Autumn in Iceland has arrived with full force. We’ve seen the first northern lights of the season, the leaves are quickly turning (and blowing away), my guests have experienced short spells of sleet and we have officially survived our first autumn storm. Ahhh, autumn storms: An endless source of weather-related grumble from Icelanders on Facebook and the reason I’m writing this post. But first a bit of a back story.
I have never been much of a fashionista. Partly because I don’t care much about fashion trends but also because my body type doesn’t always agree with the things designers think we should wear. Who’s great idea was it anyway to reintroduce the crop top? Despite the previous statement I’ve also always been very particular about the way I dress. I don’t like it when my shoes don’t match my outfit. I don’t do well with loud color clashes (anymore – ten years ago I used to look like a color palette threw up all over me all the time). I despise showing cleavage. And up until recently I was allergic to outdoor clothing. We all have our vanities.
I have a dear friend from Australia that currently resides in London. The other week when the family and I went there for a visit I got a chance to catch up with him over a beer or two but we first met here in Reykjavík 10 years ago on his last night in Iceland. He had been traveling the ring road in a little Yaris with his friend for a week, attempting to climb Iceland’s tallest mountain Hvannadalshnjúkur and making friends with some puffins, and I dragged him along to a party with my friends in downtown Reykjavík. Apparently I made so much fun of him that night because of his Gore-Tex jacket that he’s still talking about it 10 years later. “Remember how much fun you made of my Gore-Tex?” he asked me last week. Yes, yes I do.
You see, back then it was more about being cool than warm. Quite literally. We made relentless fun of the flocks of tourists marching the streets in their outdoor jackets and hiking boots as we half froze to death wearing our little skirts, ballerina shoes and poor excuse for jackets. Now that I think about it, maybe those sensible foreigners should have been making fun of us.
Fast forward to 2014. A formerly snobbish (at least when it comes to outdoor clothing) blogger decides to change course in life and set up a little start up that forces her to be outside in all kinds of weather all day every day. In case you didn’t pick up on it, that blogger is me. I soon realized I would have to stock up on some weatherproof gear if I was going to be outside all summer but the 20 year old inside me, who associated sensible clothing with mom jeans and white sneakers from the 80s, turned out to provide more of a resistance than I had anticipated. “I can work with a black simple jacket”, she said with disgust, “but I put my foot down if you try to get anywhere near waterproof pants.”
So all summer long, the rainiest summer in recorded history, I marched the streets of Reykjavík wearing my black simple jacket, leggings and a skirt. Because of my supposed hatred of Gore-Tex the boyfriend sometimes had to meet me between tour with some dry socks because obviously I wasn’t going to wear ugly waterproof shoes that didn’t match the rest of my assemble.
Which brings me back to the autumn storms.
On Monday we had a big storm. It rained a lot and it was quite windy. OK, super windy. The week before I had gone to the Cintamani store, my trusted provider of black simple non-ugly outdoor clothing, to pick up a PrimaLoft jacket to wear underneath said simple black jacket in the winter. I went wild (but not too wild) and bought it in army green. Since I was there, and because the ideas of the far more sensible boyfriend have started to rub off on me, I decided to pick up a pair of (gasp) weatherproof pants. “I will never use these”, I thought to myself, “but maybe the boyfriend will stop talking about me getting a pair if I buy them.”
When I looked out the window on Monday morning and saw the rain coming from every direction but down I thought this might be one of those rare occasions to wear the wretched pants. So I did, along with some new Gore-Tex shoes I also bought for the boyfriend and my doctor who apparently thinks the trouble I’ve been having with my knee has something to do with bad shoes. They are cute though, I made sure of that.
I wasn’t quite prepared for what happened next. I came home after two hours outside in a real Icelandic autumn storm and both my legs and feet were dry. Groundbreaking. I wore the pants again the next day.
The moral of the story is simple: You’re in Iceland. Dress accordingly. Warm is the new cool.