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Hot looks for the cold

Winter is a rough patch for upstanding fashionistas in this corner of the world. On comes the long underwear; on come the layers; on comes the parka. Off goes the style cred diligently cultivated through the year.

Winter is a rough patch for upstanding fashionistas in this corner of the world. On comes the long underwear; on come the layers; on comes the parka. Off goes the style cred diligently cultivated through the year.

But staying toasty doesn't have to mean bulking up and definitely not this winter. This season, women's fashion embraces a tailored, feminine silhouette - and a covered-up, subversively demure look that won't leave you shivering uncontrollably in a cute, but flimsy, outfit.

Here's the best news for stylish ladies looking to get the most bang for the least bulk.

Outstanding outerwear

Remember when coats were a cold-weather necessity that annoyingly concealed whatever fashion sense you crammed underneath? Now, you'd be reluctant to take them off. "There's nothing plain about outerwear this winter," Laura McDowell of TJ Maxx says.


Coats boast cool details, such as velvet and fur collar trims, embroideries and fun button treatments. If you're still not sold, consider an ultra-trendy cropped sheepskin jacket or one in fluffy fake fur.

Puffy jackets that flatter

The fluffy down jacket is back, but in a sleeker, trendier update. The jackets - and their fashionable sleeveless cousins - come in more compact, fitted styles. "They're going to be super warm like the big ones, only they're not going to look like the abominable snowman," says Karrisa Newby, owner of Fargo's Lena K. At Eddie Bauer, the down jacket and vest that the store's outdoorsy founder popularized in the 1930s are making a newly stylish comeback, with fur trims and embroideries for added flair.

Cozy sweaters and fun alternatives

This year, bright, patterned sweaters and cardigans lose any vestige of gift-from-grandma uncool. Warm turtlenecks are back, both the neck-hugging variety under down vests and the looser, draped cowl-necks. Or swap the sweater for an ultra-trendy velvet blazer, in classic black and burgundy or in more unpredictable hues, from orange to purple. For the more adventurous, Newby suggests "recycling" a summer camisole or even an empire-waist dress - paired with jeans - over a warm long-sleeved shirt or turtleneck.

Un-boring pants and boots

Boots are huge: not just feminine, embroidered cowboy boots but also flatter, round-toed models that outshine the less comfy pointy high heels. Flaunt your boots by tucking in skinny jeans or pairing them with trendy gauchos (the flowing two-thirds-length pants) or knickers (same length, but snug and finished with a cuff). "The short length shows off the boot while still maintaining a covered leg for those cold days," says Kaydee Stanford, Vanity fashion director.

Longer skirts, hot leggings


The fashion cachet of leggings, leg warmers and fun-print tights is great news for ladies reluctant to retire skirts for the season. At the same time, skirts have been getting longer and warmer. At Eddie Bauer, the skirts are A-line, mid-calf models, in washable suede and can be paired with boots. "You can go from the office to the office party and still look fabulous," says Bauer's Lisa Erickson. At TJ Maxx, tiered prairie skirts are sticking around from this fall, only in warmer fabrics like velvet.

Chic accessories that keep you warm

"Scarves can add a great pop of color to your winter look," says Stanford. In are models featuring chunky cable knits and sparkly touches like sequins, as well as extremely long varieties in bold stripes. Oversized faux fur bomber hats are both warm and trendy.

Stores like Eddie Bauer feature down hats, gloves and scarves in pretty jewel tones such as ruby and emerald (not to mention the down duffel bags, travel pillowcases and dog coats). Metallic accessories, from handbags to boots, add a touch of glam.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Mila Koumpilova at (701) 241-5529

Five tips for trimming winter bulk

Warmth is the priority during the cold months. But this sensible advice will help you cut down on the resulting bulk - or at least tone it down with some optical voodoo.


- Choose a belted coat: "This creates a more tailored look by defining your waist and takes away some of the bulkiness," says Vanity's Kaydee Stanford. Plus, belted military-style coats are in style this year.

- Choose the right fabrics: "You can have something thin in cashmere that's still going to be super warm, and not itchy like wool," says Lena K's Karissa Newby. Also, says Laura McDowell of TJ Maxx, a silk inner layer will keep you warmer than basic cotton.

- Layer: Several layers of lighter-weight fabrics provide more heat than one heavy layer.

- Choose darker colors: Darker shades visually slim down your silhouette, especially when worn on the bottom. Luckily, black is the fashion color this winter. Shiny fabrics do the opposite, so reserve them for fitted looks.

- Choose flare: "Wear a sleek, longer pant with a slightly flared leg," suggests Stanford, and pair that with same-color footwear for an even leaner look.

- Compiled by Mila Koumpilova

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