I’ve been shopping for underwear lately. No… not that kind of underwear. Sporty underwear. Base layers, bottoms and tops, to wear under pants and under a fleece. Light but warm layers suitable for skiing and cool weather hiking. And for travelling. I always bring ski underwear bottoms when we travel. No matter the season. Even when we’re not hiking or skiing. They are perfect for wearing under jeans on a cool rainy day, and for lounging around overly air conditioned hotel rooms, even in summer. Even in France. But more on that later.

Since we are leaving for South America in two weeks and five days… but who’s counting?… I’ve been making lists and stocking up on what I will need to pack. I bought hiking boots and a new light toque before Christmas.

Adrienne Vittadini sweater, scarf Norsdtrom, toque Bula, earrings from Magpie Jewellry
Wearing my new toque with this old Adrienne Vittadini sweater and my navy scarf

And this week, I shopped for ski underwear. Base layers, as they say. Warm light layers are winter staples for skiing here at home, and will hopefully be useful for hiking in Argentina. I specifically looked for silky, synthetic tops and bottoms. Easy to wash and dry when travelling. And easy to slide under a fleece or a pair of jeans or hiking pants.

I found exactly what I was looking for at Bushtakah. I love that store. It’s where I bought my hiking boots in December. Everything in the ski section was 30% off, and I was able to use the $20.00 coupon I received when I bought my hiking boots… so I saved big time. I went home with two “Hot Chillys” turtleneck tops and one pair of long underwear bottoms. All three are lovely and silky, without being clingy. And I promptly tucked them away for our trip.

But then I started thinking that maybe I needn’t wait until the trip to wear them. Maybe I should test drive my new winter staples. Lovely, silky turtlenecks should not be languishing in a drawer in the middle of winter.

raspberry fleece from MEC, black Hot Chillys base layer turtleneck from Bushtakah
My new black Hot Chillys turtleneck with a raspberry fleece hoodie from MEC

In keeping with a sporty-skiing theme, I pulled on my new black silky base layer, with this woolly fleece hoodie from Mountain Equipment Co-op. And I decided to see what would happen if I paired these sporty tops with a couple of my more dressy pieces. So I hauled on my black crepe Aritzia joggers. And added my Max Mara fuchsia tweed coat. Who says a hoodie can’t be worn with a dressy pant and coat?

     raspberry fleece from MEC, black Hot Chillys base layer turtleneck from Bushtakah, black joggers from Aritzia, black boots from Stuart Weitzman, fuchsia tweed coat from Max Mara
What with the cuffed pants, and hiking socks, and lace-up boots… I look a bit vintage. As if I should be sipping an après-ski kirsch at Schruns, Austria in the 1920’s. And chatting with Ernest Hemingway, and Hadley. Maybe I was channeling Sonja Henie from that old film “Sun Valley Serenade.” Or simply inspired by the ensemble below. I found this 1936 sweater pattern in a box of old knitting and sewing patterns at my mum’s last winter. I may attempt to knit one of the sweaters from this book one day. Just not this winter.
vintage knitting pattern for ski ensemble from 1936 pattern book by Monarch Yarns
Ski ensemble from Monarch Yarn pattern book 1936
Now back to base layers… I also bought a lovely fuchsia turtleneck when I was at Bushtakah. I like it here with my black Lulu Lemon zippered jacket, and my tweed coat. You know… normally I would wear black socks with these joggers and my Stuart Weitzman boots. Bu-ut… these grey hiking socks, peeking out like that, are beginning to grow on me. Still, the outfit definitely needs some sort of scarf. It’s a bit boring, and maybe a teensy bit too matchy-matchy. I’ll work on that.
And speaking of working. Phew. I took a ton of pictures this morning for the post. Moved most of the furniture in the sun room around to find a place where I wasn’t standing in stripes of sunlight. Then after I had uploaded all the shots to my computer realized that they were overexposed. Ever single one. So after lunch, when the light was better, I redid all the shots. But by this time Hubby was home from skating, and talking to me from the kitchen the whole time I was trying to pose. Then he was in and out of the room. “Go away, ” I barked. He did. But then he came back right away because he needed to “consult” on dinner. Gad. So I ended up with one bunch of shots where I was relaxed and smiling, but the picture quality was poor. And one bunch where I had pinched lips and an exasperated expression, and looked like I really wanted to be somewhere else. Or maybe I just wanted someone else to be somewhere else. Ha. You think?
I included this overexposed shot to prove I haven’t totally lost my sense of humour. And to show my snazzy new long underwear bottoms. They are so silky and smooth that my pant leg just sliiiides down over them.
 raspberry fleece from MEC, black Hot Chillys base layer turtleneck and long underwear bottoms from Bushtakah, black joggers from Aritzia, black boots from Stuart Weitzman
See my snazzy, silky base layer bottoms?
I laughed when the sales clerk at Bushtakah said these bottoms were so pretty that I could wear them as leggings. Ha. I don’t think so. But it did remind me of when Hubby and I were in France and I accidentally wore my ski underwear bottoms as …ah … outerwear.
It was when we first arrived in Provence and were staying in a little cottage outside Avignon. We’d been on the go for pretty much two weeks straight and I was looking forward to a slow-down day. A late breakfast that we prepared ourselves. Maybe a walk later. A bit of grocery shopping and some time to plan the rest of our week. And so when Hubby mentioned, after breakfast, that we should check out the area he had scouted out on the map, where we might leave our car and walk into old Avignon, I said “sure.” And I slipped on my sandals and sunglasses, and climbed into the car. Let me paint a picture for you at this point. An hour before this, I had rolled out of bed, washed my face, combed my hair, and pulled on a long tee shirt and my light ski-underwear bottoms that looked like verrry thin leggings. I had no intention of getting out of the car.
But somehow it had become lost in translation that Hubby meant this to BE the day we walked into Avignon. While I meant this to be the day that we planned how we would be walking into Avignon. You know… on another day when I had make-up on and had done something (anything) with my hair.
A day when I wasn’t wearing underwear bottoms.
Sigh. Wearing underwear as outerwear, especially with bad hair and no make-up, is not how I prefer to represent myself to the world. I won’t say anymore except that I was very glad that my tee shirt was long and my sunglasses big.
So, my friends, how do you feel about underwear as outerwear? Any tales of mixing very casual pieces with somewhat more dressy ones? Or any tales at all?
P.S. You can find the Hot Chillys turtleneck base layer here and the underwear bottoms here.


