Fashion isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Chicago (that would be sports and deep dish pizza), but in the dead of winter, my commitment to personal style suddenly becomes very important. I start asking myself questions like “Where can I find a coat that doesn’t make me look like the Michelin Man?” and “Can I wear motorcycle boots with floral tights and not look like I’m trying too hard?” I also wonder how many cardigans/sweaters/jackets I can layer before I turn into Randy from A Christmas Story and can’t put my arms down.
Luckily, Chicago has an eclectic mix of stylish people for me to observe and admire. 16-year-old fashion icon Tavi Gevinson is an Oak Park native, and her blog The Style Rookie is an enchanting treasure trove of vintage-inspired creations. Other excellent local blogs worth mentioning include Trés Awesome (which TimeOut Chicago recently voted Best Fashion Blog of 2012), New City's Boutiqueville, ChiCityFashion, In Fashion Chicago with Barbara Glass, Style Block, Chicago Looks, "Street View" by Isa Giallorenzo for the Bleader, The MidWasteland, the Chicago tab of Refinery 29 and Amy Creyer’s Chicago Street Style.
So, how does one keep up with the hot new fashion trends in freezing cold weather? Whether shopping at high-end boutiques in the Gold Coast or quirky secondhand stores in Wicker Park, three simple rules apply:
Pile on the accessories
Mom says layer up, and she’s right. This is the time to wear all of those fuzzy mittens, chunky scarves, knee socks over patterned tights and adorable winter hats that you can't wear during the summer (unless you're trying to be ironic). Also, invest in a pair of smartphone gloves ($3.99 on Amazon) to stay tech-savvy in the snow.
Ditch the puffer coat
At some point during every winter that I've spent in Chicago, I've found myself drowning in a sea of boring black puffers on Michigan Avenue. This year, however, I've noticed that more Chicagoans are wearing colorful statement coats that better express their personalities and unique fashion sense. A good warm lining (like wool, fleece or faux fur) can make a bomber or even a biker-inspired leather jacket feel comfy and insulated.
Rock the ugly boots
2012 was the year of the Hunter boot. I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing them, and felt a little self-righteous about the fact that I refused to buy a pair. This season, I've observed a markedly different trend: the uglier, the better. Okay, so calling Doc Martens "ugly" might be a bit harsh, but the fashionable return of these grunge-era boots proves that 2013 is the year of alternative footwear. Edgy combat boots are also making a comeback, as well as these vintage floral Docs.
What are your cold-weather fashion staples? Do you frequent any local stores or street-style blogs that you think should be on our radar? Send us a tweet or leave a comment below.
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