. But instead of bemoaning the fact that it’s too cold to do anything on those -40 degree days… instead of complaining that the snow plow has not plowed your street yet again, and with two feet of snow, it’s impossible to get out of your driveway… just give up. Wave the white flag on winter.

Light the fire, make a pot of strong tea, maybe even break out the shortbread that you’ve been hiding on yourself in the freezer, put your feet up… and read a good book. 

You don’t have to stay in… you get to stay in. Mother nature and the snow plow guys have won this round. But defeat never felt so good, nor so decadent.

Winter Survival Tip: Stay in and read a book.
Hunkering down in my MEC down-filled booties. 

Do you have winter survival guide? Do share your wisdom with us.


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15 thoughts on “A Fashionista’s Winter Survival Guide”

  1. I can so relate to this… Although it dordn't get quite that cold in southern Finland, I still wish I could hibernate till April… But the world won't stop just because of some snow, and people still get to work. But come February I will have this crazy urge to move to Australia….

  2. Got the snow tires on last week! It's an ordeal here, as we (and by "we" I mean my husband) have to get them to the boat by wheelbarrow (we don't keep a car on our little island), then from the dock on the town side, carry them over to the car (across the street and in an underground parking lot one by one, bringing the two non-winter tires back over the same way. We used to just rely on all-season radials year-round, but I heard one too many cautionary tales about that approach a few years ago, and he's humoured my anxieties ever since.
    I'd add to your fabulous round-up (I LOVE that plastic sheet windshield cover idea and I'm getting one of those babies) that I keep a pair of flat boots in the trunk of the car, an old pair I don't wear any more but that would give me some traction if the weather changed drastically and I happened to be wearing inappropriate shoes. I've got a big old wool sweater in there for the same reason.

    1. Ohhh, ohhh, I'd love to see a shot of that pilgrimage to the ferry with the wheelbarrow. You gotta love a man who can schlep heavy winter tires around and then go home and make dinner!

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