Slaying the Vortex: Your Guide to Winter Fashion

Slaying the Vortex: Your Guide to Winter Fashion

What a winter it has been. Not only have we been experiencing extreme cold (including the second coldest day in Chicago history), but we have also been suffering from a fashion drought. This isn’t because there’s a shortage of captivating and brilliant clothes to wear, but because of how hard it is to find the motivation to be fashionable while trying to survive a polar vortex.

There is no shame in admitting that when it’s this cold, style can go out the window. What most people are worried about is covering every square inch of skin with the warmest fabric one has in their closet. However, fashion lovers must all come together to make sure that winters in Chicago are not the place where fashion comes to die. Where there is a will to be warm and fashionable, there is a way — and it’s much easier than you think.

Remember your individuality

Fashion cannot exist without it. Unfortunately this is something that people often forget about in the winter, because options can feel more limited than they are in other seasons. Still, there are so many ways to maintain your own personal style without shelving it until spring.

Chicagoan Ella McOwen struggled with finding individuality when choosing winter wear. She knows firsthand the pressures of settling for a gray or black parka instead of having more fun with her style choices.

“There was an adjustment period for me where I had to learn that it’s good to express yourself and that it’s something to be proud of,” McOwen said. ”But there was a period of time where I felt like I could only wear one unique piece in a certain situation, as opposed to dressing how I want on a day to day basis.”

Dressing how you want on a day to day basis is something to remember every season. At times it can feel like the weather is controlling you, your fashion choices, and the inspiration to pursue your style. Although basic colors will always be more common for winter wear, that does not mean you have to look the same as everyone else. There are small choices that you can make to help you stay true to the most fashionable you.

Even if choosing the most unique piece of clothing possible and making a statement every day  is not up your alley, fashion does not always mean standing out like a peacock. Instead, it is always about wearing what you look great in.

Choose a flattering coat

Most people only want to spend money on one really effective winter coat, which is why we have to make sure it fits great. One thing that looks great on everyone is a structured long coat or parka. If you don’t know where to start, choose a coat that you can wear to a dinner party, an 8 a.m. class or your little brothers hockey game. While a colorful puffer jacket can be super cool and retro, coats that hit your mid-thigh tend to have cleaner lines. Those lines will elongate you and make your outfit look more cohesive, whereas a shorter coat can interrupt your outfit, making it look like your outfit’s weird cousin instead of an essential part of your look.

Although a longer a dress coat can seem less functional  they can actually be versatile enough to dress up or down. Having a coat that looks great in any situation will keep you looking stylish and feeling confident. They’re sophisticated, adorable and they cover your legs so  you don’t have to suffer in the cold while you wait for the brown line to arrive.

“I don’t think I should have to sacrifice looking good to stay warm.” McOwen said. “I think I tend to go for more of a statement piece. It’s fun to see how other people react. I think it inspires others to branch out.”

A straight coat like McOwen’s will give you that elongated and oversized effect that is chic, comfortable, and functional. If you prefer to accentuate your waist — a lot of winter coats, both long and short, have built in belts do just the trick. Photo: Jaylyn Jimenez, 14 East.

It is true that there is no need to sacrifice functionality for fashion. Regardless of whether or not you wish to make a statement with a fun print or color, choosing a flattering coat is the most important thing to remember this winter.


Let’s face it — sometimes we’re going to have to bust out the heavy duty, fur lined waterproof boots that will protect your toes from feeling like they’re freezing and burning at the same time. They’re also great at keeping that gray sludge from out of your socks. However, there will be days that allow for leather ankle boots like the ones pictured above. When random nice days occur, take them and run. They are a nice break in between having to break out your heavy winter gear, and you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite fall boots for the day.

A good heeled ankle boot will easily make your winter outfit look like careful thought was put into it. When picking boots, it’s all about what looks and feels good to you. If you’re wondering what’s in right now, here’s a list of the trendiest boots of 2019. It includes pictures of shoes fashion enthusiasts will be wearing, as well as how they can be styled. Though the examples given in the article are quite pricey, similar styles will be everywhere this year and can be found at stores like TJ Maxx or Marshalls.

Accessorize with color

One of my favorite reads this season has been this Vogue article which explains the ins and outs of using color during the winter. There is no need to limit oneself to the monochromatic use of gray or black just because it’s cold. If you prefer not to purchase a coat in such a bold color, try switching out different colorful accessories like hats, scarves and gloves.

Photo: Jaylyn Jimenez, 14 East.

DePaul sophomore Anthony Okocha wears a blue ski jacket as a statement piece during the cold months. “A lot of colors will tend to look better depending on how it looks outside. “Personally, I look for colors that pop,” Okocha said. “I was lucky to find this coat through a friend that has a resale shop. I was instantly in love with the blue.”

The key to all of this is finding something that you love to wear. It can be hard to get a hang of what is fashionable and what is not, but that skill comes with time. The most important thing is making sure you that you look and feel confident in what you wear.

Remember these tips if you need a little guidance during the remainder of this brutal, never-ending Chicago winter. Fashion is not an exclusive club for the rich or the “perfect” people that you see in magazines. It does not only exist in fashion capitals of the world. We can let fashion thrive right here in Chicago on a college campus in any kind of weather.


Header image by Natalie Wade, 14 East