Paris. New York. Milan. Chicago? There are many things Chicago is known for, unfortunately, a booming fashion scene is not one of them. What many don’t know is that the Chicago fashion industry is picking up. Insert our latest exploration, the Annual Chicago Fashion Fest. Starting in humble beginnings at the bar Moonshine, also located on West Division, the festival is now branching out to its own outdoor area next to bar and grill The Anthem who also sponsor the event. Now going on its 4th year, the fest has grown and spread its opportunities to many fashion and fashion related workers in the city. I, Vonnie Coleman, on behalf of 4-Star Explorer marched out to the event with 4-Star’s photographer Christopher Thompson as well as that day’s travel companion, former model, and good friend, Ashlee Robinson.
While 4-Star explored the fest and all its workings, we got a chance to view the event’s fashion show and had a chance to pick up some of the hottest trends for the fall.
1. Add a pop of color!
This fall is all about mixing colors. A pop of bright color with a dark color can really add to an outfit. Adding maybe some lime green to your look can redefine the little black dress making it more modern. Even patterns like plaid can be added with fun colors like purple to take it from stuffy to funky.
2. Cut It Out.
A clip here, a snip there and you can forget all your cares…of being fashionable for the fall. But don’t go cutting the midriff out of your old dress, subtle cut-outs are the way for a tasteful ensemble. This style usually comes in the form of bared shoulders, tiny slits at the waist, or as the “wow” effect at the back of a shirt.
3. Collar necklaces make a “statement.”
Chunky necklaces can add “oomph” to any outfit and can instantly attract attention to an outfit without trying too hard. Styles like teardrop stones and layered chains are the favorites for fall.
4. Guys…spread your jeans.
A lot of guys think their style is limited, not having as many accessories or outfit options as the ladies. Don’t worry guys, jeans will save your style. Guys are really making a statement with different denim looks for the fall. Whether their faded, bleached, cut up or even pop colors like teal or green…jeans are a man’s way of getting noticed.
I have been seeing neutrals paired with navy practically everywhere! When looking for something to pair with the color nude, navy is this season’s winning combination. You can pair a nice nude pair of shoes with a navy dress or maybe your style’s more nautical with with a nice navy and cream striped shirt? Neutrals and navy give a touch of sophistication to your wardrobe.
After the fashion show we made our way to some of the local clothing stores who occupied booths to display their designs. Le Thrift, a local consignment shop, offers previously owned but well taken care of garments and focuses on an overall vintage style of clothing. Not only can you buy designers like Coach, Chanel, Gucci and others for a steal, you can take your own gently used valuables, because you know you’ll never fit those Prada strappy sandals again, and trade them in for cash.
We continued our rounds and eventually made our way to the So Ness Boutique booth run by young stylist Vanessa Betance and her mother. For the hottest in edgy accessories and clothing you can’t go wrong here. Could she interest you in a spiked cuff bracelet? Or maybe you’d like to go bold with a spiked nail ring? Then So Ness Boutique is sure to make you look fierce.
One of the standout booths Elevenzees, offered a more zen-like approach to style. Offering enchanting jewelry designs and natural oils, Elevenzees gave a calming demeanor. But don’t let the bluegrass roots fool you, the store flaunts many a spicy number for brides-to-be. I especially enjoyed speaking to Elevenzees spokesperson, Patty Johnson, about some of the ways they cater to different clientele from ladies planning a “girl’s night out” to the bridal industry. They don’t just sell clothing they also have an entertainment space in the downstairs area of the store. Here, they offer different event options that best suit the host including snacks and bubbly. If this wasn’t enough, they even have free monthly yoga and spiritual enlightenment events. I’ve never seen one store do so much!
My style assistant Ashlee and I didn’t just search the racks we got to meet, gab, and question some of the shop owners, the question we asked, what style tips do you have to give the Chicago fashion beat? Sarah Sabastian, of Jojo and Sofia emphatically believes you should “show personality through accessories!” For the ladies she says “necklaces are a way to be bold with out overdoing your outfit.” And for the fellas she thought sporting necktie clips can take you from guy to gentlemen status in no time flat. “It’s a fun and easy way for classing up a man’s look.”
Alicia Rogers of CocoNutU, says “less is sometimes more.” “Choose one thing to focus on,” she says, “You don’t need big earrings and a glittery necklace. Choose one piece as a statement of your outfit so an onlookers eye knows where to focus.”
But the general consensus on advice on style is to be original. We got a chance to meet up with Duble “R” Da Great, from the Hustle My Flow article, once again at the King Lizzy booth. Their belief “whatever you see in the magazines, do the opposite.” According to the King Lizzy philosophy “if everyone’s going right, you go left” and this state of mind seems to work for their team as they gear up for their September 12th relaunching of their clothing and sneaker store. Boasting brand new designers and an interactive experience you can be sure that 4-Star will be there to cover it!
As we departed from the fest we stopped across the street at Noir, who weren’t officially apart of the festivities but kept their doors open to its stylish patrons. Inside their walls are filled with cool, campy duds that sport a retro feel. While perusing the brightly colored racks my fellow fashionista Ashlee R. couldn’t help but laugh and muse on why everyone should want to dress like this to which she added, “yea instead of wearing pink lace leggings.” Oh 79th street girls, will you ever learn?
All and all Chicago Fashion Fest was small in stature but huge in potential. I look forward to Chicago growing in fashion notoriety in the next five years but we as Chicagoans need to get out and support these stores!
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Support our local business!!!! These stores are 4-Star approved!!!!
Hand Crafted Jewelry
1901 West Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622
JoJo & Sofia
2540 West Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622
1754 West Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
1726 West Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622
Notable Fashion Fest Booths Which Were Not Mentioned
Gabrielle Zwick Designs
Viva La Femme
2048 North Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
MAISON DE LACOUR
M.GO FASHION CO