A few days ago, I read a short article in a fashion magazine that stated, “Capes are the new coats.” As a Midwesterner who has to deal with often hellacious winters, I would probably disagree with wearing a woolen cape during a Chicago blizzard. Capes are, however, a perfect Fall alternative. I first fell in love with the cape trend about two years ago when I got a steal of a deal on a tweed cape from Ann Taylor Loft. I see the trend obviously coming back in for this Fall 2012 and wanted to share a few of my favorites available now.

Besides capes, another fall/pre-winter trend is grey. It’s an adaptable color, goes with brown or black, and with most fabrics (like tweed), can be dressed up or down. I love this GUESS tweed cape for only $148 with contrasting brown trim-great way to get multiple looks out of a piece.  I especially love the little Equestrian touch on this cape with the brown buckle (this cape would match your adorable new riding boots to a tee!)

Unlike coats that you usually shed when you arrive at your destination, I think some capes can be worn like a sweater. This Merino Knit Cape from Brooks Brothers ($268) serves this dual purpose: keeps you warm on your daily walk to your favorite cafe or at Saturday’s football game, while also being versatile enough to double as a sweater when you get chilly in class or at the office. Knit capes come in an array of colors which, I think, differentiates them from being ‘just a coat’ and are available at a wide variety of price points for every budget or style.

Although versatile, some capes are strictly outerwear-like this Banana Republic Trench Capelet for $150. Personally, I LOVE the back of this cape with the storm flap and the fact that it cinches at the waist, giving outerwear a much cuter silhouette.

Sidea bar: I’ve often wondered what the difference is between a “cape” and a “capelet”-those more familiar with fashion: is it the cinching or tie-waist that makes a capelet- a capelet? Either way, this capelet from Banana Republic is VERY cute and very flattering on (Yes, I did try it on; otherwise, I’d be like a chef who never taste tests!)

So what do you think? Do you like capes for fall/winter? Or do you think it’s (as my mother would say) like walking in a black hole?


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Back to ‘Cool 2012

A drawback to being an adult is we often never have a reason to go to shopping… except for weddings, special nights out, or for special purchases (although it’s been a dry summer in Chicago, I’m predicting heavy rain in the fall; prompting me to splurge on new Hunter wellies). Unfortunately, we don’t have “back to school” shopping. I’ll be honest, I miss it. Although, I never really need a reason to go shopping, a nudge like “back to school” always helps.

Fall 2012 colors and styles aren’t just for “back to school”. Fall is one of my favorite seasons for clothes. It’s, in my opinion, the best time of year to wear my favorite colors (orange, dark purple/aubergine, peacock teal and browns) and prints (herringbone, wools, tweeds and rugby/school stripes). What prep doesn’t love a good wool Schoolboy Blazer from JCrew or Rugby when it’s cold outside? And can we just discuss pullovers for football Saturdays? Love it!

Football and blazers aside (for now), I love to bring in any style (that’s not too outrageous) into my work wear. One of the hardest things I encountered when I entered the corporate world a few years ago was how to transition my college style to the workplace. Unless you work at Google or Groupon, very few offices would allow staff to get away with T-shirts, hats, sometimes jeans, and/or hoodies. I do find it hard to figure out which trends will work for me, which are appropriate for work and going out (Chicago has it’s own sense of style, after all) and this is my attempt to make sense of it all.

Now, end of summer/pre-fall, is a great time to buy the staples for the upcoming season and although the sale has begun and is over this weekend, I started at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Not only do I have an unhealthy obsession with Nordstrom of all the bigger designer stores (Bloomies, Saks, Barneys, etc), but it is the only store that puts “next season on sale now.” I’ve gotten timeless steals during this sale (think Burberry ruana for half off, Trina Turk dresses for a third of normal retail, and Michael Kors watches for $70 off).

BaImageck to fall essentials (that you can find on sale now!)… Equestrian riding boots: No, these aren’t the boots you’re wearing to ride Shadow or Buttercup. These are the boots you’re dodging rain and snow puddles in (in absentia of your wellies) or wearing with your favorite cute tweed skirt or cable knit dress. I can’t get enough of boots in the winter and although it may seem impractical to have numerous pairs, I have at least 1 black, 1 dark brown and 1 cognac/tan pair in wearable condition… and if you’re in Chicago and need the name of a great “boot guy” pre- or post- winter, hit me up…My current favorite equestrian boots are the Tory Burch Calista Flat Riding Boot. Currently, if you can still snag them at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, do… in TB Imagestores, they retail at $495 and at the sale, are $299.

