Gender Roles and Homeownership – Part II – Observations

It’s been a few weeks since I wrote the homeownership post.  And there has been some healthy conversation around it.  Nobody got offended, thoughts and views were shared.

So, during the past few weeks, I have been paying attention to gender roles around this topic.  And it’s empirical evidence to my initial point, that most women just don’t like to do home improvement or projects.

 

plumbing joke
Source: https://strittmatters.com/our-12-favorite-plumbing-jokes/
  • Facebook Sales – due to my recent move, I’ve been selling a lot of things on closed neighborhood Facebook groups.  Most common comments?

“Let me check with hubby” (not kidding)

It was the ‘hubby’ that had to figure out the transportation, assembling, disassembling and usually the pick up on heavy items.  On my end, it was also a male (my young son) who did the disassembling and hauling up and down the stairs.  There was only one ‘sort of’ exception to this – heavy wooden rocking chairs from my veranda….a woman came to pick them up, but it was again a guy who loaded her car.

  • HGTV House Hunters – yes, it’s a reality show of sorts, but it can be entertaining.  Reoccurring theme:  husband says “I don’t want to anymore projects, I like house X because no project, house  Y has too many projects, I’m tried of project.”
  • General Facebook posts – women showing off home improvement photos that their husbands completed.
  • Work chit chat – guys at work talking about their never ending projects in the house.  I have not heard one woman yet (and I work with successful women) referencing  anything around this topic.

So yes, the trend seems to be that maintenance, projects, etc., are guy things.  I recently talked to one man who said now that he can afford to pay someone, he’s fed up with project and doesn’t want to deal with it.  He is a multi millionaire and likes to enjoy his free time with other activities such as travel.  There are exceptions of course.  There is a local bath remodeling company owned by a woman (and she is hands on, not just doing the business part).  But the trend is real.  So my decision was the right once, I can’t do it myself, so don’t do it.  I like to analyze my decisions, maybe too much, even after the decision was made.

I do notice that more and more people are saying (both genders) that they are fed up with home projects.  But again, the man is default guy if both hate it (most of the time, always exceptions).

mario

Now if I just didn’t have to experience the most unethical realtor who was my first listing agent on my house (I fired her, but it’s costing me lost time and $ to have encountered her-that is another post yet to come, how NOT to choose a realtor and waste thousands and thousands of $s while stressing to death). So my homeownership is still far from over but I’m really looking forward to the day it is.

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Isolationism – good, bad, the new trend?

Prince Nicks
“Can you relate?”

Recently I’ve been reading more and more about people who are turning into isolationists, is this trend good or bad? Is being an isolationist an outcome of years of disappointment, or is it just something that occurs over time as we deal with cumulative disappointment?

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Is it healthy? Does it lead to bad outcomes (e.g., suicides, drug overdose deaths, violence)?

Originally the term referred to being an isolationist around foreign policy, but these days it’s more at the individual level.

Recently in an interview, Stevie Nicks speculated about Prince’s untimely death:

“You’re not married, you don’t have children… you don’t hang out with a bunch of people because you’re really an isolationist.”

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These comments are extremely thought provoking. I’m still putting together this ‘isolationist puzzle.’  A few months ago, I read that Enya lives alone in some large castle, why? Surely she can find friends and be popular, but she too chooses this isolationist life like Prince, and she lives alone in this large and luxurious dwelling.

Why is this an increasing phenomenon, especially among some very successful talented people? We learn from psychology that humans are pack animals and social interactions are good for our mental health, so this increased trend toward isolationism may go against what’s ‘good for us.’ But the underlying assumption about hanging out with friends, is that our friends, at minimum, are a decent bunch. These friends may not be our soul mates, but they keep us sane. Even if we don’t feel like going out, our friends talk us into it and we come home feeling better. I’ve had some personal experiences with family members who never wanted to go out, but once they did they felt good. Of course, these family members had bouts of depression, and depression too can make you into an isolationist even if you have great family and friends, but this new phenomena is different. I’m not a psychiatrist, but this new phenomena of isolationism doesn’t feel like depression, instead it feels like a deliberate choice to be alone. Maybe not the ideal choice, but the realistic one. As someone recently told me “I choose to be alone.” At first I thought this was an insane comment, who would choose to be alone? They aren’t alone because it’s a choice; they are alone because it’s what was dealt to them by life. But now I think my first reaction is wrong.

