Here we are in a brand new year…can’t even imagine how that happened but it has and we all reflect on where we are, where we have been and where we are going.  I was asked, several years ago, to write an article about what I thought “fashion” in Chicago was all about.  Being a native Chicagoan I resent that our moniker “Second City” is used in a negative way…it means it is Chicago’s brand new city after the Great Fire not that we are second to any other city! I do realize that I am a voice in the wind but it really annoys me!  I am sharing my thoughts on how our fashionable citizens choose their style and more importantly, maintain their elegance by being individuals!


Second City, I think not….remember our name contains the word Chic!!!!! We don’t use hay in our hair as accessories…we prefer wonderful fascinators.

Chicago’s fashion savvy are very aware where to find the best of the season and how to put it together with panache.  Perhaps they depend on that special secret sales associate to assure them that they won’t appear in the same dress their best friend has chosen or work with their stylist (a term that needs more definition, does everyone think they are a “stylist” maybe…but really….). They know a  good sales associate and fitter are key to their shopping experience, it is magical to have that perfect relationship!  Even the most seasoned shopper welcomes positive reinforcement and creative suggestions to add to their closets, therefore avoiding mistakes by impulse buying. Who among us hasn’t done that, just think of all the “on sale” things that end up on the top shelf of the closet or under the bed, never worn?  On the other hand buying on sale, something that works with your already established items can be the smart thing to do.

They might shop pre-season when ALL the International designer trunk shows come right after their debuts from around the world (including our fashion forward local creators).  Or they might wait until early receipts come into the vast variety of stores Chicago has to offer.  They can pick from Designer’s Boutiques (aren’t we lucky to have all the best of the best with more coming, this seems to be a weekly occurrence!) to Ikram, to Saks Fifth Avenue (perhaps I am partial to that retailer since I spent my entire retail career there!!!) to Neiman Marcus to Barney’s…the list is endless.

I can think of many of our superbly dressed (no, I’m not mentioning names, they know who they are and so do you, you read Candid Candace, the many local blogs, Michigan Avenue and CS  for pity sake!!) who used to wear a designer label head to toe, in my opinion that isn’t the modern approach, mixing designers, prices, high with low and low with high, is the way to go and our CHICagoans seem to be doing just that. Where else can you spend days in three vertical malls on Michigan Avenue or countless hours in neighborhood boutiques or even find the season’s dream outfits at H&M or Zara. The fashion self-assured photograph their wardrobe along with chosen accessories, label their shoe boxes and categorize their accessories for easy access. They dress in a comfortable way, do not think for a minute I mean messy…if they wear jeans and a t-shirt they are designer labels, defining their individual style with their choices.  I don’t feel our fashion intelligentsia has to scream “look at me I am wearing an entirely new outfit head to toe” but rather “look at me I am a smart shopper who is in tune with herself and can pick what are the newest items to add to my already established wardrobe”.  They are indifferent to fleeting fashion trends unless those trends can work with their other choices and their lifestyle.

Our fashionista is cool, calm, confident, classic, current…she (or he!) knows what works for them and has the confidence to carry off their own brand, themselves!!  Second City, nonsense!!!

Submitted, several years ago, to Michigan Avenue, never published.  Updated here.






  1. Beth January 4, 2017 / 7:13 am

    NENA IVON = cool, calm, confident, classic, current — the ULTIMATE Second City Fashionista!! xxx

    • nenasnotes January 4, 2017 / 12:48 pm

      You are MUCH too kind. Thanks so much.

  2. Gloria Groom January 4, 2017 / 2:46 pm

    Thanks for this heartfelt and brilliant apercu of Chicago style which is so different from Fashion trends. Will pin this on my bulletin board but how do I get those swaying hipsters to perform off line?:)

    • nenasnotes January 4, 2017 / 4:34 pm

      Thanks so much Gloria for your VERY kind words. I really appreciate your support!!! I don’t think the ladies “perform” off line!!! They are, however, quite a bit of fun.

  3. lawrieweed January 4, 2017 / 7:33 pm

    How do you do what you do so well and love those shakey shake hips!

    • nenasnotes January 4, 2017 / 7:40 pm

      You are MUCH too kind to me!!! Don’t you love the shaky hip gals, I found them charming!!! Now I need lots more followers!!! Enjoy tomorrow’s it is a fun one with a recipe.

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