Comfort and style don't typically go well together, so you can imagine my surprise upon discovering that "cozy chic" is in this winter.
The first couple of times I ran across this trend, I was utterly baffled. Most of the blame, I think, goes to the ridiculous names that the fashion media have come up with to describe it. "Wilderness chic" is actually a Wikipedia page, but my favorite is Vogue's article on "glamping" ... yes, that's glamorous camping.
These shenanigans aside, I've realized that comfort, and furthermore warmth, should be stylish when most of the country is freezing or covered in snow. In fact, corduroy pants, chunky cable knits, fur vests and flannel are secretly everyone's favorite part of winter. Ladies and gentlemen, this fashion trend makes sense.
Here are some of this year's cozy staples, and tips for how to wear them without looking like a Yeti. Note: If you live in a place that's typically warm during the winter, you can seek out lighter-weight versions of most of these pieces.
Skinny, colored cords
Ever bought a pair of pants and worn them outside, only to learn that you might as well be wearing bikini bottoms for how little they do to keep your legs warm? Corduroys are a great option for a business casual office where jeans aren't usually worn until Friday. They're warm, but not itchy, and this year they come in more colors than the brown, black, navy and khaki we're so used to seeing. Try them in a burgundy, plum, or forest green.
Plaid button-down shirts
Tartan was one of the "it" prints for fall, and it's never looked more classic than on a button-down, collared shirt. Choose a fitted version that will work for layering underneath sweaters and vests or tucking into pencil skirts to give your solid-colored work shirts a break. And roll those sleeves so it looks casually stylish, not nerdy.
Fair Isle and fisherman's sweaters
Fair Isle refers to a specific knitted print, named for an actual island near Scotland, that's a standby for prepsters and making its way back into the mainstream. The Stine Fair Isle cardigan from Eddie Bauer is a great example - it can be festive during the holiday season, or provide a refreshing change from black and gray in the dead of winter. Alternatively, a boxy, cable knit, crewneck sweater, otherwise known as a fisherman's sweater, is the perfect way to be chic and warm at the same time. In both cases, the material (usually wool) will be rather thick, so it's important that the sweater is fitted slightly.
Fur-lined "hiking" boots
I love my "classic tall" Uggs. They're warm, comfortable and great to throw on if you're headed to game night at a friend's house, a yoga class or weekend errands. But even after being treated for weather, they're still not the most waterproof shoes, and they look too casual for work. The fur-lined hiking boot or snow boot is a great alternative, and a lot more functional for winter weather. And, yes, if you want a fancier version for the office, go for that stiletto. Just don't actually hike in it.
What better time to take advantage of the sock trend? Instead of trouser socks, go for a pair of thick wool socks, perhaps even in a pattern. Let them peek out of the tops of your ankle boots.
Parkas and toggle coats
You're probably familiar with parkas. The nice thing about the fact that they're popular now is that you can get them in a variety of colors, shapes and lengths, instead of everyone running around in black, shapeless, puffy parkas like inclement weather-fearing blobs. To instantly look like a more fashionable Eskimo, choose a parka that's cinched at the waist. For people in warmer locales, the toggle peacoat with a hood gives the same outdoorsy ruggedness, in a light-weight wool instead of down.
(E-mail Kristyn Schiavone at email@example.com, or write to her c/o Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207.)