The Best Part of Winter Is DGAF Dressing

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Photo: Spencer Platt

There was a silver lining tucked into last weekend’s blizzard, and I’m not just talking about the joys of sledding. Now that the most beastly part of winter is undeniably here, we’re blanketed in fashion liberation along with snow. Can you hear that freedom ringing? We’ve been delivered from trying to look chic, slim, angular, and cool. Welcome to the season of DGAF dressing!

It makes perfect sense, after all. You’re preparing to face whipping winds and slush puddles the size of a small car, so you bring out the big guns — the big, shapeless, puffy, sleeping-bag-esque guns. You engulf your entire self, from thigh to chin, in the most waist-obscuring parka you can find, and actually use the enormous fur-trimmed hood that’s been dangling back there all along. You haul out the plodding, bulbous-toed boots trimmed with snow-caked fur, so you can tromp Yeti-like footprints in the snow. Unroll the wool socks, yank them up to your knees, and top it all off with Elmer Fudd’s trapper hat — which you actually buckle under the chin for maximum function. It’s about finally prioritizing function over form.

Perhaps you learned the hard way. It only takes one frigid night waiting for the bus in sneakers or one ugly fall into a snowbank to come around to the wisdom of DGAF dressing. Soon you realize that the benefits go beyond just the practical, and get personal: at last, a reprieve from the pressure to keep your legs shaved, your arms toned, your skinny jeans yanked up, and your heels at the ready. I’d argue that there’s something powerful —  maybe even sexy — in embracing (if until March) the utilitarian honesty of Marge Gunderson’s shearling trapper hat.

It says to the world: I am warm, I am dry; I don’t care if I look like a fire hydrant. And you’re going to have to deal with it.

In some ways, it’s like when your live-in significant other is away, allowing you to revert to what Carrie Bradshaw termed Secret Single Behavior. There’s no pressure to primp, or even look human, and it’s thrilling — even though you do feel kind of gross after a while. That’s why the spring is so wonderful; the layers are lifted! You can wear cute stuff! You don’t have to worry about salt stains on everything you own! Oh, but wait … you actually have to start caring again.

That’s not to say that arctic-chic dressing doesn’t come without its own set of pressures and trends. Even in this freezing realm there are “It” boots and ubiquitous coats. Good luck getting your hands on L.L.Bean’s Shearling Duck boot; prepare to shell out nearly $750 for a Canada Goose Victoria Parka. These are signifiers that, while you are not about to let Old Man Winter get the best of you, you aren’t going to go full-on Fargo … not just yet.

And then there’s February’s New York Fashion Week, the exception that proves the rule. Invariably accompanied by a few days of are-you-kidding-me weather, the shows throw a wrench in any fashion editor’s plan to serenely succumb to the elements. During Fashion Week, the only people you’ll consistently see photographed in Abominable apparel will be the models — after all, they’ll have ample time to strip down on the runway, and they look good in everything. (Even if you can’t see their faces or bodies, you know they’re perfect under all those layers.) DGAF dressing pretty much started with off-duty models anyway. Editors and other industry insiders, however, have to stash their Sorels in the Town Car and slip on something weather-inappropriate, then step gingerly over whatever treacherous liquid stands between them and the entrance. During Fashion Week, the only person who can get away with showing up in anything massive, ankle-length, and arctic is a fur-clad André Leon Talley.

The rest of us, though, get to luxuriate in puffy down, taking a page from Anna and Elsa in Frozen. When it snows, just lace up those Joan of Arctics, tuck into something warm and decadent, and let it go.