I am not a loner (yet?), but have recently had more than my fair share (if there is such a share allocated by fate) of weird people that I’ve encountered.  And recently, I’ve also chosen to spend more of my time alone too. I can do whatever I want; no demands, no compromises. In light of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, I’ve become very skeptical about ‘what lies beneath’ a person’s exterior.

Maybe people who have turned into isolationists are right, and Prince and Enya had figured it all out. Something known as the ‘selection bias’ in statistics explains why we sometimes attract strangeness. When you are that successful and well known, you may attract the worst in society: someone after your fame and glory (and that’s relative). It reminds me of the stories I heard as a child: the prince (the royalty, not the musician) goes into town disguising himself as the pauper to really see who likes him. Someone with any level of success, accomplishments, and looks has to do the same. If you don’t, you may get people who are fascinated largely by your success or looks. I am sure Prince found himself surrounded by people who only liked him because he was Prince. And yes, it’s hard to separate a person from their success (after all it’s their essence that created their success), but a challenging, and potentially the best, solution is to become an isolationist. Maybe some humans are transitioning from being a pack animal to a lone one such as a tiger or cheetah. But this transition is not easy, even if it is the right solution.

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When Prince died, I said he died of loneliness. What friend would leave someone with known issues with opiates alone, only to die alone in an elevator (with expert help coming the next day)? But it’s this exact reason that leads some to become isolationists. Certainly people like Prince can surround themselves with others all the time, but people who truly care about them (not just on social media)….not so much. So back to Stevie Nicks’ comments; after a month of thought, I think she’s right. Prince and Enya chose to be isolationists, and more and more people are doing so. I see people alone all the time and they seem fine, I think it is by choice.

I’m sure many blame social media; we can get our daily fix of social interactions on Facebook by reading comments without ever having to leave our house, or ever having to care about anyone. Are real life social encounters better? Of course, but apparently they are on the decline. What will be the outcome?

 

Gender Roles, Homeownership, James Bond and Men

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Decadent Views

Yes, women can do anything, but we do all have natural talents and aptitude for certain things. And we are all passionate about different things. And there is a difference between the sexes (yes I’ll get bashed by feminists, but considering I don’t rely on anyone for anything, they really need to re-evaluate the definition of feminism).

  • Yes, YouTube videos for everything you can fix it all, but time is a scarce resource, and you only have 24 hours in a day. Spend it wisely.
  • Yes, I take pride in my house, but I also take pride in many other things as well.

I have moved 3 times in the past 3 years, after living in a house for 16.   I moved across state lines for career and personal reasons. I sold my house in a Chicago suburb and was relieved of never having to worry about basements, sump pumps roofs and winds that are over 20 mph.   I rented a beautiful Tudor house in my favorite neighborhood in my new location. I had the first floor and basement, but it was unbearable. Horrible sound insulation, incompetent parenting and owners that made emotional, not business decisions. Nice people, but not business people. So, it was time to run fast. I felt that buying a house was the right decision. I love this area with respect to everything, scenic, walkable, many pubs and restaurants. Also, this is my American hometown. I moved here with parents from Europe and felt a connection and sense of belonging.

I knew several other women who were single and were homeowners. I can do it all….I can hire services to do things when things break. But do I really want to? Yes, so I bought a beautiful house, beautifully remodeled and was thrilled with my fenced yard (dogs), privacy and that homeowner pride. This was two years ago. I made this decision to be a house owner independent of any guy or relationship. I can do this on my own. And I did, but I learned a few things and it’s time to move on.

