You Asked It

Damn Girl Ya Look Good

Cold-weather fashion, the politics of vintage fur, bridesmaid dresses, and more.

I’m looking for a cute long dress for my brother’s wedding, in which I’m going to be a bridesmaid. It’s a morning wedding, so it’s not super formal. I have issues with showing my arms, and I’m worried I won’t be able to find something light, cute, and appropriate for the occasion that I also feel comfortable in. Do you have any suggestions? —Nathalia, 17, Brazil

Congrats to your bro! You have quite a few different options for your slammin’ wedding outfit—there are all sorts of of three-quarter- and long-sleeved dresses that will look great at a morning wedding. Lighter, day-friendly colors are obvious, lovely choices for this occasion, but you can also choose something like this vintage-inspired lace dress or this foxy, frilly alternative.

Clockwise from top left: floral dress, $85, Modcloth;  shawled dress, $150, Modcloth; pink dress, $153, Pixie Market; green dress, $20, Pixie Market; blue dress, $99, Macy's; strapless dress, $229, Macy's.

Clockwise from top left: floral dress, $85, Modcloth; shawled dress, $150, Modcloth; pink dress, $153, Pixie Market; green dress, $20, Pixie Market; blue dress, $99, Macy’s; strapless floral maxi dress, $229, Macy’s.

If you can’t find the perfect long-sleeved dress, you can always go with a sleeveless dress and wear some sort of cover-up, like a bolero or a shawl, over it. Lace boleros in particular are not only pretty, but also thin enough that you can wear one if it’s warm out without sweating. Of course, there are also other types of boleros that could also make your outfit really cute, like these retro-style ones from Trashy Diva. And a sequined shawl like this can level up the fanciness of an otherwise plain ’n’ simple frock. If you want even more arm coverage, you could opt for a lace cardigan like this beaut. Eat some cake for me! —Marie

I’m about to go see Arcade Fire, and on their latest tour they’ve been asking the audience to show up in “formal attire or costume.” I want to wear something super rad, but I don’t know where to start! I want to wear a costume that is practical for dancing and just generally freaking out. —Kate, Minneapolis

First things first: Go to a thrift store. You might find a standout piece there that will serve as the inspiration for your whole look. I once found a GIANT white petticoat at a thrift shop, and it became the basis for a Marie Antoinette–themed photo shoot that I did with friends! Once I had that jumping-off point in place, the rest of the concept came together way more easily.

Let’s say you come across a shiny blue easy-to-dance-in ’80s dress like this one. I’d take one look at that gorgeous little number and start thinking of a couple of theme ideas…Disco Mermaid? Punk Rock Alien Girl From the Planet Zoing? For Disco Mermaid, I’d hit up a craft store and stock up on fake seaweed and plastic starfish and shells to make hair clips and necklaces with. Then I’d add bright, sparkly eye shadow and glitter fishnets. For Punk Rock Alien Queen, I’d wear a blue or green wig, spiked bracelets, blue lipstick, black fishnets, and a bad attitude. But whatever inspires you, have fun with it! —Marie

My grandmother passed down an old fox-fur coat to me several years ago. While I love the look of it, I feel conflicted about wearing real-fur clothing because of the majorly inhumane practices that go into it. I also don’t want the coat to go to waste. Part of me argues that, since the coat is a used gift, wearing it is OK, but I don’t want to seem like I’m endorsing fur farming. What do you think I should do? —Emma, Portland, OR

Fur real, I think it’s so great that you’re thinking about the issues that surround fur instead of just going, “Whoo, free fur coat!” and slingin’ it over your shoulders without a second thought. I know where you’re coming from: I, too, love the look and feel of fur, but I also love li’l beasts and don’t want to contribute to the inhumane fur industry.

My grandmother had a whole closetful of fur coats. As a child, I spent excessive amounts of time hiding in it and stroking the coats because I adored their softness and their aura of glamor. When my grandma passed away, she left me all her furs, because I had appreciated them so much as a kid…and I had no idea what to do with them! They fit me perfectly, but I felt like it was unacceptable to wear them in public, so they stayed locked in my closet. But I saw them in my closet every day, and one day, years later, I took one out and tried it on. Ahhh, it was magic—the coat was easily the warmest one I’d ever put on, and it still smelled like my grandmother’s perfume. I wore it out the door that day and started to wear it a lot more afterward, and even though people sometimes made negative comments about it (usually my friends—strangers never bothered me), I had solid reasons for wearing it that I can pass on to you, Emma.

