At Weather’s Whim: The Importance of Layering

At Weather’s Whim: The Importance of Layering


It’s 7 in the morning. I wake up to the blaring sound of my iPhone alarm, purposefully placed directly next to my head. I open the window to people-watch and observe who is wearing what. I didn’t even know that leg warmers were still around. I thought we wore those out. Nevertheless, I then check my weather app to prepare myself for the day. You know what they always say: prior proper planning prevents poor performance. Do they always say that? Just me? 

I love to play this game with myself. The one where I dig deep into my memory to recall every moderately flattering and complimented outfit I’ve ever worn. Like my red pleather pleated skirt, or my pastel horizontal knit striped dress. My alarm dings for the 7th time, I open my closet and (with the help of the all-knowing weather app) try to dress appropriately. Sadly, red pleather pleated perfection only looks decent when I am tan, not struggling to get Vitamin D in the interim of winter and spring. And let’s face it, no one wants to see bright colors when the next seven days on the forecast only show rain. After 30 minutes of sitting idle on my bed in a plush terry cloth towel, I rhetorically ask myself (and you, dear reader): Can I ever fully be prepared for the day? Can any of us ever really be prepared for anything? 

It’s that time of year. You know the one – when what started as that brisk turtleneck weather at 7 am turns into “Can everyone see those pit stains?” by 3 pm. 

Or maybe it’s that other time of year. When it’s 45 degrees (feeling like 35) and what started as “I’ll be fine without mittens by mid-day” turns into “I’ll respond to that text when I’m able to feel my fingers, whenever that is.”

Layering is key. Everything has layers when you think about it. From the Earth’s atmosphere to its crust and the oceans in between: layers. Human skin has layers. Haircuts have layers. Even lasagna has layers (extra points for ricotta cheese). Va bene! 

Tank top. Long sleeves. Sweatshirt. Jacket. Honorable mention: long underwear. How much is enough? How much is too little? 

Now, as I am bundled and bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Michelin Man, I have to make decisions throughout the day: whether to keep my layers, peel them off, or come to some sort of happy medium. 

It’s cold. I have goosebumps. I put a coat on. It’s hot. I have sweat stains. I take it off. 

There’s only so much we can do. Not to undermine the practice of (prior, proper) preparation. But there’s a beauty to accepting the free-flowing nature of happenstance.

Then again…When rain starts to fall from a seemingly clear sky, why would you (why should you) have rain boots? 

Life is a smattering of puzzle pieces, and I feel it is my duty to always have every piece strategically placed in its organized spot. While stringent organization is sometimes unrealistic, the concept of (literal and emotional) layering goes hand in hand with assembling a puzzle. Sometimes you just can’t find the correct piece. Either that or your jeans don’t button all of the way. Sweatpants never hurt anyone.

Feeling put together and having a plan is what contributes to my sanity and, on the flip side, my insanity (duality, right?). It feels like being on a see-saw that can never sit fully center. But when you think about it, no see-saw is meant to do that. Things are meant to ebb and flow, with peaks and valleys, like the weather, or like human emotion. Most prominently, like the layers of clothing I put on at the crack of dawn (before my 8 am class). 

Perfectionism and preparation are not inevitable or even foolproof. And sometimes, you just have to forget the raincoat at home and feel the rain on your skin.

The truth of the matter is, pit stains at 3 pm before my 3:30 presentation aren’t ideal. And sometimes, stiff leather boots end up giving me a stress fracture (true story). Is it self-indulgent to say, even for a second, that it builds character? As embarrassing, and unpleasant as improper layering can be, it only propels me to wear a darker color, and for goodness sake, throw those boots away. 

For me, layering is about more than just clothing – it’s about vulnerability, adaptability, and flexibility.

Of course, we can’t pre-plan everything and always be perfectly prepared for any scenario. We’ve got to be able to take off our jackets. Even if it is this season’s newest vegan-leather motorcycle. Life is layered, too, you know. Surprises are inevitable. Adaptation, adjustment, and acceptance are a choice. 

It’s now 7 in the evening. I am perched on my balcony admiring the beauty that is New York City (two people screaming at each other for taking the wrong order at Dunkin Donuts) and the sun hiding behind the bright paneling of the World Trade Center. I sit, watch, and think (as philosophers do), and as a breeze rustles through my hair and goosebumps cover my arms- it dawns on me that I am not wearing a sweater.

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