Canada’s influence on your wardrobe…


It just hit me why walk-in wardrobes are de rigueur here.

You need somewhere to stash all that bulky, insulated stuff winter forces you to wear. And it takes up A LOT of room. When I first arrived from the UK, I came prepared. Oh yes, I had various pairs of suede, leather and wool gloves in an assortment of colours, several coats (including my brand new M&S smart black tailored three-quarter length with the polka-dot lining). Experience has taught me, or maybe frostbite, that these are good only up until November. Then it’s time to haul out the heavy-duty frost protection.

I’ve never been a slave to fashion, preferring instead to create my own style. Shopping for shoes is a form of torture to me: trawling around trying to find something that matches the image in my mind. It seems Christan Louboutin and I are NOT on the same wavelength. You can count the pairs of heels I own on one hand. I learned long ago the folly of sacrificing comfort and dignity at the altar of fashion-victimisation. If I can’t run in a pair of shoes to stop my child dashing into a car-park or across a road they’re pretty useless to me. Same goes double in Canada with all the bears (I know, I know – NEVER run from a bear…gift it with your Louboutins and slowly back away.)

Anyway, I thought the fashionistas among you would want to see what we are wearing in Canada this season, so here goes…


Winter boots, Canada style

These are temperature rated to -32 degrees. They’ll minimise the risk of slipping and stop your feet turning to blocks of ice. Super comfortable, but unlikely to stop traffic… (Note the Canadian touch of modelling them on a wood block – if they’re popular with lumberjacks, it gives them indisputable credentials!)

winter coats, canada

It’s difficult to tell because this model would be invisible if she turned sideways, but the coat in the picture is one of those puffy padded jobs. It’s just a personal thing, but I have always hated puffa jackets – they’re filed away with “chavs” and shell suits in my brain and I can’t quite break the connection. But out here, they’re down-filled wells of warmth for anyone venturing outside. I haven’t brought myself to invest in one yet. I’m managing well enough with LOTS of layering underneath my windproof, waterproof, breathable jacket  I bought from Millets for camping and hiking ages ago.


Along with my angora or merino wool socks, there are loads of other accessories to assist in fighting the freeze. Balaklavas, ski-masks, tops with extra long arms that cover your hands with a hole for you thumb, ear warmers, toques because the wind blows away anything with a brim), neck-warmer thingys, and best of all….snow-pants! There are even things called ice cleats that you can fix to your shoes/boots to give you more grip on the ice…ice cleats

So, you can see why practicality is more pressing than preenery in the depths of the Canadian winter.










Morning stroll – Canada style! Image courtesy of



Whitby Shores, Whitby, Ontario

By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.


  1. I’m worried about that coat – wouldn’t a longer one be more effective? Not so long it gets clogged in snow or tangled round your legs getting in and out of the snow mobile (aka family car), but warm on the old knee joints. Just wondering! definitely off to find some of those boots . . .

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