Friday, January 21, 2011

That Time Again

Late every summer, I get this nagging feeling that there is something I should be doing.

Of course, it comes from all of the years (and years and years) I spent in academia. The end of summer signals the anticipation of the start of the new school year.

The same thing happens to Foreign Service folks. Usually about 6 months before we need to head to post.

We start getting the nagging feeling we should be getting ready.

It has started for me. I am beginning to sort in my head. I'm making lists of things I want to make sure I have in my UAB...and I keep meaning to ask post how long it typically takes there to get it. And I need to start thinking of what I need to mail to myself (pet supplies, etc).

I am also thinking about what I can get rid of, and what I can leave behind in storage. I plan to take much less with me this time (thank god for the kindle! now I can take lots and lots of books with not much added weight!).

And my big fret...winter clothes.

I don't really have least not THAT kind of winter!

And apparently I should have looked for a winter coat in JULY instead of now.

Now how the hell was I supposed to know that??

And I am discovering that what I thought I would do, which is just get an LL Bean coat, probably will be insufficient. Well, insufficient if those coats weren't sold out!

So now I am getting recommendations of coats like the Canada Goose Mystique. but of course, those are long since sold out. As are the Patagonia Downtown Loft, and the North Face Arctic Park. People, I am Southern! I am going to die if I can't get a decent coat!

And it gets worse. I need boots. They need to be warm, waterproof, and professional-looking enough to wear to work.

Here's the monkey-wrench...I am a lesbian.

And not a lipstick lesbian.

I don't do girly. Ever. No heels. No "pretty." Ever.

I don't own a dress. I haven't worn one in longer that I can remember. Not to my graduation, not to my mother's funeral. And if those don't rate a dress, nothing does.

That is severely limiting in the boot department even before you add in the requirements of living in arctic-stonia.

Yeah, that nagging in my head is rapidly turning into alarm bells!

ON EDIT: I just realized I misspelled heels. Not all that surprising, actually.


Bethany Davidson-Widby said...

Hiya! Sierra Trading Post has great coats and boots and the best deals :-)

It's 22 and windy today in Knoxville with snow on the ground (again!) - be glad you're not in the South today. This winter has been awful!


Kate said...

You may laugh, but hear me out. Have you considered shopping in Canada? We're not the hinterland, we have online shopping!

Seriously, we've got a bunch of sales on winter gear on right now. Lots of places still have Canada Goose wear, Sorel boots, Arcteryx jackets, etc. [I know because I'm now in the market for new warm winter boots].

A few suggestions:

Mountain Equipment Co-op (
Sport Chek ( - definitely sell Canada Goose
Sport Experts (don't have online shopping though)
Sporting Life (

Shannon said...

Well the good news is that by mid summer, when I am in the states trying to buy enough shorts to last my family another year in Africa, all that will be in the stores is stupid fall and winter gear. Who wants flannel lined jeans and down filled coats in July in TEXAS? But there you have it. You can probably just take your DC coat with you and order your choice of arctic gear (at full price) to be delivered to you at post in August. And at least flat heeled boots have been in for the last few seasons so hopefully you can find some that work for you, there's always Zappos.

Belleweather said...

I bet they do the same thing in estonia that we do here... wear ugly, warm, sensible, waterproof boots with good traction to and from the office and carry their normal shoes in bag to wear once you get there. (Um. Unless you're me, who wore flat mocassins into the office because she was running late, despite the fact that it was 26 below this morning, and can't feel her toes despite having been in the office for two hours. Protip: Don't do that!)

Betsy said...

I'm an FSO wannabe (hoping to join A100 in Sept in the PD cone) and a regular reader of your awesome blog. I wanted to suggest Lands' End coats. They have temperature ratings down to -40 degrees and I wore one in St. Petersburg for a year when temps got down to -30 Fahrenheit - and was never cold (I'm also a Southerner). Definitely worth checking out!

Anonymous said...

Hahaha. I love the fervor in which you typed "lipstick lesbian." Seriously, go online. I have many a friend who have found serious winter coats that aren't girly.

Digger said...

Y'all are all the best readers ever! I am going to check out ALL of your suggestions.

Coco Recommends said...

One more suggestion - check out Land's End - I don't shop Land's End for sexy.. I shop them for WARMTH. I got my parka for them which has served me well in the frigid (if not as frigid as where you're going) bitter cold Great White North. Ditto, I got my snow boots from them. ..and not my "sexy-winter-boots". :)

Colleen said...

I feel your pain- I made the transition from Kuwait to Bosnia. I got the full length down coat from LL Bean- it is essentially like walking around in a giant toasty sleeping bag. Attractive? not really. Functional? hells yeah. As for boots, I found a great pair of Columbia winter boots on super-sale at DSW . They have steel shanks in the sides which made them heavy but oh so worth it when I fell on my ass but never broke or even sprained an ankle.

Erin G said...

pony up the cash (couple hundred bucks) on a good warm coat before you go. I'm a southerner like you, and when I lived in germany and the netherlands (neither nearly as cold as estonia) my north face was totally worth it.

