Monday, February 10, 2014

Dressing Sensibly for the Occasion

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Cider Summit here in Chicago at Navy Pier with my girlfriend. She's a huge cider fan, and I generally am not, so I decided to really cater to her interests as a Christmas present, and am glad I did. The event was a blast, and I got to taste ciders that were made and used in ways I had never heard of (my favorites were a hoppy cider, and one brewed with bitters that clocked in at 18% ABV and is meant as a cocktail mixer). 

I really had no idea what to expect as far as the venue and dress code went. The website didn't give a ton of background, and while I've been to Navy Pier many times, I hadn't been in this part of the building before. Add to that fact that we were maybe supposed to get some heavy snow right around when we'd be heading back, and I was in a bit of a conundrum as to what to wear!

In cases like these, I think it's always your best bet to go as sensible and as versatile as possible. I kept that in mind as I picked out my 'fit, and I'll break down the decisions I made. Here is what I ended up with:

The most important thing I decided I wanted to make sure I included was some solid layering. It was cold outside, but not too cold, and the venue itself, while indoors, could have been anywhere from toasty warm to shiveringly cold (I was at a beer festival last winter that had huge, industrial doors opening to the outside, and while they closed them after the event started, the place never really warmed up). Therefore, I thought layers would offer me options to deal with any level of warmth in comfort.

I started with a J.Crew OCBD that I just got off eBay. Thanks to having a good knowledge of my measurements I was able to get this perfectly-fitting, already tailored shirt for next to nothing. It's got a red stripe that is a nice shake-up from my standard whites and blues. I figured it would make as good a base layer as any. If you aren't as lucky to find one used, Brooks Brothers has some of the best Oxford shirts around.

On top of that, I decided to wear my chunky cardigan from H&M (it looks like they are all out of the wool option, but they have it's lighter twin here in cotton). I'm not a huge fan of H&M, but this is one of my favorite pieces. The wool/acrylic blend is soft and warm, but most importantly it comes on and off easily, and light enough to cart around if need be. This would be my deciding middle-piece, depending on how high they cranked the heat. 

For pants I went with slim dark Levis, my go-to for the weekends. I knew this wouldn't be a formal event by any means, so denim was a perfectly safe choice, but I kept it sharp with the dark blue wash, just cuz that's how I roll. Just to be safe, I threw some long underwear underneath, opting for cotton over wool so I wouldn't overheat once I was inside.

I think I was really smart to leave the heavy wool jacket at home, and instead opted for a lighter, waxed cotton parka from Frank and Oak. Like I said, the weather wasn't horribly cold, and the forecast of possible snow made the waxed cotton a great choice. I was a little worried I'd be chilly, but thankfully the OCBD/cardigan combo underneath gave me some good insulation. 

A pair of L.L. Bean boots on the bottom finished things off. The snow didn't hit as bad as I was expecting, so I might have been ok with something a little less heavy duty. Even still, I'm happy with this choice, as I wasn't concerned about them getting scuffed in the crowd, or spilled on and mussed up as I got (admittedly) a little bit sloppy. Mmmmm....cider....anyway! Rocked these warm (but cheap!) boot socks from Target, which have been my go-to this winter.

Perhaps more important than what I did wear is what I didn't wear. For example, I was a little tempted to rock a blazer instead of the cardigan, but the sweater was definitely the way to go. Aside from the fact that a blazer would have been far more annoying to carry if it was warm enough to need to take it off, I also guarantee I would have spilled on it, and a sweater is far easier to clean than a jacket that would need a trip to the dry cleaners. 

Also, like I said, while I may have been a bit cozier on the commute, I was smart with my choice to forgo my wool duffle coat that I've been loving all winter. The heavy wool coat would have been a pain to lug around dry, but if it had gotten bogged down and wet with snow, having to carry it around the event would have been a huge damper.

Even the shirt was a smart, and deliberate choice over the other options in my closet. When I wear a cardigan, I'm often inclined to wear some of my shirts that are queued up for  a trip to the tailor as they run a bit baggier. The cardigan hides the fact that they are loose around the waist, and I get to wear some pieces I wouldn't be wearing on their own, purely due to fit. However, I stuck with a slim shirt that I love wearing on it's own, just in case it ended up being so warm that I wanted to ditch the cardigan.

In the end, the point here is that this is in no way a flashy look, or even very fashion-forward at all, but there was still a lot of thought put into each piece. The end-game was casual and easy-going, but hit all the right notes, both in terms of style and functionality. The best part of having thought this through so well was that, once I got going, I didn't have to think about my clothing at all and could just enjoy myself! 

Here are a few pics we shot while enjoying ourselves at the event:

Starting things off!
Hmm...picture is a bit dark, but it's hard to criticize when your photographer is a random stranger!
Wow, JUST noticed I took a picture of the Seattle logo, not the Chicago one...this was towards the end of the event...
Of course things got a little silly...
...but we just like to have fun!

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