In South Florida, warm clothes are often old clothes

Sometimes, it's nice to wear something old — rather than be cold.

When chilly weather arrives, as it did in the past week, many of us dust off warm clothes we've stored, sometimes for decades. After all, they don't get much wear and tear.

"Everything I have, I've had for 20 or 30 years, like cashmere sweaters and jackets," said Dorothy Weir, a Boca Raton senior. "I just love cool weather. I'm having a ball wearing stuff I haven't had the chance to wear."

After a warmer start to winter, South Florida has settled into a stretch of cool to mild weather, with temperatures occasionally plunging into the upper 30s and low 40s, prompting natives, and even transplants, to bundle up.


PHOTOS: 2013 Billboard Latin Music Awards

Jordana Forrest, 32, of Sunrise, a native South Floridian, likes to wear an off-white wool sweater her mother wore in the early 1970s while in college in New York.

"It's definitely old," she said, adding that she has no plans to buy her own winter clothes because "I live in Florida. I get to wear them only about two days a year."

While growing up in New Jersey in the 1980s, Sona Shornden, 43, of Lantana, bought a long-sleeved, skeleton-print shirt designed by a New York artist known as Snake.

She still wears it today, along with a black denim jacket purchased in 1987 and a hat with built-in scarves she got in Nepal, India, in the early 1990s.

"I hate the cold weather," she said. "But the flip side is I do enjoy getting to wear some of these things."

Tommy Mandel, 65, of Pembroke Pines, still wears a checkered flannel shirt his father bought in Milwaukee in 1952. Although Mandel has lived in Florida for 59 years, the shirt hasn't gotten that much use.

"I wear it maybe twice a year with a jacket over it," he said. "It's flannel, so it's like pajamas."

Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center in Miami-Dade County and a former television weathercaster, said he also digs into the past for winter wear.

"I have sweaters, sweatshirts and light jackets dating back to the '90s, when I did TV in Tampa, and a jacket dating back to the '80s in my Minnesota TV days," he said. "I still use them all today."

When she moved to the state in 1991, Ann Rowe brought along some of her favorite sweaters from Maine, "just in case it got cold."

"And, it has," the Florida Department of Health spokeswoman said. "I have had these sweaters since high school. They make me think of Maine and my youth, and are actually in pretty good shape."

Karen Roach, 57, of Davie, bought a warm winter coat at a Sears in Warren, Ohio — 32 years ago. When a major blizzard covered her car with snow that same year, she decided it was time to move to Florida.

Said Roach: "Who cares about style in this crazy Florida weather?"

kkaye@tribune.com, 561-243-6530