Scene: Vera at 11 years old, begging her mom for silver puffy coat. Vera’s mom looks in disgust and denies the request.
Scene: Vera at 12 years old at Filene’s Basement buying her very own white puffy coat for the winter. She is pleased with her fashionable choice.
Scene: Vera at 13 years old, wearing the coat her mom bought her at year 11, because she has learned that the white puffy coat is ugly.
So, here we are. 15 years later and I am reliving the original scene from my youth. Except this time my mom and I are standing in Burlington Coat Factory in the middle of July buying matching puffy coats. My mom is currently living in Korea for the year after living in Saudi Arabia for the past 5 years and I am living in the Midwest again after a 4 year long hiatus in California. Neither of us had a need for Midwestern Chic, and now, after being away for so long, are ready to embrace the pragmatic approach to winter outerwear in the Midwest.
What is Midwestern Chic you ask? It’s this:
It’s long puffy jackets from NorthFace, heavy duty mittens, mildly cute (hopefully fleece lined) ski hats, and some sort of snow boot to avoid frost bite. After many long winters in the Midwest, one usually breaks down and succumbs to pressure of Midwestern Chic fashion. For me, it happened in the middle of summer in a Burlington Coat Factory as I thought about the bone aching chill that hits you as you’re scraping ice off your car in the dead of winter. Midwestern Chic is the literal approach to comfort over fashion.
The first time I encountered Midwestern Chic was during a holiday visit on winter. I was at a nail salon braving the harsh winter wind putting my coat on when I noticed two women arguing over whose coat was whose. There on the coat rack, were five long puffy coats , all exactly the same. These women had to look into the contents of the pockets to identify their owners. Yes, they all looked the same, and awkward in these long quilted, jacket shaped blankets. But, they were warm. And that is the true Midwesterner at heart; pragmatic.
Also, scrunchies still live on in the Midwest.