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Preview: Chicago Looks

CHICAGO LOOKS ***** a Chicago Street Style + Fashion Blog*****

Chicago Looks is street style fashion blog that features the coolest looks and trends seen on the streets of Chicago.

Updated: 2018-02-07T16:21:03.810-06:00




Knit wit "Disco folk" is how Sara Basgall describes her retro-leaning statement look. "I'm very inspired by Turkish psych, folk, and disco," she says. A parallel source of inspiration for her, not surprisingly, is the 1960s and '70s, which she became infatuated with during childhood while delving into her dad's large vinyl collection and through mixtapes he used to make for her. Basgall's house is filled with 70s-style textiles that she's made. "I take the projects with me on the go and work on them while waiting at the doctor's office or hanging out at a friend's house," she says. "I feel all the walls in a room need to be acknowledged and given a personal touch. I decorate all of my walls in my apartment. Every room has an area rug on the floor and wall rugs I've made by hand." The exception, she says, is the bathroom, "which is filled with plants."Sara shows her tapestries in her colorful home - 70s feel, new-millennium colors:Originally published in the Chicago Reader.[...]



Take it or leaf it

The leaves depicted on Jaidah Kirksey's pants aren't marijuana. The Columbia College film student isn't making a statement about the legalization of weed, or letting people know that she's 420 friendly. Nonetheless, she says, "the fact that it sparks up that kind of reaction makes me happy. I'm allowed to wear what I want, despite how 'provocative' it may be."

Originally published in the Chicago Reader.



Lisa gets an A

The Lisa Simpson sweatshirt she borrowed from her "kinda boyfriend." "I was told by one of his close friends that he must really like me if he's letting me wear that sweatshirt," Kayla Garcia says. "I don't really watch The Simpsons, but he does, and it reminds me of him. He always offers it when I'm cold."

Originally published in the Chicago Reader.

María Fernanda


Eclectic feel

"The harder the day is going to be, the harder I go on making the outfit spectacular," says María Fernanda Hernéandez Tort, who was on the way to a video-game store, where she planned to drop off a resumé. "I don't have a lot of basics in my wardrobe, so professional moments always scare me a little. I toned down my makeup and colors a bit so that I wouldn't come off as too intense." One of her two majors at the School of the Art Institute is fibers and material studies, which has moved her to consider pattern, color, and texture paramount in her style: "A lot of items I choose for the design, weave, or knit of the textile," she says. That academic sensibility is counterbalanced, she says, by a more childlike sartorial goal: "To always feel like I'm a video-game character."

Originally published in the Chicago Reader.



True colors, shining through

"Putting intention behind what you wear will affect how you show up in the world," says spiritual coach and energy healer Tori Washington. "This doesn't mean spending hours picking out what to wear but empowering yourself to wake up, inquire around how you want to feel, and dress yourself in a way that will draw that energy into your life." Each color, for instance, holds a certain frequency that can "protect and elevate your mood," she says. White is "cleansing and protective," shades of blue and turquoise are "purifying," red and peach are "for inspiration and increasing energy," and black is "very protective, with a sense-grounding energy." 

Originally published in the Chicago Reader.



Sax appeal

Street performer Joseph Taylor, of the one-man band Sax in the City, attributes his "neat, presentable" appearance largely to his wife, Annette. "I can't walk out the door without my wife telling me what to put on. As she continuously tells me, I'm a reflection of her," says the musician, also known as "Saxy Joe," who usually performs on weekends near Willis Tower. While taking into account the strong opinions of his better half, Taylor finds headwear the best expression of his personal style; from a large collection of hats, he carefully chooses one to match any outfit. "When you look good, you feel good," he says. "When you feel good, you sound great!"

Originally published in the Chicago Reader.




Visual artist and B-boy Miles Jackson was leaving work sporting an updated version of the normcore trend: minimal pieces—but worn with zero irony and somehow befitting the Moe Howard-ish bowl haircut. Inspired by 1970s breakdancers and workwear uniforms, Jackson's style is practical yet intentional; he tailored his wool military pants for a skinnier fit and fastened the oversize waist with a cord for a deconstructed edge. "It's more fresh," he says, "to make something yourself, to alter details, than it is to buy something brand name."

Originally published in the Chicago Reader.



