What to wear in Shenyang: Layers

So, I’ve had a couple of weeks to get used to the cold weather here in Shenyang. Well, I guess you don’t really “get used to it” as much as learn to deal with it. I wrote a post in October on how to stay warm in Shenyang . I have since learned a thing or two more about how to deal with the super cold weather.

My tactic…

Put on everything you own.


This was taken just before we went out on Saturday to go snow tubing. Saturday was the coldest day here in Shenyang so far this winter. The temperature topped out at a whopping HIGH of 4º F. And the wind was blowing.

It was cold. Colder than a snowman’s butt, cold.

I had on 4 shirts and 4 pair of pants and I was still cold.

What’s that?
Why did we decide to plan an outside activity for the coldest day of the year?


We’re going to Harbin next weekend for the Snow & Ice Festival. We are really excited about seeing all the cool sculptures and going to an “ice bar” where all the furniture and even the glasses are made completely out of ice. But guess what? To pull off a festival like that… it’s got to be cold. And last weekend, while we were enjoying a balmy 4º F here in Shenyang, Harbin’s high was -10º F. Luckily, the forecast for this weekend in Harbin warms up to a high of 2º F.

Aren’t we lucky?


How to stay warm in Shenyang

I did something today that I never thought I’d do…

Underpants for Shenyang

I bought spandex.

Well, fleece lined spandex to be exact.

But really, when it’s still October, and it’s already 30º F (-1º C), in the famous words of my awesome sister, “You do what ya gotta do.”

For those who don’t know, Shenyang is in northeast China. It’s near the Koreas, Russia, and Mongolia. And ridiculously COLD.

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I knew that it gets cold here before we moved. Everyone who knew where Shenyang is told us that. Repeatedly. (Right after they said… “why would you want to move there?”) So I knew it.

But I didn’t really KNOW it. I still don’t. It’s October. But we’ve already been getting little glimpses. Last night on our way out to catch a cab for dinner, it was snowing. In October. As in, BEFORE Halloween. I mean, what the heck? We get excited back in SC if it’s cool enough to wear long sleeves for Halloween. Most years it isn’t.

It’s very unfortunate that most of the winter clothes I have are still in boxes somewhere between here and the US. (Actually I think they are in Dalian sitting in a customs warehouse somewhere. I’ll post soon on the details about all of that, but for now, let’s just say China likes lots of paperwork.) But even when we get the shipment, I really don’t OWN a wardrobe for this type of weather.

Truthfully, I’m not even sure what to buy for this kind of weather. What are you supposed to wear when it is -40º outside?? My brain can’t even fathom -40º. All I can picture is the kid from A Christmas Story so wrapped up he can’t even move his arms.

“I can’t put my arms down!”

“Put them down when you get to school!”

I may just become a hermit. Our apartment is nice and warm. I hear the market down the street will deliver groceries. So does KFC, Pizza Hut, and McDonalds. Now if I could just learn enough Chinese to be able to order what I want I’d be set.

So anyway, back to the pants.

I had heard through the grapevine, that the natives wear long johns under their clothes to keep warm. Makes sense, right? Well, after our little walk in the snow, I decided I needed to get some. So on my shopping trip to Carrefour this morning, I happened upon a rack of them. I was surprised. I always thought of long johns as being made of a thin knit material that fit really close to your skin. Well, I was right about them fitting really close to your skin. These things are like a wetsuit. Lined in fleece. And they’re thick. Now I’m really nervous about the weather I have to look forward to if I have to wear a wetsuit to keep warm.

Here’s something else I never thought I’d have to do.

Clothing sizes in China

Did you see the size on these things?? This is especially disconcerting considering I lost around 20 pounds over the summer before we moved. I now wear a Size 6 in most American clothes. Turns out the whole diet thing was a good idea. I doubt I would have even been able to find a XXXXXL. Then I really would have been up a creek with nothing but jeans to wear.

I noticed another really curious thing as I was going through some of the sizes. Most of them have 2 numbers to denote size. One is a waist and one is a length. I’m assuming. But here’s the thing. As you go up in one size, they automatically go up in the other also. So one pair I picked up was a 165/95. The next size up was a 170/100, and a 175/105. There is no such thing as a 165/105.

So they automatically assume, if you are bigger around, then you are also taller. Or if you’re tall, then you must be big around.

You tall, skinny people are out of luck.
Lucky for me, I’m neither of those things. And I’ll be warm tomorrow.

Well, warmer at least.