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34 thoughts on “Of Underwear and Outerwear”

  1. Boy, do I love that violet (?) "tweed" coat. It's wonderful with your coloring. And I don't think your other pieces make it too matchy-matchy.

    Also — I'm surprised you'd need warm underwear to hike in Argentina in February (and the northern hemisphere equivalent of August). Are you going very high-altitude?

    1. Thanks. I love that coat! It's supposed to be fuchsia. The camera changes the colour on so many things especially in our sun room which is very bright.
      About the underwear… we will be doing most of our hiking in Patagonia. In a couple of places the temperature range for the time of our visit is 7-15 C. So early morning hiking will be chilly. I will pack only light pants for hiking and walking, so I'll need a pair of light leggings underneath. I also take them to wear with a tee shirt when just lounging around our accommodation. I'll probably only take one of the light turtlenecks. They are more for skiing here at home.

  2. Sue, that black turtleneck with raspberry fleece hoodie is so flattering to your coloring! But by far my favorite pic is the candid one at the end – makes you come "alive", if that makes any sense. I'm a big fan of the vintage ski style – I've always thought that was a great look and it really looks well on you. –Catbird Farm

    1. No, I didn't mean to imply you were stiff in the other shots! Not at all! I just like the playful quality of the last shot. 🙂
      –Catbird Farm

  3. Minus the coat , it's very like my dog walking gear – looks much better without muddy paw prints & dog hairs though 🙂 Your new trouser suit has a similar sporty touch going on with the jacket & I love that . Can I ask , what protective face cream do you use in severe weather ? Mine struggles to cope with wind burn & if yours works in Canada it must be good . I think we have similar skin but mine is a little more crinkled 🙁
    Wendy in York

    1. We tend not to ski in windy conditions…although we used to when downhill skiing. Having paid big bucks for a lift ticket and driven hours to get there we would ski in anything. Until the last time we got shafted by the weather and finally hung up our downhill skis and boots. Cross-country is much more convenient, not to mention peaceful, totally uncrowded, and less expensive!

      But having said all that I still need good protection. My skin is dry and sensitive. I'm also fair and burn easily. I use a lot of rehydrating cream in the winter. A face oil (Origins Plantscription oil), followed by Bobbi Brown Extra Repair Moisture Cream …then if I'm going skiing or walking or whatever I add La Roche-Posay 24HR Rehydrating Protective Care with an SPF of 30. If I'm going to be in public after walking …going for coffee with friends or something… I add my Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser which also has an SPF.

