Sub-zero temperatures have descended upon Chicago, and it is time to bundle up. As much as we’d love to cozy up in leggings and sweatshirts in front of the fire every day, these mamas have gotta put down the peppermint mochas and get to work. However, it can be really easy to get stuck in a cardigan rut from October to March, so we want to make switching things up our winter priority. This week, we’re looking at the must-haves for the working mom’s wardrobe during these chilly months.
Winter Essential #1: the turtleneck dress
I’ve long had a difficult relationship with turtlenecks. It started in my toddler years, when my defiance and outrage involved tearing them off and sobbing about the injustice of choking the life out of a small human with cotton. Then in high school, turtlenecks became all the rage, cropping up in many senior portrait photos, and I succumbed to the beast of adolescent peer pressure by over-wearing them, all the while holding back my utter disdain for the wool collar threatening to crush my trachea. Now I’ve learned that not all turtlenecks are torture devices; it’s all about finding the right turtleneck. For me, it means more of a mock-turtleneck that leaves a little room between my body and the material. Once I figured this out, I realized how flattering a turtleneck can be, particularly on a broad-shouldered broad like me.
Winter Essential #2: the pencil skirt
I spent most of my adult life thinking that A-Line was the only cut for me. I was all about hiding those hips under the modern-day equivalent of a hoop skirt. I used to yearn for the poodle-skirt craze of the 1950’s, desperately hoping they’d come back in style so I could swish and sashay away without fear of anyone catching sight of my saddlebags or ass-cellulite. The mere thought of putting on a pencil skirt overwhelmed me; why on earth would any curvy girl want to draw attention to her hips and rear with such a ridiculous silhouette? I was happy to leave the pencil skirt to the skinny girls and go about my A-Line life. But then I actually put one on, and I absolutely could not believe how well it worked for me. It’s a concept that somehow defies both common sense and physics, but it’s a paradox that is simply true: pencil skirts are great for curvy girls. The high waist draws attention to your narrowest point (much like the A-Line), but the hip-hugging shape accentuates the natural curves of your body without hiding them. And thanks to Spanx in the summer and tights in the winter, saddle bags and cellulite are easily smoothed out, leaving simply a lovely and natural outline. Whether you go with a blouse tucked in, a long sweater, a blazer, or a belted cardigan, the pencil skirt will balance you perfectly.
Pencil Skirt options (amazing price points on these):
Winter Essential #3: a patterned blouse
This is not the kind of thing I’d wear solo to waltz outside in freezing temps, but it is the perfect layering piece for winter. It adds visual interest when paired with a simple blazer, sweater, vest, or pea coat. Just a little bit of sleeve, collar, or tail sticking out ties your solid basics together. I love the black-and-white option because it goes with pretty much any other color I layer on top of it. And here’s the other bonus: the patterned blouse is a stand-alone statement top if your workplace, like mine, gets overheated. I am a firm believer in layering, mostly because sitting down at my computer during a prep period feels like I’m ice fishing in the Arctic, yet jumping about my classroom, gesticulating wildly as I teach feels like sunbathing in the Mediterranean. I have to be ready to shed some layers so that I’m not that weird sweaty teacher with pit stains and a red face. No one wants that in his face five days a week.
Patterned Blouse options:
Winter Essential #4: Cozy Scarves
Ok, so I know we talk about scarves all the time, but there really is no better winter essential. Especially in our building where you never know what the temperature is going to be. It’s nice to be able to snuggle in or have the option to take it off if you’re having a hot flash, which appear to be coming on more frequently these days. The scarf is also a must because you add a pop of color to an otherwise neutral outfit, which I love. You will find me throwing on a scarf about three days a week this season–especially if the weather continues the way it has this week!
Cozy Scarf Options:
Winter Essential #5: Over-The-Knee Boots
The over-the-knee boot trend is hot right now and I’m all about it. Especially in flats. I had a Frye pair years ago and wore them a total of 5 times because I always felt like they were a too out there, but these days you can’t browse Instagram without seeing at least 3 pairs on your feed! So I’m bringing them back! They look great with tights or over a skinny pair of jeans or pants, making them the perfect go-to to give your booties a break. I like to pair them with a more casual outfit to give it an extra oomph. Even a simple jeans and a t-shirt combo looks more polished with a pair of over-the-knee boots!