When The Temperature Dipped

It did not even go below twenty, yet many people saw a need for puffer jackets! Surely, we’re made of sterner stuff? Or maybe not

Winter in SG 2018By Mao Shan Wang

This week, we experienced an equatorial “winter”.

At first, it was the jokes. A friend of mine, in a group chat, was reading aloud the lively dialogue among his Penang-born Singaporean cousins: “Autumn in SG”; “Cold, cold, cold”; “It’s winter going into spring”; “We can wear our Japan winter clothing”; “Hahaha…”

Then there was the ST article the day before, “The Big Chill: Coping with the cold and the rain in Singapore”. The big chill! Coping! How difficult the chill! ST Life journalist Alyssa “Wedder” Woo, in a video report for the online edition of the paper, claimed that “tourists and Singaporeans are taking the opportunity to don their winter wear”, with one interviewee in a lightweight duster coat confirming Ms Woo’s observation: “I’m wearing my trench coat like winter in Europe or somewhere!”

It must be cold, the chill!

I did not feel it, but I sure saw it. This morning, in the slowest train in the world, the East-West line of the MRT, I saw so many commuters in sweatshirts that I was certain the price of French terry spiked. People didn’t look like they were dressed to go to work; they appeared to be going to the cinema. As the train became a sardine can, I moved inwards and sighted the first quilted jacket of the day! Three seats away, a napping chap was in a full-zip jacket, zipped all the way to the top, face further obscured by a similarly coloured face mask. Then a woman in a wool-knit varsity jacket appeared. By the doors, a guy in a faux leather biker jacket and another in a pile-lined zip-up hoodie. Was there any Uniqlo’s famed Heattech innerwear under all that?

During lunch, I was at Orchard Central and out of curiosity, I dropped by Uniqlo. There was an extraordinary large number of office ladies. At the queue to pay, nearly everyone was buying an outer, particularly a hoodie and the ultra-light down! Who would need down on a 23°C day? I wondered too soon. As I was leaving, into my view came a thirtysomething couple descending on the escalator wearing identical grey puffer jackets!

What impressed me this afternoon was a severe lack of T-shirts and shorts. There were virtually no denim cut-offs! Bare legs were as enclosed as bare arms. I do not remember when I last saw so many stocking-ed limbs—opaque black, no less. The décolletage had gone into hiding too. Neckwear was having a moment, especially neck warmers. Modest fashion should have made the headlines.

In the early evening, I took a bus to Raffles City. As I moved to the rear, I saw a guy in a thick, pull-over hoodie. That wasn’t surprising, but the ear muffs were! I looked out of the bus window to be certain it wasn’t snowing. I looked at him again. He looked very comfortable, very “big chill”.

After dinner, I was walking to the slowest train in the world, when something literally stopped me in my tracks: a pink fur jacket that could have been from Tom Ford’s Gucci of fall 2001! The woman—a bud of no more than twenty three—was cigarette-dragging-happy, the puffs of smoke acting as visible breath, the condensation of winter freeze. How appropriate!

According to ST, the coldest day in Singapore was in January 1934: it was 19.4 degrees that day. What did people at that time wear? According to my mother, no one heard of down. Uniqlo wasn’t even born.

Photos: Zhen Jiepai