Sometimes I think that maybe I’m too immersed in fashion-blogger-land for my own good. That maybe I subscribe to far too many fashion websites, e-mail updates from fashion brands, fashion blogs, Pinterest and Instagram accounts exclusively about fashion, yadda, yadda… you name it. All this in the name of staying current with what’s going on out there in fashion-land. Which frequently, I have to say, has little or nothing to do with what’s going on in my own small closet… or in the closets of anyone I know. Even more so during the winter… especially during a Canadian winter.
Ottawa commuters waiting for their bus during a winter storm that hit Ottawa in February 2013. CTV photo.
Massive snowstorm hits Ottawa in February 2013  source
Take for instance, the “cold shoulder” sweater. Now, I’m not much of a fan of the “cold shoulder” look; you know, those tee shirts and blouses with the cut-out shoulders which were all the rage last summer. But I could at least see the sense of them in the summer. When colder shoulders might be desirable. But when I saw this Nordstrom ad for a “cold shoulder” chunky knit sweater, I had to laugh. Really? Does that make sense to you? 
Nordstrom chunky cold shoulder sweater in charcoal.
Which made me think of the off the shoulder look below from Balenciaga. As Morwenna Ferrier asks in her article in The Guardian: is it a jacket or is it a stole? According to Ferrier’s article, Top Shop’s creative director Kate Phelan is embracing off the shoulder puffer jackets (can’t quite believe I’m even writing that) in a big way. Saying they represent a “new sense of heightened reality happening in fashion….” Ok-ay. And, Ferrier goes on to say that, while the Balenciaga version is only ‘styled’ off the shoulder, the Top Shop version, which she dubs “winter’s answer to the Bardot top,” is designed to fit like a stole. The “ready-off-shoulder” coat, as Ferrier puts it, requires perhaps more “commitment” than the Balenciaga version. Unlike the Balenciaga coat, there is no way to pull the Top Shop coat up over one’s shoulders when one is, inevitably, freezing one’s butt off. Or one’s shoulders. Ha. 


Red Balenciaga puffer coat with the off the shoulder look, winter 2016
Balenciaga’s “cold shoulder” down jacket. source

And since fashion is known for going from one extreme to the other, I present what Disney Roller Girl calls the “duvet coat.” Love that term. And I actually love the colour of this Marques Almeida coat. And it certainly would be toasty warm in a Canadian winter. Nevertheless, I think this might be just a teensy bit too much coat for me. That collar would certainly be a driving hazard. Still, if the early snow we’ve had this year, which doesn’t seem prepared to go anywhere, is a harbinger of the winter to come… wearing too much coat might be preferable to wearing not enough coat.


Marques Almeida down coat, winter 2016
Marques Almeida AW 2016 source
The other coat that seems really big (no pun intended) this winter is the faux fur. I love faux fur coats. I have ever since I didn’t get one for Christmas when I was nine or ten. You see, one night a few weeks before Christmas when I was nine (or ten), my mum brought home a lovely, cream, fake-fur coat (much like the one on the right below) for me to try on, saying that our neighbour, Penny, was wanting to buy it for her niece who was my age and size. In fact, the coat was for me, but Mum was reluctant to spend her money if the coat didn’t suit. So of course, it fit perfectly, and I inwardly swooned. But when Mum asked if I would like a coat like that, I demurred. In my nine-year-old head I thought I knew that Mum could never afford such a coat, and so to avoid getting my own hopes up, I tried to be grown-up and practical, and said that it wasn’t for me, and, anyway, it would probably get dirty too easily. So Mum returned it. Gad. She really wanted me to have it, and I really wanted it… and we were like those two characters in that O. Henry story “The Gift of the Magi.” I learned my lesson that year. Always tell the truth, people, especially about presents which come disguised as gifts for other little girls. 
Faux fur coats from Marni, Top Shop, and Made to Measure
Marni Shearling coatTop Shop pink faux fur, Made to Measure faux fur coat
Unlike the off-the-shoulder puffer coat, faux fur coats make a lot of sense to me. They’re warm, and they look great, and they don’t cost the earth. But I did have to laugh when I read this post on the blog Le fashion, about “teddy bear coats.” Reminded me of the time, years ago, when a student of mine came into my class wearing a vividly spotted, faux fur coat. Seriously, that coat looked like it was made from the sabre-toothed tiger on the Flintstones cartoon. “Allison,” I admonished, in my best, stern teacher voice, “how many stuffed animals had to die to make that coat?” She stopped, looked quizzical, then rolled her eyes, “Ha ha. Good one Ms. B.”  So yea. I like faux fur. I just have a hard time with the coats that look like they might have had a previous life as some little kid’s stuffed animal. But if you like that look, and I’ll admit that it’s starting to grow on me (a little), there are a few pretty ones here
Faux fur coats aside, I’m not fond of the cartoon sabre-toothed tiger look. Especially in boots. Especially those with four inch platform soles. Like these Maison Margiela boots which were featured in Elle magazine’s 10 Most Wearable Winter Trends for 2016. Most wearable, eh? Oh my. These boots made me chuckle. Winter. Cold. Ice. I spy a broken ankle just waiting to happen. 
Maison Margiela faux fur, platform boots from winter 2016
Martin Margiela boots source

So, yep, there are a few trends in fashion-land which have me scratching my head. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of examples of chic, comfortable, realistic winter looks out there. Outfits that won’t look ridiculous on me now that I’m a woman of a certain age. That won’t have me freezing my butt off, nor looking like a walking example of fashion victim-hood. Outfits like these ones.

