Hello again to everyone! This week as Christmas is soon here I will be talking about winter coats for different temperatures. Thereâ€™s this idyllic picture of a white Christmas in the Western culture but for some, it can be a little bit too white. 🙂
Weâ€™ve had snow for weeks now. Itâ€™s been snowing almost every day, and weâ€™ll probably be breaking snow records in the Helsinki region this winter. Believe me, itâ€™s not even remotely funny in an urban area! Still nothing ever stops. Schools and businesses remain open, public transportation runs, and the airport stays open as seen on this one-minute CNN Future Cities video. Weâ€™ve got “snowhow”, and that includes how to dress for the weather.
Winter can mean several things depending on the climate zone you live in. Here in Helsinki weâ€™re about 600km south of the Arctic Circle, and our climate is kept in decent temperatures by the Gulf Stream. On the other side weâ€™ve got the big vast land mass of Siberia, which generates hot weather for us in the summer and freezing cold sunny days in the winter. The rule of thumb is, if it snows, itâ€™s not freezing cold; if itâ€™s a sunny day, itâ€™s probably freezing cold.
Mostly I prefer knee length coats because they are not too long to wear with trousers and are usually long enough for dresses and boots combos. When I get up in the morning I take a look at the weather forecast and pick the coat according to the temperature and categorize my coats in the following way (without layering for warmth) :
When the weather is during the day a few degrees above zero and in the mornings zero (32ÂºF) or a little under.
When the weather is below zero but no more than -18ÂºCÂ (-0.4ÂºF) in the morning and warmer during the day.
When the weather is below -18 in general, at its coldest Iâ€™m talking about -35 Celsius degrees (-31 Â°F) here in southern Finland.
There are some exceptions of course with layering but when Iâ€™m going to work I donâ€™t do much layering so just need my coat to be warm enough.
Some key notes on staying warm that we learn as small kids here: keep your head, hands and feet warm, especially your head. If any of those are exposed, you will feel much colder in the winter. Many homes have cold floors in the winter so keeping your feet warm indoors with woolly socks helps you to stay warm and snuggly. I have many pairs of woolly socks, and I wear them inside shoes too because normal socks in normal shoes are not enough in the winter. But indoors at work I need to take those off or my feet will be boiling and then cold when I leave work.
Which then brings me to one other key thing: make sure your clothes â€œbreatheâ€ or that you donâ€™t go overboard with your coat. This is because if you start feeling hot and sweaty at all, and the dampness doesnâ€™t evaporate, youâ€™ll feel so cold even if you are wearing a massive coat. I often see tourists in Helsinki from warmer parts of the world and they are wearing down coats in +15Â (59 Â°F) weather!
Sure people are accustomed to their own climates and we can tolerate cold more than people from warmer areas, but that is a bit out there 🙂 For them we on the other hand look silly with shorts and t-shirts in barely +20 (68 Â°F) weather which already feels warm in our opinion.