Your reasoning in favor of wearing your grandmother’s coat is pretty much the same as mine was. The coat in question is a vintage fur. Your owning or wearing it isn’t contributing money to the industry that killed the animals whose pelts were used to make it decades ago. I think the fur industry is horribly cruel and that there is absolutely NO reason for new fur coats to be made. But I also agree with you that it would be wasteful to simply throw all vintage furs away. Your coat is a family heirloom, which gives it personal and sentimental value, and it’s beautiful and warm. You are not directly contributing to a demand for new fur by wearing an old fur coat, but on the off chance that someone does ask you where to buy a fur like it, you could direct them to websites that sell vintage fur, like Etsy and eBay, and explain that your coat is vintage, not new, and that vintage fur is the way to go. In short, I think it’s OK to be simultaneously permissive of vintage fur and anti–new fur!

If you choose to wear the coat, be prepared for the random person who just goes, “OMG YOU’RE WEARING FUR” before they know anything about you, your coat, or your reasons for wearing it. If you’re comfortable justifying your choice, then I say go for it. —Krista

It’s really cold where I live—most days, the temperature is around -15 degrees Celsius [5 degreed Fahrenheit]. A girl can wear jeans only so many days in a row—what are some other cool options that will keep me warm? —Kira, AB, Canada

First, look for fleece-lined tights and leggings like these, these, these, and these. Those are the numero uno necessary accessory (nec-cessory??) to showing off your gams in cold weather. You might also have to double up on tights! If you want even more warmth—and additional cuteness—you can try layering printed leg warmers over your tights, like these ones from Sock Dreams!

I’d also amass a small collection of cute coats, like this one with heart pockets and this cute printed one, if I lived in such a freezing clime. And scarves are an easy way to throw some color and/or adorability into your ensemble: I want every single one of these scarves from Yummy You!

Take a look at these bloggers’ cute cold weather outfits for some more inspiration:

Clockwise from top left: Rebecca of The Clothes Horse; Katy of Skunkyboy Blog; Keiko of Keiko Lynn; Kaylah of the Dainty Squid; Lydia of Style is Style; Elizabeth of Delightfully Tacky.

Clockwise from top left: Rebecca of The Clothes Horse; Katy of Skunkboy; Keiko Lynn; Kaylah of The Dainty Squid; Lydia from Style Is Style; Elizabeth of Delightfully Tacky.

Stay warm, my sweet! —Marie ♦

22 Comments

  • lianajamie March 18th, 2014 11:15 PM

    To Emma with the fur coat – There’s a great organization called Coats for Cubs (http://coatsforcubs.com) that accepts donations of fur coats to give back to orphaned baby animals to be comforted by the touch of fur! If you decide to not hang on your coat, I think this is definitely a worthy cause for it to go to.

  • Jes March 18th, 2014 11:18 PM

    kate – i hope you had fun at the arctic monkeys concert and i am jealous you had such awesome valentine’s day plans!

    xoxo,
    fellow minnesota metro area rookie

    • laneyjane March 19th, 2014 9:21 PM

      I would have committed some serious crimes to see the arctic monkeys… Darn +18 concerts. :(

      love,
      another minnesota rookie x

  • theflyingokapi March 18th, 2014 11:57 PM

    I have the same cold-weather problem! It is so easy to fall into a rut and wear jeans every day.

    This little video series from lookunderhere is full of great ideas for hardcore layering when it’s really cold!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrJb_xWrI_0

  • mrrrna March 19th, 2014 12:21 AM

    Kira – I so hear you. It’s hard to be stylish wearing a parka every day – from another alberta girl

  • rhymeswithorange March 19th, 2014 12:26 AM

    Yes, fleece-lined leggings and sweater tights are THE BEST!

  • irismonster March 19th, 2014 12:33 AM

    I think the way to go for the fur coat is to donate it to a thrift store. I mean, if you’re feeling guilty, you can’t possibly enjoy wearing it that much, right? And just having it waste away in your closet is–notice the verb choice–pretty wasteful. If people can get good vintage fur at a thrift store they’ll be less likely to buy new, less humanely-made fur, so you’d be helping in that respect, too. I don’t know, it just makes the most sense to me.

  • lilagrace March 19th, 2014 2:58 AM

    Oh my god, Kate! I don’t know if you already went – but have so much fun at the Arcade Fire gig! I’m sure it’s going to be beyond awesome!
    I went to see them in November – it was one of those gigs with the costume/formal attire thing going on. So much fun planning that outfit!
    I wasn’t too outgoing that time. I went for a black dress, with some lovely gold embroidery. AND extremely glittery nail polish! My thought: maybe no one will notice but it’s making me feel awesome – so that’s a plus!
    If you want to move away from the themed costume thing I’d suggest a sequined dress or top. Anything shiny and glittery will work. A cute mask or headband would be perfect too. Just have fun with your outfit :)
    When I was planning what to wear (and still planning as I’m seeing them again this summer^^) one thought was: don’t dwell too much on details – because you’ll probably be squashed in a sea of people anyway.
    I hope you have a great time x

  • Lillypod March 19th, 2014 4:10 AM

    one of my most prized posessions is a winter coat my grandma gave me a few years ago – a full length 1970s suede, sheepskin and bear fur coat (eek). The country I live in is not funny about new fur, you see rabbit fur coat in loads of shops..but it gives me a weird feeling and I could never justify buying new fur. We can’t bring back the animals used for vintage coats, so we may as well do them justice and enjoy them. throwing away a beautiful coat is just sad.

