I keep thinking to myself, is it yet July?? Where is this cold coming from? A bit earlier than expected I might add. I am drawing mental plans on how to stay warm and B just laughs at me.
I know we are spoilt with good weather in Kenya. For those who don’t know, our seasons (if I can even call them that) are rain or shine with the misplaced ‘winter’ around July-August, maximally 5 weeks. That’s it. We like it like that. We need it like that. At the prescribed time.
Below 15 degree weather in May- June is just not understandable. We can’t even function.
It’s actually quite laughable when you see how we try to navigate our way around these temperatures, but we were not built for the cold. Let me not even start with the conversations (read: negotiations with the mind) we have in the morning when it’s foggy from the cold and you have to get out of bed to go to work.
I know at this very moment in some other corner of the world it is colder or warmer than here. Though it’s yet to get to the proper cold season(July), these early ‘invasions’ are a sign that it might be long and cold-my predictions.
If you are (un)fortunate to be in an area with similar or lower temperature likes ours, you should really make sure you are properly dressed before you leave the house. I am certainly not well-versed in advising on much lower temperatures so I will just stick to my reality of 12-19 degrees Celsius. Anything less than that, be sure I will not speak on it.
Probably because it will be too cold to speak or even raise a finger.
So how do we deal with this cold weather inorder to stay warm? I always find my answer in,
One of the main points to combat the cold weather is to layer your clothes. According to Wikipedia, ‘Layered clothing is a term describing a way of dressing using many garments that are worn on top of each other. Some of the layers have different, largely non-overlapping, functions. Using more or fewer layers, or replacing one layer but not others, allows for flexible clothing to match the needs of each situation. Two thin layers can be warmer yet lighter than one thick layer, because the air trapped between layers serves as thermal insulation’ .This enables you to stay warm.
When you layer your clothes this serves the double purpose of being warm whilst protecting you from the elements especially the wind and rain. I am yet to come across someone who likes to experience the wet and cold feeling on their body. Layering also allows you to be adaptable incase the weather gradually changes in the course of the day. This protects you from the effects that these changes can have on your body and you are still able to get on with your business.
If the cold warrants it, you may have 3 or 4 layers of clothing. This is especially so in much colder climates. The layers are:
- Base layer
- Mid layer
- Insulating layer
- Outer wear
Base layer: This is the layer that is next to the skin. For this, try and wear material that will pull moisture away from your body so that in the odd occasion that you sweat due to activity, or sudden increase in temperature and you are unable to remove some layers, you will not experience the chilling effect from the moisture.
Caution: Cotton is generally good material but it does not dry quickly and remains damp longer than other materials like polyester or polypropylene. For these 2 it boils down to the feel on the skin for some people. Polyester is however more popular, more durable and also cheaper than cotton, silk or wool. So choose wisely.
Secondly try and ensure that the layer is light and thin. This will be easier on movement and you do not have to remover this layer if it gets too warm because it’s not as thick as other layers.
Mid layer: This layer is worn next to the base layer. This layer adds another level of warmth to your arsenal. For tops it could be a long-sleeved top or a sleeveless top or vest. An example of such a top is the one below from the Meruti Store:
Materials that can be worn for this layer include Polyester and materials that have a Nylon blend in them. These are durable and comparably cheaper.
Insulating layer: This is optional and for the weather ranges in East Africa it might not be necessary. It is worn over the mid layer in very cold conditions. For our context these conditions would likely be in some of the colder locations like Limuru or higher up in Mt. Kenya or Mt. Kilimanjaro. This layer can be in form of heavy wool sweaters and fleece jackets.
Outerwear: This is the layer that is exposed to the elements. It could be a jacket for the top, and pants for the bottom. These have to keep you warm and dry and the fit should allow you to easily cover the other layers without restricting your movement.
With all this talk of layering one would think that you may not look good while at it. On the contrary! Layering provides an opportunity for your style to shine through. Many ladies I know who enjoy dressing up, like the cold weather for the opportunity it provides for them to be creative and have fun while at it.
What are the benefits of layering-from a style standpoint ?
Your creativity shines through. This is an opportunity to create outfits and colour combinations that are amazing once put together. Get a feel for what colours work well with each other and against your skin tone and have fun combining them. If you have to go bright, limit this to one colour only, so that there is not too much going on.
Layering adds some interest factor to your outfits-think textures, colours, fabrics(tweed, cashmere anyone?). Your imagination your only limitation. Keep the goal in mind, to stay warm.
You get to wear more clothes from your wardrobe which would otherwise not see the light of day perhaps.
Mixed styling using the high-low concept. Layering is an opportunity to elevate seemingly everyday basic items when they are paired with higher priced items from your closet which you don’t wear often enough.
Opportunity to contrast items in your outfit. This always adds some visual interest if done well. For example wearing a light coloured top with dark coloured bottoms or colours on opposing sides of the colour spectrum. It might be out of your comfort zone, but doesn’t hurt to try-it might even grow on you.
You look more ‘put-together’. Normally the jacket is the one that carries off the whole look and adds layer of sophistication. If that’s what you were aiming for indirectly. It’s great when a plan comes together.
I might add, for us tall ladies, we can layer on clothes and not disappear or get ‘swallowed up’ in the clothes-which is a danger in layering. The pants will be worn well, the jackets if long, will be seen beautifully and help enhance the look.
There’s so much to say about dressing in this weather and the danger of going off on another tangent is very real. In the next post(Part 2), I will be sharing ideas/visuals of how to layer and just look great while at it. We might as well enjoy this weather while we have it, even though we will be kicking and screaming to wake up every morning.
P.S: Though I didn’t add it here, the definition also points to the fact that layering can also be for those in warmer climates. We’ll get to discuss that some day, but for now enjoy these tips on layering for the cold weather.
Fit is key, know your body (do you heat up quickly or are you always cold no matter what, what size are you? Should you choose a slightly bigger jacket so that all your clothes fit without restriction in movement) and finally have fun experimenting with the different types of clothes and colours. It’s doable and you might actually learn something new about yourself and your style. This makes a huge difference!
Was this helpful? Got any questions? How do you deal with the cold weather?Would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Great weekend and I know I don’t have to tell you to stay warm.
Cheers! (Look out for part 2!)