Sometimes I feel defeated, like I threw in the towel. Being a perfectionist, I have to achieve and excel at everything. I can’t do things half hearted. But is homeownership something I want to be an achiever in? Do I enjoy planting, painting and spending my weekends on the house? The answer for me, no not really.

The house really didn’t cause a lot of problems. It is in great shape with former owners doing a LOT of renovations. No basement floods, no fences falling down and again the house required less maintenance than my former much newer home in Illinois.

And here is where I will get the entire feminist backlash. I found that having this home was lot easier and stressful with a boyfriend (that I chose to make an ex) who was resourceful around the house. Yes, some men are just handier around the house than most women. Yes, it’s true, we are not created equal, we all have competitive edges, my natural talents and aptitude have nothing to do with fixing a lock. And more often than not, men are better at such things than women. Yes, it’s true.

Yes, I had a home warranty to minimize maintenance costs. There were a total of three incidents, which this home warranty covered. But hired help is not as good as someone taking a pride in the house.

Sump Pump -Had to replace a sump pump motor-this involved two visits, and my son and I critically spending an evening making sure that sump pump doesn’t overflow. The service came out, thawed out the pipe…motor worked for two days. Then, motor burnt out due to pipe freezing again. They did the minimal. Real solution: ex bf insulated the outside pipe during the fall in a couple of hours. He loved doing house stuff. Was an easy job and that was the real solution. Went through the entire winter – no frozen sump pump.

Lock – my house is old and retained the original character with original locks. The front door lock stopped working well so we took the side door. Locksmith said I will need to replace front door lock, thus killing the house character. Real solution: ex bf fixed the lock in 20 minutes; works fine.

Bathroom sink – I have Duravit European sink. The inspector said these sinks just drain slowly. After a few months it barely drained. I had a certified plumber come in and he did something. He said every so often this happens and I will need to call a plumber. It’s these European sinks. They just don’t drain well….sure. Real solution: ex bf fixed that – apparently there was broken glass in the drain and he cleaned it out…never a slow drain again, European or not.

There are other examples. I finally got a great magnifying mirror drilled into marble, an accordion door in the basement, and shelves in the kitchen pantry. A faucet handle broke; I just paid for the faucet. He removed some dangerous tree branches in my yard that were already loose and could have fallen on my head or the dogs in an ice storm. Minor fixes, but made a huge difference in my life. No time off from work and hundreds spent just to get partial solutions. When I was thrilled with these fixes, he would say with an accent, “I’m men, you are woman, you do other things, I take care all house things.” This may sound comical, but is it? What is wrong with me having some focus areas I’m good at and letting a man do what they are good at? Why is this anti feminist? Someone I used to know said, “this guy is a sexist to talk like that.” Why? He was clearly better at cutting tree branches with a chain saw than I would have been and he truly enjoyed it.

Why do we all have to be jack-of-all-trades and master of none? And why am I supposed to enjoy everything a man enjoys to be a woman of the new millennium? Yes, I’d rather spend an hour at Sephora checking out new lipstick colors or Nordstrom checking out the latest Chanel perfume than cutting limbs off a tree or insulating a sump pump. It reduces my stress to do such ‘mindless’ things. Yes, “typical gender roles”-no it’s not gender roles…it’s me, it’s what I like. Can we have some diversity in our population of how we like to spend our time? I am completely independent financially and never ask for help-isn’t that more of a feminist concept than cutting tree limbs or fixing an old lock? But this person who had issues with me succumbing to ‘gender roles’ said “you are falling into gender roles, you should do it all.’ Easy for this individual to say since she was not a homeowner and had a boyfriend to help her in other aspects of her life and a male friend for some other things. I have never used friends for free airplane tickets, lodging, etc. It was tempting to stay in this relationship, or maybe turn it down a few notches, but integrity is not a practical trait and didn’t want to ‘use him’. So I decided to break up with him (for other reasons) in spite of all these ‘home stuff’ benefits. I could have kept it going and maybe meet once a month to get ‘house stuff’ done; perfect long distance relationship. But again, integrity dictated otherwise. I learned a lot, adjusted and moved forward.

