I won’t pretend that the Midwest is a fashionable place but I try to give Iowa a kick of style even if the winters here threaten to cramp my glamour. Since the mildest days here at Grinnell College are harsher than even the worst days I experienced in Arlington, Virginia, I definitely have to improvise my outfits as much as possible to ensure that I’m both cozy AND put together. Being confident about pulling off a look and knowing how to shop for winter clothes are the two skills that keep me polished no matter how many feet of snow I have to cope with everyday.
While other students may resort to wearing layers of T-shirts and grungy hoodies with sweats to keep warm outside, I always want to look more presentable (and less uniform!) than that. Ever since about seventh grade, I’ve clung to my bohemian style. I love Victorian details mixed with gypsy and ‘80s dance flair for an overall eclectic look. My philosophy is that nice clothes don’t have to be pricey. Most of the items in my wardrobe cost under $10—including coats and boots—and the few pieces that were more expensive than that were gifts from my parents. I only buy clothes when they’re marked down at retail stores and, because I have no problem wearing used clothing, I also frequent thrift shops for unusual finds to work into my vintage look. In general, I’ve found that winter clothes isn’t that much more expensive than summer clothes if you’re smart about your shopping habits.
Today, as it snows and snows across campus, I’m dressed to impress while still managing to stay warm. On top, I’m wearing a burgundy cap-sleeved shirt with a sweetheart neckline layered over a lace camisole in salmon. I’m also sporting a streamlined velvet peasant skirt in a deep shade of brown and leggings underneath for some extra insulation. I’m the only one aware of those leggings because I’m wearing tall cowgirl boots pulled over them so that the top of the boots lines up perfectly with the hem of the skirt. No leggings in sight. For jewelry, I have a long beaded necklace that my boyfriend bought me for Christmas and a pair of amber-colored earrings. I throw on a fleece jacket, a coat, mittens, a hat, and a big scarf—all color-coordinated but not completely matching—whenever I head outside. The key is to use layers to your advantage and create interesting ensembles with a variety of pieces.
Being stylish and looking good doesn’t mean that you have to be impractical to the point of absurdity. I manage to walk out into the Iowa winter without regretting what I put on that morning because I always take my personal preferences and the weather into account so I never feel frumpy or cold.