Get boots when you get there. Europeans have way more boot options than we do (at NORMAL prices, to boot -- haha to boot -- not intended but I'm punny!) and for sure you can find some that are warm and dress-uppable without being girly.

(I live in the same boot camp -- haha boot camp, did it again -- as you do, chica. *fistbump*)

Excited to hear more about your getting-ready process!!

Jen said...

It's pricey, but I love my 66 North down parka. Purchased it in Iceland in 2005 and still going strong. They sell stuff all year round for obvious reasons, and can be found at:

I bought my girls stuff there (all in one supersuits) after the stuff from LL Bean just didn't cut it...they never complained again about being cold and played in everything from gale force winds to sleet, snow, get the picture!

Jill said...

I've recently been asking about heavy jackets for DC ... because after living in tropical-esque climates for the past 7 years, and Southern California this winter, we haven't needed anything more than a rain coat and a light jean jacket.

Everyone has told me to go North Face - that it's rugged enough to fit your requirements, and they come in all kinds of colors and designs so you don't have to look too girly. :)

Kristen said...

Eddie Bauer has a whole line of new outerwear that was developed for and tested on mountain climbers on Mt. Everest. If those coats don't keep you warm in Estonia nothing will. They're a little on the expensive side (most run around $200, if memory serves me) but they have lots of layering options and while they do carry like bright pink most of the women's coats also come in blue, green, orange, and black so you'll be fine. As for shoes, check out La Canadienne. They make tons of flat boots that are super warm.

G said...

Check this out for boots:

I particularly love Sorel.

About jackets, the Ski Chalet in Arlington (on Colombia Pike) had a sale around this time last year. Good luck!

G said...

For boots, I love Sorel in the snow. For decent styles, this blog often has some night highlights:

And for jackets, the Ski Chalet in Arlington (on Colombia Pike) had some good sales on snowboarding gear, including clothing, around this time last year. Pretty decent if you like the sporty look.

Z. Marie said...

There's always eBay. Don't laugh, you can find almost everything there. Brand-new things aren't always cheaper than you'd find them in a real store, but you can almost always track down what you're looking for.

Kate said...

I saw this and thought of you [Want to go on vacation to Banff??]:

Book a qualifying 2-night Winter Romance Package at select Fairmont resorts this winter, and you'll receive two Canada Goose Jackets!

This Winter Romance Package is available at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler, The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise or The Fairmont Banff Springs until April 30, 2011. Rates start from $399 per night, bookings are non-refundable and must be prepaid, and you will need to be a Fairmont President's Club member to qualify (membership is free).

There is a limit of one jacket per person with a maximum of two jackets per room booked. Jackets available for this promotion are the Canada Goose Lodge Down Jackets for men and Camp Down Jackets for women. Available in select size and colour options, while supplies last. For more information, or to book your Winter Romance Package, contact the qualifying Fairmont property of your choice before April 30.

Digger said...

I'd never laugh at Ebay...I buy on there all the time! I have actually been hunting there for a coat. The jacket I wear all the time now is one I got on ebay a few years ago.

Mizzenplace said...

another vote for Sorel.

I hate nothing more than the cold. Go to Neiman Marcus and get some sort of butchered animal to hide inside. I know it's less than ideal... but they have something we don't. Fur. and as gross and wrong as it is, in some cases (arctonia) its totally understandable. Plus, I don't think anyone's going to be dousing you in paint as you walk down the street there.

Digger said...

I actually don't take issue with people wearing fur in areas where they need it to stay warm. Because you are right, we just don't have the ability to make something as warm as what nature does.

For me it is the same issue as with hunting. I have no issue at all with people hunting for food they are going to eat, but I am not a fan of hunting for sport. And I don't have a problem with wearing fur if you are in an area where nothing else will do. But I'm not a fan of wearing it because it is "fashionable."

Anonymous said...

I moved from a tropical post to he Baltics last year (and am currently on TDY in Scandinavia, which is even colder). My favorite purchases have been my Keen boots, yaktrax (large enough to fit on big winter boots), and thin long underwear bottoms from MEC in Canada. I started out wearing the long underwear just walking to work but soon discovered that they felt good enough to keep on all day long. And they are thin so don't show through my trousers.

As for the boots, don't worry too much about finding ones that are "stylish enough to wear to work." Most people keep their "real" shoes under their desk to change into when they arrive in the morning.

Don't forget good scarves, hats and gloves. I was able to find some great cashmere scarves/hats and a pair of leather cashmere-lined gloves at Brooks Brothers at Potomac Mills around this time last year. Their women's styles strike a nice balance between being too masculine and too effeminate, in my opinion. It's still not cheap, but the quality is excellent.

Anonymous said...

I'd 2nd the yak traks (I have the Pro version and they're well worth it) and the long underwear. If you have wide feet, I'd buy the boots in the U.S. before you go- things in Europe run narrow. In addition to the other suggestions, I also like L.L. Bean. Good luck!