Green scarf and sweater and grey coat on
From Le
From Sandra

Gorgeous, lovely, layered outfits, that keep fashion real, and are warm enough for a Canadian winter. With great boots, luxurious scarves, and fierce coats combined with panache and enough elan (love that word) to inspire me, and reaffirm my belief in fashion.

And make me want to get dressed even on the coldest, snowiest days.  

So yea, I probably do pay too much attention to all the fashion palaver on the web and in magazines. And sometimes it exasperates me. But I’m never put off for long. That’s because, to me, fashion is like that crazy, lovable, wonderful, embarrassing at times, but always interesting aunt or cousin. Sure sometimes they’re weird, and silly, but they’re always fascinating, and so entertaining, and you love them to death.           

So while I’m here keeping winter fashion real… or trying to… what have you been up to, folks?    Fashion-wise or otherwise?  


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38 thoughts on “Keeping Winter Real … In Fashion Blogger Land”

  1. I agree with you completely-I like to see what's going on,but would never choose something that's not appropriate for me or the season. I've found yesterday some blouses without one sleeve and shoulder,maybe nice for tropics
    Winters here could be very moody-from too much snow (even for Canada 🙂 ) to winters without snow (let it be! Let it be!)
    So,one has to be prepared-I've always had rubber sole ankle boots (before they became in,they were" ugly" )and something warm enough to wear during snow flurries or at – 15 ° C
    My old faux fur coat is not warm enough-I've choosen natural fibers-it still looks great,but puffers are much warmer.
    I can still remember,some twenty years ago,when we first spotted a lady on the street,during freezing winter evening,wearing pumps without tights .

  2. I, too, read many fashion blogs but I'm sure not to the degree that you do. You're in the business, shall we say? Don't you think that n the name of trends, fashion can get very weird and unwearable. Who is going to wear an off the shoulder winter jacket or that huge duvet coat? Really! Just try getting behind the steering wheel with that one. I can't quite get into the faux fur for whatever reason. Fake? What will it look like once cleaned? In this year, out next? So…no! I did buy a lightweight down filled off white puffer jacket from Eddie Bauer, that should suit a west coast winter. And, an olive anorak, that I adore, joined my wardrobe as well this season. I wanted to avoid black this year and am pleased that I accomplished that in both new purchases.
    I am very pleased with myself, as I avoided the Black Friday craziness and didn't shop at all. Instead I went for a long hike in the morning, FaceTimed with my daughter in Ottawa and had friends over for the afternoon. A much more rewarding day than frantically shopping, whether in store or online.

    1. My puffer that I bought three years ago is so warm. I'm glad I finally capitulated. I'd stayed away from them for years because they were so…puffy.

  3. I dislike the cold shoulder styles immensely. EVERYwhere I looked on blogs and retail websites for month had the style all summer long, and when I saw it creep into fall fashion and now winter? ugh. Seems like many bloggers grab onto a particular style and push it in our face as though we all need to look this same way. Promoting what the retailers send them is how they make their living. Nope. If I don't like it, you won't find it in my closet no matter how hard they push. Give me common sense clothing and I am one happy girl.

  4. I agree , I like fashion to be real . I live on the outskirts of a small city , more like a large town really , far away from a fashionable metropolis & when I see these extreme fashions I do wonder if there are ladies somewhere walking around , living their lives in these clothes . I suspect they only exist on catwalks or in high end fashion magazines . They are supposed to inspire us but they just make me laugh . I realise the fashion industry makes serious money & I love nice clothes but the Anna Wintours of this world think too much of themselves – it isn't life saving stuff . Just fun .
    Wendy in York

    1. You're right, Wendy. I was surprised not to see cutting edge fashion on the streets of New York. But we just saw stylish, chic, and sensibly dressed women.

  5. Ever since I saw your black boots, I've been shopping for similar ones. Oh my! Besides the platforms, there's the peeptoe,,the cutouts(very cute but not for SNOW), the backless, the crazy. I have to laugh at the cold shoulder sweaters. They remind me that in my younger days looking current was much more important than practicality.I wore platform shoes, ponchos, frayed jeans, wide leg pants, boucle coats, fringed anything the first time around. These days I want to be warm yet look pulled together – as you do, Susan.

    1. Peep toe, backless etc etc. seems silly for fall and winter. And those mules that are lined with long fur. Really? What's with those? Having said all that, I do remember wearing a winter jacket that barely met the top of my hipster jeans in high school…and my mum raging that I was going to get pneumonia!

  6. I think of it like you do. In the winter, I need warmth and the ability to walk more than anything.

    The off-shoulder trend is one I am not fond of – and the coats even look ridiculous to me. Like you, I'm a big fan of faux fur – I used to have an adorable faux-leopard fur jacket, but it was a victim in a fire years back.

