I love the street fashion of Fashion Week. The runway shows are great theatre, but the designs on the freakishly tall models are more like costumes than clothing. By contrast the parade of fashion editors and buyers streaming into Lincoln Center are a walking seminar on how to look fantastic.
This year, the weather was a fashionista wake-up call as the Fashion Week crowds battled freezing cold, blinding blizzards and piles of snow and ice. Statement shoes were replaced with boots, and trendy jackets with heavy sweaters. Seemingly for the first time , the people who create and market fashion experienced the style challenges that weather causes for the rest of us.
Each winter I’ve struggled to balance looking good with staying warm. While I can pull on fuzzy boots, jeans and a puffy coat on the weekend, this look does not work for work, conferences, parties and client meetings. But the stores are low in other options. Sleeves are non-existant and pant suits drag in the snow. Watching Anna Wintour struggle over snow piles in a blizzard, I hoped she would inspire designers to create beautiful winter friendly fashion.
Winter Fashion That Works
Its one thing for me to make snarky comments about designers who expect me to wear a sleeveless dress in February. But what would work? For some ideas I turned to styles from places where cold and snow is the norm. For example in Russia the tall cossack collar keeps the neck warm while the fur lined silk jackets from China can keep you cozy AND feminine. I came up with five winter style elements:
Flattering and practical, boots are the foundation of cold weather wear– and the rest of the ensemble needs to look with boots. Suede boots are fine when its dry, but not nearly as effective as leather water proof models. Tall boots are also better for wlking through icy puddles.
The slush and wetness requires that pants be tucked into boots and skinny pants create a nice lean lie. Looser cuts stuffed into boots look like harem pants– or an hommage to MC Hammer
These days, sleeves are almost as rare as a real Rembrandt at a flea market. Maybe its an attempt to save money on fabrics, but few designers seem to be interested in anything that covers the arms. After risking hypothermia last winter in a grey flannel shift, I’ve taken to shopping for dresses with sleeves at vintage shows. Sweater dresses ususally have sleeves but can be figure challenging. Buy them a size or two larger and you will look great and feel warm.
Anna Wintour snuggled in a huge fur coat as she braved yet another Fashion Week blizzard. But you don’t need to wear a whole coat to get some warmth and style. A big fox fur hat, vintage mink collar turned into a scarf or a rabbit fur vest will deliever fashion saavy comfort.
Shearling in a coat, jacket, hat or pair of gloves has warmth and luxury while leather pants are incredibly comfortable, cozy and flattering.
Rather than offering those lines of clothing in colors that seem to glow in the dark that wind up packed into the sale racks, the designers who produce beautiful weather friendly clothing will find a welcome audience. Calvin? Donna? Ralph? In the words of the amazing Tim Gunn, ”make it work”.