Back in Black

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Mix textures for a lush effect.

Working for a fashion designer, I hear a lot of talk about how people wear too much black in Seattle. But black really works here because it goes with everything, hides that city grime and, well…kinda seems appropriate considering the dark rain clouds that loom overhead.

Ok. I guess I see why people get sick of black.

But I love black. Black is a color I can wear every day. Whenever I invest in a pricey coat or a pair of PNW-friendly boots, I go for black. But it’s not just about the wearability up here at 47.6062° N, 122.3321° W. Black makes me feel elegant, chic and just a tad bit mysterious 😉 It’s also one of those colors that can be achieved using natural dyes from nuts, roots, seeds and the like. As a true-blue PNW gal, I’m into that kind of thing.

But for me, wearing black has one drawback. As a scooter commuter, a black coat makes me all but invisible to other cars. That sets me up for disaster, as cars already can’t see me. To counter this—and accommodate my love of black—I painted my scooter gold for a little flash—and visibility—on those city streets.

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Champagne Vino.

Black is beautiful, people. But if brown is more your thing, go for it! One thing I love about fashion is the endless opportunity to express yourself. People won’t always listen to what you are saying, but they will pay attention to what you are wearing. So I use that chance to make a statement!

 

 

 

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Cozy Cold Weather Looks

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Belt bag and necklace from GIBRAN. Sam Edelman boots.

I must confess, I love fall and winter in Seattle. While most people are looking forward to our (admittedly) beautiful PNW summers, I’m practically melting from late August through September when the temps are too high for my comfort.

But when those first leaves start to turn red, I break out my sweaters and boots like nobody’s business. This year, however, I didn’t have much of a selection. Last spring I went through a capsule wardrobe moment and donated, like, half my wardrobe. Gone was anything that didn’t fit me right or was ripped or stained. I must be a pack rat because that didn’t leave me with much 🙂

But I’m a savvy shopper and thrifted my way to a decent fall wardrobe. I also picked up a few winter staples in Iceland and France while I was on my Europe trip. I bought a bona fide Scandinavian puffer jacket, a couple of embroidered sweatshirts, some cozy leggings, a pair of luscious black cords and a super comfortable (and flattering) black sweater dress. I love it because I can throw it on whenever I don’t feel like coordinating colors. It’s not much, but it’s a good start to rebuilding a wardrobe I love.

I forgot how much I love sweater dresses. I also picked up a short-sleeve sweater dress from the very talented Gibran Hamdan at GIBRAN on Phinney Ridge and am on the lookout for more whenever I shop. Luckily for me, they are having a comeback!

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I like to mix brown and black when the mood strikes.

You can’t beat a sweater dress. Cozy, easy to wear and accessorize, they are the perfect answer to my daily dilemma of what to wear. Throw on some cozy tights or leggings, and you’re good to go. And my accessory of choice? A scarf for a touch of PNW chic. I also love throwing a belt bag or a fun belt around my waist to break up the look.

I’d probably wear them every day if I could. Being a decidedly curvy gal, I struggle with finding pants and skirts that fit. Sweater dresses solve that problem!

It ain’t easy weathering the weather here. But I do my best. Feeling good about what I wear and putting together beautiful—yet warm—outfits is one thing that gets me through the dreary winter. And for that, I’m thankful.

From scarves to capes, parkas, and ponchos, I believe you can look good and stay warm and dry in Seattle.

What are your winter must-haves? I would love to hear your thoughts because I’m always looking for new ways to feel cozy and chic in the PNW.

Channeling PNW Chic

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Commodore Park with a view of the Ballard Locks.

I love where I live. I’m a born and raised PNW girl. I belong in Western Washington, sloshing through rain puddles, exploring beaches and keeping cozy on rainy days. This might surprise you, but I actually like the rain and clouds. Seattle is my home, so I started The Haute Raincoat to share with others what PNW style is all about.

I’m a Seattleite, but I’m also a Parisienne at heart. I love Paris style and Paris culture. I call it everyday chic, and I can’t get enough.

So when I combine where my home is and where my heart is, I get Pacific Northwest Chic.

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Mix and match with detachable fur trims.

Dressing elegantly for the never-ending rain is a challenge. But I try to make it work one fur-lined hood at a time.

PNW chic is all about livable clothes. I live in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle, so I walk everywhere, no matter how chilly and damp. To brief you on what it takes to stay warm and dry, I’ve compiled a list of must-haves for any stylish Seattleite.

Rainy City Must-Haves

  • Waterproof jacket.  The high humidity makes everything damp, even when it’s not raining. But even a pricey waterproof jacket will only keep you dry one or two seasons. Refresh the hydrophobic coating in the offseason. I recommend a slimmer, well-lined jacket to make layering easier.
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Spray waterproof outerwear (even shoes!) with a water shield spray once a year.
  • Layers. A good jacket isn’t enough on frigid days, and the weather here fluctuates quite a bit. Prepare to delayer as the day warms up. Think flannel shirts (not just an homage to grunge), lightweight long-sleeve tees and cardigans.
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Knee-high is the way to go.
  • Rain boots. Leather boots get soggy after a day in the rain and take a few days to dry out in the humid air. In heavy rain, go for rain boots to save your soles.
  • Hats, gloves and scarves. If you have to wear your winter-ready waterproof jacket every day, you might as well add some color and print with cozy accessories.

Here’s another tip: umbrellas are optional. Umbrellas are “touristy” here, and so a lot of die-hard locals refuse to carry them. Most waterproof jackets have hoods. A hood is more convenient because you don’t need to tote it around, and it won’t drip all over you.

Hope these tips help Seattle newbies stay warm and dry. Being wet and cold is never in style. ☺