I always find dressing in a cold climate a lot more challenging. It’s very tempting just to put on your puffer coat, black trousers and a warm woollen jumper. Not so Nicole. She manages to dress in skirts and dresses, wears color and texture and mixes it up with shoes. Considering that she lives in Alaska, one of the coldest places in the US that is no mean feat. Time to discover her secrets for dressing in cold weather!
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Sure. I love my husband, cat, nature, science, weather, and fashion.
As a point of reference which age group do you belong to or perhaps you are willing to share your age?
I am one of the last baby boomers. Who is interested in my exact age has do the math. The best 10 years in the live of a women are between 29 and 30. According to that I am 41, which makes me a 40+ blogger. LOL.
Can you tell us a bit more about your blog High Latitude Style and why you created it?
A couple of years ago, there was an article in the newspaper stating that Alaskans are the worst dressed people and wear weird shoes. That article actually got me “pregnant” with the idea to start a fashion blog. The motivation was to show that it is possible to be stylish when temperatures are in the double digits below freezing, and all you want is to stay warm. High Latitude Style is all about creating the right amount of insulation by layering. Layering creates not only insulation, but can, when done well, create interest and be stylish.
It is important to understand that a coat does not warm. If it did, we would just have to buy a coat, hang it on the coat stock and our house would get heated. The coat and any other clothing just insulate the body from the cold environment. Thus, clothing has not only a social, fashion/style aspect for me, but I am also interested in the physical aspect.
The name of the blog “High Latitude Style” was my husband’s idea. It is a hint at that I live in high latitudes.
How would you describe your style?
My buzz words are American classic, sleek, fitted, layered (in the cold season) with an edge. This edge is either casual or rock ‘n roll or borrowed from my husband. Thus, I love sheath dresses, LBDs, pencil skirts, narrow-fit tweed skirts, slim cashmere sweaters and cardigans, white button downs, classic denim jackets, leather aviator jackets, tailored blazers and coats, pumps, strappy sandals, slingbacks, and equestrian boots. I like to accessorize with strands of pearls (vintage), cuffs, bracelets, studs, statement watches, structured bags, and belts. In the cold season (October to April included) add a hat and classic scarf to the list.
Items to add the edge are a studded belt, studded high heel motorcycle booties, studded sling backs or pumps, motorcycle jackets, coats and vests, and leopard high heel pumps,
Can you tell me where you live and how that influences your style choices?
I live in Fairbanks, Alaska, in College to be precise. Fairbanks has long, cold dark winters, and short , warm white summers. The average annual temperature is -3C (27F). In winter, temperatures may reach from 10C (50F) to -51C (-60F). The highest temperature on record was 37C (99F). The lowest temperature on record was -54C (-66F). This means my wardrobe has to be able to cover me well over a temperature range that is about 90C (150F). Therefore, I buy items that are free game to be worn year round. The items must be able to be worn alone as well as layered.
I also adjust my outfits to the weather. When we have fresh snow, booties are a no no. The parking lot may not yet be plowed and stepping out of the car would mean loading the booties with snow. When it is below -40C (-40F), I wear my over-the-knee boots and tea-length shearling coat covered with a shawl. On these days, one has to idle the car for some time before one can punch in a gear, because the transmission oil is frozen. I also wear sunglasses in winter. In winter, the Sun is so low above the horizon that it reflects on the snow. In May, the mosquitoes are out, but the dragon flies and birds who eat the mosquitoes, have not yet arrived. This means I wear very tightly woven fabrics so I am not dinner.
What do you see as the challenges of dressing for a cold climate? How do you look fabulous in a cold climate?
The biggest challenge is to stay warm and look nevertheless stylish. I wear sleek long underwear under every outfit when temperatures are in the negative double digits. Then I layer. The number of layers depends on the outside temperature. When layering, I pay attention to that the outfit still works when I pull a layer or two off. It may just be too warm at the office to keep all layers. Note that one has to be prepared that it is not the normal room temperature at the office when there is a sudden cold spill or Chinook. I also pay attention to create an “outer outfit”. Thus, I try to stay fabulous to what ever curve ball the weather throws at me.
