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Wearing shorts in winter? Whaaaaat?

By Dennise Smith
Dennise Smith
Jamie Bowles, of Charleston, wears a grunge-inspired look.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Cold-weather shorts is a style I have loved since I first saw it in L.A. -- the birthplace of casual hip -- where fashion rules are not only ignored but gleefully tossed out the door.

While there are obvious drawbacks to wearing shorts out of season on the East Coast, i.e., freezing rain and icy wind gusts, these weather challenges don't need to be a game-ender for this style.

Indeed, the bone-bracing weather here in West Virginia never seems to stop throngs of young women from donning body-con miniskirts every Saturday night during the dead of winter.

However, this look is so much more stylish and authentically confident. With so many retailers offering winter shorts styles, it's a fun look you may grow to love as well. Here are some tips on wearing shorts in the fall and winter:

  • Choose shorts in a heavier fabric, such as wool, tweed, corduroy, brocade or even denim.
  •  Fitted blazers, menswear-inspired vests and even a puffer vest look great with winter shorts.
  • Avoid the tendency we have in the winter to wear lots of blacks, browns and grays -- throw some color into your outfit.
  • This look generally looks better when the shorts are slightly slouchy. Tight Daisy Dukes will take that sophistication factor down to zero -- unless that's what you're going for, or you are trying out for a beer commercial. If so, by all means, rock it out!
  • Accessorize with knits scarves and hats.
  • Pair your shorts with patterned knit tights, cable-knit sweater tights or knee socks.
  • Or incorporate the metallic trend in your outfit for additional flair.
  • Lacey Hazel, an edgy fashionista whose bohemian flair always makes her look as if she just stepped off the set of a slick impressionist film from the 1930s, suggests layering a thin ladies' thermal insulation shirt under your lighter tops and blouses versus wearing a thick sweater to avoid a bulky look.

    She also likes layering colors, textures and patterns with her favorite fabrics. One of her favorite way to wear shorts is not for the weak of constitution or wavering confidence: "Bare leg and heels with a heavy yet stylish coat, as my Russian friends effortlessly pull off!" She admits that this is "Best for when you know you will spend little time outside. Vodka helps."

    As for footwear, wear a bootie or tall boot, unless you are going to a formal event. For dressier occasions, wear dark hose and a simple pump with a lace, sequin or tuxedo-style short.

    Dennise Smith is a Charleston lawyer, fashion designer and co-founder of the local arts group Nomadic Tribes Collective.


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