Rational FashionEvery day for the past two years, Abigail Glaum-Lathbury has worn one of six versions of the same jumpsuit. A professor of fashion design at the School of the Art Institute, Glaum-Lathbury created the outfit with Los Angeles-based visual artist Maura Brewer to "explore the possibility of a universal garment that could be worn in any situation," she says. Together the pair form the Rational Dress Society, and sell the product, manufactured in the U.S., under the name Jumpsuit, calling it "an experiment in counterfashion." Since devoting herself full-time to the one-piece lifestyle, Glaum-Lathbury doesn't miss her old clothes at all. She cherishes the reduced laundry load, she says, among other perks: "I think the thing that surprised me the most was just how little I missed the stress and anxiety of picking out the right outfit for the right occasion. I learned that I loved not having to pick out clothing or go shopping!"The unisex jumpsuit—which has been worn by at least two couples in their weddings—is sold according to a sizing system "that can accommodate 248 body types," with videos available online to help potential wearers determine the best fit. Right now RDS is also promoting a movement called Make America Rational Again, for which it's collecting "gently used and emphatically discarded" Ivanka Trump-brand garments to be turned into fibers for a special-edition jumpsuit, with proceeds going to the LA-based Garment Workers Center. A tote bag and poster with the MARA logo will be on sale at soon. Printed by local studio Sonnenzimmer, the posters were made with paper recycled from Ivanka Trump's books.Originally published in the Chicago Reader.[...]

Mizz Chelsla and Trisha


Close encounters"Alien street walker" was the inspiration as Jackson Powell and Sean Marburger—known on the city's drag circuit as Mizz Chelsla Green and Trisha Bass—headed out to Queen!, a weekly party at Smart Bar welcoming "kings, queens, and everything in between." "The idea was," Powell said, "an alien lands in Chicago and tries to fit into society." "You'd think a queer bar in Wrigleyville would be a bore, but the staff and hosts make this the event of the week," Marburger said. Powell agreed: "I've never once felt judged or unwanted there. It's a safe space to let your creative freedom shine and sparkle." While the Macy's beauty advisers fully embrace their "boy selves," they've learned a lot from their alter egos. "Chelsla has definitely challenged me to take a step out of the box and show my true colors, because people respond better to that rather than to a person you're pretending to be," Powell said. "Drag has changed my life for the better. I feel more comfortable in my own skin. I have also found a ton of people that I consider family. These people are the most supportive individuals. Because I started drag I started having confidence to wear pink as a boy, or to pop a lip color on and not care what others think. Drag has made me view fashion as a genderless item, a visual representation of who we are and what we like."Originally published in the Chicago Reader.[...]

Patti and Francesca


Patti and Francesca were photographed while exiting the Queen! weekly party at Smart Bar.

Robert and Ricardo


The friend zoneRobert James and Ricardo Sparks were strutting downtown on their way to grab drinks. They looked ripe for a fashion editorial—or at least a selfie Instagram post. Both aspire to work in the fashion industry: James plans to launch a T-shirt collection, and Sparks aims to open a fashion school. Sporting a silk robe in broad daylight, James, who describes himself as a trendsetter in his Englewood neighborhood, seems to live by his most common bit of sartorial advice: “Fitting in is standing out.” Originally published in the Chicago Reader.[...]



Hero at largeHis name is Jalon Midlebrooks. But not long ago he decided to start going by "Nolaj." "I felt like I was living backwards, living differently from what I initially planned to," says the former IT student, who dropped his suit-and-tie uniform and corporate ambition in favor of more adventurous career and fashion choices. "Basically we go through different phases, Pokemon style," says the experimental music artist and budding wardrobe stylist. "Evolution is real, because I feel like I'm changing every day, and my appearance reflects that." Newly out of a "pirate-cowboy" period, he's diving head first into a "supervillain-superhero" phase.Originally published in the Chicago Reader.[...]



Vintage and DIY outfits this musician can perform and sleep inInspired by Nudie suits—rhinestone-covered suits made by late designer Nudie Cohn—and the rock scene he grew up in, musician Ryan Koenig's style is a fusion of country-western and punk. He was photographed last month at Wicker Park Fest before playing with headliner Pokey LaFarge, who was featured in one of the first of these columns. Onstage Ryan always tries to "fancy it up a bit", though his offstage look is not too different: "I try to keep it pretty consistent, something I strive for in my whole life. What you see is what you get," he says. His "stylish but practical" garb—he needs to be able to "sleep or sweat" in it—is usually thrifted in vintage stores across the country or sewn by Kellie Everett, his seamstress/musician wife. Ryan himself also makes lots of his hat bands, leather belts, and boot decorations, which he usually tries to coordinate. Another accessorizing rule: always keeping a bandana in his pocket: "Lots of things you can use that for," he says. The multi-instrumentalist—Koenig plays harmonica, six-string banjo, guitar, and bones—will be releasing a record of his own on October 13, called Two Different Worlds. He plans on performing here in Chicago sometime that month.Originally posted in the Chicago Reader.[...]



Sam was photographed in the last Wicker Park Fest.