  7. Oy, some ugly stuff there (just sayin')…I know, I'm probably stepping on someone's toes… Guess I'm old enough to realize that the fashion industry is pulling our collective legs. Faux fur is fun to wear and warm. I agree with Pepper Medley…give me common sense clothing and I am a happy girl.

  8. This rather in-depth look at some of the ridiculous fashions that supposedly talented designers come up with made me chortle and laugh out loud….really?? Where do people wear these items of clothing? I look at many fashion trends as a waste of valuable resources and most must certainly end up in the land fill! I love the fact that I can indulge in beautiful winter fashions…cashmere sweaters, lovely wool coats, beautiful leather boots and yes, even a well made faux fur and puffer jackets that don't make a person like Michelin tire man find their way into my wardrobe. Layering is the way to go even in a winter that can get as cold as here in Winnipeg…beautiful yet practical clothing makes for a beautiful appearance no matter what the season or weather. Cheers, Alayne

  9. I always have to laugh since most coats or styling ( Atlantic Pacific) have models wearing high heels with bare feet in the middle of the winter paired with a long coat and massive scarf. So basically the message they are sending is that your feet may need to be cut off due to gangrene as a result of loss of blood circulation. Remember…one must be willing to suffer for fashion.

    I have a massive long vintage faux fur coat that goes all the way down to my ankles with a hood. It is very warm but super heavy. I wear that when it is really cold and then I pray that I can take it off immediately once indoors otherwise I think I might spontaneously combust within 5 minutes. It is like wearing a furnace.

    That one coat looks like she is wearing a sleeping bag. Handy if you need to take an emergency nap.

    I also laughed at that cold shoulder coat. How ridiculous. Half of you is burning up and half of you is freezing.


  10. I'm with you! Whoever designed "cold shoulder" sweaters and boots with four inch heels has obviously never been to Canada during the winter! And I don't expect the "Help! My coat is falling off my shoulders!" look to catch on here in Alberta either. 🙂

  11. Anyone remember Glamour magazine and the feature right at the back of each issue "Fashion Dos and Don'ts"? Sue, you've done a very funny and expanded version of that. The two "Do" images you chose are gorgeous – that seemingly effortless menswear style is just perfect to me. The rest? Hilarious. I guess if your life is made up of traipsing from one fashion show to another via your chauffeured car, you can do the off-the-shoulder down coat thing, but for the rest of us? Ha! Besides, I don't want to wear clothes that boss me around – it's their job to serve me, not for me to serve them. And that means putting them on and then not thinking about them again, other than being aware of feeling good. –Catbird Farm

  12. The off-the-shoulder-parka idea just strikes me as silly. And I think you'd have to be pulling it up or adjusting constantly. The platforms…a whole lotta Nope right there. I bought myself a really fun faux fur last winter, and can't wait for the weather to cool off enough to wear it again. We don't usually get cold enough here for puffers or blanket scarves, but I love the look.

    1. We get the puffer and blanket scarf weather here… it's just that sometimes it's hard to dress for being outside in -20 and then in the mall. Flexibility is everything:)

  13. Hi Sue …yes the platforms are definitely an accident waiting to happen! I'm not overly keen on the cold shoulder look either. Somehow they don't always seem to fit properly and can look a little strange. Although this post did cause me to reflect that maybe cutting the shoulders out of my thick wool sweaters might prevent me from overheating!! Only joking! 🙂
    Hope you're having a good weekend …I'm starting to get that feeling of too much to do in too little time, that often pops up prior to Christmas!

    1. I hear you. I had to stop wearing my heavy turtlenecks when I was still working. I couldn't take them off when I got animated in class and then became too hot. That's why my closet was full of cardigans:) Hope things settle down and items get somehow crossed off your "to-do" list without too much stress, Rosie.

  14. I believe I accidentally rocked the duvet coat look this past spring morning when I staggered out of my tent wrapped in a sleeping bag.

  15. I bought into the cold shoulder trend this past spring – wore it a few times and felt weird and drafty each time. Sexy maybe, but still "off". You nailed it on the head with the word "contrived". As for the coats – as a Manitoban, I firmly believe one can not have too many coats. I love faux fur, love a well-cut and styled puffer, but anything too silly like an off-the-shoulder coat? Uh, no. And I too am quite fond of your black hiking boots – the SW's. Those are some dynamite boots – I'd love to find a pair here.

  16. There was a " trend " a while back to wear sleeveless or short sleeved turtlenecks in the summer.

    The only logical reason I could come up with is they'd be handy hiding hickies gained in the warmer months.

  17. Another fun post! These are all good points. I live in Wisconsin, so I certainly know about winter fashion challenges. The shoes are the biggest issue for me. I can wear high heels, pointy heels, narrow heels, suede, or any shoe that doesn't cover at least up to the ankle in the winter. Everything has to be suitable to walk on ice and in snow.

  18. This is another fashion I can remember from childhood that I have to question if adults should be wearing this. Shorts and top made together into a one-piece outfit. id card

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