WHEN IT COMES to dressing for our extended cool-weather season (a.k.a. October through May), Seattle residents are guilty of a damning number of sartorial sins


Baby, it's cold outside

The ten commandments of Northwest winter fashion.

WHEN IT COMES to dressing for our extended cool-weather season (a.k.a. October through May), Seattle residents are guilty of a damning number of sartorial sins unique to the region. If you must venture outdoors, avoid these common transgressions. They may not be written in stone, but trust us, they should be.

I. THOU SHALT NOT spend more than thy rent money on Polartec. We've all seen the people dressed to scale Everest with their high-tech, 18-pocket Gore-Tex parkas and all-terrain cleated booties. Much like those who buy SUVs to traverse the wilds of Madison Park and Bellevue Square, the folks who dress like mountaineers for a Husky game are to be openly and thoroughly mocked. Not that we don't applaud sensible weather protection. Rather, it's the idea that items like REI's $450 Arc'Teryx Theta AR Jacket—available (really) in cinder, Tabasco, and "too blue"—will never see a real mountain, much less a molehill, that makes us want to cry.

II. THOU SHALT NOT dress like an extra in Fargo. At the opposite extreme from Krakauer-wanna-bes are those who've refused to refresh their winter wardrobe since moving from Minneapolis in the winter of '83. You know the ones—earflap hunter's caps, scrungy quilted parkas of indeterminate gray-brown, Cosby snowflake sweaters that have seen better days. We're not asking for a complete overhaul, just some small concessions. And if money's the issue, outlets like Chubby & Tubby can fix you up quick with a new overcoat at practically '83 prices, no questions asked.

III. THOU SHALT NOT wear puffy down parkas, then complain they make you look fat.

IV. THOU SHALT NOT freeze just to piss off parents. We understand: You are a young person, and asserting your individuality by showing Mom just how completely and totally wrong she is about everything—including your need for protective outerwear—is essential to your evolving personhood. But while we encourage this behavior on Halloween (a raincoat really does ruin the whole costume), we cannot condone your T-shirts, jeans, and Dr. Martens slip-ons once the mercury dips below 40. When you come home all blue-lipped and shivering, you're setting yourself up for a big fat "I told you so"—and we know how much you like to hear that phrase.

V. THOU SHALT NOT wear open-toed shoes to show off your pedicure, unless your HMO covers amputations.

VI. THOU SHALT NOT put Epilady above all else. This one's for all the females who insist on bare legs, then walk around looking like freshly plucked, purple-tinged, and goose-bumpy Foster Farms chickens. Say it with us: Tights are sexy.

VII. THOU SHALT NOT don shorts prematurely. This is a corollary to the above prohibition for all those who rely on the calendar, not the frost on their windshields, to determine the day's wardrobe. Stubbornly insisting on shorts "because it's April already!" will not make the sun shine or the birds sing any quicker.

VIII. THOU SHALT NOT wear wooly sweaters in the rain. If people wanted to smell eau de mouton mouiller at the office, they'd bring their own sodden flock. As much as we appreciate those who eschew the aforementioned tech fabrics in favor of textiles culled from the good lord's green earth, we have to take exception to those particularly odorous woolies. Simply don a poncho, or even a garbage bag in a pinch, before heading out into the wild wet yonder, and voilࡠProblem solved.

IX. THOU SHALT NOT obnoxiously display thy used-up ski tickets. It's both tacky and just plain mean. If we don't ski, we don't care why you have wads of crinkly Whistler day passes affixed to the Arc'Teryx parka. If we do (and can't afford to hit the slopes every week like you and your fancy friends), we're filled with jealous rage. Either way, skip it.

X. THOU SHALT NOT make Northwest-related weather jokes. OK, so this doesn't strictly concern wardrobe, but quips about the rain are about as knee-slapping as latte humor and Ziggy. If it's wet, Willard Scott, we certainly don't need you to tell us—just sit there in your moderately priced, fashionable-without-being-fashiony, wool-free, leg-covering outfit, and shut up. Spring is on its way.


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