Layer up: learning to love long johns

EDINBURGH EXPAT | Learning to love … layers. The art of staying warm in seasonably cold weather is one every Antipodean must learn when moving to the UK.


layering clothing in cold weather

HERE’S the situation – you are suddenly awoken from a state of peaceful slumber. The world you find yourself in is dirty, dark and cold – it is your bedroom. After taking a moment to collect your thoughts, you drag your feet to the kitchen where you soon discover the milk is gone – stolen from us, Precious – usually by the flatmates. Filthy Hobbits.

That’s right, milk: the foundation of the breakfast empire. Without it there can be no cereal, porridge becomes a watery joke and how will you take your coffee now? Black? Well, that’s not too bad I suppose- EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT YOUR COFFEE IS OF THE INSTANT VARIETY.

May the Gods have mercy.

Alas, there is but one option. You must venture beyond the bedroom, to the place they call Tesco, maybe even a Sainsbury’s. Waitrose? Why don’t you just send your butler to get it for you? Anyway, go forth brave morning soldier and retrieve the brunch that is rightfully yours. Off with you. Go.

Now obviously you can’t leave the house without underwear, right? So the first thing you do is shimmy out of your Spiderman jammies and whack on a pair of Bonds. Done.

For the sake of this column, let us assume winter is coming, though here in Scotland it never truly left. So what you will need to do next is pull on those thermal long johns. Immediately after this you pray. You pray that there is never an occasion where a living human person will ever see you wearing long johns. They are practical, yes, but all those squat thrusts and bun burning exercises are now for nothing. It doesn’t paint a clear picture of what’s going on down there, is all I’m saying.

Now, take a deep breath and swan dive into the sea of unwashed clothing that is your bedroom floor. This is where you hope to salvage that mythical pair of semi-clean jeans you know in your heart exists. With nothing but your senses to guide you, you feel past anything that is too damp and too sticky, you scan each item of clothing for overtly visible stains and most importantly, you sniff. Hmm, they don’t exactly smell of roses, but this pair will do. Next.

Singlet. Check. Shirt. Check. Jumper. Check. None of these really matter. Sure adding those layers is going to keep you toasty, but paying attention to what is worn on the top half of your body during winter is pointless.

Why? Because of that goliath coat you have hanging in your closet, that’s why.  Weighing twenty six kilos and being big enough to cover a bison, this ugly piece of clothing is made for one purpose: to repel. It repels the cold, it repels the rain and it repels prospective partners.  Nevertheless you lug it over your shoulders and tend to its 364 mismatched buttons.

By this point you’re exhausted and the time for brunch has well and truly passed but don’t let that stop you. You’ve come so far and you’ll be damned if a pair of shoes is going to get between you and your Cheerios.

Shoes: the final piece of the puzzle. You flop down in your lounge, curse the fact that you have already put on your jacket as it seems to be impairing your reach. However slowly but surely you get it done. And now, you have earned the right to step out into that wind and rain and retrieve your precious dairy.

To put things in perspective, here is how a similar situation would play out back home.

You wake up, you put on some shorts and you head to the store. Shoes optional.