Friday, July 10, 2009

Ice, Ice, Baby

Picture this: It's January and snowing in Moscow and you're walking across the Red Square to the Saint Basil's Cathedral. As the image is taking shape somewhere in the walls of your mind what exactly do you picture yourself wearing? Is it a luxurious wool skirt topped with a bright red cashmere turtleneck along side over the knee boots and a fur caplet? Or, is it a sweatshirt elegantly juxtaposed with snow pants and Ugg boots? Even in our most nebulous dreams (I bet a lot of us pictured this scene without even knowing what the Red Square looks like) our mind meticulously chooses our wardrobe for that particular moment (if you've never pictured yourself walking along the Champs-Elysées in a beret than you are just depriving yourself.) Yet our mind does not actively take in the windchill factor (a skirt in a Russian winter?) in these moments of delusional reverie, but the question is should they?

In photographs across the blogosphere (The Satorialist and Garance Dore for example) you see pictures of youths in Berlin in punkish streetwear, refined ladies in Moscow in skirts and elbow length gloves and Parisian coquettes in ankle booties and a bodycon dress. Despite the fact that it's winter, these nameless subjects dress for there mood. The weather plays a key role in the process but not the sole role. It is more of an adviser than a dictator. Which is why I find people's response of my going to Northwestern slightly surprising. I think at least everyone who I've told that I'm going to Northwestern has elicited a response similar to "You know, Chicago get's really cold!" I used to believe that my irritation to these predictable responses was just part of extensive collection of neuroses, like the way I can't stand people touching my hair or my utter aversion to feet. But I have recently found out that I am not alone, on Facebook there is a whole group (case in point, they really do serve cathartic purposes) devoted to my neuroses felicitously titled "Yes damit, I KNOW Chicago gets really cold, now shut the hell up about it!" Now these meterologist-esque and informative responses seem to be perfectly acceptable segways to a conversation, except when they go on how it gets so blood freezing cold that the winter becomes dreadfully unbearably, that one must stay inside most of the times wearing Northfaces and Ugg boots perpetually.

Now this is where my irritation starts to turn to a light simmer. I mean must cold weather be synonymous with the "It's Sunday and I've got a the flu" outfit? Can't there be a balance between the ever famous duo of fashion and function? According to a former U Chicago student and a present Michiganite resident the answer is no. Upon asking my cousin if wearing skirts with tights was pushing it in the winter, she started to laugh. She looked at me seriously and said, "Heba, if you dress like that in Chicago you will die." This to me sounds like an exaggeration. I mean how do those statuesque Russian residents dress so elegantly while strolling through St. Petersburg? I bet Anna Karenina wasn't wearing a Puffy Coat and a face mask that's for sure.

Photo Credit Photo Credit
Now which one would you choose?

To me it seems like a question of mind over matter. Wearing a skirt with wool cable knit tights doesn't seem completely ludicrous to me. But from the bemused looks I was receiving from my cousin and my sister you would think that I was suggesting making snow angels in hotpants. If Anna Karenina can dress alluringly in a Russian winter than I think we all have the potential to, even in the windy city. After relaying these thoughts to my cousin she said, "It's going to be Chicago vs. Heba and Chicago's going to kick your ass." And well, I can't say that I'm not excited for that face off.

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