Also on sale are some uber cute Tory flats. Also, a big fall trend I’m seeing is moccasins. I’ve seen cute pairs from Michael Kors and Sperry Top-Sider (photo to the left) to name a few. Super comfy, a little more casual than a pointy-toe flat, I see mocs making a huge splash this fall.

So enough about shoes (although I’ve found a ton of good deals lately) and more on the fall fashions. When I Google “Fall 2012 fashion,” I’m scared at what the search returns. Gothic revivals (and makeup… eep!), ripped denim (I think is only appropriate in summer or if you work for Abercrombie or Hollister), and Baroque/ornate… oh my, oh my. While I love a good pop of color or pattern in a pencil skirt, I couldn’t step out with all sorts of bits and bobs hanging from my clothes. Maybe I’m fashion backward and that’s why I’m not Rachel Zoe… but let’s be practical even when what we Google and see on the runways isn’t.

What Fall 2012 trends can we preps incorporate into our wardrobes? The staple-school girl style, for starters. Many of us did dress this way in college, so it’ll be an easier transition than our hippie counterparts who now must shower for the first time in 4 years… (if you know me, you know my disdain for “hipster” folk). While it may not be as school girl as Alicia Silverstone in Clueless or Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl, I love the school girl elements: Varsity jackets, rimmed glasses, cute wrapped ponytails/braids, Oxfords and cardigans, and tartan/plaid elements in skirts, headbands or other accessories (Tartan/plaids don’t have to be as severe as Charlotte York- McDougall’s all-plaid dress in Sex and the City.)

My favorite way to incorporate what is hip for the season is through colors. Every season, I refer to the Pantone color guides to see what’s in style color-wise. This fall, I especially love the honey gold color and have seen variations of this “yellow” all over. Banana Republic has cute dandelion crops  and JCrew has this gold skirt I am dying to pick up. Pantone also lists “tangerine” to be one of the hot colors for Fall 2012. This color landed on the map months ago with Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, donned tangerine/coral straight-leg pants while playing field hockey. I definitely look to the Duchess for nods at key colors and styles (although I may can peplum… unlike K-Mid, this gal’s got hips!) Along with these shades of gold/orange, big colors are purples and teals and these are easily incorporated in scarves, bags, shoes and sweaters/sweater dresses. Items like trenches, capes/capelets and fun knit ‘hose or stockings will always be on-point and are a fun way to add a little playful pop to your fall wardrobe. I also so love all the burgundy that’s around, especially in denim, pants and cords (like these Bordeaux Tommy’s to the right).

I’d be remiss to not at least touch on fall trends and colors for the gents. When I think of fall colors for men, I think of golds, navy blues and crimsons… a throw-back to our collegiate colors. For as long as you can pull it off, I propone the varsity look (photo, right). I also think of mixed prints (tweeds, stripes and herringbone) with your staples of navy blazers, three-piece suits and dress shirts.

So there it is: the Prep in Chicago’s primer in what to wear this fall. Comprehensive? No. Subjective? Yes. After all, when it’s all said and done, no matter what the trend “is” at any moment, we preps have a certain style that has continuously outlasted most others. Many girls plastered their bedroom walls with pictures of “Preppy” Zach Morris from Saved By the Bell growing up (okay… confession, I did, at least). Have you ever wondered why that is? Why has our tweed, plaid, and classic style become a mainstay in ‘Merica, when the world around us is vastly changing?

It’s classic. It lives and breathes “America”; that dream we all grow-up with and strive daily to achieve. It’s prep…

Cheers, darlins’!

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@Uber… Arrive in Style

Even the richest of preps must cut back every once in a while, especially when the economy is going down the tubes. To be economical, many of us preps in the big cities have begun to bike or walk (or for the fit prep, jog) everywhere in efforts to save a few bucks here and there. Personally, I love to forgo the car and walk wherever I can; hence why I rent in an area with an extremely high Walk Score (98%). Private garage parking isn’t cheap: roughly $235/month or $35/overnight and even for those who have found a parking place (I hear by the Lincoln Park Zoo is popular), you’re still subject to street cleanings, floods and the random ticked-off, ticket-happy cop. Cab fees and surcharges in some cities ranging from $2-$7 before the cabbie even puts his foot back on the gas (or if you’re in Chicago, he probably never took his foot off and you’re a proud owner of a “I Survived a Chicago Cab Ride” T-shirt).

