Short shorts can be the base of sexy getup or the culprit of a fashion no-no. I think the key to pulling off the bare-legged look (other than the obvious—toned gams) is what you've got going on above the shorts. Translation: When showing a lotta leg, it’s probably wise to show less arm, chest, and midriff.
That’s why this oversized top—made right here in the city by Edith Hart—will soon find its way into my closet. With a bit of understated detail (scooped neckline, dolman sleeves), it's the ideal mate to my new lacy mini-shorts. Now, to work on these pasty-white legs...
$60 at Edith Hart, 1917 N. Damen Ave., 773-252-3350
Yes, the mercury really reads 80-something today. I’ll bet that, like me, this stretch of faux-summer has you taking serious stock of your warm-weather wardrobe. Now is the time to figure out which key pieces you’ll need to be ready for barbecues, music festivals, and afternoons on Big Star’s patio.
One item I plan to add pronto: This tie-dye knit dress from Billabong.
If this summer is anything like last year’s seemingly endless scorcher, I’ll once again be living in roomy shift dresses that don’t cling when I’m glowing and—this is key—don’t resemble the dreaded muumuu. With a roomy (but not shapeless) fit, crochet detailing, and the handkerchief hem that seems to be the ticket in dresses this year, this frock has earned itself a space in my closet.
Now, onto the quest for footwear. Not that there’s a huge rush—rain in tomorrow’s forecast and highs in the 50s for the next several days mean there’s still plenty of time to shop before the real summer shows up. Sigh.
$60 at Billabong, Water Tower Place, 835 N. Michigan Ave., 312-867-7249
Warning: Do not carry this bag unless you’re comfortable being accosted by strangers.
I was enamored by the tote—with a rugged finish of coarse Bangladeshi fiber and smooth, dyed-leather straps—the minute I saw it. But after the umpteenth admirer stopped me to ask where I bought it (and more than one going as far as copping a feel!), I knew I’d picked a winner.
As with all of my favorite accessories, this one comes with a cool back story: LA-based Apolis partnered with Chicago’s very own Haberdash to create a wearable ad for its “Local + Global” project, which is aimed at empowering people through opportunity. (Check it out.)
I can’t wait to carry the oversized, waterproof tote to farmers’ markets this summer, packing it with produce as I stroll from vendor to vendor. That is, if I manage to dodge the bag’s admirers.
$68 at korvue.shophaberdash.com
My fashion-forward girlfriends have been rocking oversized wristwatches for ages. Although the style looks fab on my gal pals, this is one of those trends I’d passed off as “not for me.” I envisioned slapping one on my scrawny wrist and instantly achieving a senior citizen/bag lady appearance. (Not my desired style).
But last week, I caught wind of Chicago-based 1:Face Watch, which donates its proceeds to a half-dozen worthy charities. The sharp watches have a tempered glass face that handily doubles as a mirror and is—you guessed it—jumbo. But heck, I will risk looking like an Olsen twin in the name of charity.
The smooth rubber bands come in a rainbow of hues, each of which supports a different cause. One white watch feeds 16 children, 14 bright pink watches pay for one woman’s mammogram, and so on. Figuring that since I was going big, I may as well go bold too, I chose fire-engine red. In the process, I helped an AIDS patient get access to treatment.
And you know what? That big watch looks great on my little arm, if I do say so myself.
$40 at 1facewatch.com
Last Thursday, I—along with 95 percent of the city’s population, or so it seemed—checked out Fête Chicago’s nighttime food and design market. Through the sea of movers and shakers, I stole a glimpse of Chicago-based metalsmith Leah Ball's tableful of shiny baubles and beelined over for a closer examination.
These curious creations are unlike anything I’ve seen before—bronze beauties crafted by Ball herself, who became enamored with the hardened byproducts of molten metal while apprenticing at a bronze foundry.
The illustrator/sculptor/graphic designer fashions these drippings into a collection of elegant accessories, including my current obsession: these eye-catching gnarled hoops. Brilliant.
$65 at Eskell, 1509 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-486-0830
We all hate on the CTA, but there’s no denying that it's part of what makes our city so fetchingly flawed.
I love this hand-stitched ode to the El, which turns the transit map into a wearable geometric work of art befitting of any true blue Chicagoan. For 12 years, locally produced Transit Tees has been silk screening and embroidering cleverly embellished transportation-focused styles that also include station-specific designs (shout out to Chicago Blue Line!).
