Circa 1998, I purchased a pair of American Eagle wide-leg trousers—a plaid pattern, drawstring waist, and not the least bit flattering. I sported them proudly through the hallways of my high school. They didn’t make the move to college with me, so they’re still in my old dresser at my parents’ house. Now, whenever I visit the folks, the first thing I do is slip into those beauties. By now, they have become a joke among my family, but there’s just something about those flowy legs and the soft cotton against my skin—especially in this day (decade?) of skinny jeans.
I’m not sure (and I didn’t much care) whether wide-legs were even “in” back in ’98, but this season, they certainly seem to be! I adore these easy breezy pants from Anthro. The graphic design and pop of pink are effortlessly summery. They’re totally lounge-worthy, but pair them with wedges and some wrist candy (these, perhaps), and—voila!—you’re suddenly chic.
$68 at anthropologie.com
I used my grandmother’s brooch to fasten the sash I wore to my wedding reception on Saturday. You’d better believe I was feeling proud of my craftiness until yesterday, when I came across this stroke of genius: a vintage brooch cast in bronze to take on a new life as a gorgeous necklace.
For the past year, Chicago artist Lana Nikolenko has been repurposing objects such as cuff links, pins, and other vintage finds (even the occasional shark tooth) to handcraft such baubles and sell them on her Etsy page. She recently debuted her line, MadeIn, at the Do Division fest. If we’re lucky, we’ll be seeing her creations at more festivals this summer.
$60 at MadeIn
One of the great joys of springtime is packing away the tired leather boots for the season. Out come the strappy sandals, peep-toes, and cute wedges.
Consequently, in comes the need for pedicures. But if you’re like me, your bi-weekly pedi appointment is the easiest thing to eliminate from the crammed to-do list, meaning your toes may not always be ready for their closeups.
Here's a solution: These closed-toed, lace-up cuties from Dolce Vita—the perfect sandal/flat hybrid. When I spotted them on my coworker’s feet last week, I was immediately smitten. When I learned they were affordable, I had to have them. When I found out she scored them from Penelope’s, I canceled my pedi appointment and headed to Wicker Park to get my own.
$85 at Penelope’s, 1913 W. Division St., 773-395-2351
For a long time, effortlessly-tied lightweight scarves were the domain of French women, who were seemingly born with these things on, leaving us Americans to look upon them with the kind of fear and admiration we generally reserve for the NFL and Gwyneth Paltrow.
And then we got bolder (also, the Gap started selling lightweight scarves). Now we, too, swirl fabric around our necks, giving us that certain je ne sais quoi that those French women thought they owned. Touché, French women!
One particularly lovely line of scarves, Burrow & Hive, is designed right here in Chicago by sisters Newell Freivogel and Sally Gates, and hand-printed in India and Nepal.
Available in a variety of colors in cotton or wool/silk, the simple, nature-inspired patterns are très chic. Personally, I like the Daffodil cotton scarf shown here.
Also: If you are free, on May 29 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., you can get 60 to 90 percent off Burrow & Hive (along with items from Winifred Grace, Snow & Graham, Luxury Garage Sale, and Sofia) at a warehouse sale that Vosges Haut-Chocolat is hosting at the Chicago Artist’s Coalition, 217 N. Carpenter in the West Loop.
$75 at Space519, 900 N. Michigan Ave., 312-751-1519; or at burrowandhive.com
Chicago-based bracelet e-tailer BusyWrist has a motto—”the busier the better." I can get behind that motto. And, thanks to this company, I can wear it on my sleeve.
The idea is to go gangbusters mixing, matching, and stacking bracelets. The site is packed with wrist candy made of semi-precious stones, leather, and all sorts of prettiness, but it’s the pre-selected “stacks” that won me over.
There are those of us who wonder: “Does this clash in the effortlessly stylish way, or the trainwreck way?” Don't worry. The three-packs (which look awesome together but are far from matchy-matchy) are the way to go.
Because who has time to stew over bracelet coordination?
$50 at busywrist.com
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
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