Fashion tips for the “warm” weather

By Jennifer Barnes

I don’t hold the highest expectations for fashion at the University of Chicago. Most of the time, I don’t hold any. I’m pretty pleased with the fact that no one in my civ class is donning a Taz sweatshirt, of the black and non-hooded persuasion. Sure, the kid next to me often wears pants that evolutionary studies may acknowledge as close relatives of the capri pant, but I let him get away with it. On a college budget and living in Hyde Park, what still fits is more up for grabs than, say, when you’re home for Thanksgiving and your mom notices. Moreover, we are a forgiving lot in this arena of fashion faux pas.

But after a brisk walk across campus today, the horror I beheld requires mention. Right now we are in the midst of a heat wave—or, you know, temperatures in the low forties. Chicago winters are brutal; there’s no getting around that. Anyone who has waited more than thirty minutes for the #55 at the Garfield stop can attest to the necessity for warm clothing in the winter months. Sadly, winter wardrobes are, for the most part, not as fashionable as those for other seasons. Puffy jackets blow up most to undesirable proportions, and the requisite hats and gloves complicate listening to music while busting ass to overheated classrooms. But we take this into consideration, because forgoing these garments is both style-less and harmful to one’s health. It may be warmer, right now, but we still need to wear our winter garb, or perish.

I don’t find Columbia jackets particularly attractive, but they suit their purpose, and these temperatures. Maybe the two layers are a bit much, though, for those who, like me, with the fleece layer that fits neatly into the nylon, wind-proof outer shell. But if you’re too hot wearing both layers, the next logical step is not to pull out your windbreaker instead. These jackets boast versatility. Put that to use, please, and flaunt your fleece.

While some have already taken this advice to heart, there are yet others whose choices show poor judgment paired with the inability to check before heading outside. On warmer days over the past few weeks, I have witnessed shorts, flip flops, and even a linen skirt. Chicago’s high temperature for 2004 cannot have soared above 60 degrees, and only reached that high once. Sure, it may seem relatively warm outside, but the fact remains that it just plain isn’t spring or summer or The O.C. The snow disappeared just a few days ago, and already there are nearly bare-footed folks wandering this campus. I can only guess how they fare when they reach the large puddles I barely skim with my boots, or how they tread the muddy student-made paths across the quads.

Maybe, like me, some of these students already have March issues of Lucky and Jane, with extensive spreads featuring tank tops and bathing suits, fruit-colored totes and canvas sneakers. Even I fell victim to the desire to delve into the upcoming season’s fashion the other day at H&M. I fondled a green polka-dotted canvas sneaker for a few moments, but wistfully placed it aside in favor of a long-sleeved cream-colored tee.

In the meantime, there are other ways to cope. Start slowly by transitioning your wardrobe to adjust to the upcoming season. As I mentioned earlier, the fleece by itself suffices, and is far less bulky, though still not gorgeous. Now that the snow has melted, swap the boots for some sneakers. Try wearing a t-shirt, but not just a t-shirt—you still need a jacket, fool! Most of all, suck it up. Winter’s almost over, but let’s not jump the gun on spring. Like grandma said: don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched, and don’t weah sandals when its fawty degrees out, Jennifah, yah’ll catch yahself pneumonia.