  • statuestudying March 19th, 2014 4:11 AM

    Marie said eat some cake and mentioned a Marie Antoinette photoshoot in the next response this is very funny to me

  • thebrownette March 19th, 2014 9:39 AM

    As a vegan, I thought a lot about whether or not I would use products I already had; I decided to do so, but in some cases, I literally could not bring myself to do so. Such is the case with fur and a few purses.

    I second the suggestion to donate them if you feel uncomfortable wearing them!

  • hollysh March 19th, 2014 9:43 AM

    I lived grew up in the very cold midwest and the ultimate secret is to wear a full underarmor (or other long underwear type set) underneath my clothing. So I’d wear underarmor leggings under cotton leggings under tights, with a pair of cotton socks followed by wool socks followed by cute long socks over the top. Serious layers. The underarmor makes for a solid foundation so you don’t freeze to death every time the wind blows through your leggings.

  • NotReallyChristian March 19th, 2014 9:59 AM

    I totally understand being conflicted about wearing an heirloom fur, but I disagree that the vintage fur trade isn’t harmful to animals. The more fur of ANY origin is being worn, the more people are going to see it and potentially think about getting themselves a fur coat – and they might not be as conscious of origin as you are. If you wear a fur coat on the street you’re sending the message that wearing fur is acceptable, and unless you’re carrying a sign around with you no-one’s going to know that you didn’t actually buy it new. Equally buying fur second-hand increases the overall demand for fur.
    It’s hard to suggest exactly what to do with it though – I can understand not wanting it to go to waste. Perhaps you could turn it into something to use around the house, like a pillow or a throw-blanket, or a rug? That way the only people who’d really see it would be people you invite over, and you could easily explain to them where you got it from.

  • Maradoll Mynx March 19th, 2014 11:31 AM

    I am SO GLAD someone finally answered my DECADES OLD question about wearing vintage fur!! I had been afraid to ask for fear of looking like a complete jerk! Also…in re: the answer…my sentiments exactly. Wear it…why waste it!

  • vivianlsp March 19th, 2014 11:35 AM

    Ahh! The arcade fire concert in Detroit was amazing!! Probably the best one I’ve been to!

  • Hebe March 19th, 2014 1:03 PM

    I loved this whole piece but especially krista’s piece about fur: i too love the glamour of fur but have been worried about wearing my grandma’s coat because i was scared people would be like ‘you evil person for wearing fur’ and that i wouldn’t be able to tell them that it was made ages ago and while i am strongly against making fur coats now i don’t see the problem in wearing a coat that was made about 60 years before i was born.
    thank you so much for this article!

  • mangointhesky March 19th, 2014 3:20 PM

    These are all such good ideas, especially with the cold weather. I’m looking at all sorts of bloggers for more inspiration now!

    http://theconfettireport.blogspot.com

  • pinkhairandcats March 19th, 2014 5:20 PM

    Yay you featured Kaylah from The Dainty Squid, she is one of my most favouritest favourite bloggers ever :D

    daisychainsforever.blogspot.co.uk

  • Maddy March 19th, 2014 6:05 PM

    Hey, I love the winter wear suggestions!
    The links are a bit messed up though. The Clothes Horse link doesn’t exist, and The Dainty Squid one is for the Delightfully Tacky blog.

  • Aiyana March 19th, 2014 9:25 PM

    About the fur coats — I’m a vegan and have been so for five years or so and I think that if it’s second-hand/used or vintage, there really shouldn’t be an issue. I buy used/vintage wool sweaters and leather shoes simply because I do not want to contribute to the sweatshops and the amount of chemicals used to make the acrylic yarn or vegan leather! I mean yes, I still do buy new vegan shoes and buy stuff made with unnatural fabric, but it’s much cheaper to hop down to your local thrift store or buy stuff off of Etsy or eBay!

  • FlaG May 3rd, 2014 6:59 AM

    When I was growing up I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t wear fur in any shape or form, because I understood that in order to obtain it you would have to kill animals for it. Later in my teens I became familiar with PETA anti-fur campaigns, which only firmed my resolve against wearing fur.

    Then I came across a post on Livejournal (I am probably revealing my age a bit here) where the woman who wrote it stated very unapologetically the exact same thing Krista did. So I’ve relaxed my opinions on wearing fur (i.e. vintage, or nothing), and I’ve since acquired a vintage fur stole from a flea market in my uni days. But I definitely would not stroll into Fendi and lay down some cash on a fur coat. Hell no.