Thursday, April 09, 2015

A Travel Capsule Wardrobe for a Long Weekend in Chicago, with a Blue Jacket

I clearly am doing something wrong in the blogging world, because after blogging for 4 years, I just NOW have received my first "swag" i.e. a gift from a retailer! Other bloggers seem to be swamped with gifts, but that's not my experience... sigh...

But the lovely people at House of Fraser sent me this gorgeous item, pictured below! It's nubuck suede, which is the best stuff available! Well-made, too...

When I lived in Ireland, I remember that when you absolutely wanted to buy clothes, your best option was to hop onto the LUAS tram, and take it south to the Dundrum Shopping Center, where the only House of Fraser in the area was located. Their store was like an oasis of nice things in an absolute SEA of cheap and cheerful. (there are a lot of things to love about Ireland, but Dublin is awash in junky clothing shops...)

Jacket - Linea Weekend

So to thank the thoughtful and generous people at House of Fraser, I'm going to build an entire travel wardrobe capsule from items available in their stores. And just for fun, I'm going to pretend that someone from the UK or Ireland is coming to Chicago for a long early summer weekend...

tunic - Linea Weekend, trousers - Linea Weekend, earrings – Links London, scarf - Linea Weekend
watch – Rotary, trainers – Gola, jacket - Linea Weekend, tote bag – Dickins and Jones
rolling duffle – Eastpak

While this jacket would be glorious with black and white, I chose to soften up the look a little bit and give it a feeling of spring. Khaki is easy to wear for travel, and gold accessories make it feel a bit special. While you might wonder about a scarf for warm-weather travel, between airplane drafts and the Chicago phenomenon of "cooler near the lake", you might be happy to have it with you.

Clutch bag – Phase 3, striped tee – Sandwich, stone necklace – East, ballet flats – Cocorose
London, sandals – Head over Heels, dress – Linea Weekend, leather skirt – Mary Portas
blue sleeveless top – White Stuff, bracelet – Dyrberg/Kern, capris - Callaway

Whoops! The clutch bag is from Nordstrom - EVERYTHING else is from House of Fraser. And yes, I do earn a modest commission if you make a purchase. I'm grateful, but you know that!

After you arrive, change into a clean top and head out to get some daylight and start readjusting your circadian rhythms. Michigan Avenue is a full-contact way to see a LOT of people in a hurry, and at the end of the street, there's a lake, and a beach! Even in the worst weather, the lake is very beautiful...

And later, after a shower and maybe a quick nap, head to the newly remodeled Atwood Cafe in the Burnham Hotel, smack in the middle of the Loop on State Street. A lovely restaurant, and very close to Millennium Park, so you can have another stroll after dinner. If you don't like to walk, you're going to miss a lot of what's most beautiful in Chicago.

If you don't see anything else here, go to the Art Institute of Chicago, and spend a LOT of time there. It's really worth it - it's one of the landmark museums in the world. And there are a couple of excellent places to have lunch right there in the museum; you can take a break, reconnoiter your plans for the afternoon, have a glass of wine and a lovely meal, all beside a fountain in an outdoor courtyard. It just doesn't get any better!

You can take another afternoon break in your hotel room (one of the BEST parts of vacation is the hotel - you don't have to clean up after yourself, and you can avail yourself of all of their amenities...). Then wander south a few blocks in the park - you'll find all of the Chicago softball teams hard at it, you will get to dodge the Segway tours, and you'll see lots of joggers (you might even see ME RUNNING!!!).  If you have time, take a walk along the lake front for a while... and when you're ready for dinner, just go back to Millennium Park, to the Park Grill. Dine outdoors in warm weather, and admire the architecture...

Your 3rd day could be spent many different ways, but for a lot of visitors, it's not Chicago unless there's baseball involved. We're fortunate to have 2 baseball clubs here, so when one team is out of town, the other is here; we have a game SOMEWHERE almost every day all summer!  But be warned - if you have ticket in the shade at Wrigley Field, you may be sitting in seats upon which the sun has NEVER SHONE. Not once. An 80 degree day can feel like late autumn; the Cubs sell thousands of sweatshirts a year to the unsuspecting!

