Much like the United States Postal Service, neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays this camera crew. We've shot America's favorite show since 1999 in the hottest and coldest conditions New York City has ever known. We've made Mariska Hargitay wear coats in the baking sun, and chilled to the bone an undercover, scantily clad Kelli Giddish. Needless to say, when we shoot in extreme weather conditions, it is key to dress appropriately.
So I present, with a picture of yours truly (Celine, the writers' assistant), the crew members' essential winter survival outfit:
1. The Hat
The aviator has come into fashion this season, and my bet is that cold, disgruntled TV and film crews have something to do with it. It keeps your head warm, your ears covered and makes you look just as styling as I do in this picture.
2. The Scarf
Concealed beneath my high-collared coat is a scarf that is wrapped from my neck to my mouth. Although I am rendered inaudible, it's just as well because utterly silent is typically the preferred set volume.
3. The Layers
Thermal long-sleeved shirt, turtleneck, flannel shirt atop and windbreaker are the four layers I check off my list when - very warm indeed - I leave my heated home.
4. The Gloves
It's a no-brainer. Gotta keep the finger tips warm. Many people on set wear two pairs. One thicker pair for warmth and one beneath for utility, all the while not catching frostbite. As I'm often on the phone or on my tablet, mine are SVU-issued touch screen-friendly gloves.
5. The Coat
The piece de resistance of the whole outfit. It's long enough to cover everything above the knee. It's also extra thick for heat and it has loads of deep pockets, all the better to carry scripts and sides without lugging around a bag.
6. The Long Johns
Whether you're standard, old folk thermal or advanced technology Japanese chill-repellent, even leggings will do to serve as an essential base layer between regular trousers and bare legs. Some crew members will throw on an additional layer atop the trouser - such as a ski pant - to keep their legs cozier still.
7. Knee Socks
No need for anything expensive or special, just a pair of your rolled-up soccer socks will work. The benefits are two fold: they add warmth to your legs and they keep your feet a little more comfortable with a bonus layer of cotton sock delight.
8. The Overshoe
It took a year for me to learn about this trick. Regular winter boots aren't always warm enough or waterproof, and snow boots are inconvenient and clunky if we move indoors for part of the shoot. The best option is to wear an overshoe, which goes - believe it or not - over your shoes. They come in all varieties, but the ones to go with are insulated, waterproof and keep your feet off of the cold ground. You can wear any shoe beneath - even a sneaker - but you'll feel as if your body heat is as contained as on a summer's day.
Although it's true that the conditions we're put through in New York City to make your favorite TV show have tested our patience, bodily strength and perhaps our career path, don't feel too sorry for us. We're often prepared. So bring it on, winter, and show us what you've got.