Toque: [tohk] of Celtic origin; A kind of cap worn in the 16th century, and copied in modern fashions; — called also toquet.
Believe it or not, the toque is one of the most important purchases the Yukoner can make.
Not only because of the warmth and comfort it provides to help get you through those long frigid Yukon winter months, but more so because of how it identifies exactly who you are in both the fashion and literal sense.
Yes, the toque’s significance goes well beyond just keeping your noggin toasty.
When my younger sister was in high school in Victoria, the toque was a regular tool in her fashion repertoire.
Every day, no matter the temperature, she had that toque on.
In fact, I’m pretty sure she had a different toque for every day of the month.
I never really understood it.
Surely it wasn’t because she was cold because, after all, in Victoria one can count the number of annual snowfalls on one hand.
Some might even say that a Victoria winter is on par with a Yukon summer, at least this year.
Maybe that’s a stretch, but the point is my sister was years beyond her time as she now lives in Whitehorse and, when it comes to toque fashion sense, she is a seasoned pro.
Were all those toque-wearing days just primer for a life in the North?
She denies it but I can’t help but wonder.
This brings me back to my point regarding the importance of toques.
The Yukon toque is equivalent to the big truck in Alberta or the stiletto in Montréal … that carefully stitched design similar to the animated mud flap or stylish open toe.
Simply put, the toque resembles who you are.
I know what some of you are thinking: “But I have a big F-350 with Yosemite Sam mud flaps!”
“I have open-toed Sergio Rossis!”
None of that matters in the heart of winter when the ice fog is so thick your twin-diesel is barely recognizable let alone the cartoon that is splashed across your tire protectors.
And you would have to be quite the Cheechako to attempt wearing stilettos when it’s below 40.
Thus, we come back to the toque and its social importance.
What you wear can say a lot about who you are as a person.
Do you go simple grey Carhartt or flashy coloured wool with braids?
Hand stitched First Nations design or the classic flannel hunter with flaps look?
There is the everyday look, the evening wear, the weekend relaxer… the list is endless.
The decision is yours, but keep in mind this is how you will be identified for the next eight months or so.
As you shuffle down Main Street this winter, bundled up from head to toe, your face completely covered, along with every other inch of your body, remember it is what you wear on your head that will bring the horn honks and waves … thus, choose wisely.