What are you best tips for dressing for the cold?
Multiple layers, avoiding any cold bridges. Make sure you do not sweat or get wet clothing. Avoid cotton. Go for silk or cashmere. Work with air as an additional insulation layer. Buy your winter shoes a number larger than you would wear normally.
Do you mainly dress for work or casual situations and how does that influence your style?
I dress for me, and the situation I will be in. Thus, Monday through Friday I dress for work, but may change in the evening. This may be either to go out with my husband or go dancing. Then it is either training gear, just for fun, i.e. dress up or performing, i.e. a dance costume.
What inspires your outfit choices the most?
This is a tough question. I would say I am naturally inspired by the weather, things I see, the mood I am in, compliments, and fashion history.
Do you take things like color profiling or body type into account when you dress?
I look best in dark, saturated colors, and I dress for my body. I try to accentuate my assets to look my best. I would look terrible in ruffles, and a wedding cake skirt, anything romantic or in Easter egg colors, for instance. Also a bombshell style like Marilyn Monroe would look ridiculous on me as I have a boyish body.
Would you say you have a signature style? And if yes, what are the main elements?
I think one of my signature elements is leather. I love leather since I was a toddler. My leather pants kept me out of trouble as they did not rip and were easy to clean. Another signature element is my Hermes collier de chien cuff. It is a gift from my husband for the 20th anniversary of my PhD last year. Huge bags to carry my laptop and pumps for the office in winter. Well, last but not least high heels (3 inch and up). Everybody says they can hear me coming.
Has your style changed at all after turning 40?
We immigrated to Alaska in 2001. My style had to adapt to the cold climate. I lived in a maritime midlatitude climate before. Over the years, my style has become more distinct, and improved. I now have less, but better clothes. I learned to be stylish despite of cold climate.
Do you believe in dressing ‘age appropriately’ and what does it mean to you?
Let me give you an example. My great-grandma dressed in a floral sheath with 3/4 sleeves, fashion jewelry, and 2 inch sturdy heels when she was over eighty and she looked fabulous. She was criticized by many people for dressing like that because in the 60s, everybody that age wore black, blue, brown or gray. I think she dressed age appropriate. The dress looked great on her, and conveyed her positive attitude towards live, i.e. it stood for what she was, proud, self conscious, fun to be with, and happy. The dress was well fitted and the highest quality she could afford.
A 20 something can wear a potato sack belted with a cord and look great. But a 40+ wearing clothes that are not well made, looks like she rioted her daughter’s closet (especially when the items do not fit well). At 40+, it is all about conveying who you have become, what you wear and how, and quality beats quantity.
Would you say that at this stage of your life you are now more, or less interested in fashion, style and the way you look?
I am even more interested in how I look than I was when I was in my 20s or 30s. My interest shifted from fashion to style, from quantity to quality. I now know who I am and who I want to be.
Why is the way you look important to you?
Professionalism, feeling good, having fun, and most importantly, impressing my husband.
Which of the outfits on your blog are personal favorites and why?
My readers’ favorites top three favorites are Tanned Skin, Ducks, Giraffe – Another Animal Print.These three are also among my favorites. I think the first two are so me, and the third is so my way of wearing prints. I just hardly stick to only one print when I wear print.
Do you follow trends? And if yes, which trends excite you at the moment?
Only if they work for me. At the moment, it is leather and tartan, black and white.
Do you have any fashion and style tips for women over 40?
If it does not call your name and is not you, skip it.
What are your plans for your blog and how do you see it develop over the coming years?
Of course. I have done my SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, and thread) analysis. I have long term and short term goals, and a plan A and B. But I take one step at a time. My next goal is to make my blog look more professional. I want to design a thumbnail, for instance. Furthermore, I get a better camera. I am currently learning Camtasia to make little movies, tutorial sort of. I also want to partner with advertisers on the long time scale.
Anything further you would like to add?
Well, let’s make this a fun fact: I wear a green and a blue contact lens.
Don’t forget to check out Nicole’s blog High Latitude Style where you will find lots more winter outfits!