So far this week, despite the fact that we’re only about 1.5 days in, my inbox has been flooded—as per the usual—with emails from myriad online retailers doing their damndest to lure me to their clean, bright, online stores, open 24 hours! Really, opening any of these emails is like the digital equivalent of window shopping—dangerous for those of us on a tight January budget (also known as the annual post-Christmas fiscal detox). But, to be fair, I really only have myself to blame for these burgeoning piles of unread emails. That’s what you get when you whore out your email address online in hopes of gleaning an occasional discount.
What I did not plan on, however, was the content of the recent emails I have received. Apparently, in the retail world, as soon as the holidays are over and year-end clearance sales shopped, it’s magically spring! Ooooh, if only!! I’m not sure in what alternate universe this makes sense. I can only guess its Southern California.
But for those of us not living in that magical land, these emails are like a gratuitous slap in the face. Pastels? Tropical Prints!? Sandals!?!? Maybe if I were planning a getaway to Hawaii… which sounds amazing right now… unfortunately, I am not, and none of these items will be wearable until about May at the earliest!
Indeed, here in Portland the last week has consisted of a mix of frozen fog/rain/snow and temperatures as low as 28 degrees!! That’s enough to make even the heartiest Pacific Northwesterner a shut-in! This isn’t the Midwest, after all!
My point is: Sandals are inconceivable in this weather!
So the conclusion that I’ve come to is that we cannot rely on retailers to inspire us (or apparently, even show us relevant products) during this long, cold hibernation-season. How can we survive fashionably? By jazzing up our winter wardrobe with pieces that are equal parts fashion and function, gearing up for the weather in style and simply remixing the basics. Bonus: this approach is also much easier on the ‘ole pocketbook.
To accomplish this goal of weathering the season fashionably, here are five easy ideas for you to refresh your winter wardrobe. To steer you away from your comfort zone (and into a more stylish zone), I’ve presented these wardrobe refreshers as alternatives to some PNW classics—“old hats” in many a woman’s wardrobe.
Hey, we get it! Some days Gortex just gets the best of us…
But not today!
When the weather is as bitterly dry and cold as it has been for the last few weeks, it’s like a knee-jerk reaction to ensconce ourselves in layers of down. Let me be honest in saying, I love my down jacket as much as the next Northwest native, but I’m here to tell you that there are other, more stylish options for staying warm. A (faux, of course) fur vest is my favorite alternative. This is a versatile piece that quickly adds zest to any outfit and, like down, it’s an excellent thermoregulator! (Plus, I’m fairly sure there is still a lingering campfire scent that’s basically become ingrained in the fibers of my down gear).
Anorak: Belltown Rain Jacket via REI // Jacket: Mountain Hardwear [old]
Let’s face it. We simply couldn’t experience all the Pacific Northwest has to offer without Gortex technology. But that doesn’t mean we have to wear it all the time. And for those rainy days that do require something water resistant, there are some stylish options out there to liberate us from the shapeless, tarp-like look of common rain jackets styles. Opt for a fitted trench or anorak for a more flattering look that will still keep you dry. My parents got me the cinch-waist Belltown Jacket from REI for Christmas, and I’m a big fan! (Thanks Mom and Dad!)
Boots (Left): Joan of Arctic boot c/o SOREL // Boots (right): Uggs [old]
I’ve noticed that while the Ugg days are way over, some ladies feet have yet to move on. The good news is: you don’t have to compromise on warmth and cuteness, simply update the look with SOREL boots. My personal favorite styles are the Joan or Arctic (pictured above) and the Tofino. Like Uggs, these boots will keep your toes roasty-toasty, but while adding some structured spunk to your winter look. Unlike Uggs, they’re waterproof and built for Northwest living. Not sure how to wear them? Stay tuned for the Stumptown Stil styling guide, in the works for later this month!
I love my opaque black tights. (Moreover I love getting away with not shaving when I wear a skirt/dress!) That being said, they get a little tired come about February. One trend I’m totally digging that can help us slowly ease into spring with a little more grace (and a little less drab) is thigh-high socks. Plus, I mean seriously, how cute are they? Bonus: you really only have to shave your upper legs to pull these off… but I’ll leave that up to you! Free People has an excellent selection to choose from if you’re on board with this trend.
[Left] Sweater: Pearl Jacket with Lurex c/o Margaret O’Leary // Pants: Zara // Scarf: Urban Outfitters // [Right] Sweater: Tresics via Sloan Boutique // Pants: Jonathan Saunders for Target
One quick way to transform your workaday look is by opting for pieces with more structure. Personally, I have no qualms with a slouchy silhouette, but I would argue that structured is better for both the conference room and date night. It also reads as just a bit more spring-ready. Plus, with amazing options like this Chanel-inspired sweater from Margaret O’Leary, structured doesn’t have to read as stiff. Have some fun with it!