It goes without saying that the West Indies and UK have very different weather conditions, and this can be quite a daunting adjustment to make at first. Staying warm, however, really isn’t that difficult. You just have to be smart about the way you dress.
For some people, it’s easy to go out in shorts, even when it’s less than ten degrees. I am not one of those people…at all. This is the second time I’m experiencing winter, and I think I’ve cracked the code on how to bear the cold. Just look at the points of the body where heat usually escapes from, and trap the heat with layers.
1: Starting at the bottom (below the knee)
Ankle grazers and cuffed trousers are big in fashion, but they aren’t so sensible for the colder months. Warm feet also make life a whole lot easier. During my first few months here, I would constantly be shivering at home, even if the radiator was on high. Only when one of my flatmates said “Of course you’re cold, you’re always barefoot!”, I had an epiphany. It was then that I truly realised I wasn’t in San Fernando anymore, and I couldn’t continue walking around like I was at the beach. Thankfully, some clever lad invented the ever-so-innovative socks. It’s important that you invest in a good pair of boots, or shoes that have relatively thick soles. If the lining is insulated, that’s even better, but you may not necessarily want to risk the sweaty feet, so you can buy linings separately.
2: Now we here (above the shoulders)
Many a time, the temperature itself isn’t the problem…it’s the breeze! . Invest in a good scarf and your teeth will never chatter again. For ladies, there are scarves that span as much as 2 metres. Wrap up and tuck it in to protect your neck from the wind, throw it around your head and/or shoulders as a shawl or lay it out like a blanket. If your ears, nose and face also tend to get cold, a scarf will be your best friend. Pair this with a cap, hat, beanie or even just the hood of your jacket, and you’re all set. Once it keeps the heat close to your body, you’ll be cosy on a cold day.
3: The wrists and beyond
Cold, stiff fingers are an absolute pain. It wasn’t until I came to the UK that I really started appreciating the pockets in hoodies and sweaters. A pair of good quality gloves might cost you a bit of money, and if you’re like me, you’re likely to misplace at least one glove every week. In that case, just wear 2 pairs of thin, cheap ones! Life hack. You’re welcome
4: Everyting else
Legs and torso are actually secondary to the smaller parts, but layering is key. On really cold days, ensure that one of your layers is made of a knitted material. With the other layers, I tend to go for zip-ups rather than pullovers, simply because they’re easier to remove when you get indoors (especially if you wear glasses). Thermal vests, leggings or longjohns can be quite useful as well. For ladies: if your jeans aren’t too tight, it might be a good idea to wear a pair of tights (stockings) underneath, especially if you don’t want to have to save your ripped jeans for the Spring.
I know it may sound overwhelming, but it’s not that bad at all! Think about it this way, England isn’t as cold as Canada and the USA so..small mercies? Haha
Mini tip: When British people use the word ‘jumper’, they’re referring to what you might usually call a ‘sweater’. We’ll explore those language differences a bit more in my next post..*wink*
Over and out,