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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Seen on the Streets: Legwarmers

Recently we were waiting for the bus on a dismal, wintry Chicago morning with eight inches of gray snow on the ground when a striking young woman caught our eye. We looked twice not because she was radiantly beautiful in a duffle coat and muffler (she was), but because of her creative shoes. Her indigo skinny jeans not enough for the stinging winds, she had pulled on thick, bulky knit legwarmers the color of an Army horseblanket over a pair of ancient Doc Martens.

The effect was a cross between insouciant New Wave '80s throwback and something out of Patton ... if Patton had commanded the Arctic theater. ("Where are your leggings?" "Leggings? Well, hell, general, sir, I'm a cook." "You're a soldier.") Either way it was a recipe for soldiering through an unfortunate weekday morning with style.

There is something so exciting about winter dressing. There's a challenge to it, a taunt from the elements. Balancing the decidedly un-sexy, figure-covering heft and bulk of downs and fleeces and wools with an outfit that belies the figure beneath. This look did it for us. With it's hodge-podge blues, taupes and browns it came off as spontaneous and ad hoc, yet the thickly knitted folds, tight jeans and beat-to-hell short boots created a complicated interplay of thick and thin, clean and jumbled, old and new; the resulting silhouette was confident and savvy.

We didn't have twenty-year-old Docs and vintage legwarmers in our store, so we concocted a look from HUE legwarmers and the Bellingham boot by Palladium. The cableknit 'warmers had the right texture and we love the optional stirrup that buttons under the heel. It has a vaguely WWI military feel especially when paired with a winter trench. The Bellingham is a harness boot gone native with a double-strapped rand and top shaft buckle. The antiqued grommets and buckles and all that leather reproduced the industrial grime of those vintage Docs we'd admired. We especially loved the criss-crossing of straps between the rand and stirup, a deliciously complex jumble.

Just because the weather's miserable doesn't mean our outfits have to be. A little creativity can go a long way toward making our outfits fun and versatile. Take a vote below and let us know what you think of this look ... or write in your own!

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