We don’t do snowy winters in Melbourne. Its more like, windy, grey and maybe a low of 7 degrees celsius. Nothing so serious as a snowy Austrian winter. Although Vienna has been remarkably warm this year, its still a lot bloody colder than Australia. So, when my family came across for their first Austrian winter, I offered them the following survival tips:
1. Invest in a decent jacket
Critical decision at the start of winter – what will be your jacket of choice through these long, dark, icy months? My heart always wants to get something fashionable but my thin cold skin needs the most effective gear in the business. Last year S got me an unbeatable Dynafit jacket and I haven’t been cold since. Seriously I can ski in this thing, walk to work, wear only a t-shirt underneath and it still keeps me warm. I love it – but its not exactly high fashion. My family took the same approach – warmth was #1 priority over look!
I’m so cosy, I can frolic at the Gloriette!
2. Shoes will save you
A decent pair of warm boots will make or break your winter. You spend so much time trudging through slush, trying not to slip on ice or simply standing outside in the cold when you’re drinking Glüwein at the Christmas Markets, that a decent pair of shoes is essential. Ideally a warm, comfy, fur lined pair of knee-high boots will do the trick. Otherwise you’ll be wearing thick socks a lot, paired with soggy runners and probably be in a really really bad mood the whole winter!
3. Protect yourself
In the snow you need to protect your skin from the sun on those beautiful clear days. Sounds unlikely but trust me on this – sunburn from snow can be a surprise horror as the reflected glare from the white snowy ground hits your unprotected skin as much as the rays from above. Save yourself from the panda-eyes effect by using sunscreen on those gorgeous blue bird days.
4. Accessorize darling…
In Australia I thought winter was all about wearing lots of cozy layers and big thick jumpers and coats. Here, I’ve learnt that its the little things that make a huuuuge difference. Winter accessories are a must – you 100% cannot leave the house without a scarf, hat and gloves or you will freeze. The icy winter wind will sneak down your neck, your fingertips may turn purple and without a hat you can forget about ever feeling your earlobes again. The most shocking thing I saw over our Christmas break was an Irish lad skiing without gloves….I don’t know how his hands survived. Accessorize every day!
Mum and Dad luvin’ their hat investments…
5. Use the right products
S managed to terrify my mum into thinking her lips were going to freeze and fall off completely when he shared this particular tip, but it is an important one. In winter you need to use different moisturizers and lip balms than you would in summer. A lot of beauty products have water based ingredients, so if you use them in winter weather you will only dry out your skin/lips, causing more pain than you had in the first place. Apothekes here in Austria sell winter lip balm for about €4 so treat yourself to the right products. I promise your lips won’t fall off!
6. Get into the Spirit
Winter can be cold, grey and wet. Or, if you have the right attitude it can also be beautifully white, magical and the perfect time to develop new skills. This is my third winter in Austria and there’s at least 3 new skills I’ve developed in that time. My skiing has improved massively – only possible in winter. I’ve gained an excellent ability for choosing delicious Glüwein – only possible in winter. I’ve ice-skated outside a hilltop palace – only possible winter.
Ice-skating very carefully at Schloss Wilhemenberg
Overall a cold winter is what you make it – so embrace the many wonderful opportunities winter brings and enjoy it- no one ever had fun spending 3 months inside whining!
What’s your best survival tip for winter? I’m sure I’ve missed a few crucial ones so let me know your strategies in the comments.
Winter is here. I know, I know i’ve been saying that for weeks but NOW I have evidence of snow and legitimate weather reports to back me up!! We were in Innsbruck for the first snowfall in Tyrol this weekend – so gorgeous, so exciting. Its here, its happening and I am completely unprepared.
Essentially, i’m not trained for a European winter. Last winter in Söll I was happy to get by on my H&M basic bits and pieces and a jacket sent from home. Fortunately my employer was providing my ski gear as uniform, so in the village no one really cared what anyone was wearing, all that mattered was dry socks, warm gloves and whether you could wear your ski boots into the next bar (you always could…aaahhh the life of the ski bum).
This year is a bit different. I’ve got the chance to rebuild my wardrobe from scratch, and this time ’round I feel the need for decent fabrics, a cut that fits, outfits instead of just clothes. Pretentious? Maybe, but after 2 years of wearing whatever wrinkled least in my beloved backpack, I can justify the desire for something a little more ‘pulled together’. Either that or I’m just getting old and picky! The question is, how does one do this when its freezing? Devoid of inspiration, I took to the streets to find out.
Mariahilfer Strasse, or as the locals call it ‘the Mahu’ is home to all your big name brands, H&M, Zara, Mango, Peek&Cloppenburg, the works. Do you know what I found on my search for warmth and comfort in style? Floaty tops. Light blazers. Short dresses. Breezy shirts. What the hell??!! Were these European women so acclimatised to the cold that they didn’t need layers? The theme was the same in every shop – one or two chunky knit jumpers available, which have the unfortunate side affect of making me look like a potato sack, and racks and racks of light clothing. I didn’t get it. I’m clearly too used to the Melbourne weather-wear which is; warm jacket, warm jumpers and layers upon layers. The reason for this is you never know if a day starts out cold, if it could get to 24 degrees and sunny at midday and pissing rain and 10 degrees by 5pm, so you layer up!! Here however is a different attitude. After a few days of confusion and surreptitiously spying on women all around the city, on the train and in cafe’s I figured it out. They don’t need to layer. Once the cold hit properly the temperatures in all inside buildings, vehicles and spaces ratcheted up by 5-10 degrees. So outside its freezing, but inside its positively balmy.
The key it seems, is that you can wear a perfectly light, trendy, fabulous outfit as one layer and create the necessary warmth with one staple warm winter jacket (long cut is a necessity) and winter accessories. Once you’re inside a building, layers peel off to reveal the fashion plate beneath. Tah-dah!!
This may seem obvious now, but I spent a good week trying to nut out how to keep warm (I am TERRIFIED of the bleak cold winter everyone keeps describing) so this revelation was a breakthrough. My fashion inspiration now compiled, I’m hoping that when I get work and have some spare cash I can get my winter fashion on. Check some ideas out here: http://pinterest.com/carlyehulls/style-inspiration
Or, if you have any suggestions please feel free to comment!! I clearly need the help as a winter fashion newbie =)