The question I get asked most often by family and friends who have never experienced a North Dakota winter is, “How do you keep warm when you have to go outside and its -20 degrees?” My reply, “Walk quickly.”
Last year was my first winter in North Dakota and I realize now just how lucky I was. The majority of my time outside consisted of running from my car to a warm building. Rarely did I ever spend more than a minute lingering in the frigid temps. While I am not proud of my fashion choices, I must speak the truth: I chose my stylish North Face instead of my down parka, thin gloves that had special touch screen sensors on them so I could still use my phone, I almost never wore a scarf unless it matched my outfit and I never ever wore a hat. After all, I didn’t want to mess up my hair before work. After a particularly chilly day this winter however, it didn’t take long for me to adjust my style standards. You see, my previously brief shuffle from vehicle to building has now increased significantly including long walks across campus from a very inconvenient parking lot. My new attitude: I’d rather have bad hair than frostbite.
This wasn’t my first lesson in North Dakota fashion. It was about this time last year that I was going to meet some friends out in downtown Fargo one evening. I ran home to change out of my work clothes and into something more appropriate for an evening out. The air had just began to get ridiculously cold. I walked into my closet and immediately felt defeated. “What the heck do
you wear for a night on the town when its -20 degrees?”
In any other part of the country winter meant nothing to me. I would throw on a short sleeve shirt and call it good. Sure I might be a little chilly during the walk to and from my car, but beauty is pain, right? Not in North Dakota. While some people may disagree, and I have seen proof that some young ladies still bare it all no matter the temperature, a wool sweater and warm boots are what I strut around in.
Winter hasn’t been the only cause of my fashion adjustments since moving to God’s country. No matter the season, wind is my hair’s arch-nemesis. While I was taught at a young age to carry a comb with me wherever I go, it is no match for North Dakota wind. Luckily for me, the wind blown look is acceptable in this part of the country. In fact, if you don’t look a bit disheveled during a particularly horrific Spring wind storm, I may judge you and your obsessive primping.
Now don’t automatically assume everyone in North Dakota is frumpy and unkept. Far from it. The perks of living in a place where it is sweater and boot weather 8 months out of the year is that you get the best selection of attractive winter clothes than any other place in the country. This is not an exaggeration. When my mom came to visit from Maryland last year she was blown away at the sheer quantity and variety of boots available at Fargo’s mall compared to what she finds back in the DC area. For those of you not living in the Midwest and in need of an expansion of your winter attire, might I suggest a Fall/Winter shopping trip to the great town of Fargo next year?
So while you may question sweaters in bars and wind blown hair… don’t you worry. Midwesterners rock it.