But there are some instances when you have to catch a ride. And of course, the cabs are all full and you’re staring down at your favorite Michael Kors watch (so luxuries we do not denounce during a recession) and notice you’re almost late for your reservation at RPM (I love you, Bill Rancic!) you waited three weeks to get. What’s a gent or gal to do? Wait? Drive? Walk? Beg for a ride? Hitch hike? (Ick-don’t you dare!)

Just Uber… a delightful new app that will change not only when you arrive but how you arrive Think Grandfather’s personal driver, but without the monthly retainer fee. The coolest part about Uber is the ability to earn points or “cash” towards free rides. I’ve heard stories of people using Uber to go from Bucktown to downtown (2ish miles) back to Andersonville (3ish miles) for only $10 using Uber points; in a cab, that ride would’ve cost over $30 or $40. Uber points are earned much like Rue LaLa or Groupon points/reward; you refer someone and “give” them $10, earning $10 when they register and use the service. The app (available for iPhones and other devices) stores your credit card information and is safe/secure. You can order a car ahead of time, too, to avoid a lengthy wait you’d have even if you order a cab ahead. I’d recommend jumping on the bandwagon and using the service. I used it for the first time this past weekend and it worked perfect!

Along with other great features, I love Uber for the ability to arrive in style to your next gala or soiree without having to shell out tons of $$.


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Trina Turk for Banana Republic-Just in Time for Summer

Nothing alleviates my work stress like a good shopping trip. I had no idea what I was in for when I arrived at my local Michigan Avenue Banana Republic. I went to the store right after work, so I arrived around 5:15pm. The store was SWAMPED!!! What girl doesn’t want to be greeted first thing after a stressful day with a watermelon mojito and a kobe beef slider? I’ll take that ANYday!

I can’t emphasize enough how much Banana Republic has stepped up their “concierge” service in the last few years. Being a former BR-ite when I was in college and busting my prep-hump for the “man” 4days a week (ugh, my parents wanted to teach me about “responsibility”… lame!), I can tell you the company culture has definitely changed.

These days, when they have special launches and events, select stores host special parties for their card holders with drinks and appetizers. And, believe you me-they are DELISHY! Shrimp, watermelon mojitos, white wine, crepes, you name it! It is really, really nice. The staff is extra on-point during these events, too, which is nice.

Plus, their merchandise for these launches goes FAST! The Mad Men line (see my post here!) sold out in under 2hours in most sizes. I expect Trina Turk to go just as fast!Most of the Trina Turk items were right in the front of the store, complete with beautiful back-splashes. I’d scoped out the line a few weeks ago when I first received my flyer (with a $25 off coupon AND coupon for a FREE limited edition Trina Turk bangle!!!!) I loved all the bright colors, the fanciful prints and great combinations of pre-existing Banana items (see the Pleated Shorts photo below with a Turk shirt in Pisces print).

Overall, I loved the entire line, even the items I decided not to get (a girl must have limits!) Everything from the swim suits, scarves and beach towels (which I’ve only seen in stores and not online), were spot-on and drastically different from the BR norm.

This line is perfect for summer. I can’t help but feel the bold prints channeled Lilly Pulitzer just a tad, but perhaps that was because I just shopped the Lilly RueLaLa sale earlier today :).

These are some of my favorites, with a few others thrown in for effect. The strapless dress, which I didn’t buy :(, had a great fit. I found that for a designer line, most of the items fit true to size; that doesn’t always happen when designers pair with a store. (This was the case with some of the Mad Men fits.)

Some of the prints, like the Pisces, came in a few different colors.

 top I referenced before with the turquoise shorts, which make a perfect pair even though the shorts aren’t from this specific line. The shorts come in a fuchsia and white, too, and although are “pleated,” don’t think of daddy’s golf pants. I didn’t even know they had pleats; they do by the pockets, and they do also have a cuffs-perhaps a style not everyone likes. The tie, in my opinion was an extra cute/preppy add. The shorts were purchased, but the top was not. Only because…..

