When I was back in Toronto for the holidays, I paid more attention to people’s outerwear than I had in the past. Having left sweater-weather behind in San Francisco, I was preoccupied with being warm and how others were going about that rather tiring task.
I had noticed before, but never so definitely how people under 20 often shun warmth for—I guess—style. They don’t wear hats. Their jackets are open. They wear shoes rather than boots. Yep, if you’re under 20-years-of-age, chances are great that you think less is more even when the temperature is dropping and nose hairs are freezing.
I thought back to about grade six or so, when I became the proud owner of Cougar boots. You know, the light-brown, leather ones with the red lining, and the ever-so-long nylon laces? Très stylish, especially when paired with my navy Adidas bag. Of course, I tied my boot laces loosely, thus ensuring that the red lining was exposed because the boot tongues flapped over a bit. I happily set out on my walk to school, not minding the cold because I knew with certainty that I looked cool.
What wasn’t cool is that before I hit the half-way point of my walk, I also hit the sidewalk. I face-planted, narrowly missing taking out my front teeth. I easily attributed my wipe-out to slippery snow or ice, and kept sauntering on. But after the same crashing down happened a few more times over the next couple of days, and I very obviously was on a bare, windswept sidewalk at least once – well, I had to take stock of the situation. I was grateful I hadn’t reached my friend’s house yet, and that the guy I liked was no where in sight.
So at that tender age of 11 or 12, I came to the harsh revelation that my cool boots were making me walk like a loser. Or, more accurately, I was tying my cool boots like a loser. The laces were too loose. They could catch a hook of the neighbouring boot and take me down at random.
I started tying up my boots tightly after that, forcibly hiding the red lining. I even convinced myself I still looked cool because I no longer was wiping out and finding my face an inch from pavement.
I’m glad I learned the lesson early on that you can have style and warmth…together. Most people over 20 years, who live in a northern climate seem to embrace that concept. I had to admire Torontonians during the holidays and how they make their style statements by their choices of knitwear, jackets, and boots. Colour, chunkiness, and length are the things that matter.
As for the people who don’t see the statements waiting to be made with the cornucopia of layers, I have to wonder what it’ll take. Me, I almost lost some teeth.