And dinner tonight? Grab a cab and have them take you to Jefferson, just north of Roosevelt, to Manny's Deli. It's been there since the 40's, and I'm willing to bet the price of your dinner that you can't finish one of their sandwiches!  When you order your corned beef, be sure to specify if you like it lean or not...

You're on your own for the rest of your visit - we have a wonderful Museum of Contemporary Art, some pretty good shopping, and some architecture tours that will please your aesthetic sense, and educate your brainy side, too.

If you live near here, or if you've visited, what do you recommend to a Chicago visitor?

Looking Back:

2012: April in Paris: It's Raining Violets... (a guest post that I did at A Femme d'un Certain Age"

Monsoon US


  1. Oh, Janet, I lived in Chicago when a graduate student, and this weekend visit to the city brings back so many wonderful memories! Thanks for a brief (and beautifully dressed!) visit to my youth.

  2. I love the warm/cool colour mix here, demonstrating beautifully how a primarily 'cool' garment can be seamlessly blended into a warm outfit. An what a wonderful back storey!

  3. My Art Institute Membership (acquired during a one week visit last year) is about to expire. I want to go back!

    Very OT: I would love to hear more about your plans for retirement in Ireland.

  4. These travel wardrobe/itinerary stories are a terrific idea! If I wore khaki, I'd love this capsule. Although I could just replace khaki with black, and I already have some of that lovely blue/gray in my closet...

    Janice, what are the shipping and return policies like for House of Fraser? Have you ordered from them in the past? I hesitate to order from overseas companies, due to shipping/return/import issues. Thanks!

  5. As always Janice, no one does this better than you! The interwoven storyline make it all so real, so doable. I had one quick litt0le trip to Ireland several years ago. It is beautiful there, it is also the land of my Mother's family. Some day, I will return!

  6. I think your closet may be about to explode with more gifts as you gave your first gift a great kick off. Wonderful inspiration.

  7. Beautiful colour palette and very effortless chic.Now I want to go to Chicago, have all that fun and look glamorous while doing it as well.

  8. Janice, I pay far more attention to your recommendations for clothes than any other blog. I really appreciate the English resources also. They seem to have clothes that are wearable and stylish, more so than U.S. retailers at present. You should be getting all swagged up. Chicago is so much fun. I think the Rookery is really special and magical, and that even Europeans would enjoy the architecture. The infinity pool with the orkas at the aquarium is impressive. And, if it's summer, perhaps a picnic evening at Ravinia?

  9. Your blog introduced me to House of Fraser and I have ordered a few items of clothing from them. I have enjoyed their Linnea brand and purchased a few pieces of Jaeger which were on sale. I was astonished because my order arrived in Vancouver in less than a week (a shorter time than an order that I placed with a Canadian retailer). In Canada, the customs duty is substantial but on the discounted Jaeger, it was worth it! I'm surprised that you haven't received other gifts but you certainly deserve this one. I have never visited Chicago but I know that I would really enjoy the Art Institute.

  10. When we lived in London there was a House of Fraser south of town on the walk between the Tube station and a fabric store I frequented. It was a lovely place to stop for lunch and do a little window shopping.

  11. I am very familiar with the House of Fraser and always visit it each time I am in London. So, I have watched its changes since 1975. It is a very good department store now. It is about time that retailers clue in to you and your positive influence on your readers. This is a very classy jacket and you have given it a very classy ensemble to match.

    Deb from Vancouver

  12. Really like this a lot, Janice. I love these colors so much and that skirt is awesome!

  13. These combinations are gorgeous! Soft and flattering. Clearly manufacturers are nuts not to send you more garments!!

  14. I lived in Illinois quite some time ago, back in high school. At that time my favorite places to go in Chicago were the Museum of Science and Industry, the Art Institute of Chicago (I still remember my awe staring at "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte!") and Marshall Fields. I hope Marshall Fields is still just as lovely now that it is Macy's as it was back then... that Tiffany & Co. mosaic ceiling!

  15. Love the art institute. My kids loved Shedd aquarium, too.

    Lovely selections Janice.

