We’re gradually getting used to the different climate down here in Tassie. I still love the cold, and love wearing hats and coats and getting use out of all the woollen things I have crocheted over the years that were probably just a bit too heavy for Sydney’s milder winters. The grass is frosty underfoot when I go out in the morning to let the chickens out, and some mornings look magical with pine trees rising out of pillowy fog (I’m glad I work at home and don’t have to get up and drive anywhere – it’s probably a lot less magical when you’re dealing with icy roads).
The main adjustment is in working out where the gaps in my wardrobe are, and trying not to impulsively buy every warm thing I see because I might need it. In recent Sydney winters, I’d manage with cotton long sleeved tops and a hoodie maybe, and on the occasional really cold day I might wear a singlet and need a coat. That does not cut the mustard here. Well, not for this recent migrant. I see high school students wandering around with bare legs on 2 degree mornings, but I guess they were probably born here. It might take me a few years to acclimatise.
I invested in a couple of fine merino tops and some long johns in a sale the other day, because the layering is the thing I’ve yet to master. Mostly when I’m indoors, it’s reasonably cosy, but I find that when I’m sitting or standing at my desk and working, I suddenly realise I’m freezing around the hips. Or sitting in the freezing church or orchestra rehearsal room and wondering if my fingers will ever work again. Or going for a walk without a hat and scarf (rookie mistake). So it’s all about layering to achieve a resting temperature of toasty, without feeling like the Michelin man (I haven’t bought a puffy jacket yet…maybe next year).
The other clothing issue is due to my unexpected weight loss. I was all set at the beginning of the year to make my dressmaker form and start sewing my own clothes again, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t go to the effort of doing it then, as the form would be the totally wrong shape now. My existing clothes are starting to swim on me, especially on my bottom half. I suppose it’s not a bad problem to have in some ways, especially in winter when you do wear lots of layers (more comfortable when clothes are too loose than too tight, I guess), but my jeans were starting to look like clown pants. I hadn’t planned on needing to buy staples like that this year. But realising I could take my old jeans off without undoing them, getting holes in them all along the thighs and a nicely timed sale meant some new jeans arrived at my door this morning. I forgot how nice it is to have pants that fit again, rather than needing to be hitched up all the time.
For the first time in ages, my chest measurements are shrinking – I know that is often the place where women lose weight first, but that’s never been the case for me. Until now. All my bras are now too big (my expensive German bras that were the only brand that fit me properly!) and I’m glad I didn’t throw out the smaller ones. They don’t fit exactly right, and I think eventually I’ll have to find somewhere down here that does fittings, but it’s a weird feeling to be doing down in size instead of up for the first time in my life.
So I’m having to buy lots of new clothes, but it’s not really a “yay, I get to go shopping!” thing. I mean it’s nice to have new things, but I don’t get that dopamine-fuelled retail therapy buzz so much anymore. I used to quite enjoy clothes shopping when I was a more standard size (well sort of) and went out a lot (so ‘needed’ a variety of clothes). But then I gained weight, found it harder to find things that fit well in retail stores and started to buy more online. I was released from the spell of the shops with their shiny visual merchandising and dressing rooms and that awful feeling of dissatisfaction when things didn’t fit as though there was something fundamentally wrong with me, rather than it being an issue with the cuts or lack of size diversity in the clothing lines themselves (for more on this, and how it’s a miracle that ‘straight sized’ clothes fit anyone, if you’re interested, I highly recommend Mel Campbell’s Out of Shape). If I found it mildly frustrating before, I really hate trying on clothes in shops now.
I also starting becoming more concerned about cost, and not just from my own wallet’s perspective. How could the clothes I was buying possibly be so cheap and still provide a living wage to the people who made them? Or how could seemingly simple garments like tops and pants be so expensive, and when the people who made them still were living on the poverty line? And I have more and more been trying to think about how to stop throwing out so much stuff, or at least trying to work out how I can reuse fabric in projects, or repair garments (the recent War on Waste episode on fast fashion is a good eye opener, if you want to explore that a bit more). I’m still thinking/working through these things, so I’m not saying that everything I buy is oh-so-super-virtuous. I don’t think that’s even possible. But I’m trying to make better decisions where I can.
Thankfully, dressing in Launceston for the most part is pretty casual and comfy (which is good!) so I don’t actually need that much variety in terms of clothing. These days I want to buy good quality clothing that is ethically and well made and lasts a long time (ie, so I don’t have to buy things again next winter). One good thing about having to buy clothes now is the timing, as I’m able to capitalise on the mid year sales.
I think by spring/summer my weight will probably have stabilised. I’ll make the aforementioned dressmaker form and start sewing my own clothes again. Then I’ll see what shape I really am in 3D and it will open up a whole new world of appreciation for people who can actually make beautiful clothes!