Ask the Bean: Covering Up Without Looking Casual

May 1, 2010 • Magazine

Ask the Bean: Covering Up Without Looking Casual

Ask the Bean: Covering Up Without Looking Casual

Mon, 2000-05-01 10:00

Dear Bean,

This is regarding dress-up attire, especially for after work events. I always have my cocktail dress, shoes, handbag and everything ready for the big party. Then there is the issue of the weather in Chicago. It’s spring and it’s still chilly and I hate to ruin the look by putting a big trench coat on. But it is still too cold to grab a little sweater or pashmina. Any ideas on what to wear over my party dress but not look inappropriate on the “L”?

Lost on Outerwear

Dear Lost:

Chicago is such a wonderful and beautiful city, but unfortunately weather usually does get in the way when we try to match it with our outfits. To battle the “Windy City” without banishing style, I suggest a few “tween-season” pieces to get you through spring in Chicagoland.

For an evening affair, the cover-up certainly works itself as part of your outfit. I personally love trench coats with an evening flare. You mentioned your ‘big trench’ in your letter. Perhaps you should look for one that shouts a bright color and is made in an “eveningwear” material such as silk. A 3/4-length sleeved bright-colored trench with puff shoulders and a bubble-skirt bottom would be gorgeous paired with your little black dress and heels. And that wouldn’t be big in bulk, but rather in head-turning glam!

It is still a bit too chilly for your Pashmina, so why not add some sleeves to the ensemble? I’m obsessed with cardigan shawls (shawls with the add-on of sleeves). You can don it as a warm and cozy sweater during your city commute and then unwrap it to act as a luxurious shawl if you get chilled at your fancy locale. A kimono or poncho could also work in this way – albeit a poncho may be too casual during the event, however you can always carry a thin cashmere wrap within your purse in case you need it.

I also love the heavier cape jackets as an option for outerwear. They offer the same weather protection as a coat with the added luxury of the cape-like affect over your arms. It’s a grand way to enter a room without sacrificing your comfort outdoors. You can also think ‘jacket’ and don a fancy blazer. A sequined boyfriend blazer could even add a touch of masculinity and power to your glamorous attire.

And finally, you have fur. We’re not in heavy fur coat season anymore; however a car coat style fur in a light color will not only add a skip of fun to your look, but it will also guarantee warmth and envious style both indoors and out.

1. Anna Sui Nylon Ruffle Trench Coat $550
2. DKNY Cozy Cashmere-Blend Cardigan $195
3. Crumpet Asymmetric Cashmere Poncho $565
4. BESS Studded Silk Kimono $370
5. DKNY Wool-Blend Double-Breasted Cape $595
6. Ashish Sequined Boyfriend-Fit Blazer $1020
7. 3.1 Phillip Lim Rex Rabbit Coat $2500

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