I bought this dress in the same print and color. It’s a pretty basic strapless dress but can be worn to an outdoors summer event, or to the office with a cardigan or casual suit coat thrown over (I didn’t try on the linked one in white, only because I’m not a huge fan of short-sleeved coats… defeats the purpose, in my opinion-although I do own a few…).

Although I didn’t get the one-shoulder dress above, I did get this cowl neck top. I think it’d be really cute under a jacket, cardigan or just by itself on a warm summer’s night in Chicago.

Besides clothes and the aforementioned beach towel/swim suit, Trina Turk made some crazy hot accessories for this line. Earrings, ring, bangles, you name it-the jewelry is bold and bright, channeling some kate spade statement pieces.

I can’t think of a negative thing to say about this line. The fits were great, the colors were amazing for the season and the atmosphere made the shopping experience even better.

Keep it up, Banana!



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What Prep Doesn’t Love a Good Sale?!

Okay, I love nothing more than a good sale! I wanted to pass these goodies onto you before they fly by!

Brooks Brothers Friends and Family: Save 25% off May 9-12 with code “FNFBB3”

Tuckernuck: Save 20% off at the newest love child from Uscoop! Use code “TNUCKVIP” at checkout

J Press Private Sale : Shop now til May 23rd before the sale goes public on the 24th!! Use: “PSMAY12”

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Chicago Summer Festivals

The schedule of Chicago Summer Festivals was released not to long ago and, with some personal additions, this is pretty much your guide to “what to do this weekend” in Chicago (unless you sail, vacay to Door County or Mackinac or all of the above). If you’re traveling through town or live here, these are some of the most fun events and social gatherings this summer! Check it out!

If you have any updates or additions to this list, email me at prepinchicago@gmail.com

June 2012

  • Maifest: June 1-2, Lincoln Center
  • Do-Division Street Fest & Sidewalk Sale: June 1-3, West Town
  • 57th Street Art Fair: June 2-3, Hyde Park
  • Ribfest Chicago: June 8-10, North Center
  • Wells Street Art Festival: June 9-10, Old Town
  • Andersonville Midsommarfest: June 9-10, Andersonville
  • Chicago Blues Festival: June 8 through 10, Grant Park
  • Printers Row Lit Fest: June 9-10, South Loop
  • The Grant Park Music Festival: June 13-Aug. 18, Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park
  • Summer Lovin’: June 15, Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Taste of Randolph Street: June 15-17, West Loop
  • Chicago Pride Fest: June 22-23, Lakeview
  • Chicago Summerfest: June 23-24, Lincoln Park
  • Chicago Green Music Fest: June 23-24, Wicker Park
  • Gay Pride Parade: June 24, Lakeview
  • Chicago Professionals for Youth (CPY) Annual Event: June 29, River East Arts Center
  • Old St. Pat’s World’s Largest Block Party: June 29-30, West Loop
  • Gold Coast Art Fair: June 30-July 1, Grant Park

July 2012

  • Rock Around the Block: July 7-8, Lakeview
  • West Fest: July 7-8, West Town
  • Taste of Chicago. July 11-15, Grant Park
  • Irish American Heritage Festival: July 13-15, Irving Park
  • Pitchfork: July 13-15, Union Park
  • Windy City RibFest: July 13-15, Uptown
  • DuSable Museum Arts & Crafts Festival: July 14-15, Washington Park
  • Chinatown Summer Fair: July 15, Chinatown
  • Square Roots: July 20-22, Lincoln Square
  • Taste of River North: July 20-22, River North
  • 104th CYC Annual Race to Mackinac: July 20 (cruising race start)- July 21 (official race), Chicago Lighthouse, just off Navy Pier
  • Summer on Southport: July 21-22, Lakeview
  • Sheffield Garden Walk & Festival: July 21-22, Lincoln Park
  • Fiesta del Sol: July 26-28, Pilsen
  • Chicago Scene Boat Party: July 28, The Play Pen off Navy Pier
  • Wicker Park Fest: July 28-29, Wicker Park
  • Taste of Lincoln Avenue: July 28-29, Lincoln Park

