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Chicago Tribune 3-18-07

Chicago Tribune 3-18-07

Annette Pecora of Glencoe was more than ready for 70 degrees.

It’s just that her toes weren’t.

“My pedicure is scheduled for Saturday,” Pecora said Tuesday as she stood on Michigan Avenue—wearing closed-toe shoes—whole shopping with Desiree DeTrempe. “Of course, by then it will be 40 degrees.”

It was exactly that familiarity with fickle Mother Nature that tempered many Chicagoans’ fashion exuberance during last week’s spring like break in Chicago. Few threw caution and coats completely to warm winds. But after a miserable slog through January and February, Chicagoans lightened up for the mini-heat wave in their own mini-ways.

Chicago is a total tease,” said Emily Shih, who works for a real estate firm and was strolling in a breezy skirt on Michigan Avenue. “But you’ve got to take it while it lasts.”

Though Pecora had to wear closed-toe shoes, she trotted out her black satin espadrilles with her Big Star jeans, a blue jacket and new Lanvin gray leather bag with cobalt blue trim from Barneys New York.

DeTrempe, a Dallas transplant to Winnetka who was celebrating her birthday with Pecora, stuck with tweed pants and a light-weight long jacket but seized the opportunity to wear her suede Gucci pumps when they wouldn’t get trashed by moisture.

“I feel suede is very transitional,” DeTrempe said, “but in Chicago you have such a small window to wear it.”

Jackie Walker, a stylist and author of “I Don’t Have a Thing to Wear: The Psychology of Your Closet” (Simon and Schuster, 2003) applauds that measured response to balmy Tuesday.

“I moved to Chicago from Tampa, and I’ve only been here almost two years,” Walker said, “and so I feel this exhilaration when the sun comes out.”

But she repressed certain urges and encourages others to do the same.

“I’m not going to wear strappy sandals in Marc h. I’m not going to wear white. No polka dots.”

For clients in Florida, she changes over closets March 1.

In Chicago, she waits until April 1.

“No straw, no sundresses, no flip-flops,” she advised. “Why would you want to start that so early anyway? Because by the time you get into the season you’re tired of it.”

With the possible exception, as precedent amply shows, of flip-flops.

For the next heat wave

Besides a pre-emptive pedicure for the next heat wave, may we suggest prepping you closet? Skip the extremes and go for transitional clothes and accessories that hit the trends. And, when in a dilemma, keep in mind that jeans and crisp white shirts are all-season winners, says stylist Jackie Walker. Other transitional pieces she recommends for women.

An open-weave crocheted scarf

An elongated sweater that works like a jacket

A short trench coat

Sleek leather or micro fiber boots (not heavy ones)

A handbag in a light-colored leather

Peep toe suede pumps or flats

Ballet flats

Walker offers a guideline to keep women out of transitional trouble: “A woman should have 75 percent of her closet in tops and 25 percent in bottoms. If I go into a woman’s closet and she does not have a strong top classification, she has nothing to wear.” Plus, the bottom is usually tougher to fit, so you should spend more time and money on bottoms but buy fewer of them, she said. “A top-driven wardrobe will change your look, give you options.”

Desiree DeTrempe of Winnetka (left) and Annette Pecora of Glencoe put spring in their step: DeTrempe by wearing suede Gucci pumps on a rare dry day, and Pecora with Via Spiga espadrilles. (For her, open-toe shoes weren’t an option because her pedicure was still four days away.)


“I’m actually kind of hot right now,” Amanda Tressner of St. Louis said, despite her knit striped dress — $4 on clearance from JC Penney—with a short-sleeved, cropped jacket over it. “This dress is not so springy, but that’s why I’m here—to shop!”


 For Emily Shih of Chicago, this wasn’t the first time this season that she had worn her breezy white skirt. But, “For the first time, I can be weather appropriate.”  It was the first nice day so I brought out my summer dress.” Said Jess Ex, who lives in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood.  Out on a job interview in information technology, Chorise Stewart of the Gold Coast picked a peach shirt and tie to “make someone smile.”


 Myles Kitchen, visiting from near Santa Cruz, Calif., says weather is a state of mind, which is why he always wears Tommy Bahama. “It makes me feel tropical no matter the temperature.” (That said, he did bring a coat just in case – he knows Chicago’s reputation.)