  16. Is there a link for the khaki top? I would definitely wear that. Love the Art Institute!

  17. What a wonderful combination. I adore the jacket, you've softened it quite a bit with the choice of colours, giving it a versatility which may not be immediately obvious. I think I've been watching too many episodes of The Avengers because I could easily see Cathy Gale or Emma Peel rocking such a fabulous jacket and dispatching some baddies while still looking fabulous.

  18. The jacket is gorgeous and I really like the overall look. WOuld you be willing to do it again using a darker set of colours- maybe burgundy- instead?

  19. Even the luggage matches. Lovely! Beautiful, awesome, calming . Thank you. Carol S.

  20. I LOVE this! What a great jacket.

  21. Congrats on your first swag -- hoping you'll receive many more in future. Love the look and so appreciate the effort it takes to share it with us.

  22. Mindy's Hot Chocolate - an award winning restaurant but the hot chocolate...oh my!
    The Architectural river tours on warm days - not to be missed (again and again)
    the free little art gallery in the Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Ave - there's a side door that leads to a long, stone hallway where the church features one artist at a time. When you step from the energy of Michigan Ave into this quiet sanctuary it's like you've entered a different world.
    Lou Malnati's Pizza
    a champaign truffle from Teuscher's Chocolates in the 900 shops on Michigan Ave
    Molly's cupcakes - try the filled Creme Brulee :)
    Flat Top Grill
    an early morning walk along Lake Michigan beginning at the end of Michigan Ave - combine that with a early walk down Michigan Ave - a peaceful and beautiful experience
    Red Velvet french toast at Wildberry
    walking, walking, walking
    want the experience of visiting the top of the Hancock building without the cost? Grab a drink at the lounge at the 96th and enjoy the view while sipping your sparkling water - very touristy but the view is worth it.
    wondering through Millennium park in the summer
    Chicago is a wonderful place to visit and it doesn't have to be expensive

  23. I got so caught up in the itinerary, that I'll have to reread and pay attention to the clothes! Many, many, many years ago, I had two days to spend in Chicago. The Art Institute of Chicago made the short list, and it was well worth it!!

  24. Daley Plaza -- the heart of Chicago.
    Chicago Cultural Center, for the Tiffany glass dome, marvelous tile work and great view toward the lake.
    State of Illinois building (Thompson Center) for its architecture and people-watching.
    The Rookery at 209 N. LaSalle.
    Auditorium Theater.
    Buckingham Fountain, in season.
    Tribune Tower, for the rocks in its exterior walls.

  25. We had a delightful overnight stay in Chicago some years back. The top must see was the Museum of Science and Industry. We also enjoyed going to the top of Sears Tower (no longer called that, I am told) and going to see Wicked (we don't have professional productions like that in my small city out west).

  26. Lovely shade of blue looks great mixed with the tans and whites - I have a pull over sweater in this shade I will definitely be pairing with tans.

  27. pretty jacket -- I love that style.

  28. Replies
    1. I got to see King Tut's exhibit 9 years ago there. Awe inspiring.

  29. I love your story lines- and will check out HoF.

    Ireland? I wanna hear, too!!!!

  30. I really like these outfit choices. I'm in the UK and have a House of Fraser close by. I was due to go to Chicago a few years ago but missed out. Now having read your post I'm very keen to go. I'm hoping to have a trip to US which would include fabric shopping - is Chicago good for that, too?

  31. I really like these outfit choices. I'm in the UK and have a House of Fraser close by. I was due to go to Chicago a few years ago but missed out. Now having read your post I'm very keen to go. I'm hoping to have a trip to US which would include fabric shopping - is Chicago good for that, too?

    1. No, Chicago is pretty dreadful for fabric shopping. New York is where you want to go for that!

  32. Lovely choices as usual! Made me want to visit Chicago too! :)

  33. I live in Scotland and I shop at HoF quite a bit. I really like their Linea line, especially their stuff for the home. I absolutely love this collection, and think it may be my favourite one you've ever done. Never been to Chicago, but would love to go. Lovely way to shill for your city! no mention of the unusual pizza tho?

    1. Ah, I adore a good pizza... Come on over and we'll go out for one!

      That's pretty much a standing invitation to any reader of The Vivienne Files who comes to Chicago - send me a note, and we'll get together!