Within ten minutes, Nancy was already sweaty, her cheeks flushed red from the heat:
the long underwear she usually wore in China was smothering her legs. Her five-year-old daughter apparently felt worse, pulling on Nancy’s clothes and mumbling,
“Mama, too hot, too hot…”
The moment the library activities ended, Nancy and her daughter rushed out into the
cold winter air, cooling off with relief.
Before coming to the U.S., Nancy had heard the winter in Michigan would be quite cold,
so she bought several pairs of heavy long underwear in preparation. Of course, being lost in
the U.S. shopping malls was more than plausible, as well as being unable to find the winter
gear she needed; thus she chose to shop in China.
But upon taking her daughter to the local library story-telling event,
she was shocked to see that other people wore only thin shirts beneath their
heavy coats. Some children even wore only T－shirts! It was 15 degrees below freezing;
how could Americans allow their little ones to wear such little clothing?
But after being in the heated room for only 10 minutes, Nancy could see why.
Heating systems are less common for apartments in southern China, inciting residents to
wear the same layers indoor as outdoor. Typing on computers with gloves on and
having a habitual fan heater at arms length was not an unusual sight. And if anyone
lacked electric blankets to warm their beds up, they had better wear long underwear to
sleep. (The biggest struggle was always leaving the warm bed to embrace the cold
morning air in the rest of the house)
Conditioned with the memory of fighting this sort of cold, a lot of Chinese immigrants do
not understand the clothing style in America that allows for lighter layers, not to mention
the youth who are accustomed to wearing T-shirts and shorts in below-zero temperatures.
For the newly arrived, seeing the exposed skin of these children simultaneously
shocks them and incites them to cover them up to protect them from the cold.
A lot of areas in the U.S are colder relative to China, especially this past winter
so of course accommodations have to be made. With the exception of a few states, like
Hawaii and Southern California, the temperature in most of these states is below zero, and
most buildings are prepared accordingly with powerful heating systems.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers also
suggests that the inside temperature be maintained at 68-75 degrees year-round.
The laws and regulations also state that the buildings should include every thick
heat insulation material, which is not usually required in China.
Most people who wear shorts in the freezing weather will probably be only out for a few
minutes between taking shelter indoors; it is not hard to understand how characters like
Carrie from the television show “Sex and the City” can wear a short skirt to wait for a taxi
in the winter.
So what kind of clothes should one wear to ensure we survive in the U.S. winter?
Turtleneck, Cardigan and Hoodie
(Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe)
Dr. Wang, the chemistry teacher of Ledyard High school, in Ledyard, Conn., has lived in
America for more than 13 years. When she was first adjusting to American weather, she also
experienced awkward moments with clothes.
“Now my husband’s three pairs of long underwear are specifically prepared only for him to
wear in China,” she said.
Dr. Wang said she only wears long underwear when she needs to stay outside for a very
long time, such as if she is shoveling snow. Otherwise, she will choose clothes like any
other American –turtlenecks, cardigans or even hoodies, which her daughter also loves.
“It is really easy to take on and off,” Dr. Wang said.
Turtlenecks have been a staple for women from western world for hundreds of years.
In the 20th century, people started to associate wears of turtlenecks with academics,
philosophy and arts. Women began to use pins and brooches to decorate their long-necked
turtleneck clothing as well.
Fashion designer Lauren Conrad voiced her own opinions in an article entitled
“Fall in Love with… Turtlenecks”: “Slouchy, fitted, ribbed, chunky—when it comes to
turtlenecks, I love them all.”
Some say Hoodies are one of the most popular items of clothing in 21st century. It not only
belongs to students, adults also love them. You might see many people wearing hoodies
outside of a hat to keep them extra warm in the winter.
Nowadays, hoodie also symbolizes an attitude. “There’s something about being able to
pull the hood over your head that makes the hoody so comfortable. It’s as if you can hide
away from the world whenever you want.” SEO consultant Martin Bows wrote in Hoodies:
What makes Them so Popular? “As a woman, men’s hoodies are uber-comfortable when we
are feeling poorly; we simply adore that feeling of security.” She said.
(Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and actress Christine Stewart wear hoodies)
A cardigan is the best clothing match for a turtleneck. It includes elegant and fashionable
elements at the same time. More importantly, cardigans are much easier to wear and take
off than other sweaters.When you visit people or show up for a possible formal situation,
wearing a cardigan is always a versatile choice.
(Christina Hendricks, Joan Holloway in Mad Men wears cardigan)
Tights and leggings:
American people like jeans.: if you go to the mall in the winter, nine out of 10 women will
be wearing jeans.
Does this mean we have to put away colorful dresses and skirts that we brought from China?
Not really,Dr. Wang said. In winter she wears thick leggings underneath skirts or dresses.
Since the leggings provide the same cover as jeans, she still dresses formally without feeling
There are millions of patterns and colors for leggings, which are warm and convenient. Some
leggings are designed to be worn outside, with decorations of pockets, zippers and buttons.
You can wear these leggings underneath a dress, or also wear them outside with boots.
Pair a cardigan on top, and one gets a look that is sharp and energetic.
(American university students love wearing leggings)
Tights will always have a place in the winter wardrobe, and there are more choices of
tights in America than in China. AOL On Fashion recommends people wear tights
underneath pants or skirts to keep warm, but not get too hot.
A lot of Americans love exercise and also pay attention to the clothes they wear when
they work out in the winter. There are leggings specifically designed for running, with
wind proof capabilities and equipped wit good air permeability. A lot of female college
students across campuses wear these kinds of leggings, appearing to have just come
from the gym.
What’s your winter fashion items? Please comment here and share stories or tips with us!
(Translated by Cecelia Zheng; Edited by Crystal Duan)