? la Mode: A Guide to Style

Ideas to stay warm outside and cool at a party


When I lived on campus at SUNY Geneseo and SUNY Binghamton one of my favorite weekend activities was walking around campus at 1 or 2 a.m. and seeing the drunk partygoers totter back to their dorms (as lame and pretentious as that must sound to you).

Girls just barely out of high school would stumble across the pavement, holding each other’s waists while guys in plaid button-ups would travel like packs of wolves on the hunt. Laughter would pierce the cold fall air and you might hear the collision of a clumsy body with the sidewalk.

What never ceased to amaze me was the utter sameness of nearly everyone’s party attire. Just about every girl seemed to be wearing the tiniest body con skirt or dress that Forever 21 offered and squished their toes into the highest, most impractical heels they could find.

I could only imagine the size of the goose bumps on their arms.

Rarely did I see a practical lady sporting a cute jacket or sweater. Although leggings ran amuck, they were frequently paired with a tiny tank top and nothing else.

Now, I understand that for whatever reason – whether it’s the mess of bodies dancing in a cramped room or the purposeful increase in temperature of the establishment – house parties, bars and clubs are unnaturally hot. You simply cannot wear warm clothing to walk to the party and expect to not sweat through your layers while dancing.

It looks silly to be walking around in next-to-nothing in 40 degree fall weather, though, and it’s not healthy. The alcohol you may or may not have consumed might make you feel warm enough to brave the elements, but your body will not be happy about it.

For this edition of À la Mode I pulled together two outfits that do double-duty: they’ll keep you warm as you travel to the party but won’t make you overheat as you ‘get jiggy with it.’

Put down the mini-skirt and experiment

Not only am I encouraging being practical and keeping yourself warm, but I hope you try experimenting with party clothes that are not the college (especially college freshmen) norm.

Here, I paired a light pink velvet cropped bustier from Garage with a teal American Apparel skirt, a cropped vegan leather (a.k.a. pleather – what a lovely marketing spin on that one) jacket from H&M, patterned over-the-knee socks and black oxford heels from Payless. I’m also a huge fan of the return of the ’90s choker necklace; this black one is from Icing.

On the way to the party you can stay warm with the jacket but once you’re feeling too warm from dancing, toss it over your shoulders for an unmistakably cool vibe. You can still move relatively freely while releasing some body heat.

The bustier, being cropped and pastel, is extremely trendy. Pastels are having a huge moment right now and crop tops seem to be staying in style for another season. This top is easy to wear and can be mixed with pants or paired underneath a sheer button-up or sweater for an added dose of warmth.

Bare legs will never be warm and while tights aren’t usually that thick, even the thin layer of fabric will keep you toasty as you walk outside. But they won’t make you too hot while at the party.

Even in the peak summer temperatures I wear high socks. So if you find yourself feeling too warm in them, they’re small enough that you can toss them in a clutch purse and not pull them out until you’re chilly.

Although you can’t see them, I also have purple and white striped bloomers from American Apparel on underneath the skirt. While parties are a college mating ritual, flashing your butt in front of everyone around you while dancing is no way to attract a quality partner. Instead, wearing bloomers underneath a skirt will allow you total freedom as you dance. You don’t need to worry about your skirt flying up as you walk home either because the bloomers are there. And they do keep you a bit warm.

Finally, consider the heels that you are wearing and your ability to walk in them. My mom always stressed the importance of being able to walk comfortably in heels before you wear them anywhere. If there’s a pair you bought that just must wear this weekend, spend a few hours every day walking in them. Not only will you break them in, but you’ll be much more stable as you stagger home. Wearing heels will give you a serious boost on confidence, but if you can’t actually walk and dance in them it will just look like a toddler trying on mommy’s heels.

Never fail pants

Nobody said that tiny dresses are the only sexy party look. If it’s an especially bitter night, slip into a pair of your most flattering pants.

For this look, I’m wearing black jeggings from Stein Mart, a lingerie style Kimchi Blue tank top, the same black oxford heels and I tied an oversized black and red Kilimanjaro flannel around my waist. To continue with the ’90s choker trend I have on a silver neckplate from Stein Mart and a three-strand chain necklace from Icing.

As the ’90s are making a serious comeback in every form right now, from slip dresses (so much love) to the Boy Meets World spin-off “Girl Meets World,” tying the flannel around your waist, the choker necklace and sexy lingerie style top are very in.

Even though each of these pieces is trendy, they all are purposeful choices.

Jeggings are both thicker than leggings and are actually pants – meaning they can be worn like trousers and jeans, rather than being relegated to being paired under dresses or tunics and blouses. Further, they often have pockets so you may not even need to be burdened with a purse. They’ll be warm enough for the outside air but are not as restricting as tight denim.

The tank top will obviously keep you cool inside and by tying the flannel around your waist you have total arm-freedom as you dance. Then, once you get outside you can pop the flannel on and be toasty.

Some other options you can experiment with are capes and caplets, oversized sweaters that you can pull your arms inside on your walk home, huge scarves that you can both wrap around your neck and then wear as a shawl, and long white gloves if you like vintage styles.

As you venture out into the night, always keep safety in mind. That means not only traveling with trusted friends and never setting your drink down, but making sure your body is protected. Wearing comfortable, practical and walk-able heels will help prevent any falling accidents or twisted ankles and wearing warm clothes is just a good idea.

By breaking away from the crowd of bare skin and goose bumps, you will pull off what most people really wants – to be noticed. Stay warm and safe, drink lots of water and have a night to remember (or not).

email: emma.janicki@ubspectrum.com