Now back to the stereotypes, why couldn’t I figure out all this on my own? My competitive edge is not home repair. Yes, I can learn. I watched 10 YouTube videos in my Illinois house to fix my washing machine lid cheap (just parts). I excel in many areas, but not that one and don’t aspire to. Hired help just didn’t do it right. But, NO, relationship choices should not be influenced by someone’s home maintenance skills. And if someone labels me as adhering to gender roles because I let a man fix things because he was good at it, then they need to reevaluate their own choices. Although my father had a master’s degree in engineering and had the aptitude for seeing mechanical problems, his passion was not to fix ‘house stuff” (and my mother did “woman things” as smart as she was, not home repairs). Was he bad husband because of that? No, in my opinion, one of the best husbands and fathers. Yes, he set the bar high, but that’s another blog. Of course, some would argue that my parents created all this because I fall into these gender roles. Please….I’m independent in every way…read the original concepts of feminism.

So this summer I thought about all this. How my life was so much easier as a homeowner with ex boyfriend in the picture doing “man stuff.”  I don’t want to make relationship choices based on a man’s handy man skills. Having a boyfriend who was so good with ‘house stuff’ really made a difference. My house became much better and I was less stressed. Do I really want to keep this house and now deal with all the stuff, unknown around it? I thought: I like the life of decadence, so maybe I just need to find a decadent place with good views, luxurious amenities, and great location and better sound insulation than before, and move on. Sunk costs are sunk costs. Late this summer such a place became available, so I listed my house. That transaction is going to be another blog entry because I managed to have the WORST home selling experience and I am in the process of switching agents and agency. I have sold many homes and this listing turned into a farce at my expense. So, now I have two homes. The stress is still high, but hopefully will resolve soon. But I know I made the right decision:

I will take that homeowner pride in other aspects of my life – my career, my activities and launching new businesses.

I will not have to assess a man’s handy man skills during a relationship- I don’t care.

Do I miss my fenced wooded backyard? Not right now, I’m getting some great views being on a high floor and walking them in the neighborhood is more stimulating to them and it gets me off the sofa and helps stress. I also love my heated garage that I get to park my cars in. Not worrying about snow (except for having to drive in it) and sump pumps (I really hate basements) is a relief. Will I hate walking my dogs in sub zero temperatures? No, I have my Russian hats for all that.

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One of the many Russian hats I own.  I could walk my dogs in Siberia if needed

So my journey continues. Will I ever buy a house again? James Bond (yes, I like Bond movies and James Bond, and I’m a successful independent woman) said, “never say never”….but not now, not as a single woman.

neversaynever

Sure, single women are doing it all. But most of them have family (fathers, brothers or handy bfs) or just great male friends who live close by and who can help them keep up their house. And a few actually have a passion for home repair. Shakespeare said, “To thyself be true.” So gender roles or not…I am not going to be Tim Allen.

So for now, I’m enjoying the views and some luxury without worrying and I’ll take my pride from other activities and achievements in life and will continue to say no to my ex when he offers to come over and fix the house.

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back to some decadence

 

How to Recharge an Overwhelmed and Over Focused Mind

My last blog entry about focusing was a several months ago. Maybe I focused too much and I had to look at my own blog to remember to enjoy some of the decadence. Of course I’ve done that before for my food blog as well. Forgot a recipe? Refer to my blog. I also recently reread that blog about how to effectively manage facebook, after I re-activated it. Facebook noise is again starting to drown out my own thoughts.

