The Long Underwear Conundrum

I’m a ridiculously picky person. I’m not too picky about food, and I’ll try to read about any book set in front of me, but when it comes to clothes or anything else remotely aesthetic, I’m quite bonkers. My typical excuses: being an artist makes me aesthetically sensitive, my youthful looks pose a challenge for looking adult/professional/credible, picking out clothing with care results in a more functional overall wardrobe… but honestly I’m a bit of a diva.

Enter the cold climate of my soon-to-be home, Kharkov, Ukraine, with its winter that routinely dips below freezing. In which I will be regularly walking outdoors as well as snowboarding (by which I mean fall repeatedly down a snow-covered hill). And although I can layer my torso, neck, head, hands, and feet to my heart’s toasty content, there is sadly not such a thing as a pants-coat (at least nothing I would consider wearing outside an Arctic tundra).

So here’s the crux of the problem. I want magical long underwear, impossibly amazing crafted-by-unicorns-in-the-Alps long underwear that is simultaneously:

  • non-frumpy (no gathers or “mom-jean” elastic waists)
  • low-cut (helloooo, I don’t want it showing higher than my low-rise jeans! my navel needs to BREATHE, people)
  • warm (um, that’s the whole point)
  • not too warm (i don’t want to have to strip my bottom layer every time i walk inside)
  • thin (i’d rather not look like i gained 20 pounds–NO FLEECE, plz)
  • moisture-wicking (i hate sweating–this is why i stopped wearing tights under my jeans in winter)
  • easy to put on (my wetsuit is enough of a struggle, thank you)
  • flattering (i’d like Alex to be able to see me in them without calling me “Grandma,” laughing, or wrinkling his nose)
  • stay put when i put jeans or snowboard pants over them (stirrups would be great)
  • available in my size: tiny and short (i have tried on way too many kinds that are like 4 inches long in the leg and 2 inches taller than my natural waist)
  • non-constrictive (i have no idea why people even buy “compression tights,” they sound wretched)
  • in a non-offensive color (white and nude are gross, bright colors are ridiculous, pastels make me puke–basically i’m just looking for black, possibly grey)
  • oh, and of course the most ludicrous request of all: affordable (ha!)
I’m coming close to deciding on a pair or two I’d like to try, and I may just end up getting some semi-low-rise XS and having them hemmed to my stature (or lack thereof). I found some Under Armour leggings/tights that seem decent and are only about $60 (that’s compared to the tights that actually come in petite lengths with ankle zippers but are thus $98). I’ve been on a crazy amount of camping/sports clothing websites and read roughly 7,000 reviews of these things. It’s a great exercise in learning how perspectives (and body shapes) differ dramatically–one woman’s too-loose low-rise legging is just another’s too-tight high-waist legging.
Am I the only person who’s tired of looking like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man come wintertime ?
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3 thoughts on “The Long Underwear Conundrum

  1. Kathy says:

    I love my silk long johns. They definitely fit the thin-but-warm requirement. Don’t know if they are frumpy-looking or not, though, since I (obviously) have no frump-dar. But silk is a great fabric to use for the bottom-most layer in cold climes.

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