Why we love Boston in winter

Getting comfortable

Globe Staff / January 29, 2009
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NOBODY LOOKS AT YOU FUNNY IF YOU WEAR JEANS TO THE OFFICE See that creepy-looking guy at the school bus stop? Wearing the sweatpants and the nasty plaid flannel jacket with the hood pulled up over his head? That's me. I don't care how I look when it's 20 degrees outside, and neither should you. Only when it's frigid do we dare go with the Unabomber look at the supermarket. Only when snowflakes threaten to fall do we get an unspoken pass at the office to wear jeans and a collarless shirt. So what if it's gray and raw outside? Rejoice in the slobbery! STEVE GREENLEE

WE PREFER TO HIDE OUR TOE-PINCHING HEELS UNDER THE BED UNTIL MAY The orthopedic hazards of wearing stilettos in this city are obvious: bricks, cobblestones, the listing granite slabs charitably known as "curbs." Heels make women wobble and occasionally tumble, even when the weather is fine. And when it's not, when the drifts pile up, then melt, then ice over, anyone precariously perched on two spikes should be ticketed and made to hand over the offending footwear. Because, ladies, one of the best things about Boston in the winter is that no one expects you to look sexy or sultry or even chic in two inches of snow. No one expects you to stuff your feet into shoes that'll give you another four inches in your skinny jeans. It's all about the clunky shoes, the kind with thick treads and buckles and laces. Revel in them while you can. Spring will be here soon enough. HAYLEY KAUFMAN

THE SOUL OF HARVARD SQUARE ENDURES What makes Leavitt & Peirce such an entrancing rabbit hole isn't just that it's so specific to Harvard Square (which it is). It's that the shop, which was established in 1883, could be so specific to Harvard Square from a century or more ago. The store's wares comprise an Ivy Leaguer's fever dream, c. 1909: fine pipes and tobaccos and cigars; beer steins and decanters and flasks; playing cards and chess sets and backgammon boards. There's a hookah in the widow! What with it being winter and all, old chap, why even bother to go to class? MARK FEENEY

BRONZING IS SUCH A BORE For those of us who have a skin tone that resembles uncooked pizza dough, winter in Boston is a godsend because we can embrace our pasty whiteness. In fact, you can walk Newbury Street looking as pale as the undead from "Twilight" without fear of having strangers tossing cloves of garlic at you or friends trying to drive a stake through your heart. Winter in Boston means a free pass from any form of tanning or bronzing. Everyone embraces the fact that they have faded like a freeze-dried daisy, and making fun of those with obviously fake tans becomes an entertaining brunch sport. CHRISTOPHER MUTHER

WE DON'T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT SHOPPING FOR A COAT WHEN IT'S 10 DEGREES OUTSIDE What's the best thing about howling winds and freezing temps? The need for a snuggly winter coat. Or a dozen. Think of winter as the perfect time to indulge in this season-specific style addiction with parkas, pea coats, faux fur, and shearling. (Faux fur is way less fun in summer.) And since you're going to buy so many, it's best to bargain hunt. Try Filene's Basement, where you can find high-end designer coats at whopping discounts. Or hop in the car and check out the rows and rows of down-filled heaven at Burlington Coat Factory off Route 1 in Revere. Hours of indoor winter fun. PAYSHA RHONE

EVEN WHEN BUILDINGS AREN'T GOING UP THE SKYLINE CHANGES EVERY DAY Who among longtime Bostonians can forget the elegant John Hancock building's raucous youth, when its windows, since replaced, started falling out in high winds in 1972? And I'll never forget hearing the late Edward J. Logue, former Boston Redevelopment Authority chief, apologize for the ugliness of the Prudential Center, whose dedication in 1965 helped launch downtown renewal. "Sorry, Boston," he said. Let history bury such ignominious beginnings. Today these sentinels, seemingly so solid and unchanging, are my symbols of the surprises of each new day. Sometimes, their silhouettes blur softly into a gray sky, and sometimes they stand in razor sharp salute to a crisp, clear winter morning. Sometimes, the air is so dense with clouds or snow that I cannot see the tops of them at all. IRENE SEGE

WE'RE PRAGMATIC ABOUT OUR PJS Only in New England can a woman wear flannel pajamas and feel that she has not surrendered her sex appeal to comfort and sloth. How's that, you ask? Look at it this way: You may be wearing flannel pajamas - and that Black Watch plaid really complements your skin tones, by the way - but you are still one step above the lowest rung on the evolutionary ladder that leads from Grandma Moses to Angelina Jolie. You are not, in brief, wearing a flannel nightgown. It's not much. But in a climate like ours, we freezing sirens will take what comfort we can get. So say it with me: Flannel pajamas are hot. LOUISE KENNEDY

SHAVING YOUR NECK EVERY MORNING TAKES TIME Is there any better time than now to grow a beard? For one thing, it's cold. I've tried ski masks and turtlenecks but nothing repels the winds better than a scruffy exterior. And don't get too precious. Shy away from goatees and attempts to resemble an Amish farmer. You are a man; it's time to grow hair like a man. And when everybody's grown used to your beard, it is spring and time to shave it until next winter. GEOFF EDGERS

WE LIKE OUR ACCESSORIES WITH A TWIST It seems like the least profound accessory. A scarf. Sometimes it appears to be the least necessary, too. Most people who wear them in the cold don't appear to be doing so for warmth. So let's step indoors, where people are wearing them because - wait, why are they wearing that scarf? With a turtleneck? It's doesn't matter. The scarf is such a reason to love winter. It's the cherry atop your parka; the lightning around your overcoat. You wear the scarf. The scarf wears you. Last week, I stared at a man who'd managed to wrap and knot his scarf into something that belongs at the MFA. I'm worried, though. Global warming is taking our glaciers, our polar bears, our reliable weather. But please, for the love of Truman Capote, not our scarves! WESLEY MORRIS

WE CAN INDULGE OUR OBSESSIONS WITH SILKY LOTIONS AND NOT SEEM WEIRD All this dry winter air means you can splurge on overpriced moisturizers and skin salves, and totally justify it to your husband/wife/spousal equivalent. Winter in Boston is drier than a box of raisins past its sell-by date, therefore the only way to fend off sandpaper skin is moisturizing until you're shinier than Mickey Rourke's face at happy hour. Try Giorgio Armani Crema Nera Obsidian Mineral Regenerating Cream Classic, it's only $225 a jar. What recession? A slightly more reasonable splurge is Chanel's Precision Hydramax Moisture Boost Gel Cream, which can be found on the Internet for as little as $50. CHRISTOPHER MUTHER

This city has, on occasion, taken some heat for its style. Too buttoned-up. Too conservative. Too dull. Well, we're not buying it. True, we may not pioneer the latest trends, but neither are we slaves to fads and frippery. And when winter clenches its jaw, we know just what to do. Lace up the boots, grow a beard, slap on some moisturizer, and enjoy the (snowy) view.

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