The past few months have been extremely busy with these ‘paths’: forming an LLC, some new networking opportunities to name a few. The new LLC, like anything is a great opportunity for creating: website, logo, business cards and LinkedIn  account and a purpose.   As a result, I have to continually remind myself to enjoy some of the decadence of life, whether nature, people, food, dogs, or whatever. I did manage this to some extent, but this blog reminds me to get back on that path. Internal brainstorming is exhausting. But during the weekends I do try to resume the decadence of what there is.

Key Reminder

I still say walks and drives to unusual places are great ways to disconnect. They are great ways recharge an overwhelmed brain. It is not about functionality. Sure I can sit in my nice home and write and try to charge. But no, I always find writing in coffee shops more effective to clear my mind out. This is what I am doing today. I drove to a further location just to clear my mind. It worked. I am writing.

Although it is a cool weekend, I decided to enjoy the weather.

For some reason the stigma of a flower produces hope in one’s spirit, even if only while visible.  A drive a to a nice park around here provides some great fresh air and a lot great visuals for one’s mind and soul.

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I may not live by an ocean, but at least I can feel like it sometimes.  I drove to a great port with some fun memories of an annual event.  A lot of fresh air and blue sky helped.

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Always the symbolism of the lone trees

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A fun hangout by the port.  While writing this, a very old song popped in my head,  “The sailors say “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“Yeah your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea”  (note, they could, but won’t, not even in the song-reality).

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Back to enjoying the decadence of my car…never fails

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And more decadence of nature…lilacs.  In my former house, I had lilac bushes, but I don’t right now.  A spring has not commenced for me without literally inhaling the lilacs.  So I drove about half an hour to massively inhale the lilacs.

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Another lone tree, but this one is strong and well established.

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More nature symbolism…sometimes beauty is in the oddest places, but does it survive?

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And one of the finest and rarest forms of decadence, fine food made by some decadent and meaningful individuals.

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More fine food that night.

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So on  Sunday, another week of focused chaos approaches.  Occasionally, even I need to reread my blogs to focus on some enjoyment.

 

February Focus

February is time to reevaluate paths on all levels.

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So how does one keep all the decadence that one values going? For the past couple of years, February has been an interesting month of changes for me: a time to figure out which path to take in life; which variables to change, which variables to keep the same. This approach definitely keeps one form being complacent. But it is a lot easier said than done, especially when you want to go in many directions at the same time and have major responsiblities.   While I’m still attempting to focus, the default path is not necessarily the right one. As ideas and paths incubate, here are some fun and decadent ways to sort through it all. This reevaluate  concept applies to career, relationship choices, your location choice, activities you spend time on and pretty much anything

Yes, it helps to have several warm and sunny days in  February.  I could enjoy a few drives with the top down.   But then, this also made me question, why do I live in a cold climate?

Just drive..

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The Question….

Driving back from the gym, still looking for a sign and paths .  You don’t need a convertible to drive …drive the car you have on a fairly open road.  There is something about driving that asserts your independence and ability to survive.

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For me, driving with the top down has been very satisfying.  It’s great for contemplation and it’s also a great mood lifter.  Yes, having some decent weather in February helped. Somewhat chilly but I blasted the heat.  Sometimes the destination was unknown, but I usually landed in a nice place. This area is great for nice drives. Destination:  the lake

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Or a local restaurant I’ve been meaning to visit for the past 8 months:

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Coffee

Yes, I’m addicted to caffeine, but it can be consumed in so many ways and it’s an easy way to  clear your mind, focus, and lift your mood.  It smells great and looks great in many forms:

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Home made espresso

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A warm morning, a nice robust roast from Starbucks brewed at home served in an artsy mug.

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I finally tried a local boulangerie for a capuccino and croissant…for me this never gets old.  Coffeshops are always great places to think.  No piles of laundry needing to be done, no floor that needs to be cleaned,  no dishwasher that needs to be loaded, and so on.

