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Weather vs. Fashion…How to look smart.

Yesterday, January 31, I finally picked up my monster fur from storage. It’s a beautiful, quite formal mink that I bought as a treat for selling my business – and a bit of my soul. Gorgeous, toasty warm and extravagant, it’s also HUGE, outdated and a bit more showy than that which fits my lifestyle. But we’re expecting 2 feet of snow in Chicago.

My mink friend is the only outerwear I have ever found that protects me from everything! Blizzards, rain, cold, probably nuclear blasts, nothing can penetrate it. So I got it out of storage, even if it’s just to walk the dog. (I envy his fur that fits him so well!)

Chicago and much of the US is facing several days of hat hair, clunky boots and poor fashion choices. So I asked Julie Judd, fashion director at Talbot’s and my co-facilitator for our LifeStyle workshops, how to best weather the weather with style. Here are some of Julie’s suggestions:

• Warmest coats — fur, shearling and down. Down is not as puffy (think Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters!) as in the past and many have hoods that help with hat hair.

• Coat length — it should cover your skirt/dress but a “maxi” down to your ankles looks clunky with flat boots, especially if you’re short. With pants, these days anything goes, though you’ll probably want to cover your rear end for warmth and for a more flattering look.

• How warm? — Keep in mind your travels. If you only go from house to car to parking garage, how warm do you have to be? If you’re shlepping to the train station, standing on el platforms or waiting for a bus, you need as many layers as possible. A coat should fit over a sweater or blazer but not too much larger. Layer with tights, long underwear or other breathable skins from REI or Dick’s Sporting Goods.

• Boots — Get a basic black or brown and keep it simple with a low or flat heel and good tread on the sole. And save your fine Italian leathers for a better weather day or change into them once you get to your destination. Unless you’re really hip, Uggs may be a bit too young for many of us.

• Hats — Cover your ears! Fedoras and berets are cute, but not the protection we need for the worst weather. We’re seeing a lot of funky lumberjack and Peruvian ski style hats this year – and many are on sale because they didn’t sell all that well. Make sure you’re not going too young by keeping away from the bright colors and plaids. You can always take it off quickly or hide it under a hood. And try to choose a hat, gloves/mittens and scarf that, color-wise, work with your coat.

• Hat Hair (ACK!) — Wet your brush, add a little product (styling mousse, hair spray) and restyle once you get to your destination if you possibly can. At work, keep a small travel blow dryer for a quick lift. Or simply add volume with your hands, then tame flyaways with product. In a pinch, hand lotion will tame static as well. (Personally I just accept a few months of bad style — sort of like junior high. No matter how hard you try, your hair has a life of its own!)

• Dog walking — yes, we need a different outfit than what we wear into the city. I have combat boots, 3 layers of turtlenecks, tights, heavy jeans, a lumberjack hat with earmuffs underneath, down mittens and 2 scarves – oh, and a ranch mink coat down to my ankles. Buddy is embarrassed to be seen with me. But we’re warm!

Stay warm and dry and pass along any other suggestions for tolerating this “typical Chicago weather”!

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