235. the c-c-c-cold and the layered look

So this morning I’m walking to my car and I see that the windows are fogged up. I figure it’s no big deal, I mean I’ve seen foggy windows before. I get into my car, start her up and turn on the windshield wipers to clear it up but after the blades sweep across the window, the “fog” is still there. That’s when I notice the tiny crystalline webs in the corners of the window.

And then it hits me.

It’s not fog.

My windows are frosted over.

As if the cold weekend (lows in the 30’s, highs in the mid 40’s!) wasn’t enough of a hint, this certainly drove home the point that I wasn’t in Hawaii anymore.

I guess I need to buy an ice scraper. Also, my mom was telling me to buy tire chains. I thought she was nuts but now I’m wondering if maybe I should keep them in the car just in case.

Frosted windows aren’t the only problem though.
To state the obvious, Hawaii is warm. Temperatures range from the low 60’s to the mid 90’s and it’s always humid. Just about the only people I can think of who own any sizable collection of warm clothes are warehouse people who work in chill boxes or the astronomers who work up on Mauna Kea. I’m neither so until a few weeks before I moved to Seattle, my entire cold weather wardrobe included a grand total of two jackets, no sweaters, no long-sleeve shirts, and only a few long-sleeve dress shirts (that I rarely wore).

In contrast, the yearly average high in Seattle is freaking 62 degrees (source, Wikipedia). In the six months between October and April, the average high is 52 degrees and the average low is 40 degrees. Clearly, a new wardrobe is in order.


But I don’t know how to put it together. Shortly after moving here, I noticed there’s a different way to dress. For lack of a better term, I’ll call it the layered look.

It’s frustrating because back in Hawaii, I felt like I had finally found a “look” I was comfortable with. When shopping for clothes, I had a pretty good grasp on what looked good on me and what I liked. This wasn’t something that developed overnight. It took YEARS of frustrating trial and error.

And now I feel like I have to start the process all over again because I don’t get the short-sleeve t-shirt over long-sleeve t-shirt look or the sweater over dress shirt look or the vest over shirt look. And don’t get me started on accessories like scarves and beanies.

I suppose a Seattle girlfriend (or just a female friend) would really help here. See, I’ve come to learn that a fresh pair of eyes (especially female ones) can lead you try on things that you wouldn’t try if you were shopping by yourself and sometimes it’s precisely these unexpected things that end up looking the best on you thereby helping you find or develop your own personal style.

Now I suppose I could just do that by myself, but the layered look has far too many options. In Hawaii all I had to worry about was matching the shirt to the pants but the layered look is just that – layered. All the options are kind of freaking me out.

If I had to describe the look I’m going for, I’d say it’s smart but not preppy, conservative but not boring, hip but not too trendy. I want to have basic pieces that I can mix around to create different looks but I don’t even know what the basic elements are. I mean do I get bold colored shirts and more muted sweaters or is it the other way around? If I’m buying a sweater to wear over shirts does that mean I should buy a size larger than I would if I were just wearing the sweater by itself? Is it okay to wear a sweater by itself or does it depend on the kind of sweater I’m wearing and if so then which are the ones I wear over other things and which are the ones I can wear on their own? Which styles of sweater are considered more formal and which are more casual?


Normally I enjoy shopping for clothes but trying to learn a whole new look is far too stressful.

Since I have to go it alone, my plan of attack is to go somewhere relatively inexpensive like the Gap or Old Navy and buy some solid colored, long-sleeved t-shirts and maybe some basic sweaters. I’ll take them home and try mixing and matching between what I bought and what I already have in my wardrobe.

Sounds like a good plan, but again, the problem is that I won’t be a very good judge because I’m trying on a look that’s unfamiliar to me so I don’t have any reference points.

Anybody have a female friend in Seattle I can borrow – one with good style sense?


3 thoughts on “235. the c-c-c-cold and the layered look

  1. Serious problem man. Here’s a tip. Spend a solid 45 minutes as a covert F.I. (fashion investigator) at a nearby mall observing people as they walk by. Take a few notes on what you see people wearing in your age group. Colors, patterns, layers, and combinations. Then put stars by what you like and go from there. A couple of camera phone clicks might help as well.

  2. The outlet mall in Marysville on I-5 exit 201/203 is your friend.It was unusually cold yesterday, but the humidity and lack of wind always make it feel a little warmer than it really is. 55 in San Fran feels colder than 38 in Seattle.You probably won’t need the chains unless your going up the pass on 90 or 2. It will snow but unless you get up at 4am the roads are usually pretty cleared away by the time most people go to work (the snow melts pretty quickly). A lot of us have our tires “siped” to give better wet/snow traction, I live on hill and have never had a problem.I also use the frost remover in a can, you just spray your car windows. Welcome to Seattle… been to Pikes Place market yet?

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