Aug. 2012

  • Lollapalooza. Aug. 3-5, Grant Park
  • Edge Fest: Aug. 4-5, Edgewater
  • Wrigleyville Summerfest: Aug. 4-5, Lakeview
  • Ginza Holiday Festival: Aug. 10-12, Old Town
  • Northalsted Market Days: Aug. 11-12, Lakeview
  • Retro on Roscoe: Aug. 11-12, Roscoe Village
  • Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest: Aug. 18-19, Rogers Park
  • North Side Summerfest: Aug. 18-19, North Center
  • The Chicago Air and Water Show. Aug. 18-19, Chicago Lakefront centering from North Ave. Beach
  • The Boulevard: Aug. 24-26, Logan Square
  • Bucktown Arts Fest: Aug. 25-26, Bucktown
  • Chicago Jazz Festival. Aug. 30-Sept. 2., Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park, Grant Park

And then there’s the important question of what to wear to a Chicago street fest. My personal suggest ions include: flats, flip-flops, Sperrys (no heels; most of the time you’re walking on a pot-hole filled street or uneven pavement) and something light and breezy. Weather permitting, most street fests are hot and sweaty (eww, I know) and often times these fests are crowded. I recommend inexpensive dresses you don’t mind getting food or beer spilled on (you will get bumped into often) or shorts/cute shirt. I personally love the navy dress (below and it also comes in a purple print) or the blouson navy dress  (right and also has a cute back detail) for casual strolls.


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Flat Review

In Chicago, it’s not quite warm enough just yet (despite our streak of 9+ days in the 80s) for us to don our espadrilles, open-toe wedges, or gorgeous braided sandals (which I’m obsessed with and will blog about at a more apropos time) so we must stick to our interim shoe of choice: the flat. ‘Tis the season of the flat and I’ve had the honor, now that I walk to/from work again daily, to try out numerous brands of flats. So which do I choose? I’ve even began to poll my coworkers so read below before you spend your hard-earned (or hard-begged for from Mummy) money…

Reva from Tory Birch….

Oh, I swear I wanted to love you. I see numerous other women walking down Michigan Avenue wearing you. I wanted your elasticized back to be comfortable…I did!!! But no dice, for me at least. For $195-$235, these rank on the higher end of flats. I’ve noticed that flats go fast in the working world (and even in the walking around day-to-day world!) and at that price point, I don’t think I’d venture outside of buying a brown, camel or black pair. Not only did I find them easy to scuff and the signature “T” emblem wore/scratch easily, they blistered the Hades out of my feet after one wear. Some women I’ve talked to are obsessed with these shoes and find the elastic back affords them the ability to wear them with patterned ‘hose or barefoot. I do love Revas for the flexibility they afford as a flat you can still wear at work and not look like you forgot to switch shoes. They’re the Louboutains of the flat world. After my footsies heal, I think I may give these another to see if I can be proved wrong [Tory, if you’re reading this, do feel free to prove me wrong with sending free pairs ;)].

Viv and Ballets from JCrew

JCrew… if you had a subtitle, it’d be “Old Faithful” since you’ve never steered this prep wrong. Their ballets are so versatile; I’ve seen them with suits, skirts and as the main footwear in weddings (BFF-if you’re reading this… since I’m in your wedding this NYE, I vote for these!) They come in a variety of prints and range roughly $128-$250, depending on the style and fabric/material you get. The Viv ranges from $188-$198 and with the pointy toe, are super on-point to match with your power suits. I’ve tried on both the Vivs and the ballets and both are extremely comfortable and durable. I love these Viv Striped flats for summer (pictured)!

What I think is super cool about this line of flats from JCrew, is that they even make them in a “rainy day” shoe as well, which aren’t uncomfortable and make a great spring/summer alternative to your favorite Hunters or Wellies. These are also only $58 and a great price for their multipurpose uses!

Target’s Mossimo Flats

For only $12.99 and running the “flat” spectrum: ballet/rounded to pointy-toe, black and brown to glitter and leopard print, these shoes sound like a win. I haven’t tried them on, and I’m curious if any of you have… I do worry about the durability of the soles-would they be made for walking? Would they stand-up against the wear and tear of Chicago streets? I may wait until the the Target opens on State Street to find out!

Sorry for my verbose explanation about flats. But like the perfect pair of black heels or the right color Sperrys, you want to make sure you’re making a sound investment in shoes that could cost you over $200 or more. I’d love to hear what you all think about my flat review!


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