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Surviving Berlin Winter - for those who have not polar bear blood ;-)

Now is the time when winter is sexy

Last week, my friend of many years came round to see me and soon after arriving she complained of feeling cold. 

 

I was a tad surprised, because usually, I am the person who feels cold most easily and everybody else are laughing themselves silly when I wear a sweater while they are still in some flowery, flimsy summer dresses.

My friend does not wear flowery dresses though, she goes for jeans and a t-shirt in summer and jeans and a hoodie in winter. 

 

Or that is what she used to do when I first met her in university, but after we both graduated, she has spent the last ten years or so in the Philippines, before returning to Berlin a short while ago. 

"It seems that I have forgotten how to dress when it is below 30 degrees" she explained apologetically, when I reminded her of how she had always been at the forefront of any "making Grandmouse look like a Warmduscher" jokes. Warmduscher is the German term for people who cant tolerate taking a cold shower, therefore they have to shower with hot water. And that phrase is used widely even in situations that have nothing to do with personal hygiene but where someone is made fun of for not being very tough. 

 

While I proceeded to soothe my friend with my biggest wooly jumper and some hot cocoa, we got into thinking. If she is already suffering from chilly Berlin weather, how bad must it be for people who come to a cold climate for the first time in their life. 

"Hey, YOU know a lot about dressing warmly, and you like to write", my friend mused, "maybe this is something you could write about in your blog? You know, work towards friendship-among-nations and help the new Berliners like me get over the cold months that lie ahead a bit better."

 

"That´s a great idea", I said, and here I am, ready to go, only its a vast topic, so I am not sure where to start lol. Also its been a busy week, so I will worry about a systematic approach later and jump in by showing you something I have just made for myself.

 

 


These are called wristwarmers or

Pulswärmer in German, in case you want to look for it online and they are something I highly recommend you to look at. They come in many shapes and materials, but the idea is, dont let the cold crawl up on you through what google translate tells me is called a "cold bridge" or "thermal bridge" in English. The gap between two garments, in this case between the end of your sleeve and the beginning of your glove.

Fortunately you are not going to need gloves just yet, BUT: I find it very soothing to wear even without the gloves, and I think it significantly reduces the need for more layers in general, so that you can get away with a cute, thin sweater for much longer instead of having to wear a bulky one that makes you look a lot bigger than you really are. 

 

When I was in middle school, it was a fad to knit these yourself but you can also buy them for a few Euro in many places. 

In my school days it was also commonly believed that the "pulse warmer" helps to keep much warmer because we are supposedly loosing more warmth in the area of the wrists, but I am inclined to believe that this is probably more of a placebo-like thought.

But as long as it works, who cares, plus, I kind of like to delude myself that it looks really fancy when I am typing on a keyboard :-D

 

If you were to buy only one item for the winter, I would recommend you to get something like this. A padded jacket or preferably coat (this one is almost knee length) with a hood attached (sometimes the hood has a zipper for when you dont need it.)

The hood is going to be very useful when it gets REAL cold because it helps to close another thermal bridge, the one between your jacket and a hat or things that you wear on the head.

Make sure you buy such a coat at least one or even two sizes bigger as you think. It may be a bit loose fitting for now... but its only September ;-)

This is a very simple variation of this garment, and I paid around 30 Euro for it, you can also buy a more fancy one or maybe look into a special outdoors brand but I wouldnt really recommend it as you dont know too well what you are looking for (and the sales people will tell you anything of course lol.) 

Plus there are a lot of other types of winter coats and jackets and you might want to buy some of those too, so you better dont blow all your budget already ;-)

Two more items for your first winter wardrobe: a long sleeve shirt and a pair of nylons.

The idea is, the innermost layer of your onion look should be elastic and figure hugging, because then you can add pretty much anything on top. So dont get a big, flabby long sleeve shirt, get one that fits you exactly. And with these two items, you can make part of your summer wardrobe last for a good while into autumn, just wear them underneath. Then even a flowery summerdress or your favorite-but-much-too-thin pants can still work fine for the time being. 

As some people who have read the first version of this blog post have mentioned they are quite eager to start buying their first warm clothes, I have added a few quick suggestions. I have also started to write an overview to help you with the concept of layering in general. 

It should be finished by tomorrow afternoon or so, please check in again :-)

 

"Ich will eine gute Zwiebel sein"

 The godess of winter is a many-faced godess, but we have one friend who can help us deal with her, the onion lol. 

Zwiebellook is the German word for the art of layering so as to be ready for changing temperatures throughout the day. 

I am putting together a cheat sheet for everyone who is new to this concept:

Its all my fault lol... carelessly saying that the time for gloves has not quite arrived yet, of course the weather god immediately had to go and prove me wrong. Yesterday evening when I was riding my bike, my hands all but fell off...  so here is a picture of the most simple version of gloves, they sell for around 2-3 Euro a pair and the three fingers in a different colour have some sort of material added to allow you to operate a smart phone (or other touch screen) without taking the gloves off. When it gets really cold, you will probably want something more serious, but for now this is a good place to start