      My skin does NOT react well with many sunscreens. I used to have to wash my face to remove it when I got home. The La Roche-Posay is the first one that hasn't irritated my skin. But… I don't know if it will protect you from wind-burn.

  4. Hi Sue..really love your new turtle necks and fleece hoodie ..yet again I'm reaching for the "V" word! versatile! 🙂 The fushia shade looks very much like the colour of my ski jacket and roll neck jumper I mentioned in a previous comment.
    I have a Hot Chillys black thermal top and leggings that I bought in Lake Tahoe this time of year about 12 years ago. .They look as good as new as do my ski trousers bought at the same time!
    Interested to see you try the hoodie under your new coat as I think your jacket with the hood (can't remember the brand but part of a suit you wore to your school reunion ) will work well under your coat.:)
    Hope you're having a good weekend ..We've had a dusting of snow but it's just wet now ..which is a bit disappointing. At least they've had lots in Switzerland. If you watch the Lauberhorn Downhill Ski Race from Wengen ..think it was held over the last few days ..that's where we go ..The Canadians usually do well!

    1. Thanks, Rosie. I was inspired by my Veronica Beard suit jacket to try the fleece hoodie under the dressy coat. And I like the effect. I expect my new ski base layers will be around for years. My old ones which Stu bought me are still going strong are at least 7 or 8 years old. And the even older ones have been relegated to canoe camping gear, now.
      We are in a deep freeze after a melt…so no skiing here or even walking outside. Too icy. But there's always the exercise bike!

  5. ps like Wendy I'm interested to know what face cream you use in cold and often sunny conditions ..I use La Roche Posay light fluid factor 50 topped with a little Bobbi Brown tinted moisturising balm ..seems to work well

  6. Hot Chilis are awesome! They've kept me warm while skiing in -15F conditions. I like the fuchsia and patterned ones! (Looks great with the tweed coat too.)

  7. Ski underwear. I can't even imagine. (I recently ordered some lacy undies when they went on sale… I guess that doesn't count. I generally I "indulge" in underwear shopping every few years, in France.)

    By the way, you look amazing in those purple-y colors. Gorgeous. In any climate.

    1. I can't do the lacy undie thing. Unless they are very good quality…with no scratchy lace. My girlfriend introduced me to "good" undies years ago. She started shopping for bras on a trip to France…and never looked back.

  8. I adore under-layers – wore them every day in NYC at Christmas and stayed toasty. You look terrific in your violets, and sorry about the picture-taking. Ir really can become a drag here and sometimes I give up with just-OK quality pics. Yours are good! xox


  9. Oh how I love your posts!
    When I was in my late teens I was v.much into vintage. I found a few 40s knitting patterns and made a few things which I loved. Yours fascinated me. I've been peering at the picture to try to read the instructions!

  10. Yay, thermals !

    They were a Godsend when I spent freezing cold mornings travelling to school on a unheated bus way back when 🙂

    Again, very stylish, Susan… even though your wool poloneck in the first photo looks like it's trying to smother you 🙂

    1. They ARE a handy to have when you need them. When we were in Tasmania years ago, it was 18 degrees C, but rainy, and sooo cold. But with my ski underwear under my jeans I was toasty. I hate being cold when I'm travelling and trying to have a good time.

      P.S. The neck on that Adrienne Vittadini sweater is huge, isn't it?

  11. Sharon Howland Hamilton

    Unrelated to this post but because of your good book post I read The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman. I loved it. Had only read The Dovekeepers before. Thanks !
    Layers are great here in N.B. Where it is so jeezly cold !

  12. Underwear. Hmmm. Trying to find the sort of underwear that suits me and my life can be a tricky task – I want to be comfortable but not completely utility. And underwear as outerwear is one of those dangerous areas I prefer to ignore. It makes me think of Madonna at her most showy-offy. Just the words camisole and chemise fill me with horror. Ski underwear is a closed book for me so I can't comment. The coat, however, is a cracker. Just what you need at this time of year.

  13. Having just returned to cross country skiing this year (after a too long break because job & life interrupted), I realized some of my ski clothes were hopelessly outdated. I am inspired to find something more updated and I LOVE those bottom layers in the last pic. Not that I would wear them in public uncovered. ha!

    1. No…of course not…at least on purpose! Good for you to get back out there, Laurel. It is VERRRY easy to not get outside in winter…too easy!

  14. Oh, base layers are such life savers in the winter. I do like the easy layers you presented here and wearing your hoodie on the dressier side was brilliant! Thanks so much for linking up with Fabulous Friday, Susan.

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