Highlights

Brighten your hair and your outlook  brightens up as well.  At least when you look in the mirror you appear brighter and you seem brighter in the eyes of others.

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Fun Bedazzled Flask

Yes, this one was inspried by Rhianna’s flask show at the Grammy’s.  Seems to have worked for her inspite of the  painfully long show.  Yes,  this is fun.  May not help you focus, but disconnecting for a day helps you focus better the next day.

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Fullfilling Food

Ahi tuna never fails and it’s not even hard or expensive to make at home:

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And organic eggs at midnight instead of some unhealthy food will fuel the brain for Monday

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Although I don’t eat a lot of burgers, I will eat a unique one.  On that one sunny day, I was able to enjoy the great weather and this new restaurant that opened in my neighborhood..

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Sunrise Sunset

Always pay attention; it’s a great decadent show that nature puts on

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Google and Research

Yes, this may sound like a random web surfing exercise, but it does help with your internal brainstorming and a new path may even be identified

Results?

These are just a few ways to reevaluate and shift focus if needed.  Do I have the answers?  No, but I’m still working on it.  Not to copy Amelie (from the french movie Amelie), but sometimes self created  ‘signs’ during these activities can pop up too. And eventually after all this focusing and shifting.

 

amelie

hm….

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Mirror mirror on the wall, finally symmetry for all

Don’t put off installing one of these magnifying mirrors.

We’ve all seen the magnifying mirrors attached to walls  and thought:  “no that’s ok, I think I can use my normal mirror, it works just fine.”  I’ve also had sink top magnifying mirror as well as handheld ones.  Recently I attended a conference, and a the hotel had a magnifying mirror screwed into the wall, next to the usual mirror. Redundant?  NO!  I used it every day  to make sure my eyeliner was symmetric along with my lipstick.  I have often applied eyeliner and lipstick in a rush and noticed in the car or on a selfie that I applied the make up wrong.  After I returned home I kept thinking I should get one but I really have no clue how to install it or to drill and I wasn’t about to spend $200 on a handyman (that’s close to what  they charge these to just show up to install it-great business opportunity but that’s another topic).

Well this weekend I got one installed and just like in Vegas, I love it.  So what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas (yes, my trip was 100% business).  My eyeliner was perfectly symmetric, no smear marks on eyeshadow and I was able to closely examine my eyebrows as well. 

These mirrors are not just women either.  They are great for guys to find stray facial and nose hairs and other random occurrences on their face. 

Winter

How to keep Winter interesting so that by Spring you are sick of your favorite Winter items.

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Could be my favorite winter hat

 

So the holidays are over and we are all (at least in cold climates) waiting for Spring.  But what can one do in the meantime with not much daylight and constant threat of snow?  Wear a lot of winter decadence so that by  March we are somewhat fed up even with our favorite pieces.  For me that’s hats, scarves, and boots.  In fact, I have one more pair of boots on my list yet to acquire.  February is going to be a long  Winter month.

But even during this season, I’ve managed to drive my car with the top down.

 

 

blackboots
Not for walking dogs, this is a nice high heeled over the knee boot for going out on the town a bit.  Very comfortable.  From Nordstrom
burgundy
Burgundy  boots pick up the drabness of winter, but actually they are a great Fall color.  For early Fall casual, this grey sheepskin hat is perfect (note:  dogfight is an racing term, and not associated with literal dog fights)
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Doc Martens, perfect for walking my dogs or running around….again more of wine/cabarnet color
ushanka
E
warmscarf
Everyday warmth and coziness with this scarf.  I never want to take it off.  Yes, it’s end of January, maybe getting sick of Winter, or just the snow and ice.

ushanka

This is my WARMEST hat for those bitter cold windy days.  Perfect for those Siberian nights.

 

Of course the same applies for men.  Wear extreme coats, jackets, and there is nothing wrong with a man wearing an authentic fur ushanka.