Whether strolling the lakefront path or trying to maintain my composure on a jam-packed 66 bus, I’d be proud to sport this tee.
$44 at tattooedtees.com
Last week, I read an interview with the ultra-stylish Jessica Alba, who proclaimed the fitted blazer a spring wardrobe essential. She’s absolutely correct: When pulled on over a maxi dress or paired with pastel jeans and heels, it’s an instant dose of sophistication. Thus launched my weeklong search for the perfect specimen.
I spent my lunch hours scouring the Mag Mile’s department stores and boutiques, sifting through racks of chic but—yikes—expensive blazers, struggling to find something non-chintzy for less than $100. Things looked bleak as I wandered through Zara. But then, in a rare moment of retail genius, I beelined for the kids’ department.
There it hung: Amongst the boys’ duds, a lightweight checked number complete with sassy elbow patches. The sleeves, when rolled up, reveal a contrasting pattern that adds even more pizzazz. And it’s no Armani, but the fabric doesn’t scream “cheapo.” I wear a size 2 and the “11-12 years” size fits like a dream.
Sorry, boys. But you don’t get to keep this one all to yourselves.
$55.90 at Zara
There’s no quicker way to kill your zen than schlepping your clunky rolled-up yoga mat home after class. Do you toss it under your shoulder, bumping into passersby with your newly sprouted appendage? Or do you attempt to shove it into your purse or backpack, forcing yourself into an awkward balancing act as the thing wobbles to and fro?
I’ve fought it for long enough, but at last I concede: It’s time to invest in a yoga strap.
But like the all-important iPhone case, this little sling is a form of self-expression. Boring old black simply doesn’t cut it—so I found a lovely swirl-patterned version called the Dsenyo Sling. It’s got adjustable Velcro closures to fit whichever size mat you’re toting, and it has a nice long strap so you don’t choke yourself in transit.
Best of all, like everything at Greenheart Shop, it comes with a story: Crafted in Malawi under fair trade-business practices, this little accessory helps create employment opportunities for industrious Africans. Om yeah!
$20 at Greenheart Shop, 1911 W. Division St., 312-264-1625
Surely you’ve noticed that the stationary bike, the lakefront, and even the grocery store are overrun with Lululemon-clad clones (myself included). We’ve all shunned the odor-holding, unflattering gym clothes of yore in favor of functional, flattering, and smartly constructed workout gear.
There has to be a suitable Lulu alternative, but darned if I’ve had any luck finding one. That’s why I’m doing backflips (and Downward Dogs) over Swirlgear, a one-month-old online shop offering duds to sweat in, courtesy of South Loop-based entrepreneur/marathoner Lacie Whyte. In addition to its obvious cuteness (which, let’s be honest, is of utmost importance), this top is moisture-wicking, reflective, and cut to minimize chafing.
I’ll spin to that.
$49, available for pre-order at swirlgear.com
My neverending search for statement jewelry recently led me to this sleek piece. Dubbed a “dog tag” but a far cry from a clunky militaryesque number, it’s a silky-smooth slab of dark-stained cherrywood (my pick, but it also comes in a blonder rosewood) with gorgeous grain detail. A vertical silver stripe runs the length of the pendant, and the whole thing dangles from a simple sterling-silver chain.
Launched by Homer Glen–based Ryan and Lauren Granger, who noticed a hole in the market for hip, wooden jewelry, Tinsel & Timber’s roster of charms also includes initials, animal silhouettes, and states, all made out of responsibly harvested wood. Tinsel & Timber also donates a portion of each sale to—naturally—the Arbor Day Foundation.
$78 at tinselandtimber.com
About this blog
Style Sheet is Chicago magazine’s blog devoted to all things stylish. Every weekday our trusty columnists track down the best offerings in men’s and women’s apparel, beauty, and grooming so you can just sit back and click.
Carly Boers | An associate editor at Chicago magazine, Boers loves a bargain and is addicted to new jeans and cute accessories. Look for her $100-or-less Cheap & Chic pick on Tuesdays.
Heiji Choy Black | Always on the hunt for the new, the exceptional, and the avant garde, Black edits Chicago magazine’s fashion coverage. Look for her Fashion Forward pick on Fridays. Twitter: @heijiblack