Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Damn straight its cold, you’re in Chicago!  And it’s this time of year, that mid-autumn/early winter, where a stylish girl can fall through the fashion cracks and get lost in the warmth of her ugly wool sweater.   I am here to save you from fashion faux pas hell and show you how you can stay warm, be cute, and rock the streets of Chicago like you were meant to!

Now one thing that the fashion industry has recently recognized is that HEY GUESS WHAT?  The world is in a major recession, meaning people don’t have the funds to spend on stupid designer wares that remain in style less than a few weeks (and, well, I didn’t really have the kind of money before the recession, either).  What’s so great about this season is that many of the items I am going to outline are things you probably already own.

We will start from the top down.

(1)   La tête (the head, in French – come on, this is a fashion blog, there has to be SOMETHING French)

There are a variety of cute hats to pick from this season to help keep your head warm and additionally accessorize your coat.  Some are from last season, such as the knit, floppy hat (I am unsure of it’s “technical” name).

Hats like these can be found anywhere.  I actually got mine at Forever21 last winter along with matching gloves and spent no more than $20.  If you like this style, you aren’t pigeon-holed into spending major bucks.

Also back is the beret. This style has come and gone more often than necessary.  It seems to reoccur every 17 years, kind of like locusts.  You can wear this style a few different ways, too.  You can pull it down over your entire head, or you can place it strategically at the crown to accentuate your “good angle”.  Being the Francophile I am, I adore this look.  Plus, it’s classic, so any photos you take will be in style again every 17 years.

You can revive your grunge years too!  For those of us who did (and still do) listen to Q101, you know you own one of these hats.   You will look très adorable (sorry, I am taking French lessons) and your ears will be super duper warm.

(2)   Les yeux (the eyes)

Many people associate sunglasses with summer-time. They are sorely mistaken.  Your eyes want to look totally cool, too!  And I’m sorry, but if it has snowed and the sun is out, it’s a million times brighter than a normal summer day.  Snow is WHITE and the sun is GLARING off of it like a damn mirror.  Ouchie!  Good news!  Aviators and bug eyes are still cool, especially in different colors.  Head over to H&M for some awesome and affordable pairs.

But don’t stop there…what about when you are INSIDE?  How will your poor eyes stay cool then?  For those of us that don’t wear prescription glasses or contacts, head on over to Claire’s (yes, I said it, RECESSION FOLKS) and pick up some faux glasses!  And why the hell not?  I have two pairs and it confuses my co-workers to no end.  Plus it’s the instant “umph” my outfits are sometimes lacking….and SHHH!  I wear them when I am presenting to people I don’t know to make me look smarter.  What, it works!  No judgement!

(3)   Les mains (the hands)

One trend that I have fully embraced is the gloves without finger tips.  Yes, they are still cold while the rest of my hand is warm, but not to sound too arrogant, it comes in super handy when I am using my smart-phone.    So many smart-phones today have a touch screen to use, and it’s a pain in the derrière to have to keep removing your glove(s) to access it.  Why not just remove the fingertips of your gloves instead?

(4)   Le corps (the body)

There are many great items to not only stay warm, but to look totally stellar this chilly season.  One look I am loving is the blazer.  It’s not just for job interviews anymore.

What’s great about the blazer is you can pair it with anything — a t-shirt, a tank, a sweater, whatever!  Roll the sleeves up a bit for some added edge.    You can even find blazers with a cute interior design that shows when the sleeves are rolled.  Pop the collar to look like a total “Risky Business” wanna-be (which means DON’T pop the collar).  Go pick up some fun colors at your local thrift store that you wouldn’t normally spend big bucks on a Limited or Ann Taylor.

Scarves are another great and easy way to add some color or pattern to your outfit. I always find chic, affordable scarves at H&M or Zara.

(5)   Le jambes (the legs)

I’ve got one word for you:  tights.  If you haven’t figured it out already, opaque tights are in and they are amazing.

I have traveled to Paris a variety of times and I find that whatever trend I see there, I see in Chicago 6-8 months later.  Six to eight months too late if you ask me!  The girls in Paris are not only wearing tights, they are wearing patterned and colored tights, and I think it’s about damn time Chicago was on par with the rest of the fashion world.

I’ve “grown a pair” and even went so bold as to wear mustard-colored or turquoise tights.  If you go bright, the key is to remember to tone down the rest of your look.  You don’t have to go all matchy-matchy either.  For example, I wore my mustard tights with a navy dress and brown shoes.  Did I look like a hot-dog?  NO!  Did I look like a diva?  YES!

Either way, I am a big fan of Hue tights, and you can usually get them cheaper the more you buy (last I checked I found them 2 for $20 at Macy’s).  Additionally, American Apparel has every color under the sun to choose from.

(6)   Les pieds (the feet)

Recycle your Uggs or your Hunter boots.  Hell, go to Target, buy some $20 rain boots and thick socks.  I would recommend against purchasing expensive warm footwear this season.  We are still unsure of what 2011 and 2012 will bring and both Uggs and Hunter boots are still in.  If you have the funds to spare, than splurge on the Hunters.  My crystal ball is showing a short shelve life for Uggs.  They have already hung around longer than I think anyone would have expected.

The important thing to remember when traipsing through snow and sleet is that no one is going to be looking at your feet.  Just make sure they are warm and dry and bring your “real” shoes in a separate bag to put on once you get to your desired destination.

Another fad that has lasted the last couple of winters is the tall boot.  Whether black or brown, suede or leather, this is a trend that I feel many women in Chicago get wrong.  Let me explain.

You figure the average Chicago woman is approximately 5’6”.  Let’s just assume.  These women also lean towards wearing longer tops.  It’s slimming, elongates the torso and covers the tush.  I get it, I do it myself all the time.  But then the boots are added.  These super tall boots with long flowy tops that leave little room for actual pant/legging/tight exposure.  Can you picture it?  What does that then do to the overall figure of the woman?  IT SHRINKS HER.  It makes her legs look shorter than they are and completely ruins the effect that was trying to be achieved by wearing a longer top.

Here’s how to fix it:  if you wear a long top, wear longer bootleg pants with booties or boots you can wear UNDER your pants.  The longer leg will stretch to your heel and make your legs look longer, so your entire figure willl look long and lean.  OR just wear shorter boots that stop mid-calf vs. above the calf.

If you want to wear the boots, you can’t wear the longer top unless you are 6’2” or taller.  Sorry.  You will look shrunken otherwise, so what is more important?  Wear your boots, but then just wear a top that isn’t as long.  This won’t cut off your legs in the middle.  I promise your butt isn’t as big as you think it is!  Be bold!  Wear your damn boots and show off your rear end!

Well, there you have it.  Winter fashion in Chicago.  Who said you couldn’t look chic in the Chi?  Good luck and stay warm!

~Corie Scarpaci

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