My father loves to tell the story of the time we went to the mall and I insisted on wearing a bright red bonnet—a part of a complete nightgown set, if truth be told. “But Nicole,” he said pleadingly. “Everyone will stare at you and say, ‘Look at that funny little girl in that little red bonnet!'”
“Oh no, daddy,” I said reassuringly. “They’ll say, “Look at the beautiful little girl in her pretty red bonnet!'”
While I certainly wouldn’t recommend stepping out in a red bonnet these days, I did have one thing right: I knew what I liked from a very early age. The bonnet was a fabulous choice because it made me feel beautiful. I still apply this rule on a daily basis. There are a few pieces I own—namely a pink fur satin-lined jacket with pleather pockets and a stunningly bright yellow spring trench—that make others cringe to see me in them. I not only wear them in public, but stand a little taller in them, proudly defying anyone who may glance over in shock or disgust. It really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of your clothes if you feel great in them: That’s what fashion is all about.
Take it from these local fashionistas who wholeheartedly agree that it’s not always what you’re wearing, but how you feel and how you wear it.
Haute Closet owner and stylist, April Francis: “I own a pair of vintage eighties Karl Lagerfeld for Chloe pants that no one likes. Lindsey Madigan hates them. I love them because they are insane and the whole harem-pant trend followed about two seasons after I had picked them up from The Garment Room and rocked the shit out of them.”
Fashion Director for Randolph Street Market, Nena Ivon: “I couldn’t possibly live without [my black cashmere turtlenecks!]…probably the entire world is sick of seeing me in them. I wear them winter and summer (sleeveless then!!!). I buy what I love and keep my clothes (mostly black), a very long time.”
CelebTV.com’s Kelli Zink: “I love my fanny pack! No joke. It’s from American Apparel and in the summertime I wear it out to patios, bbqs and I even wear it while running races. Hands free fun for everyone!”
Boutique owner and stylist, Trevian Kutti: “My favorite thing that others can’t stand that I wear 24/7 are my sunglasses. Night or day doesn’t matter. If others attempt wearing shades at night, they look stupid. They are a natural part of my swag, so it gives me an edge because I am equipped with a look others can’t pull off.”
Not feeling brave enough to handle the stares while sporting pink fur? Try blaring a bad-ass chick like Rihanna or Gaga on your Ipod—it’s a surefire way to transform the Chicago sidewalks into a runway where people are supposed to stare. (Nicole Briese)