Under Wraps

Ah, yes. It’s that time of year when it takes 20 minutes to bundle up and head out the door. Maybe not for everyone, but most certainly for me—all those snaps, zippers and the inevitable struggle to grasp the wrists of my sweater so the sleeves don’t bunch up inside my coat.

SnowsuitI’m already into my full-length down Eddie Bauer, gloves, a wool beret and scarf, sometimes even leg warmers. All this, of course, over two sweaters, warm pants and fleece wrist warmers—my go-to outfit for working at home, writing at my computer, which inevitably makes me cold even with the heat on, because I’m sitting still for so long.

Even if all those layers can sometimes feel like a mummy’s wrap, however, it’s nothing compared to the bulk I used to wear as a kid.

Remember snow pants? With skirts? In my elementary school, in the ‘60s, girls couldn’t wear pants to school. I had this water-resistant pair of red snow pants, with suspenders, that my mom would insist on me wearing over my plaid wool kilts to school—that, plus tights, of course, red rubber overshoe boots (the kind with the little elastic loop that you slipped over the rubber button to supposedly keep out the snow), a matching red parka with a hood and red wool mittens.

Those snow pants, practical as they were, made my skirt bunch up at the crotch. I hated wearing them to school. I would waddle out of the house to the bus stop. Getting dressed for recess was a big, long process—probably harder for the teacher than for us kids.

Playing in the snow at home was another matter. I loved to make snow men and snow angels in our front yard, and the snow pants were tolerable for those activities, mainly because I wore pants underneath.

For fall, I had a tan wool duffle coat with toggle buttons. No fancy light-weight, super breathable, heat-retaining fabrics back then. Most of the time, wool was sufficient.

Once, however, on a chilly late fall day, out on the playground, the wind kicked up. A couple of my little girlfriends and I huddled together and complained to the teacher in charge. “You’re just a bunch of sugar plums,” she teased. “It’s a beautiful, sunny day. Go and play.”

To which we responded by walking arm-in-arm within her earshot and chanting, “It’s cold, it’s freezing, it’s terrible!” We’d have been better off running around, but we had fun being miserable. Then we played hopscotch until the bell rang.

Some 50-plus years later, I’m still of both minds about the weather. There’s that part of me who absolutely hates the cold here in New England, all the layers and the numbness in my fingers and transitioning in and out of cold when I venture out for errands or appointments.

But there’s the other side, as well, who loves the four seasons, even snow, and views the challenge of dressing for my severe Raynaud’s as one more game to play. I may gripe, but ultimately, it’s all about finding the right clothes, giving myself enough time to get dressed and mastering layers. It also helps to have warm clothes that are comfortable and make me feel and look my best.

Certainly not snow pants.

Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com.


  1. Pat Bizzell says:

    Not only do I remember wearing those snow suits, but I put my girls in them when they were small. I did not want to spend the money for the fashionable winter outfits available by then for little kids, so I got snowsuits at Kim’s Kiddie Kloset, a consignment store in Holden that I think has now closed. It really made sense to recycle little kids’ clothes since they outgrew them so fast. To this day, I can’t bring myself to spend a ton of money on a Baby-Gap outfit for a grandchild, no matter how cute (the outfit or the kid, that is).

    I would have put my girls in those red rubber snow boots, too, if I could have found them, but alas, no. My older daughter had a proper pair of modern snowboots by the age of three, but I couldn’t find any for my younger one, who was a vigorous walker by ten months. So I wrapped her sneaker’d feet in baggies and taped them on. There, I’ve confessed. Too late for DSS to take them away from me, though; they’re grown and gone.

    And I have a great down jacket that I wore to work today, seeing the season’s first snowfall outside.

    • We used to put our girls in snow pants, too, but not over skirts! At least as far as I can recall.

      • Pat Bizzell says:

        No, not over skirts, but my girls didn’t have to wear them to school like we did. I don’t recall wearing puffy snow pants over my skirts, though. For school, I had leggings that pulled up under my skirt, and a snow jacket. The leggings were hard to get on or off unless you took off whatever was on your feet.

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