I’m So Chi, You Thought I was Bashful

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Whenever I’m in LA, anyone who knows me knows I rep my sweet home Chicago like no other. I”l be real: I may or may not play “Homecoming” every time I go through security at LAX. But what can I say, I’m from a city in the Midwest and it’s the best city in the whole wide, wide, wide world. There is one undeniable downside to coming home: the bone-chilling, freeze-your-ass-off, shoulders-so-tense-it requires-daily massages cold. People always ask how I made it through the first 19 years of my life here, and I guess I’ve just had to find ways to cope. Sometimes, it’s through hibernation. It’s definitely Mid-afternoon on my first day back and I have only gone as far as the vestibule of my house (and the blast of icy air from that 30 second trip definitely knocked a few expletives out of me). But I know eventually I must leave my cave. Life doesn’t stop, and one can’t just sit under the covers drinking tea for an entire week, tempting as it may be.

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In LA, if I want to wear a dress, and the weather isn’t cooperating, I can just say screw it and wear one anyway. Sure, my legs will be a little chilly, but for the sake of fashion they can deal with a couple goose bumps. But there is a certain species of cold found on the shores of the Great Lakesthat refuses to be ignored. The constant barrage of frigid temperatures are uncompromising, so, us Midwestern folk must find our own ways to adapt. In these conditions, it takes a bit more ingenuity to look cute than simply finding the optimal combination of Brandy Melville separates. There’s a certain point when golfball-sized goosebumps just loose their appeal. Layers become essential in allowing you to walk to wherever you have to go, rather breaking out into a frenzied sprint in the doorway of the L in a manic attempt to limit exposure to the frigid air. Here, the desired look becomes not resembling a deep-sea diver, and to be able to put your arms down.

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When I finally decide to do big things today like shower and get dressed, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Inspired by my recent interviews, I decided today would be a power-clashing day. (The fact that my winter coat resembles a lumberjack’s lends itself very easily to this strategy.) I have gotten out of the habit of allowing the weather to dictate my clothing choices, and I am not ready to fully relinquish control to the elements. Braving the option of a skirt seemed reasonable. As any hearty Chicigoan knows, however, one pair of tights past Halloween just isn’t gonna cut it. So I’ll wear two, and a pair of socks to boot. There are some days where tights under jeans becomes necessary. On top, I go for long sleeves, a wool sweater and my winter coat to keep my bones from being chilled. I won’t exactly be dressed for a hike, but I’ll be able to leave the car long enough to take pictures. And some days, not getting frostbite is enough.

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Miserable as it may be sometimes, I appreciate the challenge my hometown has presented me with when choosing outfits. Changing weather and changing seasons allow for changes in the way we can and maybe are forced to dress. Yeah, we break out fall-type apparel in LA when it’s 65 and sunny, but there’s something disingenuous about putting on a scarf on only to take it off mid-afternoon because your neck’s too warm. Limitations force creativity, rather than just mimicking the creativity others have been forced into. Not everything in life is easy, or pleasant or constant, and a good Midwest winter certainly reminds us of that.

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