Snow falling on Milan

Walking home from work today, I was immersed in a light Canadian snowfall for the first time in years. During the trek, I decided that the combination of office clothing, Ottawa weather, and twenty minute walks to and from work is not sustainable without the gradual addition of wardrobe items.

It is not as though I don’t have the necessary gear to deal with wind and temperatures significantly below zero Celsius: I was well served by my layers of MEC outerwear through underwear when I was in Tallinn and Helsinki in December 2005. The problem is that such things do not integrate well with office clothes, making me look like a mountaineer until I transform in my cubicle into a diligent office worker.

As a true West Coaster, my experience with long woolen coats, scarves, and such is primarily the result of films and comic strips. Given my lingering uncertainty about how long I will actually spend in this place, I will continue to play the part of the temperate forest dweller assuaged and perplexed by startling variations in temperature.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

9 thoughts on “Snow falling on Milan”

  1. A basic, black peacoat never hurt anyone, works well with shirt and tie and can be acquired at a relatively reasonable price compared to a top coat.

  2. A scarf is pretty much indispensible for the Ontario winter. It isn’t so much the cold but the wind that gets you, if you’re doing much walking outside. Probably one of the best $30 I ever spent…

  3. It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly weather-inappropriate some people will dress in the name of “professional attire”. Winter or summer, there’s always some sort of elitist standard to fuck you around outdoors!

    Honestly. I face the same challenge myself-it seems like everyone at my office has a nice looking coat, and I look like a giant marshmallow in my down coat. (It’s basically a sleeping bag roughly fashioned into the shape of a person). It’s worth it because I don’t come in to work complaining like a fucking wuss about the weather. I just complain about transit, like a civilized person!

  4. It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly weather-inappropriate some people will dress in the name of “professional attire”.

    My amazement is less related to clothing and more to the little bands of beleaguered smokers puffing away just outside the yellow painted exclusion zones around the building. There are usually enough of them to make the air noticeably toxic for a good distance around the buildings.

    A scarf is pretty much indispensible for the Ontario winter.

    I have this scarf, but did not feel the need for it until crossing the Chaudiere Bridge on foot last night.

  5. That’s it! If you don’t have a nice black pea-coat by Christmas you better believe I’m dragging you out to some good stores to find you one!

    Some good stores:

    The Bay

    You can’t really beat The Bay for coats.. except if your mother buys you a bright purply one that you’re ashamed to wear and end up giving it away before you wear it in public, as has NEVER happened to me..

    They always have a nice selection of pea-coats, and otherwise professional looking coat items at affordable prices.


    It’s one of my favorite stores.. and where I bought my sexy and very warm winter jacket this year. Lots of affordable clothing that is wearable, professional, and more importantly, durable.

    Urban Outfitters

    We can transform you into the edgy urbanite hipster you always dreamed! No, but really. There’s some nice clothing there. We’ll be cooler just for touching the clothes. Not so affordable. Maybe, not so durable. But, you’ll have trendy Ottawa women giving you the elevator stare when you return!


    Everyone is having conniptions over it, apparently because it’s ‘the best’. I wouldn’t trust the hype, except everyone I know has been orgasming at the thought of travelling to Coquitlam to peruse this coveted clothing. I tried the website, and it’s pretty wanky, but.. the models floating by on the screen in a ghostly dramatic manner are wearing nice clothes.

    I think it’s affordable, and.. good.

    Value Village

    That’s where my brother switches the price tags on all the coats and gets $50 used coats for $10!… That is perhaps the most derelict story about my brother you will ever hear. I hope. I love the VV, and there’s some great ones in Van.

    Value Vintage

    For all the urbanite scenesters who are too frightened to enter real used shops, there is Value Vintage. They have tonnes of great used clothing, pre-approved for coolness, but with the added price that makes you feel like you’re buying real, new clothing, not dead people’s clothing. You will probably be able to find a nice, cheaper than new, extra cool, pea-coat there.

    This is just a brief list that I’ve come up with as I ponder breakfast. Meanwhilst, you might be able to find The Bay in that main mall on Rideout in Ottawa, where I suggest you gander for appropriate attire.

    Buy a damn coat you crazy boy!

  6. Emily,

    A coat is surely in my future. Perhaps we can go forth in search together once I arrive in Vancouver on December 22nd?

    I can endure until then with my fleece/Gore-Tex combo.

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