Party animal"I'm by no means a 'fashion dude,'" says Jeff Wichmann, "but if you're gonna be a rock star, you'd better kick it up." As the trumpet player of the battle-scarred "psycho-rock-marching-band" Environmental Encroachment, he says, "I have two rules. One, never wear shorts onstage. Two, sneakers are for clowns." A constant in his look is "something animal related: gorilla, bird, snake, deer, or ferret." His mink fur, a favorite accessory, he named Monk. "It's dead and so will I be someday. Maybe someone will wear me around their neck–if they hunt me down." As for the life span of Environmental Encroachment, he says: "It's just one big freaky art experiment that will be around when the aliens take over."Originally published in the Chicago Reader.[...]

‘Good Vibrations’ brings positivity and inclusiveness to the local art scene


Jean Wilson, pictured above, was photographed during the opening of "Good Vibrations," an exhibit taking place at the Arts of Life, a nonprofit dedicated to providing arts education to adults with developmental disabilities. Wilson was sporting her spirit animal on her hat and necklace: "I'm a wolf at night," she says. "When the full moon comes out, I howl at it." Mixing a leopard-print hat with a blush-pink dress and glittery shoes that light up, she looked both festive and fierce. She was standing next to works by Tim Stone and Leslie Baum, two of the six artists featured at the show, cocurated by Wilson and Arts of Life executive board member Andrew Rafacz. "Good Vibrations"—which closes tomorrow, July 28—has the common theme of abstraction with vibrant colors and patterns. "All of the artists included strive, in their own respective ways, for positivity and energy in the face of an adverse, sometimes reductive, world," says Arts of Life art director Vincent Uribe. Saturday from 5 to 8 PM the nonprofit hosts a fund-raiser and rooftop party at the Bottom Lounge (1375 W. Lake; $50 includes hors d'oeuvres, Revolution beer, drinks, and dessert). And next Friday, August 4, at 5 PM Arts of Life will hold an art sale and block partyat its studio in West Town (2010 W. Carroll); it's free and features Finch Beer and Miko's Italian Ice. More info at See more stylish attendees below:Arts of Life resident artist and curator Jean WilsonWilson shows a piece featuring one of her favorite themes: wolves.Works by collaborating artists Tim Stone (of Arts of Life) and Leslie BaumTim Stone, Kris Shenkel, Vincent Uribe, Jean Wilson, Zachary Buchner and his kids, and Andrew RafaczCocurator and Arts of Life executive board member Andrew Rafacz gives a tour of the show.Arts of Life art director and LVL3 gallery owner Vincent UribeVincent Uribe standing by a Linda Ruzga collageLuke standing between works by Zachary Buchner and Cody HudsonNatalyia and HeatherWork by Zachary Buchner, made with memory foamWork by Tim Stone of Arts of LifeWork by Linda Ruzga of Arts of LifeOriginally posted in the Chicago Reader.[...]



It takes a Village DiscountAt a glance it's hard to believe that every piece in Anna Rafferty's polished look was thrifted. Her statement-print kimono, for example, set her back a mere $3 at a Village Discount Outlet in Little Village. The self-described "modern maximalist" started a vintage clothing shop on Etsy dubbed Barbie Roadkill to tide her over while she looked for a "real" job, but it turned out to be so successful that it became her full-time gig. Rafferty recently began selling her finds at Festive Collective, a new party goods and design store in Logan Square owned by her friend Angela Wator. "She asked me to curate a rack of party-caliber vintage to go with the colorful, sparkly aesthetic of the shop. I change up the products featured there every month, depending on the season," she says. "Right now I'm on the hunt for metallic lamé tops and tartan-plaid skirts for early fall."Originally published in the Chicago Reader.[...]



Aisle style"As someone who gets pretty messy for a living, I love dressing up when I can," says animal-care technician Breanna Lange. "It's nice to take time to doll up." Lately that has meant a lot of long, colorful, flowing dresses like the one she was wearing while strutting the aisles of a Walgreens before heading off to a friend's birthday party in a look she describes as "Farrah Fawcett meets washed-up 40s diva."Originally published in the Chicago Reader.[...]



Panda expressionIt was love at first sight when Torrio Jetson was given a giant panda mask as a "serendipitous gift." "The purpose for me was clear as soon as I saw it," the local musician says. "No hesitation—I put it on my head upon receiving it and walked around Wicker Park. I even went to Big Star and ordered tacos with it on." Reactions from bystanders have been universally positive. "I wave at them and they wave back ecstatically," Jetson says. "While driving they yell out and sing along with cheer. They come out of restaurants and ask to take a selfie with me. Very rarely does anyone respond in an unhappy manner. Parents love it, as well as kids. In a world that's so gray and dismal sometimes, I just want to brighten their day."Originally published in the Chicago Reader.[...]

