On a recent humid August afternoon, I was sitting in front of a window, staring into the middle distance and calmly wondering whether I could still feel all my fingers. Freezing to death in the middle of summer may sound like an unusual way to go, but if you work in one of the city’s overly climate-controlled office buildings, it’s a death that’s at least crossed your mind—most likely between the hours of 3pm and 4pm, when you can’t quite justify that third warming cup of coffee.
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Every summer, New York splits into two coexisting, polar-opposite biomes: Outside, the unrelenting sun beats down on the sizzling sidewalk, turning dress shirts into used washrags and nudging the temperature on the subway platform into the low triple digits. Inside, the trigger-happy air-conditioning found in most city buildings takes on a life of its own: Kicking into high gear, it blasts everything in its path like Mr. Freeze in the middle of a manic episode.
It is categorically impossible to successfully dress for these vastly different climates. As
a result, we’re not only forced to suffer through out-of-control air-conditioning every summer, but we’re asked to do it in short sleeves. Of all the warm-weather indignities we’re asked to endure, chattering teeth should not be among them.