GUEST COLUMN: Sweaters and other such garments
Monday, 24 September 2012 by Mark Magnan
I received a catalog, or advertisement, in the mail this week. It is from a clothing company up north, way up north. Realizing that it is, at the least, fall up north, this catalog seems well timed. To Texans, we still have several weeks of summer left, so a northern clothing ad is a bit out of place.
This particular company has good quality clothes, which I have purchased in the past. They also stand behind their products with an attractive warranty. They were initially known for shoes, hunting shoes to be specific. But the main push of this advertising magazine was cold weather clothing, sweaters, heavy shirts and assorted items for cold weather. There was also a good selection of flannel shirts, perhaps they have a lot of lumberjacks up there.
Being a native Texan, I can count on one hand how many sweaters I have owned in my life, including an award sweater and an ugly sweater vest given to me as a gift by a relative from further north. Now I believe that sweaters have their place, it is just that for this part of Texas we don't seem to need them. We go from scorching hot to cold, seemingly overnight. So when the warm weather slacks up, and the nights get into the mid 50's, we break out the heavy coats. We don't really have a "sweater season" here. I, like many Texans, have good "summer blood" and the "moderate" temperatures seem downright freezing. So the move from lights shirts to parkas seems natural.
One design concept of coats used to puzzle me. I would have a heavy fleeced lined coat, but the arms were still lined with some cold smooth material like satin. It wasn't comfortable at all. Even in the winter months I would wear a short sleeve shirt in my jacket because the afternoon would be too warm for the coat and a regular shirt was in order. I never did own that many long sleeved shirts. I believe that Texas coats should be fully lined with fleece.
Here in Texas, as with a lot of the south, sweaters are replaced by a jean or Carhart jackets. These are the stylish types of outer wear here. Granted sweaters might be a fashion statement in New York City, but try to carry something useful in a sweater pocket. If you slip a small pair of utility pliers or pocket knife in the pocket of a sweater you are likely to end up with a snag and have the makings of a bird's nest. So for functional wear they are not useful here. And even though almost everything goes with jeans, I draw the line at sweaters, and shudder at the thought of another sweater vest.
So what are the options for cold weather wear in Texas. Well it certainly doesn't seems like the layer upon layer of undergarments and flannel shirts displayed in my current catalog. We rely on a good hardy coat, heated leather seats in the pickup, and the warmth of the Texas sun that eventually shows up in the afternoon.
Now if I have to travel to the northern or panhandle regions of Texas that brings up another challenge. Those Texans have a real winter. Out in west Texas it gets plenty cold, and a strong wind that can drive the wind chill factor down to a range that would freeze nitrogen. Those extremes call for a compromise in winter attire. I might consider "long johns" or some type of undergarment of that nature. But I will draw the line at a sweater vest.