Designer Gabrielle Zwick Shows How a Bathing Suit Can Simplify Your Life


As the base for every outfit, swimwear designer Gabrielle Zwick picked a colorful and flattering bathing suit with strategic cutout, available at still being comfortable, chunky heels make the look more appropriate for a museum or art gallery; a circle black skirt completes the outfit. A pair of flared pants and a see-through piece on top elevate the swimsuit to rooftop party material.All illustrations by Rosemary FantiFrom the Beach to the RooftopFew places are more exciting than Chicago in the summer. With so much to do on a gorgeous sunny day, who has the time to go back home and change? We put swimwear designer and Chicago Fashion Incubator alum Gabrielle Zwick up to the challenge of creating three different looks for a stylish girl who will be enjoying every facet of the city from dawn till dusk. She will start at the beach, then go see some art at a gallery or museum, and ultimately finish her outing at a fun rooftop party. The catch? Everything needs to fit in a simple beach bag—and she needs to feel fabulous all the time. For this task Gabrielle picked one of her intricate statement bathing suits and paired it with light basic garments. “A swimsuit is such an amazing and versatile piece,” she says. “It can be styled with high waist jeans or a skirt, just like a body suit. Only a swimsuit enables you to add swimming to the mix!” Since her pieces are double layered with nylon and spandex, they can also function as shapewear (aka Spanx).“So why not wear something this flattering as everyday clothing?,” she says. Many suits also have underwire and adjustable straps unlike most bodysuits. Women have been wearing lingerie as ready-to-wear for several years now. “I believe this is simply the next step in the fashion evolution,” predicts the designer.See more of Gabrielle's swimsuits at And learn about Rosemary Fanti's commercial and live event illustrations at Love her work![...]

Chicago Looks IRL


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Sew Anastasia - Learning to Sew with Anastasia Chatzka Part 3


Designer Anastasia Chatzka teaches me how to put the zipper on my circle skirt.Putting the "circle" in the circle skirt: I sewed the waist with long stiches then gathered the fabric along the waist.Iris is a very important element in Anastasia's sewing class - she is there for support and inspiration in every step of the way.On my third class with fashion designer Anastasia Chatzka I learned how to sew a zipper on my denim circle skirt. It's much easier than I expected, but the process does have a few small tricks. I'm glad I had her by my side guiding me - I don't think I'd be able to do it on my own.Then we used the large stitch setting in the sewing machine all around the waist. After that I gathered the waist of the circle skirt manually, sliding the fabric through the stitches until it looked as uniform as possible. It took me some time to get the gathering right, but again: it's not rocket science. Sewing is decidedly fun, and a great activity to do in good company - I know I really enjoyed Iris's occasional appearance and the pleasant chatting in the studio.See what happened in my previous lessons here and here.Get more info about Anastasia Chtazka's lessons at Sew Anastasia, and also check out her very instructive YouTube sewing channel.OH AND ANASTASIA CHATZKA IS HAVING A FASHION SHOW AT THE SUBTERRANEAN TONIGHT!! More info here![...]

Chicago Looks IRL


Always remember to get your Chicago Reader!

Making Mainbocher closes on the 20th!


Dresses by Mainbocher in the "Making Mainbocher" Chicago History Museum exhibit. / Photo courtesy of Chicago History MuseumWallis Simpson wears a dress by Mainbocher on her wedding day. / Photo courtesy of Chicago History MuseumMain Rousseau Bocher, aka Mainbocher. The former intelligence officer in WWI became the first American couturier - and he was born here, in Chicago! / Photo courtesy of Chicago History MuseumMust-see exhibit for all fashion fans out there: Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier - on display at the Chicago History Museum until next Sunday, August 20th. Learn more about the fascinating history of this remarkable Chicagoan in this great Chicago Reader post by Deanna Isaacs. And of course, in the exhibit itself! More info here.[...]



I am so excited Ana Custodio will be joining the Chicago Looks team! As some of you might have noticed, I've been pretty erratic in my posting. Maybe I always have... I LOVE this blog, but ever since I moved to the States in 2009 my life has been pretty eventful - and things got exponentially busier when I got pregnant in 2014. Right now I have a very cute - and active - toddler by my side during most of my waking hours, who will be pulling my right hand from the trackpad every time I'm on the computer. All the little time I have left I allocate to my Chicago Reader column, and my Newcity editorials (more on those soon!).So yes, in comes Ana, on a beautiful summer morning at the Garfield Park Conservatory, sporting a lovely gingham dress. While photographing her with my toddler in tow, I had no idea she had a background in fashion journalism and was looking for an outlet for her writing here in Chicago - a city she had recently moved to.Ana is giving me hope one day Chicago Looks will be updated regularly, and that we will be able to better serve our talented fashion community. Read her first event coverage for Chicago Looks in the post below, "The Four Elements of Fashion by Runway Addicts."Cheers, Ana! Welcome to Chicago Looks! And cheers to blogging![...]